The courageous ex-Muslim human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali recently recounted that at a speech in Washington not long ago, she met Vice President Joe Biden. Biden seized the opportunity to tell her that “ISIS had nothing to do with Islam.” Hirsi Ali politely disagreed, whereupon Biden began a lesson in the teachings of the Religion of Peace: “Let me tell you one or two things about Islam.”
Unfortunately, Hirsi Ali didn’t hear much of Imam Joe’s Islamic wisdom: “I politely left the conversation at that. I wasn’t used to arguing with vice presidents.”
This wasn’t just Joe being Joe, saying another foolish thing that, if he were a conservative Republican, would have ended his political career in an avalanche of ridicule long ago. For in confronting Hirsi Ali and assuming he knew more about Islam than she does, Biden was reflecting what virtually every policymaker in Washington believes – on both sides of the aisle.
Even though Ayaan Hirsi Ali was raised a Muslim in a Muslim country, and educated in Islam from an extremely early age, and despite the fact that Joe Biden has almost certainly never opened a Qur’an, Biden was sure that what she said about Islam must be wrong – it just had to be. Why? Because her opinion of the religion was negative, and the possibility that such a view could have any merit whatsoever is inconceivable in Washington circles. Those who hold it must be ignorant.
It’s almost certain that Biden would never have confronted Karen Armstrong in a similar way. If Biden is familiar with what Armstrong says about Islam, such as her world-historically ridiculous claim that “Muhammad eventually abjured violence and pursued a daring, inspired policy of non-violence that was worthy of Gandhi,” he would no doubt warmly approve and even applaud. This would not be because Armstrong has done more formal study of Islam than has Hirsi Ali – she hasn’t. Nor would it be because Imam Joe himself made a careful and judicious examination of Islamic texts and teachings, and came to the reasoned conclusion that Armstrong’s representation of Islam was more accurate and true to the ding an sich than Hirsi Ali’s.
On the contrary, Biden would favor Armstrong’s Islam over Hirsi Ali’s solely and wholly because the former confirms his view of the world and appears to bear out what he wishes were true, and the latter does not. This is likewise the stance of all of Biden’s colleagues in the Obama Administration. John Kerry, like Biden, confidently takes a stand on what he believes Islam is all about, based not on any study of his own or anyone else, but on what he wishes is true and hopes is true.
Indeed, on these fantasies are based numerous foreign and domestic policies. The idea that new Israeli concessions will end the Palestinian jihad against Israel and make possible a two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace is based on a determined refusal to consider the possibility that the Palestinians really mean the jihadist rhetoric that they pump out endlessly on official Palestinian Authority and Hamas airwaves about destroying Israel utterly.
The idea that stable, secular, Western-oriented republics could ever have been constructed in Afghanistan or Iraq was based on a refusal to confront what Sharia really is and to study the degree to which the populations in both countries were attached to it. Ultimately, the United States oversaw the adoption of Constitutions in both countries that enshrined Sharia as the highest law of the land – something that would never have been done had not Washington policymakers been listening to smooth apologists who assured them that Sharia was benign and completely compatible with republican government and Western principles of human rights.
Those policymakers are still entrenched, despite their abysmal track record. There is no accountability for them, for those who would hold them accountable believe in the same fantasies that led to the policy errors. Joe Biden’s interaction with Ayaan Hirsi Ali played out with dreary predictability: it was inevitable that Biden would think his fantasies and wishful thinking to be defensible, established fact, and unthinkable that he would regard the judgment of a Somali ex-Muslim woman with unconscious ethnocentric and chauvinistic paternalism: she is just wounded by her anomalous experiences, he might have thought to himself, while Joe Biden – Joe Biden! – man of the world, savvy political thinker, diplomat, statesman, and humorist, would gently and affably set her straight, and introduce her to the pluralistic open-mindedness that are the hallmarks of what make us great in the West.
That open-mindedness, that openness to non-Western cultures and people, the linchpin of the multiculturalist imperative, is what Biden and Kerry treasure so much and are trying to protect when they assure the world that Islam is a religion of peace and that those who commit violence in its name are violating its core principles. But even as they preen about their open-mindedness, Biden and Kerry and the rest are actually quite close-minded. When he heard Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak, Biden had an opportunity to hear truths that existed outside of his habits of thought. A truly open-minded person would have adjusted his thinking to fit reality.
Instead, Biden placed himself in the preposterous position of attempting to lecture an ex-Muslim, someone who had once revered the Qur’an and studied it deeply, about the true tenets of Islam. In this latest exercise in making himself ridiculous, Biden is a symbol of the entire Western world, staking its life and future on fantasy and wishful thinking. In response to his foolish nonsense, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was polite. If they ever encounter Biden face to face, those pious believers in Islam who know that what she says about their religion is accurate, and hate her for revealing it, will be substantially less so.