The Washington Post calls Hirsi Ali popular among middle-aged conservative white men but anathema to Muslim women who should be her "core audience" while the Times of London has a guest editorial entitled "How my eyes were opened to the barbarity of Islam" from professor Phyllis Chester, who lived as an Afghan bride to a Muslim husband. It paints a grim picture of the life of persons who should be the unresponsive "core audience" of Hirsi Ali. What is the truth about women and Islam?
The answer, I believe is "more complicated than we think". Whatever else Islam may be, it is a religion with a huge number of adherents spanning every clime, culture and socio-economic category. Many people can probably recall Muslims who they would count as their best friends. Bluff, hearty, happy. Dignified. And the same people will remember Muslims who were the scum of the earth. So it is quite probable that as many women love Islam as hate it. Probably it depends on who you ask.
One commenter who challenged Phyllis Chester's article derided Western civilization as a drug-mad, sex-obsessed materialistic culture. Doubtless he would be right about some people, especially if as he is likely to have done, he hangs around with Leftists and liberals.
My guess is that we are all of us refugees from some aspect of our own culture. The Western Left and Right both love and hate different aspects of the same civilization. The Washington Post can note with irony how Hirsi Ali's message may fall flat before ordinary Muslim women but I wonder whether it would have the same take on Noam Chomsky's reception before a hypothetical Rotary Club meeting in Keene, New Hampshire. What would either prove? Probably nothing.
But where the comparison breaks down is that Noam Chomsky is free to walk the streets and get rich without hindrance, whereas Hirsi Ali can go nowhere without a bodyguard and that her collaborator, Theo Van Gogh was used as a tackboard to post a message to Hirsi Ali, with a knife through van Gogh's heart replacing the tack. That incident, properly construed, should have been a notice not so much to Hirsi Ali, whom you may judge as you like, but to Islam itself. Whose side are you on? And the question was addressed not only to Hirsi Ali but to Islam.