Readers on a plane

On the flight back from Boston, there sat beside me a woman in her middle forties, intently reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali‘s autobiography, Infidel, for the entire duration of the flight. Finally, a half-hour before landing, I asked her about the book, and about what she thought of the way Ayaan Hirsi Ali moved away from Islam. She was more than half-way through the book at the point, and said that she felt most repulsed by the process of genital mutilation that Hirsi Ali had to endure in her childhood. Sharp and observant, she noticed that Hirsi Ali had taken up a postion at the American Enterprise Institute, that most conservative of think tanks.

I had my copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion open on my lap, and she recognized it immediately. She said that she had met Professor Dawkins at a lecture he gave at a Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) Talk last year. She mentioned that Dawkins was a delightful person (she had food with him and spoke with him for a long time) and found him very passionate in the way he went about the often repetitive task of explaining his position on evolution and atheism.


1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali interviewed on CBC Canada. Audio runs for 27 minutes.

2. Laila Lalami‘s article The Missionary Position in The Nation, containing a critical review of Hirsi Ali’s The Caged Virgin.

3. Dawkins was interviewed on WHYY by the always excellent Terri Gross. The date is yesterday’s but I think the interview might have been recorded earlier. Audio runs for about 30 minutes.


2 thoughts on “Readers on a plane”

  1. Thank you for these links. I listened to a man last night on Fresh Air — the guy who headed up the Human Genome Project — talk about his embrace of Christianity. Actually, I missed that part and only heard him talk about the Human Genome Project. I’d have liked to have heard Dawkins, and now I can!

  2. Thanks Lily. That was Francis Collins. I will listen to his interview this evening. He is a good speaker, but I am baffled by him, especially when he explains why he, a great geneticist, believes in the Virgin Birth.

    I was just over at NoteLily after reading the annual report from the BL corporation, when I received this comment via email. I’m going to go back there often :).

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