The State Department’s anti-ISIS social media campaign, Think Again Turn Away, took its inept hearts and minds mission a step further in the wrong direction this morning by promoting an anti-Islam advocate as a human rights hero.
In honor of #HumanRightsDay, Think Again Turn Away tweeted this fact sheet highlighting the accomplishments of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
The problem? Ayaan Hirsi Ali espouses a worldview where Islam is different from other religions, in that it is an inherently violent “cult of death.” She supports the proposed ban of face veils in France, and of minarets in Switzerland. In 2007, she called for the West to defeat Islam using military force.
Ali renounced Islam in her thirties after deciding it is a religion of irredeemable violence. She suffered terribly at the hands of Islamic extremists: They mutilated her genitals, nearly forced her into marriage, and murdered her collaborator Theo van Gogh. A note threatening her life was pinned to van Gogh’s corpse. It’s a dark, horrific biography. It’s also a biography she uses to argue that all reasonable Muslims need to reject Islam in its current form.
By highlighting Ali, the State Department is highlighting the belief that radicalism and violence are woven into Islam, and that “good” Muslims must open their eyes and reject many of the underpinnings of their beliefs. Instead of excoriating ISIS for perverting Islam, the stance treats ISIS as a natural extension of the religion.
This platform has made Ali a go-to figure on the conservative talk-news circuit. It also makes her a spectacularly misguided choice for the State Department to align itself with or promote.
Think Again Turn Away’s Twitter account was created as a tool to counter ISIS’s efforts on social media. Celebrating Ali through the State Department’s official anti-ISIS Twitter account is a dense gesture. If the people running it believe in promoting a commenter who rejects Islam as essentially corrupt will do anything other than further alienate the people it seeks to reach, then the State Department’s propaganda apparatus is even more blinkered than it initially seemed.