A great warrior of the West has died (Update)

About a year after 9/11 I read a shocking and angry little book written by a journalist. This book, a marvelous screed against the vilest elements Islam has thrust upon us, unabashedly defended Western Civilization and its accomplishments. It inspired me, and lifted my spirits as a citizen of the West at a time when some of us knew how shaky the foundations of our civilization were. Above all, it warned of the danger that we faced from the blindness of our leaders to the threat Islamic terrorism. That little book was The Rage and the Pride by Oriana Fallaci. A follow-up tome released this year, The Force of Reason, continued her defense of our civilization.


Fallaci, a journalist of the left, was a life-long foe of Italian Fascism. She was very well known before 9/11, having confronted and interviewed many powerful people, not the least of which was the Ayatollah Khomeini, who was not pleased with a woman being so bold and uppity with him. I had heard and read Fallaci many times before. I can’t honestly say I agreed with her on many things, she was a leftist after all, but what I did know was that she was a fiercely honest interviewer, a person of integrity who had no agenda other than her deeply held convictions. She was one of the last of our great warriors.

Oriana Fallaci died today in her native Florence after a long battle with cancer. She was 77. Her voice of reason will be missed.

Update #1: Michelle Malkin has more on the outspoken lioness.

Update #2: The New Yorker published an interview with Fallaci in June of this year. It was probably her last. Read it and marvel at this courageous woman.


Reuters obituary:

Italy’s provocative journalist Fallaci dies
Fri Sep 15, 2006 7:16 AM ET
By Sophie Hardach

MILAN (Reuters) – Oriana Fallaci, one of Italy’s best-known writers and war correspondents who goaded the world’s great and issued a vitriolic assault on Islam after the September 11 attacks on the United States, died on Friday aged 77.

Fallaci died in her home town of Florence after battling cancer for several years, a hospital official said.

Aggressive and provocative to the end, Fallaci made her name as a tenacious interviewer of some of the most famous leaders of the 20th century.

She quarreled with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, provoked U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger into likening himself to a cowboy, and tore off a chador (enveloping Islamic robe) in a meeting with Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“A great Italian and brave writer has died who has led a life full of passion, full of love, with great civil courage,” Ferruccio De Bortoli, editor-in-chief of Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper, told Reuters.

De Bortoli first published the angry essay that turned into Fallaci’s controversial best-seller, “The Rage and the Pride”, which described Islam as oppressive and Arab immigrants in Europe as dirty, foul-mouthed and bigoted.

She called on Europeans to defend their culture and values instead of adjusting to immigrants’ needs.

“The book was a great appeal to be proud of our identity,” De Bortoli, former editor of Corriere della Sera newspaper, said. “It’s the strongest testimony to the emotional and intellectual reaction to the September 11 (2001) attacks.”

In a later book, “The Force of Reason”, Fallaci wrote that the Islamic faith “sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom”.

An Italian judge later ordered Fallaci to stand trial on charges she defamed Islam, but the case never went to court.


The storm she triggered with her anti-Islamic essays came as no surprise to Fallaci, who courted controversy throughout her career and ended as a reclusive and angry writer in New York.

Fallaci set the pace for a daring life when she joined Italy’s anti-fascist resistance as a teenager during World War Two, then showed the same fearlessness as a war correspondent.

She covered conflicts in Vietnam, the Middle East, and Latin America at a time when few women braved the front lines, and was shot and beaten in 1968 during student demonstrations in Mexico.

Later, she succeeded in fiction with novels including “A Man”, inspired by her love affair with Greek resistance fighter Alexandros Panagoulis.

Her exchanges with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, the Shah of Iran, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and other leaders, collected in her book “Interview with History”, stood out for her provocative, uncompromising questioning.

In her interview with Kissinger, Fallaci needled the U.S. statesman until he agreed that the Vietnam War was “useless”.

Kissinger later wrote that her interview with him was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press”.

According to Fallaci’s own anecdotes, she had a shouting match with Arafat and opened an interview with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi by ridiculing his political manifesto as “so small and insignificant it fits in my powder puff”.

Many loved her confrontational style but others accused her of slander and taking quotes out of context to spice up a story.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said: “With Oriana Fallaci, we lose a journalist of global fame, an author of great success, a passionate protagonist of lively cultural battles.”

Associated Press obituary:

Italian writer Oriana Fallaci dies
By Alessandra Rizzo

ROME — Oriana Fallaci, the Italian writer and journalist best known for her abrasive interviews and provocative stances, has died, officials said Friday. She was 76.

Fallaci, who had been diagnosed with cancer years ago, died overnight in a private clinic in Florence, said Paolo Klun, an official with the RCS publishing group, which carried Fallaci’s work. Klun said Fallaci, who lived in New York, had come back to her hometown days ago as her condition worsened.

Fallaci, a former Resistance fighter and war correspondent, was rarely seen in public.

During her journalistic career she became known for challenging interviews with such world leaders as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Her work – both interviews and books – was translated across the world.

“Fallaci’s manner of interviewing was deliberately unsettling: she approached each encounter with studied aggressiveness, made frequent nods to European existentialism (she often disarmed her subjects with bald questions about death, God, and pity), and displayed a sinuous, crafty intelligence,” The New Yorker wrote in a profile this year entitled “The Agitator.”

Fallaci’s recent publications – including the best-selling book “The Rage and The Pride,” which came out weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks – drew accusations of racism and inciting hatred against Muslims.

“The Rage and The Pride,” sold more than 1 million copies in Italy and found a large audience elsewhere in Europe. But Fallaci was also accused of racism.

In the book, she wrote that Muslims “multiply like rats” and said “the children of Allah spend their time with their bottoms in the air, praying five times a day.”

A group in France unsuccessfully sought to stop distribution of the book, while two other associations have requested that it carry a warning notice.

Her next essay, “The [Force] of Reason,” accused Europe of having sold its soul to what Fallaci described as an Islamic invasion. It also took the Catholic Church to task for being what she considers too weak before the Muslim world.

Describing Europe as “Eurabia,” Fallaci said the continent “has sold itself and sells itself to the enemy like a prostitute.”

“Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam,” she wrote.

The current invasion, Fallaci went on to say, is not carried out only by the “terrorists who blow up themselves along with skyscrapers or buses” but also by “the immigrants who settle in our home, and who, with no respect for our laws, impose their ideas, their customs, their God.”

She was not married and had no children. Information on funeral arrangements was not immediately available.

And fnally, an essay she wrote that was published in Italy by Corriere Della Sera on July 18, 2005 (translation courtesy of FreeRepublic):

“Il nemico che trattiamo da amico” (“The Enemy We Treat Like A Friend”)
By Oriana Fallaci

Now, I ask myself: “What do you say, what do you have to say, about what happened in London?” They ask me face-to-face, via fax and email; often scolding me because up until now I have remained silent. Almost as if my silence were a betrayal. And each time I shake my head and murmur to myself: what else should I say?!? I’ve been saying it for four years–that I fight against the Monster that has decided to eliminate us physically and, along with our bodies, to destroy our principles and values. Our civilization. For four years I’ve been talking about Islamic Nazism; about the war against the West; about the death cult; about European suicide. About a Europe that is no longer Europe, but Eurabia, and that with its feebleness, its inertia, its blindness, its servitude to the enemy is digging its own grave. For four years, like another Cassandra, I’ve been shouting until I’m hoarse “Troy is burning! Troy is burning!” and I despair of the Danaids for whom, like Virgil in the Aeneid I weep for a city entombed in its torpor. [A city] that, through its wide-open doors receives fresh troops and joins complicit parties [inside]. For four years I’ve been repeating to the wind the truth about the Monster and its accomplices; that is, the accomplices of the Monster who, in good or bad faith, open wide the doors–who, like [those] in the Apocalypse of John the Evangelist, throw themselves at his feet and allow themselves to be stamped with the mark of shame.

I began with “The Rage and the Pride.“ I continued with “The Force of Reason.“ I followed [those] with “Oriana Fallaci Interviews Oriana Fallaci,” and “The Apocalypse.” And in each one I preached, “Wake up, West! Wake up!“ The books, the ideas, for which in France they tried me in 2002, accusing me of religious racism and xenophobia. For which Switzerland asked our Minister of Justice to extradite me in handcuffs. For which in Italy I will be tried for vilifying Islam; that is, for an offense of opinion. (An offense that carries a sentence of three years in prison; none of which will be served by the Islamist caught with explosives in his cantina). Books, ideas, for which the “Caviar” left, the “Fois Gras” right, and even the “Prosciutto” Center have denigrated and vilified me, putting me in the stocks together with all who think as I do. That is, together with the sensible and unprotected people who are defined by the radical-chic in their frivolous talk as “the riff-raff of the Right.”

Yes, it‘s true: In newspapers that in the best of cases pharasaically opposed me with a conspiracy of silence now appear titles using my concepts and words.–“War Against the West.”; “Cult of Death”; “The Suicide of Europe”; Wake up, Italy! Wake up!“ Yes, it’s true: Though without admitting I wasn’t wrong, the ex-secretary of the Democratic Left now submits to interviews in which he declares that “these-terrorists-want-to-destroy-our-values”; that “this-slaughter-is-facist-in-nature-and-expresses-hatred-for-our-civilization”. Yes, it‘s true: In speaking of Londonistan, the section of London where some 700,000 Muslims live, the newspapers which at first gave comfort to the terrorists–going so far as to make excuses for their crime are now saying what I did when I wrote that in each one of our cities exists another city. A subterranean city; equal to Beirut when it was invaded by Arafat in the 70s. A foreign city that speaks its own language and observes its own customs; a Muslim city where terrorists go about their business undisturbed and, thus undisturbed, plan our deaths. The rest is now spoken of openly; even Islamic terrorism, something that was carefully avoided in order not to offend moderate Muslims. Yes it’s true: Now, even the fifth columnists and the imams express their hypocritical condemnations, their mendacious loathing, their false solidarity with the relatives of the victims. Yes, it’s true: Now, thorough searches are being made in the cases of the accused Muslims; suspects are arrested; perhaps it will even be decided to expel them. But in substance, nothing has changed.Does the matter of the One God really suffice to establish a concord of concepts, of principles, of values?!? This is the point, in the unchanged reality of post-attack London that perhaps troubles me the most. I am also troubled because it goes along with, and thereby reinforces that which I consider the error committed by Papa Wojtyla: not to fight as much as he should have, in my opinion, against the illiberal and anti-democratic–no, cruel–essence of Islam. During these last four years, I have done nothing but ask myself why a warrior like Wojtyla, a leader so singular who contributed more than anyone else to the downfall of the Soviet empire and, therefore, of Communism, showed himself to be so weak towards a disease worse than the Soviet empire or Communism. A disease that, above all, targets Christianity (and Judaism) for destruction. I have done nothing but ask myself why he did not inveigh openly against what was happening (and is happening), for example, in Sudan where the fundamentalist regime was practicing (and is practicing) slavery. Where Christians were eliminated (are eliminated) by the millions. Why he was silent about Saudi Arabia where anyone with a Bible in hand or a cross around his neck was (and is) treated like a scum to be put to death. Still today, there is that silence I don’t understand, and…


Naturally, I understand that the philosophy of the Catholic Church is based on ecumenism and on the commandment “Love-your-enemy-as-yourself.“ That one of its fundamental principles (at least theoretically) is forgiveness, sacrifice, turning the other cheek. (A sacrifice I refuse not only for pride; that is, for my way of maintaining my dignity, but also because I believe there is a motive of Evil on the part of those who do evil.) But there also exists the principle of self-defense or, instead, legitimate defense and, if I’m not mistaken, the Catholic Church has made use of this principle more than once. Charles Martel turned back the Muslim invaders lifting up the crucifix. Isabel of Spain tossed them out of Spain while doing the same. And at Lepanto there were even Papal troops. In order to defend Vienna, the last bulwark of Christianity, in order to break the siege of Kara Mustafa, there was also, and above all, the Pole Jan Sobienski with the image of the Virgin of Chestochowa. And if those Catholics had not applied the principle of self-defense–of legitimate defense–we, too, would be wearing the burka or the calabash. We, too, would be calling the few survivors infidel dogs. We, too, We, too, would be cutting off their heads with the halal knife. And Saint Peter’s Basilica would be a mosque, like the Church of Saint Sofia in Istanbul. Worse: the Vatican would be Bin Laden and Zarqawi.

Thus, three days after the latest massacre, when Pope Ratzinger renewed the theme of dialogue, I was astonished. Your Holiness, I speak to you as a person who admires you very much. Who loves you, because you are right about so many things. Who, because of this, is mocked along with those nicknamed “devout atheist,“ “sanctimonious layperson,“ “clerical liberal.“ A person, above all, who understands politics and its necessities. Who understands the drama of leadership and its compromises. Who admires the stubbornness of faith and respects the renouncements and generosity that it demands. But I must pose the following question all the same: do you really believe that the Muslims would accept a dialogue with Christians, or with other religions, or with atheists like me? Do you really believe that they can change, reform, quit planting bombs? You are a very erudite man, Your Holiness. Very cultured. And you know them well. Much better than I. Explain to me then: When ever, in the course of their history–a history that has lasted for 1400 years–have they changed and reformed?

Oh, neither have we been, nor are we, angels. Agreed. Inquisitions, defenestrations, executions, wars, infamies of every kind; as well as Guelphs and Ghibellines without end. And if we want to judge ourselves severely, it’s enough to think about what we did sixty years ago with the Holocaust. But afterwards, we applied a little wisdom, of course. We thought about what we had done and if for no other reason than in the name of decency, we bettered ourselves a little. They have not. The Catholic Church experienced epochal changes, Your Holiness. And again, you know this better than I. At a certain point, it is remembered that the Church was preaching reason; thus choice; thus the Good, thus Liberty, and she ceased to tyrannize. To kill people. Or constrain them to paint only Christs and Madonnas. She understood laicism. Thanks to men of the first order, a long list of which You are a part, she leant a hand to democracy. And today, she speaks to people like me. She accepts them and, far from burning them alive (I never forget that up until four hundred years ago the Holy Office would have sent me to the stake), she respects their ideas. They do not. Therefore, there can be no dialogue with them. And this does not signify that I want to promote a war of religion, a Crusade, a witch hunt, as imbeciles and frauds. (Religious wars, Crusades–me?!? A non-religious person? Go figure. Like I’d want to incite a religious war or a Crusade. A witch hunt–me?!? Being considered a witch and a heretic by the same laypeople and the same liberals, go figure. Like I’d want to start a witch hunt. It simply signifies that to delude one’s self about them is against reason. Against Life, against one’s own survival. And woe unto those who take them into their confidence.


Will the massacre touch us too?–will it really touch us the next time? Oh, yes. I haven’t the slightest doubt. I’ve never had the slightest doubt. I’ve been saying this, too, for the last four years. And I add: They have not yet attacked us [only] because of their need for a landing zone, a bridgehead, a handy outpost named “Italy.“ Geographically handy because it is the closest one to both the Middle East and Africa; that is, to the countries that supply the greatest number of troops. Strategically handy because we offer succor and collaboration to those troops.

But soon, they will go on a rampage. Bin Laden himself has promised it–explicitly, clearly, precisely. More than once. His lieutenants (or rivals) have done likewise. The Corriere itself demonstrates this with its interview with Saak Al-Faqih, the exiled Saudi who became friends with Bin Laden during the conflict with the Russians in Afghanistan and who, according to the American secret services, a financer of Al Qaeda. “It is only a question of time. Al Qaeda will strike you soon,“ said Al Faqih, adding that the attack upon Italy is the most logical thing in the world. Is not Italy the weak link in the chain of allies in Iraq? A link comes soon after Spain and was preceded by London only out of pure convenience. Then [he said]: “Bin Laden well remembers the words of the Prophet: “You will force the Romans to surrender. And he wants to force Italy to abandon its alliance with America.“ In sum, [and] emphasizing that similar operations will not be carried out [by Muslims] who have just arrived at Lampedusa or Malpensa; but instead after having achieved a mature familiarity with the country, after having penetrated its social fabric: “[The only problem with] recruiting the needed manpower will be the embarrassment of riches.“

Many Italians still don’t believe this. Notwithstanding the declarations of the Minister of the Interior, Rome and Milan are at risk; and look out–so are Turin, Naples, Trieste, and Treviso; not to mention the cities of art like Florence and Venice. [But] the Italians carry on like children for whom the word “death” has no meaning. Or like the scatterbrained to whom death seems to be a stroke of bad luck that only happens to other people. In the worst case, a stroke of bad luck that will save them for last. Worse: they believe that to avoid it they only need to be clever; that is, to kiss butt. Vittorio Feltri was right when he wrote at “Libero” that the decadence of Westerners is to be identified with their illusion of being able to deal amiably with the Enemy, and even less with their fear. A fear that induces them to meekly host the enemy, to attempt to conquer him with sympathy, hoping that he will allow himself to be absorbed; while [the enemy] is the one who wants to absorb.

And this does not even take into account our familiarity with being invaded, humiliated, and betrayed. Like I said in “The Apocalypse,“ [it’s] the general attitude of resignation. Resignation generates apathy. Apathy generates inertia. Inertia generates indifference and, besides impeding moral judgment, indifference suffocates the of self-defense; that is, the instinct to fight back. Oh, that for a week or a month they might understand that they are hated and despised by the enemy that they treat like a friend, and that he is completely indifferent to the virtues known as Gratitude, Loyalty, [and] Mercy! They would indeed be roused from their apathy, their inertia, their indifference. They would indeed believe in the announcements of Saad al-Faqih and the explicit, clear, [and] precise warnings pronounced by Bin Laden and Company. They would avoid taking underground trains. They would travel by automobile or bicycle. (But Theo van Gogh was killed while riding his bicycle.) They would knock off the good-naturedness (or servility) They would trust the immigrant who sells them drugs or cleans their houses a little less. They would be less cordial towards unskilled workers who, waving a worker’s visa in our faces, claims to want to be like them, but in the meantime beats the hell out of his wife–his wives–and kills his daughter [for wearing] blue jeans. They would even renounce the litanies of the “Voyages of Hope,” and perhaps they would realize that, in order not to lose Liberty, sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit of liberty. That self-defense is legitimate defense, and that legitimate defense is not barbarism. Maybe, they would even cry out that Fallaci was right; that she didn’t deserve to be treated like a delinquent. But then, they would begin anew to treat me like a delinquent. To call me a retrograde xenophobic racist, etc. And when the attack will come, we’ll hear the usual nonsense: It’s the Americans’ fault; it’s Bush’s fault.


When will the attack come? How will it come? Oh, God; I hate being a Cassandra. I hate being a prophetess. I am not a Cassandra; I am not a prophetess. I am only a citizen who reasons; and by reasoning foresees things that will happen according to logic. But one who hopes that she is wrong and, when they happen, curses herself for not being wrong. Nonetheless, regarding an attack on Italy, I fear two things: Christmas and the elections. We might slide by for Christmas. Their attacks are not rude, showy strikes. They are refined crimes, well-calculated and well-prepared. They need time to prepare themselves, and I don’t think they’ll be ready by Christmas. But the will be ready by the 2006 elections–the elections they want to see won overwhelmingly by pacifism. And of us, I fear, they will not be content [just] to massacre people. Because this is an intelligent and well-informed Monster, my dears. A Monster who (on our dime) studied in our universities, our renowned colleges, our luxurious schools. (With the money of their parents; be they sheikh or honest day-worker). A Monster who is not only knowledgeable about engineering, chemistry, physics, airlines, and subways: he is also knowledgeable about Art. Art, that their presumed “Beacon of Civilization” has never known how to produce. And I think that, along with our people, they want to massacre come work of art. How hard would it be to blow the Cathedral of Milan or Saint Peter’s Basilica sky-high? How hard would it be to blow Michelangelo’s David, the Uffizi, and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence–or the Palace of the Doges in Venice–sky-high? How hard would it be to blow the Leaning Tower of Pisa–a monument recognized in every corner of the world, and therefore even more famous than the Twin Towers–sky-high?

But we cannot escape. We can confront the monster with honor, [with] courage; and by remembering the words that Churchill said to the English when he went to war against Hitler’s Nazism. He said “We will pour out tears and blood.” Oh, yes: we too will pour out tears and blood. We are at war: do we or do we not want to get this through our heads?!? And in war, you cry. Period.

Thus I had already concluded four years ago in this newspaper.

4 thoughts on “A great warrior of the West has died (Update)”

  1. Rest in peace, old warrior. May we someday find your picture next to the dictionary definition of “spunk”…

  2. How very sad that this wonderful woman lost her battle with cancer. She most definitely told it like she saw it. She will be sorely missed. A true “intellectual”. Unfortunately, many claim to be, but few turn out to be. Paz a sus restos.

  3. How very sad that this wonderful woman lost her battle with cancer. She most definitely told it like she saw it. She will be sorely missed. A true “intellectual”. Unfortunately, many claim to be, but few turn out to be. Paz a sus restos.

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