Sunday, June 5, 2005
This is what is wrong with Oriana Fallaci
Miguel Martinez, one of Italy’s most insightful minds, (not to mention, a much beloved friend of mine), wrote a great deal of material on Fallaci. There is a good quantity in Italian, but in English I recommend his exceptional critique of her “comeback” to journalism following the events of 9/11. Leading Italian Daily Spews Racial Hatred. Here are a few excerpts of an article that is well worth reading. (Just for a bit of background, Miguel has lived for long periods of time in North America, Italy and the Arab world, and speaks the languages spoken there, so there was no need for cultural or linguistic moderators, so he is more than familiar with all three of the areas that Fallaci addresses and understands the speech used in all of these contexts).
“As far as one can make out any logic in what she says, she seems to say Arafat was behind the attack (9/11)- she also takes the opportunity to remind the world that she once interviewed him: "If I met him again, or rather, if I let him into my presence, I would shout to him who are the real martyrs", not the suicide bombers who "are fucking huris in Paradise", but the passengers on the aeroplanes.
She then makes the fantastic claim that "about twenty-four million Americans are Arab-Muslims" (the actual figure for all Muslims, including Black Muslims, is around 6 or 7 million, if I remember rightly). "When any Mustafa or Muhammed comes, let us say, from Afghanistan to visit his uncle, nobody forbids him [...] from entering a University to study chemistry and biology (I hope they are going to change this) [...] even if the government fears that that son of Allah is going to [...] throw a phial of bacteria into the water".
The US, she tells us, is a "special country", courageously set up by "illiterate peasants"; a few lines later, she tells us that the Founding Fathers used to read Aristotle in Greek and Cicero in Latin. BTW, it is interesting to see how the racist discourse is built up by presenting every kind of "positive" data about "our" side, no matter how contradictory (along with anything negative about the other side). She then tells us a very romantic history of the USA, where the words "native American" or "slavery" somehow never appear.
She moves on to make an appeal to people who "are afraid of appearing as racists". There is a "religious war" going on "aimed at conquering our souls", "destroying our freedom and our civilization", "annihilating our way of life and civilization", "our way of praying or not praying, our way of eating, and drinking and dressing and having fun and being informed": "If we do not fight, the Jihad will win".
"Christ! Can't you see that the Osama Bin Laden's feel they are authorized to kill you and your children because you drink wine or beer, or don't wear a long beard or a chador?" She then says she likes "Dante Alighieri more than Omar Khayyam". The latter of course wrote a lot of nice things about drinking wine, but Oriana probably does not want to know that.”
Rime Allaf, wrote this excellent critique of Fallaci in the Daily Star, of which I excerpt portions:
Throughout her tirade, Fallaci refers to Muslims as “the sons of Allah,” resorting to the pathetic and worn ploy of implying that Muslims believe in some god named “Allah,” knowing well that it is simply the Arabic translation of God, used by all Arabs of all religions. In fact, she only uses the term Muslim to state that “some 24 million Americans are Arab-Muslims,” nearly quadrupling the estimated number of Arab-Americans and merging them with Muslim-Americans, between which she can’t seem to make a distinction.
It is difficult to decide whether it is her violent discrimination or her listing of “facts” from the Koran that is more astonishing. Repeatedly, she remarks on Islam’s “inferiority” by drawing “examples” from the Koran. In effect, Fallaci’s awe for Western civilization seems largely limited to the wearing of mini-skirts and drinking alcohol, for which she wrongly accuses the Koran of advocating the death penalty. Conveniently neglecting to provide references for this supposed punishment, Fallaci would be hard pressed to find anything in the Koran about this.
Odious to the end, Fallaci provokes readers into imagining what living under Islam would mean: “Instead of bells, we will find muezzins, instead of mini-skirts, the chador, instead of cognac, camel’s milk.” She warns Westerners: “You do not want to realize that we are facing a crusade in reverse,” stating along the way that “apart from Blair, I see few Richard the Lionhearts among European leaders,” surely meaning to compliment the British prime minister.
Fallaci’s ignorance climaxes when she refers to the Koran’s supposed treatment of women: “The principle that women count for less than camels, that they must not go to school, they can’t go to the doctor, they can’t have their pictures taken … this is in the Koran.” Not only are these fabrications nowhere to be found in the Koran, but Fallaci’s intelligence must be questioned when she attributes the concept of photography to a scripture that was revealed 14 centuries ago. If by some miracle she can prove this, then the Koran is amazing indeed.
It should have been beneath someone of Fallaci’s stature to suddenly invent ludicrous stories, among which one relating to the chador which she once had to don to interview Ayatollah Khomeini. She recounts first having to remove her jeans (in a room accompanied by her interpreter) when a mullah supposedly threatened killing them both unless they got married! Not even finishing the story, because it simply could not have happened, Fallaci counts on readers’ unawareness that the chador is in fact a type of cover worn over clothes, not instead of them.
Not satisfied with these inventions, she blames women for restrictions imposed on them: “If in certain countries women are so stupid as to accept the chador or rather the veil … too bad for them. If they are so stupid to accept not going to school, not going to the doctor, not getting photographed … too bad for them.” By the same logic, she could have said: Too bad for the rape victim who is so stupid that she accepted getting raped. Too bad for poor people who are stupid enough to accept being poor. Too bad for Palestinians who are stupid enough to accept Israeli occupation.
On a site that doesn’t really have too many problems with Fallaci, we nevertheless find these tasty bits:
"Racist, racist! They have become the new masters of the earth, these sons of Allah," she said in a talk to the American Enterprise Institute in October. Islam cannot be touched, she said, alluding to the political correctness — a kind of intellectual terrorism, she says — that she believes precludes any criticism of Islam and protects its followers. "They multiply like protozoa to infinity," she said of Muslims.
"The Italian police called the FBI and told them to keep an eye on me, but I know how to defend myself. I shoot very well," she says.
"And when the phone calls come, I tell them their mothers, sisters and daughters are all together working in a brothel in Beirut. Strangely enough, they say, 'OK' and hang up," in shock, she suspects.
Wow, those are sure some nasty comments. I suppose she wouldn’t mind it if her mother, sister and daughter were called whores. I can say this, I think it must be pretty hard to find her number to even phone, so I sort of doubt this big talk is even true. Maybe had too much cognac.
Islam On Line had this to say:
Oriana Fallaci, an Italian author in her seventies who rode the European, fashionable wave (yet still ongoing) of sharply jumping from left to right, published a new book La Rabbia e l’Orgoglio (Anger and Pride). In it racism is the standard. Racism is even intellectualized in some passages: “…the sons of Allah multiply like rats.” It is a best seller in both Italy and France selling one million copies.
Fallaci has never denied that her work is racist. Evidently, her loathing for Muslims seems to compensate for her outrageous favoritism for Jews. She seems to be in awe of the “Shakespearean figure” (her words) Ariel Sharon and his works—the ideal mentor for mass murderers.
The eloquent Muslim writer Rana Kabbani, who lives in Paris, says regarding this:
Had this book's victims been anyone other than Muslims, it would not have been published, and certainly not by any self-respecting house. But Muslims are fair game now and to defame them en masse has become not only respectable, but also highly profitable. The defamer has nothing to fear, as there are no laws to check such vitriolic prejudice, nor do Muslims have the organised self-defence groups that Jews have formed so successfully to silence would be anti-semites (Guardian, June 11, 2002).