Sunday, September 17

Oriana Fallaci - Citizen of the World


Oriana Fallaci looses her battle with breast cancer September 15, 2006

We suffer the sad loss of an icon today in the passing of Oriana Fallaci in her native Florence. This passionate and powerful voice of the 20th Century was forever bold and brazen in her dissection of politics, power and ego, and their devastating effects on democracies everywhere. She wrote with an integrity and force of character that defined her life's work up until the very last days. Fallaci was perhaps my greatest inspiration as a journalist. Her dynamic, dramatic and distinct point of view on the demise of democracies, especially in her latest works that evoked death threats against her, did nothing to silence her conviction or her writings. She died as she lived -- with passion, conviction, purpose and power. They don't make writers like her anymore.
-Giselle Fernandez, journalist and filmmaker


Citizen of the World - Prophet of Decline
WSJ, June 23, 2005

NEW YORK--Oriana Fallaci faces jail. In her mid-70s, stricken with a cancer that, for the moment, permits only the consumption of liquids--so yes, we drank champagne in the course of a three-hour interview--one of the most renowned journalists of the modern era has been indicted by a judge in her native Italy under provisions of the Italian Penal Code which proscribe the "vilipendio," or "vilification," of "any religion admitted by the state."

In her case, the religion deemed vilified is Islam, and the vilification was perpetrated, apparently, in a book she wrote last year--and which has sold many more than a million copies all over Europe--called "The Force of Reason." Its astringent thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a dominion of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves fecklessly to the "sons of Allah." So in a nutshell, Oriana Fallaci faces up to two years' imprisonment for her beliefs--which is one reason why she has chosen to stay put in New York. Let us give thanks for the First Amendment.

...The impending Fall of the West, as she sees it, now torments Ms. Fallaci. And as much as that Fall, what torments her is the blithe way in which the West is marching toward its precipice of choice. "Look at the school system of the West today. Students do not know history! They don't, for Christ's sake. They don't know who Churchill was! ... Europe needs a Cavour."

Ms. Fallaci describes herself, too, as "a revolutionary"--"because I do what conservatives in Europe don't do, which is that I don't accept to be treated like a delinquent." She professes to "cry, sometimes, because I'm not 20 years younger, and I'm not healthy. But if I were, I would even sacrifice my writing to enter politics somehow."

..."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." ...

"The moment you give up your principles, and your values . . . the moment you laugh at those principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period." ...

"I feel less alone when I read the books of Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI ]." ... "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."

Ms. Fallaci, who made her name by interviewing numerous statesmen (and not a few tyrants), believes that ours is "an age without leaders. We stopped having leaders at the end of the 20th century." Of George Bush, she will concede only that he has "vigor," and that he is "obstinate" (in her book a compliment) and "gutsy. . . . Nobody obliged him to do anything about Terri Schiavo, or to take a stand on stem cells. But he did." ...

John Paul II--"Wojtyla"--was a "warrior, who did more to end the Soviet Union than even America," but she will not forgive him for his "weakness toward the Islamic world... The scant hopes that she has for the West she rests on his successor. As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI wrote frequently on the European (and the Western) condition. Last year, he wrote an essay titled "If Europe Hates Itself," from which Ms. Fallaci reads this to me:

"The West reveals . . . a hatred of itself, which is strange and can only be considered pathological; the West . . . no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure."
TUNKU VARADARAJAN, WSJ


As the great Oriana Fallaci passes into the next life, lovers of freedom throughout the world mourn, but we find hope and courage for the future.

Eventually the timorous and rudderless flawed souls among us will grasp the wisdom and humanity of the noble giant named Oriana Fallaci.

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