Saturday, September 25, 2010

What Ayaan Hirsi Ali said (in her speech to the DPP on 9-18)

On September 18th, Ayaan Hirsi Ali addressed the national meeting of the Danish People's Party, Dansk Folkeparti. The party is something referred to by its Danish initials DF, but more commonly (among English speakers) it is referred to as the DPP.

The video tape of her speech is over an hour long. Ali is first introduced by Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard, and then the beginning of the speech itself is the usual pleasantries, which then gradually transitions into Ali talking in very broad terms about two very different kinds of societies in today's world: (1) on the one hand there are societies in which there are rulers and subjects, and (2) on the other hand there are societies in which there is "liberal democracy, inspired by the Enlightenmnet, where individual citizens are free and equal before the law."

This is starting about 13 minutes into her speech (what is below is only about 7 minutes of the speech, so far):
today we live in a global world, in a global world where in parts of the world where there are rulers and subjects, people are leaving, and they are coming to other parts of the world where people are citizens, and governments are government by the people and for the people. In fact, for the last 30 or 40 years [13:06] we have seen a stream of people from those cultures of subjection. And those subjects, those human beings, are seeking a better life. We see them flock to cultures of democracy.

And, we don't only see the movement [13:30] from one place to another we see two things happen. Those subjects, when they become citizens, appreciate it and celebrate it and love it -- and contribute to the new cultures that they come to. [13:49] But we also see some who do not -- who are confused. Some who find out about citizenship and what it means -- and reject it.

In other words, there is a clash. And that clash is on a local level and it is on a global level. As Danish people you have given us the most famous example of such a clash: the drawings of the cartoons of the prophet mohammed. most muslims were brought up to believe that mohammed, the founder of that religion, was infallible, and they believe that drawing this image is an offense. And when a Danish newspaper published not one image of the prophet mohammed but 12 images, you can imagine the shock and horror that went through that population.

But if you look at things from the perspective of the Danish newspaper and the Danish cartoonists, what do you see? That the prophet mohammed is portrayed as the inspiration for beheading people, for blowing people up, for telling women to stay at home. So they did what i was told Danish people are good at -- they drew cartoons. And this led to a most dramatic confrontation. Perhaps the most dramatic confrontation of the decade.

That confrontation revealed the important differences that i am talking about. The important difference between nations and peoples that are used to being subjects and rulers on the one hand, and nations and peoples that have governments that are chosen by the people, where the people are citizens.

here in denmark there was a danish imam [16:35] who saw those cartoons, 12 of them, [inaudible] he put them in a folder, he took them to the middle east. he took them to places like syria, and egypt and saudi arabia and lebanon. in all of those places, you have that relationship of subjects and rulers. the subjects [17:09] who under normal circumstances are not allowed to dissent, the subjects are not allowed to form political parties, who are not allowed to vote, who are not allowed in their day to day lives, to show what it is in their societies that they don't like about their rulers -- at that instant they were given orders by their rulers to organize and to protest, to burn embassies, to burn the danish flag, and we saw people shouting "death to denmark".

think of places like saudi arabia, where women are not allowed to drive, where women have a guardian, and only with his permission can they leave to go to school, and only when they are chaperoned. women and men are not allowed to mix. but i remember the images clearly -- in the supermarkets where women were now able to tell the difference between yogurt that was from denmark and yogurt that was not. danish yogurt, danish dairy products, were left on the shelves.

this, as we noticed, were demonstrations organized by the state, and the subjects did what they were told to do. the subject in a society like that is like wax. you can mold him or her in any way you like. he's like a zombie. there are dissidents, and opposition takes place, but it takes place in secret. conspiracy theories abound. and if you are found out the punishment is harsh. long years in prison, torture, death.

by contrast, in a liberal democracy the citizen is free. his opinion is formed, based on whatever information he can find out the issue. the institutions of the state [2012] have the object of guaranteeing as much freedom to their citizens as possible. [20:20]

[I'll post more later today!]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an incredible woman. I feel so humbled. Thanks for putting this out there. Where else am I to get this amazing story in this day and age of appeasement? You do do a service sir. Thanks.