Sunday, August 03, 2008

COMMENT/EVENT: Hirsi Magaan on enlightenment ...

The (to-the-right-of-) Centre for Independent Studies is holding its big ideas forum tomorrow night at the Sydney Opera House. I'm going, as is a mate of mine with left-of-centre leanings. Hopefully, he'll be buying me some Turkish pide afterwards since I managed to secure him a ticket!

The topic of this forum is Protecting the Legacy of Freedom: The Ideas of The Enlightenment in the 21st Century. Among the last minute entries is pseudo-refugee queue-jumper, self-confessed migration fraudster and disgraced former Dutch far-Right MP Ayaan Hirsi Magaan (or, as she falsely wrote on her asylum application, Ayaan Hirsi Ali).

Ms Magaan's first book, The Caged Virgin, consists largely of speeches and articles written during her term as a Dutch MP. It's hard to tell how much of this is her own work. We all know that MP's often don't write their own speeches or even articles, but rather delegate this task to their staff. It certainly would be an interesting issue for a literary sleuth like Malcolm Knox or Hanifa Deen to investigate.

I interviewed Magaan during her last visit to Australia as a guest of the Sydney Writers' Festival. She has become a darling of the far-Right, lavished with praise by bloggers who would otherwise have despised her as a dangerous "Islamist". Cultural warriors have also treated her as the final word on the experiences, cultures and religious views of 1.3 billion people who regard themselves in some way as Muslim.

I'd be interested to see how this woman, whose presence in Europe is based on defrauding Dutch migration law, will talk about enlightenment. It will be interesting to know whether she still believes that faith schools should be closed down altogether and that those wishing to teach intelligent design be imprisoned.

Among other speakers at the forum are former speechwriter for former PM Gough Whitlam and now Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court Jim Spigelman and rightwing commentator apologist for the Iraq debacle Arthur Herman.

Also appearing are a Christchurch-based academic in music and an English sociologist who, like so many other cultural warriors, castigated the Archbishop of Canterbury in a manner which showed he clearly hadn't bothered to read Rowan Williams' speech first.

I doubt all the speakers will agree on exactly what the enlightenment was, is and should be. I'd love to see Arthur Herman defend the Iraq war before an Australian audience. Even more humorous will be seeing him call for the United States to become Israel's proxy by invading Iran. I guess his kids won't be risking their lives in any such military adventures.

If I am not mistaken, Justice Spigelman has a relative who has served on the front line in the Middle East. His Honour's views certainly don't reflect the kind of intellectual siege mentality so many on the alegedly conservative side are affected by. Indeed His Honour was one of the first Australian judges to publicly criticise the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

Bookmark this on Delicious


Get Flocked

Stumble Upon Toolbar

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The haka photo does not suite your image of a respectable lawyer