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Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a fascinating person. I have not seen her for quite a while, but she was invited, and accepted an engagement at Wisconsin. Here is a link to the story of the event. Better yet, watch her speech and the Q&A (below).  Ali is a former pious Muslim and is not thoroughly secular.  Her criticisms of religion–but in particular the Islamic way of life–is quite strong.

Regarding the Declaration of Independence, Ali radically individualizes the meaning of equality and individual rights.  She radicalizes in some way the notion of equality because she detaches nature from equality.  She seems to redefine equality as egalitarianism. It is very interesting that she understands the foundation of America as the Declaration of Independence.  In other words, the defining document of what America means, or is, comes from the truths in the Declaration. She argues that the Constitution (the rule of law) is informed by the Declaration.

She makes another argument:  that the enlightenment (and in this sense the Declaration), is fundamentally at odds with Islam.  For her, Sharia is Islam.  And in the west, in America, the Declaration forbids sharia law.  This is a conclusion she draws not from her understanding of nature, however, but from her understanding of individualism.

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http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9184055&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=0055ee&fullscreen=1

Full speech: DLS presents Ayaan Hirsi Ali from The Badger Herald on Vimeo.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9188087&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=0055ee&fullscreen=1

Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes audience questions from The Badger Herald on Vimeo.

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