Longtime left-wing activist Sally Kohn, now a CNN commentator, is married to a woman named Sarah Hansen. It should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Kohn’s politically and culturally claustrophobic personal history that Hansen, too, is a left-wing activist who for several years was head of something called the Environmental Grantmakers Association and that these two gals met (what could be more romantic?) at the 2003 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Together they have one child, a daughter who would today be about seven or eight years old. In February of last year, that child was the subject, or pretext, of an op-ed published by Kohn in the Washington Post.
Yes, the headline was deliberately provocative. And just plain silly. In the piece itself, Kohn reassured readers that she’d never actually try to force gayness on her daughter. “[N]o matter what,” she maintained, “I’d want my child to be herself.” Immediately after making this claim, she offered the following example: “If I lived in, say, North Carolina, with an adopted son from Morocco, I’d like to think I would encourage him to be Muslim, if that’s what he chose. I’d do this even though his life would probably be easier if he didn’t.”
Stop and roll that around in your mind for a minute or two. Not that Kohn seems to have done so. No, it doesn’t appear to have occurred to her that if she had a son who became a devout Muslim, it might well be her life, and her spouse’s – not his – that would be made considerably more difficult, if not downright endangered, by that development. It’s hardly a public secret – although Kohn seems blissfully ignorant of it – that most young men who decide to convert to Islam, or to begin to take their Islamic faith more seriously, tend to pursue courses of study that, shall we say, inculcate in them attitudes toward homosexuality, toward Jews, and toward independent-minded women that would not make a mother like Sally Kohn feel exceedingly comfortable.
This brings us back to Kohn’s piece about Amsterdam, which we mentioned yesterday. You’ll recall that it came as news to her that Amsterdam is located in the Netherlands. Obviously she knew zilch about the Dutch. So who best to lecture us about them? In her piece, entitled “Is Amsterdam Really as Tolerant as it Seems?”, she started off by telling us that during her visit to Amsterdam, the Dutch kept telling her how tolerant they are. And yet – gasp! – a “very liberal and enlightened” person with whom she had coffee ended up “verbally bashing Muslims.”
Kohn was, needless to say, shocked.
Since she doesn’t quote her interlocutor, it’s not clear what Kohn means by “verbally bashing Muslims.” One strongly suspects that rather than “bashing Muslims” as individuals, her “very liberal” acquaintance was offering honest criticism of Islam as an ideology, a culture, a phenomenon.
Now, you might think that someone in Kohn’s position would know enough about recent European developments to at least not be shocked by the spectacle of a “very liberal” Dutch person criticizing Islam. As we’ve seen, however, Kohn can’t be counted on to be up on anything outside her own extremely narrow sphere of contemporary political commentary and ideological analysis within a U.S. context.
But you might at least expect that she’d have enough intellectual curiosity to want to understand why a “very liberal” Dutch person would have a problem with Islam. Alas, no. Kohn doesn’t think that way. Indeed, the more one reads her and listens to her, the more one suspects that, strictly speaking, she doesn’t do much thinking at all.
How did she respond, then, to the trauma of hearing a “very liberal” Dutch person criticize Islam? She reached out to Tofik Dibi, whom she described as “one of the country’s leading Muslim political figures.” Dibi gave her an earful. He told her that Dutch tolerance is “an illusion. Or a delusion. The Netherlands is not actually that tolerant.” He charged the Dutch with having become more “Islamophobic” since 9/11 and the 2004 butchery of journalist Theo van Gogh on an Amsterdam street by a Dutch-born jihadist. “Tofik,” Kohn wrote, “described feeling like a dark cloud of suspicion was always hovering above his head.”
What Kohn omitted to tell the reader about Dibi was that he’s hardly a typical “Muslim political figure.” Meaning what? Tune in tomorrow.