The worst the Christian community can do in America

Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave the keynote at the AA Convention, and James Croft livetweeted it. There was some…dubious stuff in it.

Such as a Dear Muslima for teh gayz.

James Croft @JFLCroft 5 hours ago
“If you are gay the worst the Christian community can do in America is not serve you cake.” @Ayaan #AAcon15 Privilege check needed!

Oy. That’s so not the worst the Christian community can do in America.

There this story in Outsports, for instance. A high school basketball game in rural Kentucky. One of the winning players called Dalton Maldonado a faggot. Maldonado had a meltdown in the locker room.

After collecting their clothes and bags the team headed to the bus, where some of the opposing team had assembled. They were yelling at the “faggot,” ordering him to stay out of the bus and face them. When Maldonado boarded, the opposing team proceeded to pound the nearest window of the bus with their fists as they yelled more gay slurs. When a couple opposing players tried to board the bus to get to him, Maldonado’s teammates and coaches forced them back. Once the Betsy Lane team was inside, the bus pulled away.

The opposing team wasn’t done. Several of the players got in their cars and pursued the bus. Whether they actually wanted to assault Maldonado or not, they certainly wanted to scare the hell out of him.

I suppose it’s possible that they were all atheists or some atheists and some Jews and Muslims – but in rural Kentucky, it’s not likely.

And then she went after feminists. Of course she did; it’s the hot new thing in the atheist “community.”

James Croft @JFLCroft  5 hours ago
“I’m disappointed with some of my feminist friends: they only want to go after white sexist men. What about the rest of us?” @Ayaan #AAcon15

Sometimes people have to deal with the problems that are right in front of them before they can move on to ones that are farther away. Solidarity is better than Dear Muslima.


  1. iknklast says

    I heard her talk. She also felt that if you come out of the closet, it might cause tension with your friends, your family, and your community, but that is all. Jerry DeWitt lost everything. Many people lose everything. Some people have been driven from their homes. I am not out to my family (though I am generally out; they just don’t pay any attention to me online, so they don’t notice) because I have never felt safe. My family is a mini-version of Fred Phelps (which is ironic, since my father makes counter-protests of Phelps – but only once he started picketing military funerals. My dad has no use for the LGBTQ community, and didn’t say anything when Phelps was picketing gay funerals).

    It is safe in some places in the US; not so safe in others. And living in a fundamentalist home? Well, children die from parents failing to take them to the doctor. People die from exorcisms. People have been shot for being atheist. She needs to get out more.

  2. Morgan says

    “I’m disappointed with some of my feminist friends: they only want to go after white sexist men. What about the rest of us?”

    Wait, is she saying “what about sexist men in minority communities, you’re leaving women of colour without support”, or is she saying “what about sexist women of colour (like me)”?

  3. says

    I remember when Christopher Hitchens introduced her as his soul-mate (platonic, natch…) and I thought maybe it meant there was something wrong with her, too. I guess she was more like Hitch than I realized.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    I was always impressed with her guts and stamina and ingenuity.
    Maybe it was really ruthless narcissism.

  5. chrislawson says

    chigau: Hirsi Ali does have guts, stamina, and ingenuity, but she also has a moral blind spot a mile wide. I’d be willing to cut her anti-Islamic views some slack for having lived under Islam and experienced some terrible things, just as I find it hard to blame WW2 veterans who feel uncomfortable around Japanese people. But like WW2 vets who allow their experiences to fill them with hatred, Hirsi Ali has gone well past the point of reasonable criticism of Islam and into outright bigotry.

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    I think the worst thing (one of them) would be to be ambushed by a bunch of Christian rednecks, beaten to a pulp, then tied up and left to die on a fence in, oh, Wyoming or some northern state in the dead of winter when the temperature is 20 degrees below zero or summat. #IRememberMatthewShepard

  7. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    Yeah, the reason I’m too afraid to say the truthful statement “I’m a lesbian” to a dude at the bar who won’t leave me alone is because I’m afraid he won’t make me a cake. And it so has nothing to do with sexism either. I sure am glad we have her to clear this up.

  8. melanie says

    Ayaan Ali Hirsi, a New Atheist who advocates violence against all Muslims, and now she hints she may convert to Judaism. Why escape one nutty religion to join another? It’s not about smearing atheists. It’s about exposing the bigotry of rabid New Atheists (anti-theists).

  9. =8)-DX says

    Can we just say “LGBT* teen suicide and homeless rates?” Oh I forgot it’s only a conspiracy of silence if it’s about Muslims..

  10. aziraphale says

    “Sometimes people have to deal with the problems that are right in front of them before they can move on to ones that are farther away.”

    Damn, that’s so good.

  11. Helene says


    Sorry to disagree. Some problems are more pressing and and the menace far greater (FGM, “honor” killings, etc). I don’t doubt Ophelia’s committment but when this sort of statement is made by others I sometimes suspect that it’s just the soft — well, maybe not so soft — bigotry of low expectations.

    Like Hirsi Ali, I’m a brown ex-Muslim. There is nothing that infuriates me more than white “progressives” (I use the scare quotes advisedly; theirs is not the left I joined when I reached political maturity) giving a pass to islamofascists (yes, Hitchens’ term is apt) on the basis of some hierarchy of victimhood.

  12. johnthedrunkard says

    The reflexive pro-Islamist avalanche among pseudo-progressive Westerners seems to have taken a toll on Ali. And, she has been associated with the American Enterprise Inst. for quite a while now.

  13. Hj Hornbeck says

    I’m disappointed with some of my feminist friends: they only want to go after white sexist men. What about the rest of us?

    Yeah, why don’t feminists cover street harassment in India and Kenya, or sexual assault and domestic violence in Brazil, or international economic policy? Why do they keep fixating on all problems faced by over three billion women worldwide, when they should instead be focused on certain issues of a hundred million or so in a few select countries?

    Hirsi Ali isn’t a feminist, she’s a paid shill working for a lobbying group opposed to feminism. If we won’t invite climate change deniers to speak, we shouldn’t be inviting her either.

  14. says

    Helene – but since that’s not what’s going on here, and you seem to know that, why bother to say it here?

    I oppose people who say “don’t criticize Islam” and I oppose people who say “don’t criticize any sexism that’s not Islamist sexism.” Both. I oppose both of those.

  15. chrislawson says

    Helene@12: what HJ and Ophelia said. None of us are against criticising Islam as a religion, a set of cultural practices, or a political movement. If you’ve followed this blog for more than a few weeks, you should know this. If you want to follow a reasonable voice of Islamic apostasy, I’d recommend the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain instead of Hirsi Ali.

  16. Saad says

    Helene, #12

    I’m also a brown ex-Muslim. A pass isn’t being given to islamofascists when we criticize this “Dear Muslima” attitude that Ali is promoting. She is right about a lot of things about Islam and I don’t dismiss everything she says about it.

    But whenever I hear things like “the worst you have to deal with is cake, there are gay people being hanged”, I immediately have to wonder about the motive behind saying such a thing. And I’m sorry, but the motive is to make an oppressed class feel guilty for wanting equality. And that I will always oppose.

  17. Helene says


    What I am objecting to is a certain “progressive” attitude (to be very clear: not yours) to Hirsi Ali which objects to her fight against islamofascism. On the basis that being Muslim makes someone a natural ally in some vague “anti-imperialist” campaign. So, tough luck for people like me.

    Well… Islam, with all its attendant horrors, is a problem “right in front” of me. It is also as a feminist that I fight Islam. But when I try to enlist the help of progressives in my fight, many of them (the “progressives” with scare quotes) balk. Being against Christian fundamentalism is fashionable in their circles.Opposing Islam not so much, if at all. So we who have grown up in that world are either left to our own devices or actively defamed as being reactionaries.

    So, sorry if I sound strident (or “shrill” !) but as a brown (no, I am not pulling rank, just precluding any admonitions to check my “privilege”), feminist, atheist ex-Muslim, I can’t think of a more urgent campaign than combating Islamic racism, misogyny and terrorism.

  18. says

    Helene – but, again, why here? This seems like an odd place to make that point when we all know it already. Like, that last link, to that nonsense about Maryam’s talk in Dublin – did you not see that I did multiple posts about that at the time? You’re pounding away on an open door.

    I agree that combating Islamist racism, misogyny and terrorism is urgent. What I disagree with is Dawkins telling American women it’s more urgent than any local concerns they may have so they should stop talking about their local concerns. I disagree with AHA when she echoes that line, as she apparently did at AA yesterday.

  19. Hj Hornbeck says

    Helene @20:

    What I am objecting to is a certain “progressive” attitude (to be very clear: not yours) to Hirsi Ali which objects to her fight against islamofascism. On the basis that being Muslim makes someone a natural ally in some vague “anti-imperialist” campaign. So, tough luck for people like me.

    OK, I’ll bite: what has Hirsi Ali done to combat Islamofascism? As far as I can tell, she’s written a few books in English, and given expensive lectures to Christians and atheists who’d be lucky if they even had a Muslim friend. Even if every one of the people she talked to came out convince of the dangers of radical Islam, they’d be powerless to stop it. When you contrast her efforts to that of Leo Igwe, who is currently combatting superstition on the ground in West Africa, she comes across less as someone fighting the good fight, and more as an opportunist preaching to the choir’s fears.

  20. Helene says


    I am not a regular lurker here (although I do check in from time to time on Butterflies). What caught my attention was the “right in front” business as quoted in a comment above. I don’t know how many times I have heard it used as an excuse for avoiding action on Islamic issues. E.g., “I sympathize with the predicament of Muslim women but…” Somehow that “predicament” is never urgent enough, never “in front” enough. Despite Muslims numbering (by some estimates) 1.5 billion, and Islam having conquered and enslaved huge swaths of Asia and Africa, Muslims are always victims, never the victimizers. Seemingly they have no agency. So they have become allies of the “anti-imperialist left”. And, at best, Muslim women and other victims of Islam must simply take a number! Not to mention that when someone invokes association with Christopher Hitchens as a smear I know perfectly well which side I am on.

  21. chrislawson says

    Helene — the problem with the Dear Muslima argument:

    1. “Dear Muslima” implies that one should only combat the world’s worst examples of a problem and never the less dramatic examples of the same problem immediately around us.

    2. “Dear Muslima” minimises the importance of mild and moderate aspects of a problem by asserting that they’re not worth tackling.

    3. “Dear Muslima” minimises the importance of geography by assuming one’s efforts are better spent on addressing a problem on the other side of the world in a culture one is not a part of. (Note: I have nothing against people trying to address a problem in distant lands and unfamiliar cultures, I’m only against the attitude that this is the only acceptable way to do it.)

    4. “Dear Muslima” assumes that progress on a problem in better-off countries has no effect on progress on the same problem in countries where the problem is more entrenched, when we know full well that as more and more countries adopt a culture change, the resistant countries become more and more isolated and feel more pressure to change (e.g.: the Arab Spring, the spread of gay marriage equality, the rise of democracy in Europe in C18-20).

    5. “Dear Muslima”, at its worst, underplays the severity of problems in better-off countries; as Ophelia and Zug have already pointed out, being denied a wedding cake is NOT the worst thing that can happen to gay people in the US.

    6. “Dear Muslima”, on the observational evidence, is exactly what Saad says: a rhetorical tool for dismissing concerns about the treatment of oppressed groups in better-off nations in order to maintain the status quo; it is a deeply conservative message that essentially says “no effort should be made to address local inequities until they have been eradicated in all distant parts of the world”, i.e. never.

    Let’s imagine these “Dear Muslima” prescriptions being used in international health.

    1. “We cannot treat your malaria here in Brazil because the disease is far more prevalent in Africa.”

    2. “We’re not going to treat your testicular cancer because it has a much better 5-year survival rate than pancreatic cancer.”

    3. “We’re not going to put any money into researching AIDS vaccines because the people who really need the vaccine are in Africa, not here.”

    4. “We’re going to stop vaccinating against polio because we feel like ignoring the benefits of vaccinating neighbouring countries to reduce transmission everywhere.”

    5. “We shouldn’t treat heart disease because the worst that can happen is unpleasant chest pains.”

    6. “Of course we’d like to improve the health of First Nations people in the US, but our hands are tied until Australia and New Zealand close their health gaps; it saddens me to say it, but our First Nations people are just going to have to accept the situation with the admirable resilience they have honed over centuries of mass murder and land displacement. Our thoughts are with them, but not funding or political change.”

  22. says

    One problem about looking at only the behavior of white men is it ignores the effects the sexism or racism of white women or men of color has on women of color and their children.

    It wasn’t white men who made my mom, my sister and I wait until every white person in the store had been served, even those who came in afterwards, before they would help us. It was the white saleswomen.


  1. […] some of us disagree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Dear Muslima or Fallacy of Relative Deprivation or Not serve you cake or Who does the dishes question. How dare we disagree with Ayaan HA on anything, don’t we […]

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