26th November 2007

“Earlier this year, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, an account of how she escaped from a world of genital mutilation and forced marriage to find asylum and the free thinking of the Enlightenment in Holland, was published. She was attacked, as feminists are, but the assault wasn't led by the churches and Daily Mail but by Timothy Garton Ash and Ian Buruma, men who saw themselves as liberal thinkers. There was an intellectual scandal in Europe, and the New Republic in Washington devoted most of an issue to what the controversy revealed about the contortions of liberal thought. Accusations of double standards weren't thrown about simply because academics who knew no terror in their lives had turned on a woman who can't step outside without bodyguards – just because fanatics want to kill her doesn't make Hirsi Ali right – but because the liberals treated her with a superciliousness unthinkable in the late 20th century.”

Nick Cohen