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Oriana Fallaci
A Life Well Lived

Appreciations from George Jonas, Daniel Pipes and<br>Robert Spencer

Institute Staff

20 September 2006

Europe's Cassandra: Oriana Fallaci was a celebrated journalist living in exile
by George Jonas
National Post
September 18, 2006

She cast herself in the role of Cassandra during the last years of her life, but during the first part of her memorable career Rolling Stone magazine described Oriana Fallaci as "the greatest political interviewer of modern times." Younger readers may not remember the cocky Italian reporter who came from the New Left, but was headstrong enough to alienate mighty figures at both ends of the political spectrum. No Jane Fonda, in the end Fallaci became as unpopular in Moscow's corridors of power as in Washington's. She remained popular among book and newspaper publishers, though, who had no difficulty disposing of her copy.

By the end of her life, Fallaci was the author of 14 books, of which 12 had been translated into English. She published the first one in 1958, at the age of 28. Called The Seven Sins of Hollywood, it featured a preface by Orson Welles. Her last book, an anti-Islamist pamphlet entitled The Force of Reason, was published only this spring. Her 12 books in-between included a quasi-autobiographical novel, Penelope at War, about a young female journalist who refuses her boyfriend's entreaties to stay at home (1966); a hostile look at America's war in Vietnam, called Nothing, and So Be It (1972); and her magnum opus, Interview with History (1976).

It would be hard to think of a collection to equal Fallaci's Interview with History. Fiercely beautiful in her youth, she used her appearance as a key to gain access to her male interview subjects, as well as a challenge to provoke them. Men are notoriously incautious when baited or confronted by fierce beauties, and Fallaci made short shrift of the alpha males that tried to bully or impress her. She outwitted Henry Kissinger by flattery and cowed the Ayatollah Khomeini by a fine display of Italian temper, but reserved her greatest contempt for Yasser Arafat, whom she memorably described as "a massive trunk, huge hips, and a swollen belly ... summed up in a large mouth with red and fleshy lips."

There was something about the late PLO chief that particularly rubbed Fallaci the wrong way, and may have contributed to her eventual development as Cassandra. In 2002, after a silence of some 20 years, the enfant terrible of the 1960s and 1970s erupted on the stage of political journalism with a book-length tract. Originally commissioned by Milan's Corriere Della Sera shortly after the events of 9/11, it sounded shrill, intemperate, but not inaccurate warnings about "these sons of Allah" and their civilization overrunning Europe.

Called The Rage and the Pride, Fallaci's pamphlet sold a million copies in Italy, and became number one on non-fiction bestseller lists in France and Germany. It displayed an ego verging on the pathological, a terminal boastfulness, a surfeit of testosterone and a self-righteousness to rival the Ayatollah Khomeini's -- but it came coupled with a child's ability to see that the emperor had no clothes and also a child's courage of saying so. Christopher Caldwell described her book in Commentary magazine as "a philippic against Islamist terrorism and the cowardly Western elites who have permitted it to blossom in their midst." This was accurate, but Fallaci also seemed to posit a far more dubious equation: Islamism = Islam. It was probably untrue and minimally premature. Fallaci replied to such criticism that her message wouldn't be heard at all unless she roared it, anything more muted being drowned out by the chorus of what she called the "cicadas" of cultural and moral equivalence.

The "cicadas" certainly tried to silence Cassandra. After the publication of The Force of Reason this spring, Europe's mafiosi of political correctness found an Italian magistrate to indict the cancer-stricken journalist under provisions of the Italian Penal Code which proscribe the "vilification" of "any religion admitted by the state." For suggesting that the continent was on its way to being colonized by Islam, the 76-year-old Fallaci was facing two years' imprisonment in her native country. ("Let us give thanks for the First Amendment," commented The Wall Street Journal, reporting the story.)

There's no doubt that Fallaci could speak with considerable venom about Muslim immigrants in Italy. In one sequence of The Rage and the Pride, talking of a group of Somali Muslims who pitched a tent in Florence's Cathedral Square to protest Italy's reluctance to accept family-class immigrants, she described "the yellow streaks of urine that profaned the millenary marbles of the Baptistery," adding that "Good heavens! They really take long shots, these sons of Allah!"

In the U.S. such outbursts have First Amendment protection, but not in Europe. Nor in Canada.

Canada very nearly hosted Fallaci's last public appearance. Public policy maven Patrick Luciani, a personal friend, had hopes of organizing a private dinner for her this fall in Toronto. Fallaci agreed to address the invited guests briefly but take no questions. Before the event could be put together, however, time had run out for Cassandra. Her last actual public appearance was about ten months ago in New York, at an event chaired by David Horowitz, where she was introduced by the similarly outspoken though far more scholarly commentator, Daniel Pipes. "Wanted for a speech crime in her native country," said Dr. Pipes, "Europe's most celebrated journalist now lives in exile in Manhattan." It was no exaggeration, for Fallaci didn't feel that she could return to Italy until ten days before her death, when her medical condition made legal action against her unlikely.

Fallaci passed away at the Santa Chiara clinic in Florence on the night of Sept. 14, and was laid to rest in the Evangelical Cemetery of Laurels at Galluzzo, yesterday, in the presence of a few old friends. A lifelong atheist, after a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI last year, she started referring to herself as a "Christian atheist." It would require another journey by her compatriot Dante to tell us whether her new address is in heaven, in purgatory or in hell.

 © 2006 George Jonas


Appreciating Oriana Fallaci

by Daniel Pipes
September 16, 2006

Oriana Fallaci died yesterday, September 15, in Florence, Italy.

In her memory, I offer an introduction to Ms Fallaci that I delivered, at her request, on November 28, 2005, at a Center for the Study of Popular Culture event honoring her, chaired by David Horowitz. Her talk that evening, at the 3 West Club in New York City, was latterly incorporated in her book, The Force of Reason. I believe this was her final public appearance.

It is my great pleasure to introduce Oriana Fallaci to you.

Born in 1930 in Florence, Italy, she was brought up in an anti-fascist family and her father was a leader in the fight against Mussolini. At age 14, Ms Fallaci took part in the Resistance. For her work during the war, she received an award from the Chief of the Allied Forces in Italy. She then attended the University of Florence.

She had the writer's urge from early on. She was writing what she calls "naïve short stories" at the age of 9 and at 16 (after lying about her age) began covering police and hospital topics. Here is how she has described the writing experience:

I sat at the typewriter for the first time and fell in love with the words that emerged like drops, one by one, and remained on the white sheet of paper ... every drop became something that if spoken would have flown away, but on the sheets as words, became solidified, whether they were good or bad.

In a less poetic vein, she has also acknowledged that "What really pushes me to write is my obsession with death."

Ms Fallaci subsequently wrote for many Italian, European, and American publications, including Corriere della Sera, Le Nouvel Observateur, Der Stern, Life, Look, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, and The New Republic.

As a war correspondent, she covered the major conflicts of our time.

She covered the insurrection in Hungary, getting arrested in the process.

She spent seven years in the field in Vietnam, both North and South, and ended up being thrown out of the South.

She reported about the revolutions in Latin America: Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, as well as the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, where she was one of just two survivors. (She got caught up in a rally to oppose the Mexican government's decision to spend enormous amount of money on the 1968 Olympics and Fallaci was shot at by police, taking bullet fragments in her shoulder, back, and knee.)

She covered the Lebanon civil war and the Kuwait War.

Ms Fallaci conducted her trademark confrontational interviews with powerful figures, or to use her more colorful terminology, "those bastards who decide our lives," including Willy Brandt, Lech Walesa, Muammar Qaddafi, Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon, Haile Selassie, the Shah of Iran, Indira Gandhi, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Deng Xiaoping, and H. Rap Brown. Also, she interviewed leading non-political figures such as Federico Fellini, Sean Connery, Sammy Davis, Jr., Arthur Miller, Orson Welles and even Hugh Hefner.

She is the only person to have interviewed the Ayatollah Khomeini, with whom she spent six hours. At one point, she memorably ripped off her chador in indignation and heaved it at his eminence.

Known for her challenging interviewing tactics, Fallaci goaded her subjects into making unintended revelations. "Let's talk about war," she challenged Henry Kissinger in their 1972 interview, perhaps the one Americans remember best. Prior to this interview, Kissinger had revealed little to the press about his life and personality. Fallaci kept after the secretary of state during their conversation to explain why a mere diplomat enjoyed such fame. He dodged the question, but eventually gave in. "Sometimes," he said, "I see myself as a cowboy leading the caravan alone astride his horse, a wild west tale if you like." Kissinger thus revealed how he saw himself - as a heroic, imposing leader who controlled the direction of U.S. politics – and, consequently, was massively criticized. Even years later, Kissinger referred to his interview with Ms Fallaci as "the most disastrous conversation I ever had with any member of the press."

Her interviews also included unusual details. For example, she wrote of Yasir Arafat about

his "thick, Arab mustache and his short height which, combined with small hands and feet, fat legs, a massive trunk, huge hips, and a swollen belly, made him appear rather odd." She described his head and face in great detail, noting that "he has almost no cheeks or forehead, everything is summed up in a large mouth with red and fleshy lips, an aggressive nose, and two eyes that hypnotize you."

One biographer, Jill M. Duquaine, calls Fallaci the "greatest political interviewer of modern times"

She is the author of 13 books, all but two of them translated into English. In all, they have been translated into 26 languages and published in 31 countries.

The first one, The Seven Sins of Hollywood, came out in Italian in 1958, featuring a preface by Orson Welles.

The Useless Sex: Voyage around the Woman, 1964. (reportage on a whirlwind trip around the world for a weekly newspaper, L'Europeo)

Penelope at War, 1966. (a novel about a career-minded young female journalist who refuses her boyfriend's pleas to stay home and have a family)

If the Sun Dies, 1966. (collected articles about the U.S. space program)

The Egotists: Sixteen Surprising Interviews, 1968.

Nothing, and So Be It, 1972 (on the war in Vietnam, sympathetic to the Vietcong) – she shares Second Thoughts with our host tonight, David Horowitz

An Interview with History, 1976, collected some of her outstanding interviews; it has been described as "one of the classics of modern journalism."

Letter to a Child Never Born, 1976 (a novel, called "one of the finest feminist writings about pregnancy, abortion, and emotional torture").

A Man, 1980 (a novel based on her personal experience with the Greek poet and resistance leader Alekos Panagoulis)

Inshallah, 1992 (another novel, about the civil war in Lebanon).

After a silence of ten years, she published The Rage and the Pride in 2001, a response to the challenge of radical Islam. It sold 1 million copies in Italy and 500,000 in the rest of Europe.

In 2004, she wrote The Force of Reason, out this month in English from Rizzoli. It also sold 1 million copies in Italy. In it, she argues that the fall of the West has commenced due to radical Islam. Western-style democracy, with its liberty, human rights, freedom of thought and religion, cannot coexist with radical Islam. One of them has to perish. She puts her money on the West failing.

The third book of her Islamic trilogy, Fallaci Interviews Herself and The Apocalypse, also came out in 2004, in Italian (and not yet in English). Here is what Bat Ye'or had to say of it, writing at FrontPageMag.com, another activity of this evening's sponsor, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture: "In this brief masterpiece Oriana Fallaci moves us to tears, shakes us with laughter, enlightens us and transmits her love and despair for a Europe she served with such great devotion and now watches in despair as it goes adrift."

In an interview in 2002, she was asked about George W. Bush. "We will see; it's too soon," she replied. "I have the impression that Bush has a certain vigor and also a dignity which had been forgotten in the United States for eight years." But she has her differences with him, especially when the president calls Islam a "religion of peace." "Do you know what I do each time he says it on TV? I'm there alone, and I watch it and say, ‘Shut up! Shut up, Bush!' But he doesn't listen to me."

In earlier years, her reportage put in her many times in harm's way; nowadays, it is her direct and unflinching writings on Islam that create dangers for her: "My life," Ms Fallaci wrote recently, "is seriously in danger."

She also has legal headaches. She was on trial twice in France in 2002 and was brought up on charges in Italy in May 2005. She was indicted under a provision of the Italian penal code that criminalizes the "vilification of any religion admitted by the state." Specifically, it states that The Force of Reason "defames Islam." One might therefore say that, wanted for a speech crime in her native country, Europe's most celebrated journalist now lives in exile in Manhattan.

The plaintiff is an extremist Muslim of Scottish origin named Adel Smith. He is thought to be the author of a pamphlet titled "Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci," that calls upon Muslims to "eliminate" her and to "go and die with Fallaci." Bye the bye, Smith has also called for the destruction of the medieval fresco, "The Last Judgment" by Giovanni da Modena, in Bologna Cathedral, because it depicts the Prophet Muhammad as languishing in hell.

Ms Fallaci writings have also, of course, won her many opportunities. I'd like to mention one: that she was among the first persons invited by Pope Benedict XVI for a chat, an encounter all the more significant for her being publicly declared an atheist. Before their meeting, this is what Ms Fallaci had to say about the new pope:

I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true. It's that simple! There must be some human truth here that is beyond religion.

It is a particular honor to have Ms Fallaci with us here tonight, for she is not exactly known as a socialite. Here is her description of her work habits:

I start working early in the morning (eight or eight-thirty a.m.) and go on until six p.m. or seven p.m. without interruption. That is, without eating and without resting. I smoke more than usual, which means, around fifty cigarettes a day. I sleep badly in the night. I don't see anybody. I don't answer the telephone. I don't go anywhere. I ignore the Sundays, the holidays, the Christmases, the New Year's Eves. I get hysterical, in other words, and unhappy and unsatisfied and guilty if I don't produce much. By the way, I am a very slow writer. And I rewrite obsessively.

To conclude, here is Oriana Fallaci, speaking of her legacy: She hopes, through her books,

“…to die a little less when I die. To leave the children I did not have... . To make people think a little more, outside the dogmas that this society has nourished us with through centuries. To give stories and ideas that help people to see better, to think better, to know a little more….

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Oriana Fallaci who will speak on "The European Apocalypse: Islam and the West."

Fallaci: Warrior in the Cause of Human Freedom

By Robert Spencer

FrontPageMagazine.com | November 30, 2005

“We are gathered here tonight,” announced David Horowitz, “to honor a warrior in the cause of human freedom.”


Oriana Fallaci, who received the Center for the Study of Popular Culture’s Annie Taylor Award in New York Monday evening, has been a warrior for human freedom ever since she joined the anti-fascist resistance in 1944, at age fourteen. For over six decades, she has fought against those she has labeled “the bastards who decide our lives,” opposing all forms of tyranny and oppression, from Mussolini and Hitler to Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. She amassed a fearsome reputation as an interviewer, recounting of Ariel Sharon: “‘I know you’ve come to add another scalp to your necklace,’ he murmured almost with sadness when I went to interview him in 1982.” Other scalps on her necklace include that of Henry Kissinger, who termed his interview with Fallaci “the most disastrous conversation I ever had with any member of the press.” While interviewing the Ayatollah Khomeini, Fallaci called him a “tyrant” and tore off the chador she had had to wear in order to be admitted to his presence. According to Daniel Pipes in his introduction of Fallaci Monday night, she is also apparently one of the few who ever made the irascible old man laugh.

Today, at seventy-five years old, Fallaci still stands for freedom. She is suffering from cancer. She stated with her usual directness at the Taylor Awards ceremony: “I shall not last long.” But she has dedicated the four years since 9/11 to trying to awaken her native Italy, Europe and the world to the magnitude global jihad threat, which most analysts continue, whether from willful blindness, ignorance, or a misplaced strategic imperative, to misapprehend. Pipes noted that “she has her differences with the President. When he says that Islam a ‘religion of peace,’ she has said, ‘each time he says it on TV? I’m there alone, and I watch it and say, “Shut up! Shut up, Bush!” But he doesn’t listen to me.’”

And it isn’t, of course, just Bush. Fallaci spoke fervently Monday evening about how Western nations are selling their own homelands and culture to their mortal enemies. “We seem to live in real democracies,” she said, “but we really live in weak democracies ruled by despotism and fear.” Western elites – government and media – are paralyzed by fear, afraid to speak out against the life-destroying aspects of the Sharia law that Islamic jihadists want to impose on the rest of the world. The risk of offending Muslims is, in their calculus, apparently greater than the risk of national or civilizational suicide. Alexis de Tocqueville, according to Fallaci, explained that in dictatorial regimes, despotism strikes the body: the dissenter is tortured into silence. But in democratic regimes that have succumbed to corruption, despotism ignores the body and strikes at the soul. One is not tortured for dissent; instead, one is discredited for it. To affirm the patent fact that Islam is not a religion of peace today renders one “unelectable,” or “bigoted,” or beyond the bounds of what is fit to print. In despotic democratic regimes, Fallaci observed, everything can be spread except truth.

That is indeed the present-day situation. Most of the liberal and conservative mainstream not only will not feature trenchant criticisms like Fallaci’s of the violent and supremacist impulse within Islam; they will not even discuss them. Those who, like Fallaci, speak the truth about the motives and goals of the jihadists are vilified and marginalized, while the purveyors of comforting half-truths, distortions and lies fill the nation’s airwaves and newsprint. Fallaci herself faces the most frivolous of frivolous lawsuits in Italy for defamation of Islam; a Muslim group tried to have banned her searing, passionate response to 9/11, The Rage and the Pride.

Why does all this happen? In her speech Fallaci explained that it was to a great degree because “truth inspires fear.” When one hears the truth, one can only be silent or join the cause. It is a call to a personal revolution, an upheaval, a departure – perhaps forever – from a life of ease and comfort. So most will prefer not to hear the truth -- in no small part because of the difficulty of living up to it. Yet the real heroes, she said, are “those who raise their voices against anathemas and persecution,” while most succumb -- “and with their silence give their approval to the civil death of those who spoke out.”

“This,” Fallaci declared, “is what I have experienced the last four years.” She described how, since 9/11, the whole of Europe has become a “Niagara Falls of McCarthyism” – with the new Grand Inquisitors of the Left persecuting and victimizing all others. “In Europe, we too have our Ward Churchills, our Noam Chomskys, our Michael Moores, our Lewis Farrakhans.” And they are doing immense damage to the unity, will and cultural identity of the people. In Europe as in America, the new thought police ban Christmas observances to avoid offending Muslims; history is rewritten to depict Islam as having built a civilization of peace and mercy (regardless of the preponderance of evidence to the contrary), while Europe’s own Judeo-Christian civilization is regarded as “a spark of a cigarette – gone.” A spent force. In Leftist-controlled municipalities, police stand idly by while Muslim hooligans demonstrate their contempt for European society and culture by urinating upon and otherwise desecrating churches. Fallaci: “This is considered ‘freedom of expression’ – unless the offense is committed against Muslims.”

Meanwhile, the “religion of peace” myth and other falsehoods that interfere with our ability to defend ourselves are propagated aggressively by elected officials, the media, the Hollywood elite, and the justice system. Defenders of freedom are stripped of credibility and denied the means to get their message across. Or if they do get it across, they are not believed. “I really feel as a Cassandra,” said Fallaci, “or as one of the forgotten anti-fascists.” Yet she wears the Left’s attacks with defiant pride. “Since I wrote the trilogy (La Rabbia e l’Orgoglio (The Rage and the Pride), La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason), and L’Apocalisse (The Apocalypse), my real medals are the insults I get from the new McCarthyists.”

Fallaci told the audience that she faced three years in prison in Italy if convicted in her trial for hate speech. “But can hate be prosecuted by law? It is a sentiment. It is a natural part of life. Like love, it cannot be proscribed by a legal code. It can be judged, but only on the basis of ethics and morality. If I have the right to love, then I have the right to hate also.”

Hate? “Yes, I do hate the bin Ladens and the Zarqawis. I do hate the bastards who burn churches in Europe. I hate the Chomskys and Moores and Farrakhans who sell us to the enemy. I hate them as I used to hate Mussolini and Hitler. For the cause of freedom, this is my sacrosanct right.”

What’s more, Fallaci pointed out that Europe’s hate speech laws never seem to be used against the “professional haters, who hate me much more than I hate them”: the Muslims who hate as part of their ideology. While Fallaci faces three years in prison in Italy, “any Muslim can unhook a crucifix from a wall in a school or hospital and throw it into the garbage,” with little fear of consequences. Also unprosecuted, she said, were those responsible for a vile little publication entitled Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci, which urges Muslims to kill her, invoking five Qur’anic passages about “perverse women.” In Italy Fallaci must be guarded around the clock; but no effort has been made to bring those who threatened her to justice.

Yet for all the isolation and the verbal abuse to which her enemies have subjected her, Fallaci remains indomitable – and has found an unlikely ally in Pope Benedict XVI, whom she warmly praised Monday night. Fallaci, who identified herself as an atheist (a “Catholic atheist”), was the first individual granted a private audience with the new Pope. She stated that the Islamic challenge had opened up a void in the West that only spirituality could fill – “unless the Church also misses its appointment with history. But I don’t think it will.”

Despite these warm words for the Pope and the ancient institution he heads, however, Fallaci announced that at the risk of disappointing many of her hearers, “I am not a conservative. I don’t sympathize with the Right more than I do with the Left. I cannot b associated with the Right or with the Left.” Why not? Because, she said, both Right and Left have been guilty of the “abuse of democracy, demagogic egalitarianism, denial of merit, tyranny of the majority, and lack of self-discipline” that are sapping the strength of Europe today. “Europe’s Islamic invasion has been backed by the Left, yes. But it would never have reached the point it has if the Right had not been complicit.”

Another indication of that complicity was, according to Fallaci, the American Right’s support for the entry of Turkey into the European Union – which both Fallaci and her friend in the Vatican oppose. “European citizens do not want Turkey in our home. Condoleeza Rice should stop exercising realpolitik at our expense.” And in America, she asked why the Right was so complacent before Leftist outrages such as the ongoing war against Christmas, the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama courthouse, the amending of the noise ordinance to allow for the Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers (but not church bells) in Hamtramck, Michigan, and others. Why, she asked, was Ward Churchill not fired for calling the 9/11 victims “Little Eichmanns,” while Michael Graham was fired for suggesting that Islam might have something to do with present-day terrorism?

This, Fallaci concluded, is the war we are really fighting. “I do not see Islamic terrorism as the main weapon of the war that the sons of Allah have unleashed upon us. It is the bloodiest, but not the most pernicious or catastrophic aspect of this war.” Far more dangerous to the West in the long run is unrestricted Muslim immigration, which already has brought at least 25 million Muslims to Europe (not counting, Fallaci said, the huge numbers of illegal aliens). That number will double by 2016 and, as Bernard Lewis and others have predicted, almost certainly create a Muslim Europe by 2100.

Yet all this immigration has not been accompanied by integration and assimilation – not because of European racism, but by the Muslims’ own choice. Fallaci noted that many other groups have assimilated into European societies, but Muslims have not. “They don even care to learn our language. They only obey the rules and laws of Sharia.” They do not want to learn European ways; rather, “they want to impose on us their own habits and way of life. They have no intention of integrating with us. On the contrary, they demand that we integrate with them.” Today’s Islamic expansionism, therefore, does not need the armies and fleets with which the Ottoman Empire once terrorized Europe. It only needs the immigrants, whom short-sighted politicians and befuddled multiculturalists continue to welcome. Fallaci said that Europeans – French, Dutch, Germans, English, Italians – are about to reach the status of the Commanches, Cherokees, and Sioux: “We will end up on their reservation.” She noted that some Muslim spokesmen, confident of their imminent supremacy, already refer to non-Muslim Europeans as “indigenous people” or “aboriginals.”

What to do about all this? Establish dialogue with Muslim leaders? Try to strengthen moderate Islam? Fallaci was dismissive of both options. Muslims have no intention of entering into genuine dialogue with non-Muslims, she said, and “I do not believe in moderate Islam. What moderate Islam? Is it enough not to cut heads off? Moderate Islam is another invention of ours.” Adopting Western dress, she said, was easy; adopting Western values was not.

Then Fallaci threw down the gauntlet to the multicultural, politically correct, and fearful. “There is not,” she asserted, “good Islam or bad Islam. There is just Islam. And Islam is the Qur’an. And the Qur’an is the Mein Kampf of this movement. The Qur’an demands the annihilation or subjugation of the other, and wants to substitute totalitarianism for democracy. Read it over, that Mein Kampf. In whatever version, you will find that all the evil that the sons of Allah commit against themselves and against others is in it.” As jarring as such language is to contemporary sensibilities, Fallaci here made a statement of fact that can be verified or disproved. And indeed: Islamic terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Zarqawi, and others have never hesitated to quote the Qur’an copiously to justify their actions. It remains for those who identify themselves as moderate Muslims to convince violent Muslims that they are misusing the Qur’an – if indeed they are – and should lay down their arms. They have had no notable success in this so far.

Fallaci’s is a voice of rare courage. “I am not as young and energetic as you are,” she told the crowd Monday night. “I am hopelessly ill. I shall not last long.” When she is gone, we may hope – for all our sakes – that many others will be ready to step into the breach and speak the truth as she did, whatever the cost, as she did. As Oriana Fallaci so memorably demonstrated in her address on receiving the Annie Taylor Award, nothing less than our civilization itself is at stake.



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