Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi ali

This book is amazing. I think it appeals to be because of the beauty with which Hirsi Ali writes, and her openness and honesty about the incredible and horrifying events that have taken place in her life.

In Nomad, Hirsi Ali describes family members and some of her life experiences. The theme that held the book together, I felt, was her call to arms against the horrors of radical Islam and the ways in which she feels westerners ought to fight this cultural war that has already been started against us.

The stories are all discrete and short, more like anecdotes. She describes cousins, her grandmother, her siblings and parents. The one thing that they all share is the pain their Muslim religion brought them and their loved ones. I don't want to spoil the book, because everyone ought to read it, but the stories she recalls from her childhood in Africa and the Middle East are truly eye-opening and profoundly disturbing. Some of them make female genital mutilation seem innocuous. It isn't what you might expect, her account is far deeper than a list of complaints about gender inequality in the middle east, although it naturally comes up.

I must have closed the book and looked at her picture on the cover 50 times while reading the book. It continually amazed me that such an inwardly and outwardly beautiful person could grow out of so much abuse and depravity. At this point I should make it abundantly clear that she places the blame for the abuse she suffered during her life on Islam and the effects it has on its followers. She makes a highly convincing argument that we can't just stand back and watch Islam grow, watch it fight a cultural invasion against the west.

I think as soon as the term "cultural relativism" was defined for me back in college I realized it was a bad idea. I think that we can and should declare western culture and values to be superior to cultures in which rape is used as a weapon of war, children are prevented from obtaining and education or modern medicine is shunned, to name a few examples at random. If I had previously felt that different cultures ought to be respected even if I personally found their practices to be wrong, I am pretty sure this book would have convinced me otherwise. Despite the Hirsi Ali's remarkable success in life, no child should be subjected to the environment she was raised in.

In summary, read the book. It could change your life. It was a remarkable autobiography that was candid and beautifully written and its themes were ones which ought to be brought to America's attention. Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to make a donation to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation and see about obtaining her other books, "Infidel" and "The Caged Virgin".

1 comment:

  1. It certainly sounds like a very interesting read. I am kind of half-reading (it's going slowly, because it's interspersed with other reading) a book called Half the Sky, about the oppression of women world wide.

    As to cultural relativism... yes, I would say that a society where rape is common can and should be judged harshly from a western perspective. But at the same time, cultural relativism is hardly a bad thing all across the board. Imposing western cultural ideals and lifestyles in places that can't support that lifestyle or where the new cultural concepts could be destructive is not a good thing. As a Westerner, swooping into a "third world" society and declaring that you are there to improve their way of life might be well intentioned, but in a lot of ways it can be really arrogant and damaging. So, I think cultural relativism should be applied
    with discretion.


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