Patterico's Pontifications

6/17/2017

Two Female Experts On Islam Dismissed By Female Democrat Senators

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:18 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Prior to their testifying before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing called “Ideology and Terror: Understanding the Tools, Tactics, and Techniques of Violent Extremism,” New Republic writer Sarah Jones labeled scheduled witnesses Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani as “two of the worst possible “experts” on Islam”. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institute, is a former Muslim, who was born in Somalia and endured female genital mutilation as a little girl (a point conveniently ignored by Jones), and is an acclaimed feminist, author and activist who heads up the AHA Foundation, which works to end FGM and honor violence against women in the West. Asra Nomani is a Muslim immigrant who came to the U.S. from India as a child. She is a former professor at Georgetown, a journalist, and one of the founders of the Muslim Reform Movement. Nomani is known for boldly standing up for women’s rights in her mosque where she opined that women be allowed to pray in the segregated male-only hall. While her work as a reformer has been met with expected criticism, it was her Washington Post op-ed, published right after the presidential election, that caused a stir. In her op-ed, Nomani explained why she voted for Donald Trump, citing her concern and opposition to President Obama’s stand on Islam, “As a liberal Muslim who has experienced, first-hand, Islamic extremism in this world, I have been opposed to the decision by President Obama and the Democratic Party to tap dance around the ‘Islam’ in Islamic State”. She believed that a Clinton presidency would be no different.

Thus, with a complete lack of self-awareness, Jones, who amusingly relies on the Southern Poverty Law Center to support her attack on the women, offered her “professional” estimation of these two “non-experts”:

Hirsi Ali and Nomani aren’t reliable witnesses, and their extreme views ought to disqualify them from any platform dependent on expertise. On Wednesday, they’ll simply tell Senate Republicans exactly what they want to hear about Islam. It won’t be factual, but for Republicans, it won’t matter.

At the hearing last week, both Nomani and Hirsi Ali testified as planned, and yet they were virtually dismissed by four female Democratic senators:

On Wednesday, Democratic senators appeared to ignore Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani after they gave brief testimonies on the ideology of Islamism at a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing, sparking a social media outcry.

It was the first time a Senate hearing was devoted to discussing the ideas motivating both violent and nonviolent Islamist movements around the world, but, through a strategy of deflection and demonization, the Democratic senators — mostly women — ignored the scholarly and lived expertise of Hirsi Ali and Nomani.

Tensions were high even before the hearing began. A Muslim man wearing a prayer cap attempted to disrupt the event by yelling at Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim and Somali-born human rights activist, a witness who was in the room said.

The contentious atmosphere carried on to the committee members themselves as Democratic committee leader, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, expressed her disagreement with the premise of the hearing, called by Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

“Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,” she said. “We should not focus on religion.” McCaskill proceeded to lecture the panelists on “freedom of religion” in the United States.

“No evil should ever be allowed to distort these premises,” she continued. “I’m worried, honestly, that this hearing will underline that.”

Hirsi Ali responded to the attack:

“We haven’t paid as much attention to those people who get into the hearts and minds of vulnerable people and turn them toward the idea that it’s OK to run your car over people, to kill homosexuals, to kill apostates,” Hirsi Ali said. “I came and accepted [Ron Johnson’s] invitation to only talk about that group, not to vilify or stigmatize those Muslims who accentuate their spirituality.”

Sen. Johnson also addressed the issue by noting that the two experts had been “careful to distinguish between Muslims who practice their faith peacefully as opposed to political Islamists”.

It’s telling that four female Democratic senators, all of whom publicly proclaim their ardent support of women’s rights, demonstrated that their support is limited to only a certain kind of women. Senators Maggie Hassan (NH), Claire McCaskill (MO), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) were not terribly interested in what two female experts had to say or the unique first-hand perspectives they provided. Female senators, one assumes, that, along with New Republic’s Sarah Jones, still retain fully intact genitalia. Ironically, these same senators instead turned to the two male witnesses that were also testifying at the hearing. It’s humorous to see a group of staunch feminists ignore two fellow feminists in favor of the men in the room…

Video of the hearing here. It is well worth watching in full (but it’s long).

Note: One of the senators involved in the dismissal of the two experts, Kamala Harris, recently found herself admonished for her rudeness when she continued to interrupt male colleagues as they attempted to answer questions on the Senate floor. Sensing an opportunity to push the left’s weary accusation of sexism, Harris, unabashedly playing the victim, began a fundraising campaign:

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These slogans help women take back power over the very scenarios that seek to disenfranchise them. When women are reminded their place in society through reprimands and dis-empowering statements, the very re-appropriation of these statements helps women reshape the narrative.

Unexplained by Harris, however, is why two courageous feminists who have demonstrated both courtesy and unquestionable and unflagging courage in their fight for the protections and advancement of women everywhere, were virtually ignored by Harris and her fellow Democrats. At the very least, why didn’t the senators show their rousing support for fellow-women persisting in some very risky trenches, let alone taking advantage of the opportunity to draw from their wealth of knowledge and experience? But I think we all know the answer to this.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana


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