Ayaan Hirsi Ali anmelder Lee Harris’ siste bok: The Suicide of Reason. Radical Islam’s Threat to the Enlightenment. Ayaan har ikke helt grep om hva Harris står for.

Hun roser ham innledningsvis:

There is a sense of urgency in his writing, a desire to shake awake the leaders of the West, to confront them with their failure to understand that they are engaged in a war with an adversary who fights by the law of the jungle.

Men Ayaan har ikke helt sans for Harris’ forhold til fornuften som en svakhet ved Vesten. Her er nok de to av ulikt temperament og orientering. Ayaan kan ikke helt ha forstått hva Harris mener. Det hun sier om fornuftens fiender, er ikke helt på høyde med hva hun vanligvis presterer:

Harris’s book is so engaging that it is difficult to put down, and its haunting assessments make it difficult for a reader to sleep at night. He deserves praise for raising serious questions. But his arguments are not entirely sound.

I disagree, for instance, that the way to rescue Western civilization from a path of suicide is to challenge its tradition of reason. Indeed, for all his understanding of the rise of fanaticism in general and its Islamic manifestation in particular, Harris’s use of the term «reason» is faulty.

Enlightenment thinkers, preoccupied with both individual freedom and secular and limited government, argued that human reason is fallible. They understood that reason is more than just rational thought; it is also a process of trial and error, the ability to learn from past mistakes. The Enlightenment cannot be fully appreciated without a strong awareness of just how frail human reason is. That is why concepts like doubt and reflection are central to any form of decision-making based on reason.

Ayaan bruker seg selv som eksempel: hun kommer fra et stammesamfunn og lærte dets regler, men møtet med Vesten ga henne en ny sjanse: hun oppdaget den individuelle frihet. Og det er individet som skaper kulturen, skriver Ayaan.

And more generally, it is individuals who make cultures and who break them. Social and cultural evolution has always relied on individuals — to reform, persuade, cajole or force. Culture is formed by the collective agreement of individuals.

Hun har selv tatt spranget. Men hvor lett er det for det store flertall av muslimer fra stammesamfunn? Prosessen er krevende, og global kommunikasjon gjør det mulig å isolere seg og leve mentalt i gamlelandet. Det liberale samfunn griper ugjerne inn i folks privatliv. Ungene begynner på skolen uten å kunne språket i det nye vertslandet.

Ayaan oppfatter at Harris tror på en darwinistisk kamp mellom kulturene. Jeg leser for tiden Harris’ første bok: Civilization and its Enemies. Det Harris sier er at sivilisasjonen er en hardt tilkjempet verdi. Størsteparten av sin historie har menneskene levd med fiender som ønsker å tilintetgjøre dem. Det liberale demokrati har svært vanskelig for å ta inn over seg at slike krefter finnes i vår tid. Det vil helst tro at alt er «negotiable». Harris hyller ikke striden. Han advarer, og sier at den som ikke som ikke forstår faren, går til grunne.

The first duty of all civilazations is to create pockets of peaceableness in which violence is not used as a means of obtaining one’s objective, the second duty is to defend these pockets against those who try to disrupt their peace, either from within or from without. Yet the values that bring peace are the opposite values from those that promote military powers, and this poses a riddle that very few societies have been able to solve and then only fitfully. If you have managed to create your own pockets of peace – and its inseparable companion, prosperity – how will you keep those who envy you from destroying your peace?

There is only one way: you must fight back; if your enemy insists on a war to the finish, then you have no choice but to fight such a war. It is your enemy, and not you, who decides what is a matter of life and death.


Blind Faiths

By AYAAN HIRSI ALI