Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Free Thinker

First published by Robin Gilbert-Jones in 2012, this profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the first installment in a new series by Imagine Athena on the great “Free Thinkers” of our time. We’ll also be looking at Bertrand Russell, George Orwell, and many more. 

A child of the Darod clan, born in a Mogadishu hospital, her mother thought her an unremarkable and slow-witted child and her father, though he loved her, had expectations of her that went little further than obedience and submission. Defying their expectations Ayaan Hirsi Ali was to lead, by any measure, an extraordinary life. This life is all the more extraordinary when you consider that, by her own estimation, she may even be the only child born in that ward, on that day, who is still alive. Read More…

What it means to be a Freethinker

After a period in the sun, during the heyday of the Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins (among others) New Atheist uprising, terms like freethinker, sceptic and the more specific atheist seem to have lost their popular allure. This is understandable among their obvious targets, the religious and superstitious, among whom they were unlikely to find a fan-base in the first place but, peculiarly, those to whom such terms (either in actuality or in potentia) could be applied have often sought to distance themselves from being associated with them.

In the early days of this website I spent many happy pages dismantling the superficially simpering but ultimately sinister certainties of the religious, yet over the years I have had to turn my spotlight increasingly to the ideological myths and superstitions of academia and journalism. These fields have become increasingly tainted by a commitment to narrative over truth, to a priori framing, rather than reasoned conclusions subject to revision on the basis of new evidence – i.e. the central scientific criticism of religion. Read More…

The Roots of the Pagan Tree

cultural-appropriation-christmas-tree

Over the last half-millennium the great European empires spread out to the New World, the Antipodes and the old kingdoms of South and South-East Asia.

Hernán Cortés led the Spanish into what is now modern-day Central America and sacked the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan where Mexico City now stands, and Francisco Pizarro conquered the ancient Incan civilisation to the South. Later, starting out essentially as privateers preying on Spanish and Portuguese shipping, the English became adept at ship design and Francis Drake circumnavigated the earth, returning with a King’s ransom-worth of Iberian gold. Gradually realising their potential they extended south into Africa along with the Dutch, also masters of seamanship, who plied their trade in ship building and commerce and banking in conquered territories across Asia. While all this expansion and conquest had obvious economic and territorial goals, the warrant was always the same: the extension of Christendom. Read More…

Why Have Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali Been Smeared As Extremists?

ayaan-hirsi-ali-maajid-nawaz-extremists-splc

If a case study were needed to showcase the rot in the modern left’s moral compass, the deterioration of the Southern Poverty Law Centre into a megaphone for regressive shills and fascist extremists provides such an instructive example.

As many will know from the mercifully vocal backlash, the SPLC recently published a “Field Guide to anti-Muslim Extremists” which included, among others, Muslim reformer and anti-extremist activist, Maajid Nawaz. This is not the first time I have had to defend Nawaz in print against the degradations of deformed self-righteous leftism, so I shan’t repeat myself at too much length as to his history and importance as a voice of reason in this most divisive issue of religious extremism. Suffice it to say that an organisation that once stood firm against the scourge of racism in the American South, now sees fit to smear as an “anti-Muslim extremist”, an anti-extremism activist who publically defends democratic, secular and liberal values at great cost to his own personal safety from both Jihadi fascists and white racist thugs (with whom he has a history of violent run-ins since childhood). The snake is no longer eating itself, it has concluded its meal, vanished down its own oesophagus and is now moving onto the cheese and brandy course. Read More…

The Tall Poppy’s Lament: In Defence of Elon Musk

retrofuturism-mars

I recently watched the unveiling of Elon Musk’s planned mission and, eventually, colonisation of Mars with a kind of rapturous childlike awe. I admit, it’s a personal interest of mine and I share Elon’s (very obvious) conviction that the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the human species and therefore intelligent life and consciousness (as far as we’ve discovered it), is for the human race to become a multi-planetary species. It remains to be seen how practical SpaceX’s plan and timeline are, but it was a fascinating presentation and they appear to have innovative solutions for many of the commonly cited challenges of such a mission. Read More…

“Cultural Appropriation” Is Developing Into A Dangerous Trajectory For Society

cultural-appropriation

 

It is reassuring to see that open critiques of various entries in the social justice Newspeak dictionary are now more commonplace. The first of these to really get my hackles up was the concept of the “safe space” which I covered in an earlier article, though South Park did a better job of ridiculing this infantile notion than I ever could.  Unfortunately, as well as being more frequently critiqued, this new pseudo-lexicon is also becoming more widely used (and even accepted as gospel), both among the censorious twits that invented it and the well-meaning and easily misled – I was disappointed to see that George Takei, who I am fond of, despite his occasional Panglossian naivety, shared an article defending “Trigger Warnings” by way of some fatuous reference to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (as if every blue-haired student activist is teetering on a psychological precipice akin to an Iraq war veteran). Read More…

Why We Fight The Good Fight

sam harris politics

In a recent podcast, philosopher, neuroscientist and vocal critic of religious extremism, Sam Harris, made the following comment:

“At this point I view most of my career as a massive opportunity cost. Most of what I spend my time talking about I do not find intellectually interesting, but I do find politically and morally necessary – how is it that I am living a life where I even have to know what honour killing means let alone spend time talking about it?”

This statement gave me pause for thought in regard to my own work. Of course I can’t claim anywhere near the readership, reach or back-catalogue Harris has to his name, nor can I (at least at this point) count my writing as a “career” so much as a passionate side-line. That being the case, I began thinking about how our focus at Imagine Athena, as well as my own, has shifted, or at least superficially appeared to do so, in recent years. From its inception, this website has been a platform to celebrate what makes life most worth living to us: the examined life, freedom of thought and expression, the values of the Enlightenment, human progress and virtue, the nebulous boundaries of art, science, philosophy, the numinous and transcendent (the only kind of “intersectionalism” that interests me). These concepts are at the core of everything we do. Read More…

The Talib Kweli, Maajid Nawaz Twitter Fight Exposes The Hypocrisy Of Those Who Supposedly Oppose “Harassment” Online

On Wednesday, we bore witness to a stark demonstration of the hypocrisy of social media activism, the callousness of so many of its practitioners and, unless some action has been taken by them in the interim, the double-standards of the platform custodians themselves.

Rapper, activist and self-important intellectual non-entity Talib Kweli Greene took to Twitter to condemn the liberal Muslim reformer and anti-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz as a racist shill and a tool of white supremacy and anti-Muslim bigotry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr Nawaz, his journey spans an immense distance between extremes; after a rough start in life involving direct experiences of violent white racism in his native UK, he became radicalised and worked as an Islamist agitator under the banner of Hizb ut-Tahrir, for which he languished in an Egyptian prison, undergoing hardships I can’t imagine.

He has since done more to build bridges between faiths and communities, and fight extremism from every direction, be it xenophobia, jihadism, anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms. But the irony of throwing accusations like this at such a man as Nawaz seems lost on Greene, who, on the other hand, is an evidently privileged narcissist who attempts to pass off his thoroughly banal pseudo-intellectual masturbation as some kind of liberationist activism. The sort of person who thinks bellowing “Black Lives Matter!” and “White Supremacy!” at various intervals should confer certain additional privileges upon you. Read More…

Orlando: Changing the Subject Again

 

orlando shooting political correctness

I was hesitant to write anything about the horrifying events in Orlando as Jihadist mass murders are almost becoming commonplace at this point, at least in Europe and I have very little to say about the trend more broadly that wouldn’t be a reiteration. But a number of trends in the aftermath of the massacre warrant some reflection.

It was probably only a matter of time before the LGBT community was targeted en-masse; a population group almost as hated by Jihadists as Jews. Unlike the Jews, however, the LGBT community is embraced by the liberal mainstream. Unlike the Jews, gay people are not frequently accused of being the cause of their own suffering by the oh-so-tolerant and loving liberal media elite. Read More…

Disagreement Is Not “Violence”

melissa click mizzou

One of things I find most sinister about the odious and autocratic “social justice” movements, currently destroying all that was once great about campus culture and academia, is their tendency to speak in a bizarre lexicon all of their own, cooked up in their little cultural echo-chambers. Aside from being infuriatingly pretentious, it is also rather creepy when you consider the goals they have in mind and the kind of horrible world they are trying to create. Read More…