Holland's bravest citizen may be stripped of her citizenship
Ayaan Hirsi Ali may soon be a woman without a country. The controversial Somali-born MP was notified on May 15, 2006 that her Dutch citizenship was to be revoked on the grounds that she lied on her application for asylum in 1992 and then again on her application for citizenship in 1997.
The Dutch minister of immigration, Rita Verdonk, later responded to the resolution of Dutch parliament to review Hirsi Ali's case, and asking her if she can be re-patriated in the event that her initial application for citizenship is found to be fraudulent. Hirsi Ali will retain her citizenship for the duration of the six week investigation. In any case, she will be allowed to remain in the Netherlands after this date, as a refugee, though not as a citizen. Lacking citizenship however, she will not be allowed to serve in the Tweede Kamer
, the lower chamber of the Dutch parliament.
The immigrant Dutch MP was born in Somalia in 1969, under the name Ayaan Hirsi Magdan (the significance of her name is of great importance to her case, as you will see). Though her father disagreed with the practice of female circumcision, her grandmother had the operation performed on her while her father was away on a business trip. Hirsi Ali was five years old.
At the age of six, her family moved from Somalia to Saudi Arabia; the family would later move to Ethiopia before finally settling in Kenya. She later said that, "it was not until I got to Kenya that I found out that there women who had not been abused in their childhood." With all of this moving around, Hirsi Ali picked up five languages.
She was living in Kenya, in 1992, when a strange Canadian cousin showed up to speak to her father. "This man arrived in Nairobi from Canada, asked my father for one of his five daughters, and my father gave him me," explains Hirsi Ali. "I can assure you my father is not a man who takes no for an answer." Hirsi Ali was expected to rendezvous with her new husband in Canada after stopping to meet family members in Germany. While in Germany, she aborted her trip to Canada, and caught a train to Holland, where she applied for asylum. It was granted.
Hirsi Ali loved her new country, saying that life in the Netherlands "was like being in a paradise...Imagine. Everybody is reasonable. Everybody is tolerant. Everybody is happy." She would later come to learn that not everybody
in Holland is so reasonable or tolerant.
She spent the next six months at a center for refugees. She learned Dutch, her sixth language. She worked daily with women and girls from predominately Muslim backgrounds who told her horror story after horror story of being abused at the hands of fathers, husbands, and brothers.
But the new immigrant had no intention of working at the refugee center forever. She wanted to move up in the world, to get an education, and to utilize the opportunities unknown to women in many of the nations of her previous life. She visited an employment center, but according to The Guardian,
"ponderous well-meaning labour officers...kept directing her to work she didn't want. The idea that she might go to university was dismissed." In other words, this motivated, bright, sextalingual young woman should seek work cleaning toilets, nothing more. For a time, she did work at a variety of odd jobs, including cleaning offices and sorting mail, but only as a means to an end.
Eventually, she applied to, and was accepted at Leiden University, the Netherlands' oldest. She left Leiden in 2000 with a master's degree in political science.
Degree in hand, she went to work for an organization connected to the Dutch labor party, Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA).
(Literally, "party of work") Her job was to work with Muslim women and suggest policy proposals that might help ease transitions for newly arrived immigrants.
She took her job seriously, and presented her suggestions to party leaders who rejected them out of hand. She proposed more integration, closing Muslim schools, and curbing immigration. This was not the type of advice they were looking for. They told her to go back to the drawing board and try again.
No one in the PvdA was going to touch her suggestions with a ten foot pole. "I called it the paradox of the left. On the one hand, they support ideals of equality and emancipation, but in this case, they do nothing about it. They even facilitate the oppression." This sort of cowardly, non-confrontational attitude of Dutch politicians (though certainly limited
to Dutch politicians) is best summed up by Christopher Hitchens's writings on Hirsi Ali. "[Islamic abuses against women] however, are in some ways less depressing than the excuses made by qualified liberals for their continuation. At all costs, it seems others must be allowed 'their culture' and--what is more--must be allowed the freedom not be offended by the smallest criticism of it."
Then came September 11th. The events of that day would eventually kill her belief in God. Though she had been a critic of Islam for quite some time, she had always been a Muslim by faith. After 9/11, she officially severed all ties with the religion of her childhood. She declared herself an athiest.
In 2002, Hirsi Ali also left another institution--the PvdA. In her mind, it lacked the backbone to deal effectively with the issue of Muslim non-assimilation. She was welecomed with open arms by her new political party, Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD)
or "People's Party for Freedom and Democracy". The VVD asked her to run for office, and she agreed. Already a woman with death threats hanging over her head, she won the election and took her seat in the Tweede Kamer.
The woman who had come to the Netherlands as a refugee in 1992 was sitting in parliament in 2003. It was the classic immigrant success story, achieved the same way every other immigrant success story--with tenacity, perseverance, and elbow grease.
She went to work to accomplish her goals, despite a general uneasiness in the parliament about offending Muslims. She said out loud what others were afraid to say. She sought to close Muslim schools, and cut government funding for Holland's more than 700 neighborhood clubs; she proposed laws that would protect Muslim girls from being circumcised, as she had been; and she pressed for a data base of the national origins of men who had commited so-called "honor killings". Needless to say, this did not make her popular in Holland's Muslim community.
But if there was such thing as a point of no return, it would have to be demarkated at August 2004. That was when the ten-minute film Submission was aired on Dutch television.
Submission ("Islam" is Arabic for "submission") was a joint project between Hirsi Ali and firebrand Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. Its topic was the mistreatment of women in Muslim societies. The woman portrayed in the film had been the victim of rape and assualt, and her body--visible through a transparent black burqa--was covered with quotations from the Koran. The film lit the passions of Dutch Muslims ablaze, and sent Hirsi Ali into hiding. Van Gogh, however, refused to live in fear, and went about his life as he had always done.
This misplaced bravery would eventually be his death. While riding his bike through Amsterdam, on the morning of November 2, 2004, van Gogh was attacked by a Dutch-Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri. As the director begged for his life in a typically Dutch way ("Surely, we can talk about this") Bouyeri shot him eight times, slit his throat, and then pinned a five page note to van Gogh's chest with a knife. The note threatened America, Holland, the West, Jews, and of course--Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The murder rocked the Netherlands in a way that this peaceful, go-along-to-get-along folk were not accustomed to. Violence sprung up against Muslims in Holland, and the Muslims returned the favor. Some called it "the Dutch 9/11", although the two events have little in common with each other, and the scale of the violence makes any basis of comparison ridiculous.
Hirsi Ali stayed in hiding, moving around the Netherlands and temporarily to California. With the parliament opening another session again in February, she had to decide whether she was going to go back and take up her seat or not. She decided to return, albeit with such a security detail that she was hardly able to operate as an MP.
Meanwhile, the response of the Dutch establishment was predictably more of the same. They continued to persist in the wrong-headed belief that Holland was not tolerant enough, when in fact it had been tolerating the intolerable for too long. For these people, the solution was to bend themselves even more out of shape, gradually assuming pretzel-form, in order to never make anyone in the Muslim community angry. In their eyes, the problem was not that Muslims had killed one of their countrymen and trampled on their freedoms, but that Dutchmen were inciting them to do so, simply by excercising those very same freedoms that they had cherished for centuries. Obviously, the van Gogh murder and its aftermath were cause for more "sensitivity" and "dialogue".
In response to the mayhem, Dutch sports stars and performers started an orange wristband campaign for "respect" and "tolerance", (and incidentally not anti-violence or free speech). Dutch justice minister Piet Hein Donner suggesting enforcing dormant blasphemy laws in order to prevent such an occurence from ever happening again. The idea failed. In Ijsselstein, two students at Cals College were ordered by school officials to remove Dutch flag patches from their backpacks in order not to provoke Moroccan students. When this story hit the Dutch press, top members of parliament were shocked that Dutch students could not sport the Dutch flag in a Dutch school. One MP called it "weird". But it isn't "weird" at all; in reality, lots of schools in Holland have similar rules. No Dutch flags allowed, so as not to offend the immigrants.
This was the world that Ayaan Hirsi Ali inhabited until this April, when her neighbors won a suit against her in court, forcing her to move out of her home. Her neighbors claimed that they feared for their lives simply because the woman next door was a walking bullseye. While I can sympathize (a little) with such a concern, the building where she lives is, by all accounts, a fortress. In any case, this sort of unlivable atmosphere is exactly what her bullies intended to create, and they succeeded in sowing so much fear among the populace that her neighbors just wanted her out of their hair so they wouldn't need to worry anymore. Appease the Islamofascists and they will leave us alone. The quintessentially European cowardice of this point of view is breathtaking.
The problem with Hersi Ali is that she has to live somewhere. In light of the fact that Holland is the most densely populated country in Europe (after Vatican City and Monaco, which barely qualify as states), she will always have to live next to someone. If this is a precedent, the tolerant people of the Netherlands will toss her around like a hot potato, taking her to court wherever she decides to live, treating her essentially like a leper. She will not be able to live anywhere.
Just under a month after that court decision, she was informed that she would be losing her citizenship based on the lies of her asylum and citizenship applications. Though it was not much of a secret, the immigration service suddenly wanted to revoke her citizenship. Whether the actual goal was to make her resign her post in the Tweede Kamer is unclear. In any case, Hirsi Ali resigned the next day, May 16th, citing the eviction from her home as her reason. "I have been obliged to move house so many times, I lost count," she said, referring to her life in hiding since she first began speaking her mind.
Hirsi Ali announced plans to move to the United States (a nation she believes really understands the threat of militant Islam) to work for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Just what were those lies she told to get into the country? Well, the first two were her name and date of birth. Concerned that her realtives might try to track her down and kill her for abandoning her Canadian suitor, she altered her name from Ayaan Hirsi Magan to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (Actually, her full name is Ayaan Hirsi Magan Isse Guleid Ali Wai’ays Muhammad Ali Umar Osman Mahamud.) She also altered her date of birth.
The third lie she told concerned her route to the Netherlands. She had told the Dutch immigration authorities that she had come to Holland directly from Somalia, when in fact she hadn't lived there since she was six years old. She had actually come from Kenya, and stopped in Germany, where she should have claimed asylum. Her reason for this of course is that all Kenyans are not automatic refugees simply for being Kenyan. Somalians, on the other hand, were virutally rubberstamped for asylum, especially in 1992, the turbulent year in which Hirsi Ali arrived in the Netherlands. Rather than having to prove that she was escaping an abusive background and an arranged marriage, she simply said that she was escaping the turmoil of the 1992 Somalian crisis.
It's unclear if she will be allowed to keep her Dutch citizenship, or if she even wants to. Considering the fact that finding a place to live may be next to impossible, she may decide to simply leave the Netherlands and come to America as planned. If she decides to take this route, it will be Holland's loss and America's gain.
Hirsi Ali's farewell address says it all. "Ladies and gentlemen," said the resigning MP. "I regret that I will be leaving the Netherlands, the country which has given me so many opportunities and enriched my life, but I am glad I will be able to continue my work. I will go on."
And she will go on, I am certain.
Werwolf and Colonel Biu Tin: lessons in the psychological aspects of war
The early months of 1945 were not a good time to live in Berlin. With foreign armies advancing from both the Eastern and Western fronts, native Berliners were hoping that the more humane Anglo-American forces would reach Berlin before the Soviet Red Army, whose methods of conquest and occupation included shooting unarmed German boys for fear that they might one day grow up to be soldiers, gang rape of German women, and looting on a massive scale.
But the Juggernaut of Russian power continued pressing toward the capital of Hitler's Reich unabated. Despite determined German resistance, the Red Army was simply too strong, and Berlin--along with the Reich as a whole--officially surrendered on May 9, 1945.
During these final days of National Socialism, there was a split in the population. Die-hard Nazis intended to fight to the very last man (or even to the last woman in some instances). More sensible people saw the wisdom of surrendering in the face of the overwhelmingly power of Soviet forces, in hopes of ending the bloodshed and annihilation. The true-believers accused the demoralized and submissive segments of the population of bringing destruction to Germany through their defeatist outlook.
Perhaps nothing demonstrates the depth of fanatacism on the part of a few dedicated Nazis better than the little-known Werwolf
was intended to be a German guerrilla resistance organization that would plan attacks on military occupiers, terrorize civilians who cooperated with military occupational authorities, and generally make Germany unmanageble for the allied powers. Even with Germany lying in ruins, and three foreign armies on German soil, some true-believers were not going to give up the fight.
On March 23, 1945, Nazi propogandist Joseph Goebbels delivered a famous speech on German airwaves that is commonly known today as "the Werwolf
speech." Just days before the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany, the regime in Berlin had reached a point of unparalleled desperation. Everything was falling apart, and no one--not Himmler, not Bormann, not even der Führer
himself-- seemed to be able to put it back together again. Against a background of extreme desperation, Goebbels commanded the citizenry to fight to the death to defend Germany from Soviet, American, and British forces.
Nine days later, on April 1, 1945, German propoganda radio broadcasted an appeal to the German public, urging them to fight on the side of Werwolf.
"Every Bolshevik, every Englishman, every American on our soil must be a target for our movement..." went the battle cry. "Any German, whatever his profession or class, who puts himself at the service of the enemy and collaborates with him will feel the effect of our avenging hand... A single motto remains for us: 'Conquer or die'." Hitler Youth units (Werwolf
consisted almost entirely of teenage boys with a smattering of remaining Waffen SS
) were known to write on walls in Berlin, "Traitors take care. Werwolf
If you've never heard of Werwolf
, it's probably because it was not very effective. Munitions dumps positioned around the German countryside for Werwolf
use were sometimes lost or forgotten. Leadership and organization were lacking. Morale took a fatal blow when Werwolf
members learned that the rumored Alpine fortress that was supposed to be the crucible of resistance did not actually exist. Top Nazi leaders were not in hiding in the higher elevations of Bavaria with intentions of one day returning triumphantly to power as Werwolf had
hoped. Instead, top leaders were either dead, incarcerated, or fleeing to South America. Within a few months of the war's end, Werwolf
had effectively ceased to exist.
They did, however, manage a few strategic victories before being snuffed out. They murdered Franz Oppenhoff, the anti-Nazi mayor of Aachen, put in place by the Western allies after Aachen was firmly under control. Werwolf
also scored a major victory when they knocked off the Soviet military commandant of Berlin, Colonel-General Nokolai Berzarin on June 16, 1945, more than a month after the German capitulation. Werwolf
also carried out a bombing attack in the western zone that killed 44 people.
Despite these isolated victories for Werwolf,
the organization proved to be a stupendous failure. Today, Werwolf
is but a footnote to history. Most Germans rejected
and put down their weapons. Even Werwolf
intimidation tactics (like threatening to kill every male over the age of fourteen in any home flying the white flag of surrender) failed to stand in the way of a mostly peaceful occupation.
Both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and (then) National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice have invoked the memory of Werwolf
when talking about the insurgency in Iraq. Rice, in particular, took a lot of criticism for her comparison. Former member of the National Security Council member Daniel Benjamin criticized Rice in an article titled "Condi's Phony History.
Sorry, Dr. Rice, postwar Germany was nothing like Iraq."
Despite Benjamin's allusion to the contrary, Rice was not presenting "phony history", and she said nothing dishonest. She simply pointed out that the Nazi regime had planned an underground guerrilla movement to continue the fight long after the war was officially over. She compared these Werwolf
units to Ba'athists and Fedayeen remnents in Iraq. She maintained that a home-grown resistance movement can be extinguished, and offered Werwolf
as proof that it had already happened in history. What's dishonest about that?
Actually, the short-lived Werwolf
ought to provide us a lot of history lessons about how wars are won and lost. Take, for example, the commonly held liberal assumption that trying to defeat an underground resistance movement is absolutely futile, and in fact "only creates more terrorists". To the contrary; a homegrown insurgency can
be destroyed, but only if you convince the enemy that his struggle is hopeless.
Actually, that's pretty much how all wars are won and lost. Sure, having a larger force, smarter generals, and better weapons helps a lot. But in the end, the victors are the ones who manage to convince the enemy that continued hostilities are in vain. War is ninety percent psychological, ten percent logistical.
The psychological aspect of war is what liberals just don't seem to understand. They dismiss as a "myth" the plainly clear fact that the so-called "anti-war" protests of the Vietnam era actually extended the war, because they encouraged the belief in Hanoi that they should hold on until inevitable victory. When they claimed that the Vietnam War was "unwinable", they were actually working to fufill their own prophecy. The protests didn't end a brutal war a second sooner, and they didn't save anyone's life. They extended the length of the war, and eventually gave birth to the human rights nightmare that is post-war Vietnam. After US troops had withdrawn from Vietnam, they felt vindicated in their prediction that the war was unwinnable. It never occured to them that they shared the greater part of the blame for the defeat.
Shattering the liberal myth that the Vietnam War happened in a vacuum, Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin said in a 1995 interview with The Wall Street Journal,
"Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American anti-war movement," he said. "Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses."
Colonel Tin was no ordinary foot soldier. He worked on the general staff of the North Vietnamese Army, and he received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. His interview with WSJ
is a damning piece of evidence on the power of wartime psychology that the "anti-war" movement wishes didn't exist. In the interview, he explains the Vietnamese strategy of turning American public opinion against the war.
reporter Stephen Young asked Tin if the American "anti-war" movement was important to Hanoi's victory (an idea that most half-bright people would find self-evident) he replied, "It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable." He later admits that one of the purposes of the Tet Offensive was to "weaken American resolve during a presidential election year." He also says of the Tet Offesnive, "Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise; [leader of the People's Army of Vietnam, General Vo Nguyen] Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election."
In other words, it was a military defeat, but a propoganda victory. The fact that the American media establishment seemed unwilling to portray it as an American victory--as Colonel Tin himself admits--managed to reduce support for the war by thirty percent and convince President Johnson not to seek reelection. For a better understanding of wartime psychology, read the entire text of Tin's WSJ
The defeat of Werwolf
is an example of a successful attempt to demoralize the enemy. The inabilty of US forces to defeat the North Vietnamese is its exact opposite. Instead of breaking the back of the insurgency, the enemy managed to turn psychological warfare tactics against the American public, and hold on until their eventual disasterous victory in 1975. In reference to the current Iraq War, the question remains--how can we replicate the results of 1945, and avoid the results of 1975?
Unfortunately, as it stands now in Iraq, events are looking a lot more like 1975 than like 1945. The momentum of the war has turned against us. Just as the Vietnamese did, Iraqi terrorists are using the power of propoganda against the United States, often with the gleeful help of our blatantly "anti-war" left-wing American media. On our side of globe, support for the war decreases every day. On their side, more and more Iraqis feel that cooperating with Iraq's democratic government may be foolhardy in light of America's wavering resolve. Fearful of an Iraqi government collapse in the event of a premature American withdrawl, Iraqis are hedging their bets. Better to avoid cooperating with "the enemy" (coalition troops, the new Iraqi government), lest they should be executed later on. In short, the terrorists in Iraq are doing a much better job of demoralizing the American public than we are doing demoralizing Iraqi terrorists.
The way to defeat the insurgency in Iraq is to refuse to fight their war. Stop handing them propoganda victories. Their tactics--like those of Werwolf--
include intimidation of civilians. Just as Werwolf
was said to be "watching" the Germans (not very well, of course), Iraqi terrorists threaten to kill anyone who cooperates with occupational authorities. Terrorists in Iraq have taken a particular interest in bombing police- and army-recruitment centers. If Iraqi men are too scared to join these dangerous positions, then the post-2003 government of Iraq will never achieve the stability it that has eluded Iraq thusfar. Amazingly, these tactics seem to be having very little effect--Iraqi men defy death threats and bombings to join the army and police force. The bombings seem to be having a greater impact on the American psyche than the Iraqi one.
Iraqi forces also threatened to kill anyone with a purple finger during the elections of January 2005. In nine seperate attacks that day, forty-four people were killed at the polls. Amazingly, the elections had a turnout of 58% of eligible voters, a number higher than most elections in the United States, where voters do not fear violence on the way to the polls. Clearly, the best way to counter these tactics is for ordinary Iraqis to defy terrorist groups and participate fully in their new government.
Winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis is probably the most important front of the war. Winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans is the second most important. So long as the anti-war movement is spreading lies about the war in order to erode public support, the enemy will keep the fight up. The more we broadcast our lack of resolve to the enemy, the higher they turn up the heat.
I'm not suggesting throwing "anti-war" critics in jail. I'm suggesting debating them, smashing their silly arguments, and exposing their obvious lies until they are revealed for the charlatans that they are. Once we accomplish this, the insurgency in Iraq will collapse. Just as Werwolf
ceased to exist after their last great hope--the "Alpine fortress" where the spirit of National Socialism would live on--was crushed, so too will the Iraqi insurgency be crushed when they realize that they are giving their lives in vain. Only when they get it through their heads that we aren't going home until the job is done, will the job really ever be done.
Psychology lies at the very heart of warfare. Some might even say that warfare is
psychology. In order to win the current war in Iraq, we need to recognize the massive role it has played in every war since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, the Left doesn't like to talk about psychology in war, because it has a way of indicting the "anti-war" movement. Indstead, they try to pretend that the situation on the ground in Iraq has nothing to do with the political situation in the United States, when indeed they are closely related. Nonetheless, we need to have a national debate about the psychology of war, even if we have to have it over the objections of liberals.