Ayaan Hirsi Ali



Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi decided something had to be done about government meddling "the first time I was forced to haul my fragile body out into the frigid New York winter to enjoy a cigarette." In revenge, he wrote Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and Other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children (Broadway), excerpted in this issue (page 18). Harsanyi's article decries intrusive rules that are ostensibly aimed at stopping drunk driving but in fact are focused on drinking itself. "Though I am a big believer in the right to drink irresponsibly, and do as often as possible, I would never get behind the wheel intoxicated," Harsanyi says. "I always ride a bicycle. It's good for the environment as well."

Rogier van Bakel immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands, just like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whom he interviews on page 26. But the similarities pretty much end there. Bakel is a freelance journalist who has written for Wired, Playboy, and Rolling Stone, while Hirsi Ali is a Somali refugee who became a Dutch parliamentarian and a controversial critic of Islam. While van Bakel doesn't agree with all of Hirsi Ali's views, he calls her a "refreshing voice" with challenging things to say about immigration, assimilation, and liberty.

Juliet Samuel, Reason's Burton C. Gray Memorial Intern for 2007, hasn't read much chick lit, unless you count the Nancy Drew books she read as a girl. But she made an exception for Rajaa Alsanea's Saudi chick lit sensation Girls of Riyadh, which "piqued my interest as one possible way of bringing feminism to chick culture." Now in her junior year at Harvard, Samuel digs into the book in "Much Ado About Shopping" (page 55) and finds powerful political themes in a superficially shallow tale about "the sex and shopping habits of four rich Saudi girls."