Ayaan Hirsi Ali is among the most courageous women (and incidentally among the most beautiful) in the world today. She sought asylum in the Netherlands in 1992 as an escape from an arranged marriage brokered in her native Somalia. When established in Holland she was shocked to find the same radical Islamism she left behind growing in her adopted country and became an outspoken critic. In 2003, already hunted by Islamists for her ideas, she acceded to a seat in Parliament and became a Continental voice for reason against Islamist oppression. She gained enormous attention by authoring the script for, and acting in, a short film entitled Submission, directed by Theo Van Gogh. Van Gogh was shortly thereafter murdered by an Islamist in retribution for the film and her life was also threatened. The New York Times ran an interesting article about her entitled "Daughter of the Enlightenment" last year, which is now available at no charge.
I was planning to write soon to describe the cowardice of her neighbors, who sued—and won a court victory—to have her evicted from her apartment. The problem: she is so hunted by Islamists and under such heavy security that it causes a nuisance to neighbors who must put up with the security and fear for their own safety should the building be the target of an attack. See this post at Volokh.com for details, which includes links to an English translation of the court decision. An article decrying this injustice and promoting Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, The Caged Virgin, recently appeared in Slate.
Today, however, that injustice has been compounded beyond comprehension. Rather than celebrated as a national treasure, this remarkable woman has been stripped of her Dutch citizenship by a bureaucrat—the Minister of Immigration and Integration—because she "lied on her citizenship application" by using a false name. This is a breach of Dutch law and she is being forced to flee Holland. There is now an immigration debate raging in the U.S., and I have no sympathy with those who insist that all they seek is "for immigrants to follow the law," but it is worth asking in this case: Why did she lie?
She lied because she feared that her family would find her in the Netherlands after her escape and altered her last name on her citizenship application so it could not be easily searched by those who would harm her. See her statement on the affair here. Perhaps most bewildering, the decision to revoke her citizenship was not mandated by the law but was a discretionary act of a "hardline" enforcer of immigration policy. This article in today's Spiegel Online (English edition) details this action.
In the context of our national debate on immigration, I advocate total neutrality on the part of the government: except to keep out criminals and perhaps those with communicable diseases, the government should remain indifferent to who or how many people may seek a better way of life in the United States. This case, however, is an exception. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is twice a victim, by two anti-American forces stalking the United States today: Islamism and anti-immigrationism. It is a moral imperative that the United States extend a public invitation, courting Ayaan Hirsi Ali and making certain she knows how welcome she would be here. Drawing her to the United States would be an important symbol against militant Islam. Breaking a pattern of appeasement, it would say to the world: the United States stands with those seeking shelter from Islamists anywhere. And where else will she be more free to continue her campaign against Islamism, which is a direct benefit to our national security? Furthermore, the attention her arrival in America would generate would make her virtues more known to the world and dramatically publicize just how much the Netherlands has lost by its unjust policy. Such a lesson may erode support for similar bad immigration policies being advocated here.
Fortunately, as the Spiegal article linked above notes, she resigned from Parliament today and her first trip as a non-citizen was a visit to the U.S. Ambassador at The Hague, who offered her any assistance possible. In addition, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, nearly immediately offered a position in Washington, DC. These are promising signs and I can only hope she arrives soon. And on a more personal note: if she prefers California to Washington and needs a roommate, I would like it to be known that no matter how intrusive her security needs, I would never seek to have her evicted.
Image: Courtesy of Neva Paintings