Nonie Darwish vs the meanies

Nonie Darwish has a compelling life story, and if you don't know who she is, then her Wikipedia biography is worth your time. Her personal history, including a father who was assasinated by Israel and then indoctrination as a child by Gamel Abdel Nasser to hate Jews, is the foundation upon which she has constructed her world view and her opinion of Islam. That opinion is well summarized in this interview with Reform Judaism Magazine:

Q. What was the Muslim response [to 9-11] in America?

A. The response was defensive, dishonest, and two-faced. The Muslim establishment engineered a massive public campaign in which Islamic scholars, distinguished clerics, and Arab intellectuals attempted to calm Western fears by painting a picture of Islam as totally benign. When asked about the roots of Islamic terrorism, they denied it had anything to do with the Koran. And when quoting from the Koran, they conven­iently ignored passages that encourage holy war against infidels.

Also after 9/11 many Muslims in the West reinterpreted the meaning of jihad as an inner struggle for self-improvement. Yet this “inner struggle” business is hogwash, a PR ploy for Western consumption only.

I have no condemnation or anger with Nonie Darwish for her beliefs. Her problem is that she is fundamentally (and probably permanently) incapable of understanding mainstream Islam, as a result of her personal history. So, I view the following with more pity than disdain:

Last week, on October 18, 2007, our hero Darwish spoke at the all-female Wellesley College as the guest of Hillel on campus. She was not treated as a hero; then again, maybe she was, maybe her treatment is precisely how heroes are greeted on American campuses today.

About 80-100 students came. Far more Muslim than Jewish students came and “so many” of the Muslim girls were wearing head-scarves.

According to Darwish, the female students in head-scarves did the following: As she spoke, they made exaggerated, “mean girl” faces at her. They rolled their eyes, practiced “disbelieving” facial expressions—did everything but stick out their tongues. And they continued to talk to each other in loud whispers while Darwish spoke: “How can she tell such lies!” “I was never, ever indoctrinated against Jews!” “Can you believe what she is saying?” “We do not call Jews pigs and apes, how can she lie about her own people?”

In addition to the “mean girl” faces and the continual loud whispering, one by one, at least four to five head-scarved girls, got up to leave the room during Darwish’s speech. This meant that each girl took two minutes to move to the end of her row, physically causing the other students to get up or twist aside, causing the entire room to look at the departing student, not at their invited guest—and then each girl did precisely the same thing when she returned two minutes later, presumably from a bathroom break.

They quadruple-teamed Darwish and did not stop until Darwish ended her lecture. Twenty to thirty minutes of soft-core, well-choreographed, goon squad behavior. “They are Hamas-trained” says Darwish.

I applaud the girls at Wesley who engaged in this restrained show of opposition to Darwish.

It should be noted that supposed defenders of the oppressed women in Islam such as Nonie Darwish predictably flock to Western audiences to preach the innate evils of Islam. There is no small amount of irony in this; Darwish is lecturing at Wellsley, the premier girls' college in the United States. The muslim women at Wellsley are the exact opposite of the women to which Darwish imagines herself the saviour of - these are highly educated, provided-for girls with every possible freedom and privelege that the West has to offer. That they do not tear apart their hijab after hearing Nonie speak down to them must be truly vexing indeed; for all Nonie Darwish sees is oppression, whereas the simple concept that a hijab might be - when freely chosen - a symbol of strength and empowerment is utterly beyond her comprehension. Again, Darwish's fundamental inability to comprehend this is most likely due to her tragic personal story, and not to any innate character flaw. Still, that hardly means that she should be feted as a "hero" when her purpose is essentially to do nothing more than harangue liberal muslim girls who are proud of being muslim and proud of their culture and faith, about what oppressed fools they are.

Were Nonie Darwish genuinely concerned with the plight of women and reform in Islam, she would work with the reformists in the Arab world - the emergent Muslim Left - and try to change things where it mattered. Instead she chooses the easy lecture circuit to harp at and condescend to muslims in the West. I suppose the latter is more fulfilling to her personal sense of victimhood, and probably more lucrative besides.

(via Jim Henley via Whiskey Fire)


Nightstudies said...

The muslim women at Wellsley are the exact opposite of the women to which Darwish imagines herself the saviour of - these are highly educated, provided-for girls with every possible freedom and privelege that the West has to offer.

Well exactly. Darwish knows real-world Islam, those girls are part of some top 1/100 of a percent privileged elite. Their experience is completely at odd with, and completely irrelevant to that of people in most of the world.

So why is it their naive, pampered existence which counts, rather than that of the majority?

Anonymous said...

Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to koran-AT-reformislam.org.

When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at koran-AT-reformislam.org. If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.


Aziz said...

I am glad for you that you believe yourself to be Allah's Editors. It certainly speaks well of your self-confidence, though some (myself included) might label it otherwise.

Personally I don't subscribe to that view. lakum deen nakum walaya deen.

I am not interested in any outreach from you. I am likely to delete further comments from you henceforth. Salaams to Malkin and crew.

Anonymous said...

Have fun with bin Laden and other monkeys. You can keep your head in your ass for as long as you want, but it won't change the reality.