Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's feigned fear of men in her family and the lie of a forced marriage

Over the last few years, many internet communities have seen a spate of women playing the damsel in distress card quite successfully.  Many White Knights came to the rescue and brought the dollars with them, and there were plenty of skeptics too. In the New Atheist community, the Ben Radford and Karen Stollznow episode is well known. In the wider culture there were some spectacular rape accusations that unraveled under scrutiny, such as the University of Virginia's Jackie case, and the University of Columbia's Emma Sulkowicz case. Women are human and they lie just like men, and sometimes they lie spectacularly. But society is easily fooled by tales of women's oppression, especially religious oppression and Islamic oppression. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one such woman who played the damsel in distress card quite successfully in the 2000s, before being exposed by Dutch documentary Zembla in 2006, and yet retains a lot of the same victim cred to this day.

The exposé is quite thorough. It gathered evidence from Ayaan's family members, school records in Kenya, and from Ayaan's hosts during immigration to the Netherlands. When Ayaan is confronted with the evidence, she admits to most lies. After such an exposé, one would hope that Ayaan's lies would not be repeated by her supporters. But as late as 04/2014, even the anti-feminist Barbara Kay repeated the falsehoods. She says
But to recap, Ali was raised in a strict Islamic society in Somalia. She is a survivor of female genital mutilation, civil war, physical abuse from a violent father and a forced marriage. Through good fortune and her own determination, she exchanged a life of subjugation and misery under an oppressive religious yoke for secular freedom in the West
All of the above are lies, except perhaps female genital mutilation.
  1. She left Somalia at age 7 before the civil war started. Her primary and secondary school records prove that she lived in Kenya from age 10.
  2. She was raised mostly by her mother. Her parents divorced when she was 12, her father worked in a different country and sent home money, and she lived in comfort in a big house.
  3. She studied in a reputed Muslim school, while her brother studied at a Christian school, thereby indicating that the family opted for a quality education and were not religious fanatics. 
  4. She had an arranged marriage, not a forced marriageto a somalian immigrant to Canada. 
Ayaan is embraced by Barbara Kay and the wider Judeo-Christian Right for obvious reasons. They use her story to further their politico-religious battles, especially using the narrative of Islamic oppression of women. Lefty New Atheists have also embraced Ayaan as she is a great ally in Islam bashing. New Atheists are careful enough to repeat the only lie she has not admitted, the forced marriage. A 10/2007 article by Sam Harris and Salman Rushdie,
Hirsi Ali first fled to the Netherlands as a refugee from Somalia in 1992 after declining to submit to a forced marriage to a man she did not know. Once there, in hiding from her family, she began working as a cleaning lady.
A 05/2014 interview with Sam Harris
In 1992, Ayaan was married off by her father to a distant cousin living in Canada. In order to escape this forced marriage, she fled to the Netherlands where she was granted asylum and then citizenship...
Hirsi Ali: ... I figured that if I could get this intake interview, then my father or the man he married me off to could come and say that they were looking for Ayaan Hirsi Magan, born November 13, 1969, and they would find me very easily. I wanted to prevent that, so I called myself Ayaan Hirsi Ali and changed my birth year to 1967. I was trying to cover my trail just enough that I wouldn’t have the fear of being immediately found. I had never before lived in a system where there were any protections put in place for me.
Harris: So you did this because you were afraid that someone would come to the Netherlands for the purpose of harming you?
Hirsi Ali: Oh, yes. Absolutely. I was terrified that either my father or some of our clansmen—or the man whom I had been married off to—would come looking for me and find me. And they did come! My ex-husband was accompanied by three other men when he showed up at the asylum center where I was. But by then I had been in the country for something like four to six months, and even in that very, very short period, I came to understand that I had rights.
Ayaan insists that she escaped a forced marriage, and feared that her father and family may force her to go back to her husband, or honor-kill her otherwise. These claims fall flat in the face of the evidence presented in the documentary.
  1. Lies about the marriage ceremony
    1. At 19:00, Ayaan is seen on a Dutch TV show claiming that her forced marriage even took place in her absence. I am from India, the land of arranged marriages, and I have never heard of a marriage in absentia. I have heard of something as odd as a marriage to a dog, and even that was not in absentia. They brought the dog to the wedding ceremony and managed to make it sit still.
      There is apparently such a thing as Proxy Marriage, but it is rare and still involves a substitute, real, person. It was historically engaged in by European Monarchs under extraordinary circumstances.
    2. Ayaan's brother Mahad, aunt Faduma Osman, and bridegroom Osman Muse state that she was not only present at the wedding, but that she was happy throughout (~20:00).  Ayaan claims all of them are lying.
  2. No sign of fear to friends or husband
    1. After reaching the Netherlands, Ayaan is quite happy to appear on camera for a TV programme on the lives of Muslim immigrants. This is certainly not the behavior of someone who is fearful for her life.
    2. Ayaan's first immigration-host in Netherlands, S Veerman, a fellow Somali, says Ayaan appeared just fine and never complained or showed fear of her family. Veerman says she has never heard of honor-killings in Somalia, and has only heard of them in some other countries like Turkey.
    3. Ayaan's second immigration-host in Netherlands, a white Netherlands woman W Scwoemaker, says Ayaan was in contact with her father and even received mail from him.
    4. Ayaan's husband visited her in Netherlands after 6 months, and she admits to him that although he is a decent man she does not want to live with him. The husband accepts that and they part ways amicably enough.
  3. The husband feels he was used by her
    1. Ayaan's husband feels that she used him as a passport to Europe. She would not have gotten to Germany as a first step without the ticket he got for her via marriage. Ayaan admits that she even offered to pay him back, but he refused to take the money.
    2. In Nairobi, it is quite common for women to marry a foreigner to get a ticket to Europe and then get a divorce. Could Ayaan have done the same?
The evidence against Ayaan is substantial, and the evidence for her is just her testimony. If we apply the same evidentiary standards to her story as we did to the recent tales of damsels in distress, she would be seen as a false accuser that played the damsel in distress card and hyped up fear of men in her family.

Fast forward a few years. In 02/2010, at age 40, Ayaan was outed as having an affair with a wealthy, influential historian and married father of three Niall Ferguson aged 45. At the time, he was married to British Media executive Susan Douglas, aged 52. Ayaan got married to Niall in 09/2011 in Boston, with Henry Kissinger in attendance, just 3 months before giving birth to her first child. Wealthy men trading in an older wife for a younger wife, isn't that what "equity" feminists fight against?  Luckily Ayaan does not live in a "patriarchal" country like India (or perhaps even Kenya), where mistresses have reason to be fearful, as they are sometimes beaten up by the current wife and her relatives.

This is feminism in action. Ramp up fear of men, trigger protective instinct in other men to clear woman's path, and preferably mate with high status men.

Ayaan presents some evidence to support her narrative.
Somali in The Hague Faces a More Personal Attack  By MARLISE SIMONS Published: May 24, 2006
Stung by the attacks, Ms. Hirsi Ali has made available to The New York Times several letters that support accounts of her life that are now being questioned.
In recent days, bloggers and commentators have challenged Ms. Hirsi Ali's motives for fleeing to the Netherlands. She maintained that she wanted to escape a forced marriage with a Somali cousin, and while waiting to meet him in Germany, she secretly left for the Netherlands.
Defending her account, she offered a letter she received from Kenya, from her sister Haweya, in August 1992, after her arrival in a Dutch refugee camp. ''Your husband in Germany is looking for you,'' the letter reads, ''and the whole search is being coordinated by father here.''
Referring to members of their clan, Haweya wrote: ''Practically all the Osman Mahamud in that area are looking for you everywhere. Be warned.''
Her detractors have also said she lied about her relationship with her father, Hirsi Magan Isse, a former politician who had to flee Somalia. They say she had nothing to fear and had a good relationship with him.
Ms. Hirsi Ali, underlining the duress facing her, agreed to release the last letter she said she received from her father -- his curse.
In January 1993, after writing to beg forgiveness for her disobedience in refusing the husband chosen, she said she needed his blessing.
''Dear Deceitful Fox,'' her father replied. ''You do not need me and I do not need you. I just invoked Allah to disgrace you, as you have disgraced me. Amen!
''This is the last message you will receive from me, as your letter was the last message I will accept from you. Go to hell! And the devil be with you.
''May Allah punish you for your deception,'' his letter ended.
''Amen! Yours, The Fool.''
Letter from sister just after arrival in Dutch refugee camp saying that her people are looking for her. If your daughter goes missing, would you not search for her?
Letter from father who believes that he was deceived by her.
Really? This is her evidence for forced marriage? How much weaker can the evidence get.