Islam’s toughest critic on her new book, the Axis of Evil, and the neoconservatives’ moral high ground.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1969, Ayaan Hirsi Ali gained international recognition as the controversial member of Dutch Parliament who wrote a short film attacking Islam, called Submission Part 1. In the film, images of bare women’s limbs are scrawled with verses of the Qu’ran which—Ali has said—denigrate and subordinate women. As a result of the film, its director, Theo van Gogh was killed in cold blood on the streets of Amsterdam, a note jabbed into his chest threatening Ms. Ali (and the United States to boot) with a fate like van Gogh’s. Van Gogh’s last words were, “Can’t we talk about this?” After the incident, Ms. Ali spent several months virtually kidnapped by her security team.
In her new book, Infidel, Ms. Ali traces her journey from Somalia to Holland, from a life of exile (her father was a Somali warlord so the family was frequently on the lam) in Kenya and Saudi Araba; a life of suffering and subordination (she wore the hijab as a member of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, was forced to undergo the painful practice of female circumcision, and was engaged to someone she didn’t love); and a life of awakening.
It was the forced engagement that was the moral last straw, the offense that sent her into flight from her betrothed and her family and landed her in Holland, where her ascent to the halls of government was startlingly rapid. As a member of Parliament she argued that multiculturalists were too easy on Islam and that Holland should immediately take steps to improve treatment of Muslim women, to protect them from barbaric and chauvinistic practices like forced marriage and circumcision; and to ban Muslim schools where integration was impossible and Western values reviled.
Last fall, Ms. Ali took a job with the conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., the American Enterprise Institute. She comes to the U.S. with a powerful message for moderates, liberals and multiculturalists: not all cultures are equal; Islam is a threat to liberalism and liberalism is yet to offer an adequate response; and Islam is too defined by “seventh century … jihadi bullshit” to be appeased or ignored. Discussing foreign policy with her is like playing a game of Risk. Ultimately, Ms. Ali’s journey, she insists, is a journey from faith to reason, a journey which gave birth to a liberal—not of the communist but of the John Stuart Mill ilk. At AEI and with Infidel, she has inserted herself into the heart of perhaps the key debate of our times and hopes to prod Islam into an enlightenment period akin to what other religions have gone through.
—Joel Whitney for Guernica
Guernica: It seems when you talk about Islam, it’s not your style to say things in a gentle way…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I’m the gentlest of them all, honestly. (laughing)
Guernica: Maybe I just mean your word choice. Though of course your voice does sound quite gentle…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Do tell me: what is not gentle about what I say? I don’t call for violence. I don’t call for the abolition of Islam. I don’t say that Muslims should be kicked out of the country. I don’t say that they should be attacked. All I say is that being a Muslim, having been brought up as a Muslim, could we please ask Muslims to look at ourselves, could we please look at the Qu’ran and acknowledge that there is an urge, that it urges us to be violent, accept that it’s in there and then change it. I don’t see anything that’s not gentle about that. It is not me who’s not being gentle; it’s the people who respond to that gentle nudge with violence who are not gentle.
Guernica: When you talk about the hatefulness of Islam, and you provide examples of statements made against Jews, I think perhaps some of your critics might call what you say a body of ungraceful generalizations…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Ok, it is an ungraceful generalization, but it should be understood to be—and I try to say it all the time, which is a truism by the way—it’s not every Muslim, not every single Muslim who does that. But please look at the Arab media, the Islamic media. And what you see is the Jews are compared to monkeys, they’re called “our enemies,” “we should destroy them,” and so on and so forth. Now what I’m saying is let’s not deny that. We’ve been taught that. And why?
Because we’ve lived in dictatorships. And these dictators want to take advantage of us by first of all saying it is Islamic to be anti-Jewish, which is not necessarily true; yes, there were moments when the prophet was friends with the Jews and there were moments when he felt betrayed by the Jews; and he started to have these anti-Semitic verses in the Qu’ran. They pick these verses out. But by pointing out the facts such as the virulent hatred against the Jews, I’m not attacking all Muslims, and I’m not trying to be ungraceful and I’m not generalizing; I’m saying we have to acknowledge things like these to change.
We have to get rid of this idea that God is an entity that only says “I say so,” because in that case God is a dictator.
Guernica: In your book, you write: “When people say that the values of Islam are compassion and tolerance and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being called racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Ok, I can support this assertion with facts. And it’s not only me—for four years now the Arab Human Development Report was being published year in and year out. And the Arab Human Development Report does not take into account research on non-Arab countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia. They only look at the 22 so-called Arab countries.
And the three deficits they point to in all of these states—including Iran—there is the lack of freedom, lack of knowledge, and the subjugation of women. And all of the [deficits], all are being supported in the name of Islam. Even an atheist like Saddam Hussein, who in the first decade of his reign was anti-religion, later on when the Americans came in he put [Islamic phrases] on the flag, and he started to just continue oppressing his own people, but this time in the name of Islam.
I tried to explain in the book that I used to be a member of the [Muslim] Brotherhood movement. And listening to bin Laden, and listening to al Qaeda, listening to all these [extremists] the only reason these people win from the moderates is because what they are saying is in the Qu’ran and what the prophet wanted and how they are acting is all consistent.
So the only way to preserve Islam on the one hand and counter them as moderate Muslims is to say “Well you guys are right. All this stuff is in the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran is written by human beings. And as human beings, endowed with reason, we can change this because we don’t think that it’s beneficial. Or even if we are not going to change it, we are going to believe that in its context, because the Qu’ran was written in a different time, in a different context, in a different age. We’re going to move on; we’re going to take from the Qu’ran those things that we think are compatible with human hearts.” But the minute you start doing that, that’s when hell comes in, and the radicals will say “Oh, but then you are not a believer because you are refuting what God says.”
So that’s why I say in the book, Ok, in that case, let’s review the individual relationship between God or the concept of God and the individual… If we only see God as an entity that we submit to, but like other religions—and I think Jews have done this, Christians have done this; certainly Protestants have done this—instead see God as an entity that you can argue with, and that means propagating the idea that if you argue with God he won’t send you to hell—[laughs]—
Guernica: Otherwise it’s hard to win that argument.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Yes, of course—because he tells you “shut up.” So we have to get rid of this idea that God is an entity that only says “I say so” (because in that case God is a dictator) and then you have an argument. And then you can probably win the hearts and minds of young people who just want to live. Not only young people; also older ordinary people who just want to lead a normal life, and for whom life is difficult enough as it is. Without coming with all this jihadi bullshit.
And so this is—saying jihadi bullshit, by the way, is not graceful—but I see the way to progress, the way to compete with these [radicals]. Because that’s really what I’m focused on, [since] I was once a part of that. It was difficult to have conversations with them, because the minute you start pointing out inconsistencies, or the minute you say, “Hey, let’s progress from there,” then they get very, very angry, and then they translate that anger into, “Ok, you’re not one of us,” or [into] violence or the threat of violence.
What I also try to explain in the book is once I came to Holland and I took note of the history of Western philosophy, the history of Western political theory, what this reveals is that the West—for instance the Netherlands—wasn’t always as prosperous as this; they went through hell, they went through their wars, religious wars; and they progressed because they acknowledged that the bible is full of a lot of stuff that makes us go to war with each other and with others, that the Catholic Church (which was the dominant church), was violent and exploits the poor and others, that even the Protestant reaction to it also brought about a lot of violence, and that the people who say this in their own time seem to also be not so graceful. [laughs] And many of them were harrassed and burned at the stake, and others migrated first to countries like Holland that were more tolerant and later to the US and Australia and so on.
What is going to be left of Saudi Arabia if you take away the Qu’ran and the Shar’ia and the prophet. There’s simply going to be no Saudi state. They’ll all want secularism; they’ll all want democracy.
And so it is a part of human history that if you say, “Let’s change the fundamental values that people have,” there’s also a stated interest in the status quo. Not talking about the prophet, not discussing the Qu’ran. And that could… I mean, I have powerful enemies. Look at a country like Saudi Arabia. What is going to be left of Saudi Arabia if you take away the Qu’ran and the Shar’ia and the prophet. If the Saudis simply stop taking the prophet seriously. There’s simply going to be no Saudi state. They’ll all want secularism; they’ll all want democracy.
Guernica: Are you still at all ambivalent—perhaps emotionally—about Islam?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Philosophically, not so much emotionally. I studied political science, and you think one thing about something and then—the example from history: should the bomb have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Was that necessary or was it not necessary? And so you’ve got one professor’s class who says it was absolutely necessary and the next day you attend another professor’s class who shows you some facts and says, the Japanese were already defeated and it wasn’t necessary and so on. Then you get into a state of doubt: you can’t choose.
That’s what happened to me in the time that I was in the Netherlands. And so I have no longer got any doubts about the [Muslim] Brotherhood. I don’t think I belong—the moral framework that they have to offer me is not convincing. I think they have not withstood the challenge of liberalism to Islam. I think that Islam is a challenge to liberalism too… But of course I am a product of Islamic civilization—you can call it a civilization still: my parents, my heritage, and so on—and so I have this obligation, I feel this obligation, especially in the context of now, where there is a conflict between the Islamic world and the Western world. And such a conflict—I think that I can’t just lie around and be silent on that and enjoy a life of Western progress and at the same time keep quiet about what is not right with us. That’s my take on it: I don’t believe in hell and heaven anymore. Or angels. I think Islam is a superstition like every other superstition. But now because it’s a superstition, unlike Christianity, that hasn’t been tested and hasn’t gone through a process of enlightenment, I think it’s a dangerous superstition.
I don’t have nightmares about heaven and hell—but I used to have. I used to fear them a lot, and as I say in the book, that’s when my emancipation started. And I think that’s when every Muslim’s (just like every Christian’s who’s had an emancipation) ever started. It [starts] when you relinquish the notion of hell, because then you can’t be blackmailed all the time into doing things that you don’t want to do, because there’s that fear of hell. I didn’t want to pray five times a day. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but when it came time to pray there was usually something I was doing that I found more interesting.
But I think if my parents were suddenly to turn up now—because that was a conditioning that went on forever—my reflex would be to behave in a certain way—of what’s expected of me.
Guernica: You’d revert to the older role?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I think so. But now, as an adult, that would be temporal. And that’s the difference between, say, 10, 20 years ago and now. Now I think I’d only do it because—what I get is sometimes … it doesn’t happen for a long time but when I’ve called and if someone says As Salaam Alaikum—which is the Islamic greeting—and I without thinking about it just say Alaikum Salaam. Or people say, god be with you, in Arabic and the only way to answer that is to say, I mean, god be with you. And that’s a reflex. And I still do that, and I laugh about it. And when something unpleasant is happening and you’re longing for something, I touch myself and say “Please god, please god.” And I learned to say “god” in my language which is Allah. So I say, “Please Allah.” And that’s a reflex. And I think it’s probably the same way that you kind of say “Jesus.”
Guernica: True or false: there’s anger in your movement away from Islam?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Of course there is an anger. If people’s hands are cut off… this jihadi bullshit is like, “Let’s all go back to the seventh century.” Now I don’t want to go back to the seventh century. And I know that many others like me in Islam don’t want to go back. But all these people are blackmailed into the dogma that you don’t argue with god. So you have to take the Qu’ran literally as the word of god forever, it never moves. You follow the example of the prophet as a moral guide, always.
Now the prophet has done a number of wonderful things, and he has said a number of good things. But measured by the standards of today, the prophet has also done a number of very immoral things: violence, his attitude towards women, gays, and also not leaving some sort of organization to form and reform. The sexual morality, the tribal… Islam was founded in the Arab deserts in a tribal setting. In such a tribal setting the most important asset that you have are men/boys, because they defend the tribe. The larger you are the more important you are. The whole notion of polygamy and getting as many children as you can and women as you needed… you have to know that the child in your tribe is your child and not someone else’s child. So the notion of women being kept: that’s what the prophet kind of institutionalized in Islam.
Does it make me angry? Yes it makes me angry because we Muslims on 9/11—(that’s how I thought of it: we Muslims)—are now flying planes full of people into tall buildings and we are blaming outsiders for all our miseries. And maybe a lot of our miseries have been caused by outsiders. But please let’s take a pause and look at what we are doing wrong. And if I see all these fathers and mothers teaching their children to seek knowledge, but don’t go beyond what’s written in the Qu’ran, then wondering why their children are ignorant; they fill their children with all sorts of notions of hell and how they are going to be punished, then saying my child is not creative enough in school—of course this is enraging.
And the way women are treated. What is enraging is not only the treatment but the way it’s so justified in the religion. I translated for women who in the Dutch liberal context are rescued from these situations of abuse who then go back to the argument, I can’t leave him. I have to bear with him because of the hereafter. It says in the Qu’ran: he can beat me when I’m disobedient and I’ve been disobedient. And I’m going to behave myself now. It’s like, How long are you going to behave yourself? and she says, Well, it’s god’s command. I don’t know if you are not enraged about it. I am enraged about the evangelicals or the Christians here wanting to introduce creationism in the science classes.
Guernica: Well, that might be a good place to ask you about the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), your new employers. A lot of their critics would point out that the neocons…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The American Enterprise Institute is not a political entity; all [the journalists today] have asked me that. It’s a think tank. What AEI tries to do is influence public policy.
Guernica: But they do have a preponderance of neoconservatives there.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: They do, and there are some Democrats there. They started as a free market think tank that wanted as little government interference as possible in the affairs of society—limited government. When I read about them I found very little on foreign policy. Their foreign policy seems to have started in the last few years. If there were a Democratic administration in the White House, they would try to influence that administration as much as possible. I haven’t come into a political organization; I’ve come into a think tank. They think about different issues. There is a controversy between some of the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and me—not all.
Guernica: Such as?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I think all the scholars who are against gay marriages, abortion, euthanasia; I know very little about it. I have my ideas on limited government, I’m for limited government but I’m also for—I mean, it’s not as simple as that. I don’t think that being a superpower, the wealthiest country on earth, and having your homeless people and psychiatric patients walking in the streets and eating out of garbage cans is something to be proud of. But I don’t have the answer.
The issues that I’ve just discussed, the fact that I’m an atheist, I’ve discussed it with my employer and he said, “It’s fine.” They are not interested. He said, “We learn from people we find controversial.” I’m talking about Chris Demuth, who employed me and he said controversy, for him, is the means to progress.
Guernica: That seems to be in line with your…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: That seems to be very much in line (laughs) with me. But also, going to a think tank, I didn’t become a member of a church (laughs)—or some religious sect.
Guernica: So you don’t see AEI as the neoconservative “brotherhood”?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: No, I don’t see them as the neoconservative brotherhood. I just see them, some of our scholars, as having very very strong ideas, theories on how and in what direction American foreign policy should go. And in that they are right in the middle of the debate—leading—so I have nothing against that. I think if you want to refute it then you should just polish up your theories; don’t complain that they are neocons.
Guernica: David Frum is there—
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Yes, he’s a delightful guy.
Guernica: He coined the phrase “Axis of Evil.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I don’t know if he did—
Guernica: He sure did—ask him.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Ok, I will (laughs). If he did he should be proud of it.
Guernica: He should be proud of that?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Well, I think he should be. The mistake that the Bush administration should admit to is not so much that they made the wrong choices. They made the right analysis; they made the right choices. But what they did wrong was the execution of those choices. That was wrong.
Guernica: I’ll need you to explain that. I mean, let me contextualize and play devil’s advocate a bit. For instance, the John Kerry 2004 campaign argument was that bin Laden was the perpetrator of the crime we were interested in prosecuting, so to speak; he was in Afghanistan; there was a tyrant in Iraq, but without direct ties then. You go to Iraq and kill tens of thousands of Iraqis (Bush acknowledged 30,000 in December over a year ago; reports since then have said hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians); you’re recruiting for Al Qaeda, inflaming hatreds, robbing moderates of their reasons and replacing those with hatreds and fears of long-term occupation, and you’re creating, affirming a civilizational war to replace the Cold War, extremists against extremists, who look at giant posters of Abu Ghraib and see American hatred, not Muslim hatred—so in this context, the Iraq war was the right decision?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Well, look—that’s the Kerry argument. That’s not—
Guernica: This isn’t the reality?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Not everything in there is clear.
Guernica: Ok, so pick that apart for me.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Let’s start a bit earlier. We had up until 1989 a bipolar world. We had a world dominated by the Soviet Union on the one hand, and the Americans on the other hand. They called it the Cold War. In that time, the foreign policy of America was: American interest first. That’s natural. In the history of the nation-state—I don’t know how much you immerse yourself in the history of nation-states—is to say your own national interest first. America being as powerful as it is, and Soviet Russia being as powerful as it was, would say, “Ok, we need oil from you. What do you have? A dictator. You’re not giving us your oil. We’re going to remove this dictator and replace him with a dictator who’s friendly to our interests.”
That attitude was put forth many times; and it was called the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West. But it wasn’t cold. I am someone who comes from the third world. In the third world, the cold war wasn’t cold. Millions had been killed. It was a proxy war.
The assumption that the administration made was to think they could go in there for a short while and show the people, “See, we are your friends,” and everyone in Iraq would embrace democracy—from tribalism to democracy; from dictatorship to democracy—that was the mistake. There was no commitment to stay for fifty or a hundred years.
Now, after 1989, you get a unipolar world in which the United States is the country. Now, Bill Clinton, whom I admire, was distracted by this whole impeachment process. Republicans forever should be ashamed. Now, a new situation arises, which everyone in America and the West wakes up to after 9/11, that those people, that America, based on the old morality, bin Laden and the mujahideen and so on, had propped up against the Soviet Union, that that policy backfires. Not the next day, but ten years from that moment.
So then the whole debate started, in which the neocons, I still think, have the moral high ground, is to say we have to choose between different sorts of defending ourselves. One is to continue to exploit these nations. The American economy is dependent on oil. Oil is in the Middle East. Do we go out there and fetch it, and remove Saddam and put our own dictator there, or remove this one or that one? Or do we say we can create a mutual interest, we need your resources; the interest of our economy is in your countries, we will take that; but we are not only going to take it, we are also going to give you—your countries are complete disasters—we are going to bring you democracy?
Now, there are a number of arguments for that and there are a number of arguments against that. I would say that approach, in terms of moral standards, is far better than the former one. But if you choose that sort of argument—and that’s where the Bush administration went wrong—which is: “Ok, we need your resources; we are going to bring you democracy”—the assumption that the administration made was that they thought that you could go in there for a short while and show the people, “See, we are your friends,” and that everyone in Iraq would embrace democracy—from tribalism to democracy; from dictatorship to democracy—that is the mistake that was made. There was no commitment to stay for at least fifty years or a hundred years. That’s one.
Second point… and I would say that’s the second mistake that was made was: it’s still not clear why Iraq first. After 9/11, especially after Afghanistan, Kerry is saying let’s go to Afghanistan: I would have said let’s do failed states first.
Guernica: Well, staying focused there before going somewhere else is what Kerry was saying, especially as it’s devolving again…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: It is devolving again. And that’s what I mean by commitment for years and convince the American people that for them to drive their cars, we need to get oil from there and that is how we have to commit to this, not to have terrorism and so on and so forth. Then it is not clear to me why it is that the United States went to Iraq. Iran was preparing nuclear weapons so in the Axis of Evil—Iran, North Korea, and which was the third one—
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: No, it’s an axis—they don’t work [together] like that. It was…
Guernica: Why are we forgetting this? I think it was Iraq.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: It was Iraq. Ok. So, in that threesome, I would start…
Guernica: So in your view he used it [“axis”] wrong. Better tell Frum…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: [laughs] I would say in that axis, I would start with Iran. It was very obvious. And again if you look at what happened on September 11, the act itself—I think there were nineteen boys, sixteen of whom were Saudis. They were not Iraqis. And they were not Iranians. From a declaration of war point of view, and even from a resources point of view, Saudi Arabia was the most logical target to attack. The land that the United States should have occupied on the 12th of September should have been Saudi Arabia. That’s where the ideology came from, that’s where the money came from, and that’s where the men came from who committed the attacks. Again, there are so many inconsistencies, so many mistakes, but the Kerry argument is not satisfactory. And the Bush administration inherited policy choices that had come to them in the form of failed states, where terrorists started to nestle and [take hold of the countries].
When Muhammed got his revelation, he got it in a cave, and he was illiterate. In my story, he’s literate and he wakes up in a library. And he gets to see New York and he gets to think that this empire was built by his people.
The Bush administration had inherited a world in which, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, nuclear material is out of the hands of the state and in the hands of people who are very poor who are selling it to very bad people—this was in the New York Times yesterday—that’s a very dangerous world. And so they have to deal with that. The Bush administration had also inherited from the father Bush a notion that, as Americans, you could go into a country as the policemen for just a short while and that you can promise to the American people we are going to Somalia, we are going to Iraq, we are going to Afghanistan, or I don’t know—wherever the choice is today—and there will be no American casualties. That’s where all the numbers for the casualties will come from.
Now, I’m just trying to explain the shift in morality, in American foreign policy from just “grab and go,” which was bad, to “Ok, we are going to set things right there.” That shift in itself is a good shift. But the way it happened was catastrophic.
Guernica: That was actually part of Kerry’s argument too—was that had they done it differently—had Bush truly built a coalition involving the UN—
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The UN, no. This is clear, the UN—
Guernica: The argument is that having alienated so many people who could bring the invasion legitimacy, with the UN or other countries coming in after to help stabilize, as in the Balkans—especially with Americans so hated in some parts of that world—that they could never, we could never ourselves maintain stability….
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: That argument is strong as far as concerns Europe, and the Western powers. As far as concerns the members of the United Nations, they would never support it. If you talk to one of the people there and say you are on the list of dictators I am going to come for next, it is obviously not going to happen. So that’s the problem with the United Nations; every nation is a member. So you wouldn’t get only United Nations going after such an American policy. But yes, there could have been a better transatlantic [coalition] and I think both Republicans and Democrats will have to work [together].
Guernica: What do you make of how insistent neocons have been that invading Iraq was not about oil?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: It was about oil. Then why not invade Sudan or North Korea? The Middle East is interesting because…
Guernica: The public rationales Bush and all put on record were: first security, second humanitarian and democratic assistance.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Well, I think it was just another romantic naive moral adventure.
Guernica: True or false: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a liberal?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Yes, but not liberal in the communist sense. Classical liberalism—John Stuart Mill.
Guernica: What will your next project be?
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: I’m working on another book, called Shortcut to Enlightenment, Part 1. I’m waking the prophet Muhammed up in the New York Public Library. When he got his revelation, he got it in a cave, and he was illiterate. In my story, he’s literate and he wakes up in a library. And he gets to see New York and he gets to think that this empire was built by his people, his followers; and he discovers a few inconsistencies, such as what he sees as uninhibited capitalism … So then he thinks, “No, this is not my philosophy, the people who built this are not my followers.”
So he goes and finds out what his followers have been up to since his death—and he’s very, very surprised. Because they’re killing each other, they’re targeting everyone else, they’re weak. And so then he’s very, very sad; and in that saddened state he encounters John Stuart Mill. And so they have a dialogue on the position of women in society and the relationship between men and women.
And in another chapter he has a conversation on the relationship of the individual and the community. And in another chapter he has a dialogue with Karl Popper on the open society and its enemies. And Karl Popper asserts that Islam is an enemy of the open society. And the last chapter is about what happens to the prophet after these dialogues. Does he convert to the ideas of these liberals or does he stick to his own?
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