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Even if you support the American pullout from Afghanistan and the end to a misguided 20-year war, there are legitimate concerns and criticisms, including whether we’re doing enough to help resettle refugees who don’t want to live under Taliban control and whether we’re protecting women and children who stand to suffer the most under radical Islamic rule.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali notes these concerns in an article for UnHerd, but then uses the opportunity to do with so many of those conservative-leaning, can’t-stop-saying-“woke”-as-a-pejorative New Atheist types have become known for: She shifts her focus to trashing transgender people and those fighting for social justice.

In today’s perverse American culture, however, more attention is devoted to the use of preferred gender pronouns than to the plight of women whose most basic rights — to education, personal autonomy, the right to be present in a public space — are either removed or under serious threat.

What we’ve witnessed this week in Afghanistan is a watershed moment in Western decline. American culture today tells us not to be proud of our country; not to believe in the superiority of American values; not to promote the rights we are afforded by our Constitution so that they can be enjoyed by people around the world.

When rights are promoted, they tend to be “progressive” interpretations. We’ve reached a point where we proudly flew the LGBT flag from our embassy in Kabul when the going was good, but have now abandoned Afghanistan’s gay population to the Taliban. Meanwhile, the US Navy’s reading list now includes books such as Sexual Minorities and Politics and How to be an Antiracist, both of which paint a bleak picture of the United States, its history and its identity.

By her logic, no one should ever work to fix domestic problems because there are always existential threats for certain groups elsewhere in the world. Asking people to use someone’s pronouns — a sign of basic respect — is apparently pitted against fighting for women who may suffer from a broken ideology. Even though it all comes down to making sure one group’s dogmatic (often faith-based) beliefs aren’t used to put down other people or deprive them of opportunity.

If those books paint a bleak history of the U.S., that’s because those books are accurate. For all the good things about our nation, there’s much to be ashamed of, and there’s so much information conservatives are afraid people might learn about that they’ll do anything to discredit it. For them, it’s better to suppress information that makes us look bad and just be constant cheerleaders for a perfect nation that doesn’t exist.

The ability to understand our own history, good and bad, is vital to spreading democracy abroad. It’s too bad Hirsi Ali, who was also quick to defend Richard Dawkins‘ anti-trans bigotry when a Humanist group rescinded an old honor it gave him, can’t handle people working to improve our country. For all the valid points she could make about what the U.S. ought to do to help the people in Afghanistan, she can’t even get through an article without condemning those trying to improve conditions in the U.S. where conservative Christians have been some of the most vocal opponents of LGBTQ rights and a more thorough understanding of our racist history.

This isn’t a zero-sum game. You can be furious about the execution of the American pullout — and the way we’re leaving too many innocent people behind — while also acknowledging we have a long way to go ourselves, albeit for different reasons. This knee-jerk desire to belittle other’s problems just because you don’t personally experience them or care about them helps nobody.

By the way, this sort of comparison isn’t new for her. Last year, Hirsi Ali wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal comparing “Wokeism” to “Islamism.” Here’s what she says after her caveat that she is “not about to equate” the two in a piece called “What Islamists and ‘Wokeists’ Have in Common”:

The two ideologies have distinctive rituals: Islamists shout “Allahu Akbar” and “Death to America”; the Woke chant “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.” Islamists pray to Mecca; the Woke take the knee. Both like burning the American flag.

Both believe that those who refuse conversion may be harassed, or worse. Both take offense at every opportunity and seek not just apologies but concessions. Islamism inveighs against “blasphemy”; Wokeism wants to outlaw “hate speech.” Islamists use the word “Islamophobia” to silence critics; the Woke do the same with “racism.”

Same thing, apparently… If you have any ideology whatsoever, you’re always part of the problem to these people. That’s the only way you can compare a “Death to America” chant to people fighting for racial justice. It’s all a sign of someone who’s completely lost sight of what’s actually worth fighting for.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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