Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fight For Your Right

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was in town on December 7 receiving an award from the Barry Goldwater Institute. She is this year's recipient of the Goldwater award because of her fight for and support of freedom for all Muslim women. She has never been one to hold her tongue and her book Infidel and her screenplay Submission have fueled numerous death threats against her. The director of the film, Theo van Gogh, actually was killed for this production. Attached to the knife that killed him was a letter stating Ayaan would be next.

Because of these actions, Ayaan was forced into hiding and actually had to flee her country in her effort for survival. Though she has renounced her Islamic faith, she continues to advocate for the rights of women within Muslim countries. She also speaks against Islamic leaders because of their stance on homosexuality and adultery. It's for these reasons that Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

I love her for her courage and her tenacity. I love her fighting the fight that needed to be fought inspite of the consequences. But I have to ask myself - could I do it. I do consider myself an activist. However, standing up for your rights in the U.S. doesn't have near the consequences as they would else where. People are very serious about wanting to kill Ayaan.

And let's look at a few other countries. The oppression of women is not limited to Muslim countries. In many African countries, many of which are predominately Christian, women are raped repeatedly without consequence. And though I wish my gay brothers and sisters in Jamaica could be open and honest about who they are - doing so could and will lead to death. In some South American countries (i.e. Columbia) supporting any ideals that go against those in power could make an individual disappear permanently.

If these were the consequences of my activism - would I still do it? I would like to believe that I would, but I honestly don't know. I know that many of the priviledges I enjoy now are because people have fought, bled, and died demanding the inalieable rights promised to us in the Constitution. Demanding freedom from slavery, surviving the oppression of Jim Crowe, proving that seperate was not equal, rioting at Stonewall, overcoming the stigma of mental disorder for sexual orientation - my place in this world is much better because I'm following in the footsteps of fighters. But the fighting isn't over and we should be striving to make things just that much better for those that come after us.

Would you be willing to risk life or limb to do the right thing? How far would you go?

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