Dear Young Islamophobe:
You will do well to start with any of the books written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her best-known work is Infidel. Her latest book is Nomad. She has also written a few other things. Anything written by Hirsi Ali will do; they all say the same things about the terror of Islam.
I read Nomad recently. It is littered with stories like the following: “In February 2009 in Buffalo, New York, a forty-seven-year-old Muslim businessman who had set up a cable TV station to ‘promote more favorable views of Muslims,’ beheaded his wife, who was seeking to divorce him.”
This is a short short-story. You can narrate it at parties. Imagine the shock (but perhaps not the silence, because these days everyone, it seems, has a story to tell about Islam). But you should also learn from Hirsi Ali’s style of writing. Starting with Infidel, her assault on Islam has been a spectacular success largely because she speaks from personal experience. She has suffered undeniable personal trauma but what you can emulate is her ability to cast the whole of the Islamic world as her victimizer and, in a stroke of genius, the whole of the West [read militarist, interventionist, Bible-toting US of A] as her savior.
There are other trade secrets that you can glean from a reading of Hirsi Ali.
I don’t think Hirsi Ali is popular only because she serves so well the designs of an Islamophobic West. Rather, she is read also for her simplicity and her success. That is worth thinking about. Nothing is more powerful as a shock-and-awe weapon of control than the idea called “the American Dream.” It insists that we invest the wealth of all our utopian energies in two ways of thinking: oversimplication, and delusions of grandeur that border on megalomania.
My wife’s hairstylist in our small town in upstate New York, a Muslim immigrant woman from Lebanon, has been reading Hirsi Ali in an effort to improve her English. This is because Hirsi Ali is a skilled writer. She tells her story in a direct, unadorned prose. Her style is of great assistance to her, not least because she believes in oversimplifying the world.
But Hirsi Ali is nothing if not also a seller of dreams. What she lays down on the page with such terrible earnestness is appealing because she keeps retelling the magical story of immigrant transformation. Reading her you feel redeemed. You too ought to think and write like that; if you do so, your reader will often make the mistake of going past your false righteousness and admire, instead, your grit and enterprise as a writer.
Hirsi Ali had asked once: “How many girls born in Digfeer Hospital in Mogadishu in November 1969 are even alive today? And how many have a real voice?” There’s real tragedy behind that question but at the end we only see Hirsi Ali’s high cheekbones shining on CNN.
You, Young Islamophobe, have shown great enterprise in choosing this moment to pursue your dreams. A conservative think-tank will soon be reaching out to you. I’m a messenger of your future well-being.
[Mutineers, the Asian American Writers' Workshop sent two dinner tickets and six cocktail-hour tickets for this event. Who wants them? And why? The first eight to convince us they should be there get the goods. More details: Featuring Amitava Kumar, Hari Kunzru, Faiza Patel, and others. Tuesday, November 2, 6-7 pm dinner with authors, 7-9pm cocktail program. At the home of Faiza Patel, 111 Hudson Street, Apt. 6, New York City. Dinner with authors 6-7pm. Cocktails & literary discussion., 7-9pm.]