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The Tentacle


October 4, 2006

Oriana Fallaci: A Refreshing Approach

Kevin E. Dayhoff

On September 15, Oriana Fallaci, the Italian lioness of letters, died of cancer. Although Ms. Fallaci was one of the world's greatest conservative artists of letters; she is - to this day - relatively unknown in the United States.

Born in Italy on June 29, 1929, Ms. Fallaci served in the resistance during World War II. She began her journalistic career in 1950 as a teenager and went on to be a war correspondent in Vietnam, the Middle East, South America and the Indo-Pakistani Wars.

She continued her career by interviewing many of the world leaders of our time and consistently took no prisoners. Her aggressive journalistic style is the stuff of myth and legend.

Ms. Fallaci would often wax philosophical about existentialism and then abruptly switch to calmly delivered, aggressive questioning that disarmed the greatest men of words. The many world leaders she interviewed included Henry Kissinger, the Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, Lech Walesa, Willy Brandt, Walter Cronkite, Omar Khadafi, Yasser Arafat, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, and Sean Connery.

In later years she penned a series of books and articles in which she was critical of the Muslim religion and culture.

It was only by a cruel coincidence that she passed away three days after Pope Benedict XVI recited the words of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos at the University of Regensburg in Germany, which reflect a view that the religion of Islam is spread by the sword.

Extremist Muslims throughout the Middle East objected to that characterization by violently demonstrating, burning churches and killing innocents.

Hmmm. Okay, moving on.

Ms. Fallaci, an avowed atheist, publicly stated in August 2005 her respect and admiration for Pope Benedict, specifically citing his 2004 essay entitled "If Europe Hates Itself," after she met with the Pope in a private audience.

Ms. Fallaci, the subject of radical Islamists' death threats, was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, and was living in New York, in part to avoid prosecution in her native Italy "under provisions of the Italian penal code for "vilipendio", or "vilification", of "any religion admitted by the state," according to an article in the Telegraph in Great Britain on April 9, 2005.

The article had the long prophetic title: "The moment you give up your principles, and your values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period."

To add some punctuation to his article, Tunka Varadarajan emphasized: "Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder," the historian Arnold Toynbee wrote, and these words could certainly be Fallaci's. She is in a black gloom about Europe and its future: "The increased presence of Muslims in Italy, and in Europe, is directly proportional to our loss of freedom."

The cause of her most recent problems surfaced in a book she wrote in 2004, called: "The Force of Reason," which has sold more than a million copies worldwide.

The book threw salt in a wounded relationship Ms. Fallaci had maintained with the worldwide Muslim community since she published another best-seller, days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: "The Rage and the Pride." The book drew condemnation by liberals and the militant Muslim world.

There was an unsuccessful effort in France in 2003 to ban the book. This effort in France came on the heels of a Swiss arrest warrant for Ms. Fallaci when Italy was asked to either extradite her or put her on trial themselves.

Part of what annoyed people in Switzerland and France was that she referred to Europe in "The Rage and the Pride," as "Eurabia." She explains the latest wave of suicidal appeasement and pacifism sweeping "Eurabia" as a continent that has collectively "sold itself and sells itself to the enemy like a prostitute. Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam."

In a haunting remark which serves as an appropriate response to the pacifism and suicidal appeasement of the liberal left in America, Tunka Varadarajan quoted Ms. Fallaci: "You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We know why all the other civilizations have collapsed - from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from lack of morality, of spirituality."

As much as I'm not sure that I agree with Ms. Fallaci's more strident views on the Muslim religion, or that the Pope's remarks were necessarily productive towards a meaningful dialogue with the responsible members of the Muslim world community, the approach of Ms. Fallaci and the Pope towards the extremists and terrorists is never-the-less refreshing in contrast to the no-plan pandering approach of the left.

As much as it is an amusing dark comedy to hear folks challenge the approach of President George W. Bush by promoting an alternative approach of friendly dialogue and discussion, it is ultimately the stuff of historic tragedy.

You can't negotiate with a madman with a gun or a 20-something-year-old with a waistband of dynamite, who is hell-bent on killing themselves and you. The liberals who suggest bringing in "Dr. Phil" are dangerous to our future and welfare.

It is only a perversion of logic that hurts one's head that a woman of letters, in her 70s and stricken with cancer is persecuted for uttering words, while the world's community of pandering appeasers and liberals apologize for extremists who want to kill women and children and you.

One of the strategies of liberal Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections is to attempt to marginalize opponents as having an affinity for the Bush Administration's defense of our country and a no-holds barred approach to meeting violence and terrorism with force.

No, it is certainly not unpatriotic to publicly disagree with our president. What is repugnant is to not have an alternative plan and play politics with our country's future simply because the president is from another party. Come up with a meaningful alternative plan that will ensure our future safety.

Oriana Fallaci will be greatly missed on the world stage. This November we could end-up missing our way of life if the purveyors of pandering and appeasement prevail.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at: kdayhoff@carr.org



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