Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More from B16's Favorite Atheist

For many of you, the name of Oriana Fallaci will ring a bell. For some of you, it'll ring quite a big bell.

Fallaci, the Italian-born journalist, philosopher and writer who describes herself as a "Christian atheist," came to a special prominence on this beat as she had a clandestine evening last summer with none other than Benedict XVI. The long evening at Castel Gandolfo eventually leaked out and stoked a lot of talk in the Bel Paese.

Since 9/11, she's made some very high-octane statements about the rise of Islam in Europe. At her audience with the Pope, however, she noted that he didn't chide her for her religious leanings, saying that "the religious community is a people more open and intelligent than the lay community to which I belong. People so open and intelligent that they don't even try, don't even dream, of saving my soul (I mean to say, of converting me)."

Fallaci's comes back swinging in an extensive interview with The New Yorker in which she re-launches into the views which have earned her a fatwa.

According to Fallaci, Europeans, particularly those on the political left, subject people who criticize Muslim customs to a double standard. “If you speak your mind on the Vatican, on the Catholic Church, on the Pope, on the Virgin Mary or Jesus or the saints, nobody touches your ‘right of thought and expression.’ But if you do the same with Islam, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, some son of Allah, you are called a xenophobic blasphemer who has committed an act of racial discrimination. If you kick the ass of a Chinese or an Eskimo or a Norwegian who has hissed at you an obscenity, nothing happens. On the contrary, you get a ‘Well done, good for you.’ But if under the same circumstances you kick the ass of an Algerian or a Moroccan or a Nigerian or a Sudanese, you get lynched.” The rhetoric of Fallaci’s trilogy is intentionally intemperate and frequently offensive: in the first volume, she writes that Muslims “breed like rats”; in the second, she writes that this statement was “a little brutal” but “indisputably accurate.” She ascribes behavior to bloodlines—Spain, she writes, has been overly acquiescent to Muslim immigrants because “too many Spaniards still have the Koran in the blood”—and her political views are often expressed in the language of disgust. Images of soiling recur in the books: at one point in “The Rage and the Pride” she complains about Somali Muslims leaving “yellow streaks of urine that profaned the millenary marbles of the Baptistery” in Florence. “Good Heavens!” she writes. “They really take long shots, these sons of Allah! How could they succeed in hitting so well that target protected by a balcony and more than two yards distant from their urinary apparatus?” Six pages later, she describes urine streaks in the Piazza San Marco, in Venice, and wonders if Muslim men will one day “shit in the Sistine Chapel.”....

Fallaci recalled that she found [the Ayatollah] Khomeini intelligent, and “the most handsome old man I had ever met in my life. He resembled the ‘Moses’ sculpted by Michelangelo.” And, she said, Khomeini was “not a puppet like Arafat or Qaddafi or the many other dictators I met in the Islamic world. He was a sort of Pope, a sort of king—a real leader. And it did not take long to realize that in spite of his quiet appearance he represented the Robespierre or the Lenin of something which would go very far and would poison the world. People loved him too much. They saw in him another Prophet. Worse: a God.”

Upon leaving Khomeini’s house after her first interview, Fallaci was besieged by Iranians who wanted to touch her because she’d been in the Ayatollah’s presence. “The sleeves of my shirt were all torn off, my slacks, too,” she recalled. “My arms were full of bruises, and hands, too. Do believe me: everything started with Khomeini. Without Khomeini, we would not be where we are. What a pity that, when pregnant with him, his mother did not choose to have an abortion.”

She is, however, against abortion -- on one condition.
She is opposed to abortion, unless she “were raped and made pregnant by a bin Laden or a Zarqawi.” She is fiercely opposed to gay marriage (“In the same way that the Muslims would like us all to become Muslims, they would like us all to become homosexuals”), and suspicious of immigration in general. The demonstrations by immigrants in the United States these past few months “disgust” her, especially when protesters displayed the Mexican flag. “I don’t love the Mexicans,” Fallaci said, invoking her nasty treatment at the hands of Mexican police in 1968. “If you hold a gun and say, ‘Choose who is worse between the Muslims and the Mexicans,’ I have a moment of hesitation. Then I choose the Muslims, because they have broken my balls....”

“[Italian Muslims] live at our expense, because they’ve got schools, hospitals, everything,” she said at one point, beginning to shout. “And they want to build damn mosques everywhere.” She spoke of a new mosque and Islamic center planned for Colle di Val d’Elsa, near Siena. She vowed that it would not remain standing. “If I’m alive, I will go to my friends in Carrara—you know, where there is the marble. They are all anarchists. With them, I take the explosives. I make you juuump in the air. I blow it up! With the anarchists of Carrara. I do not want to see this mosque—it’s very near my house in Tuscany. I do not want to see a twenty-four-metre minaret in the landscape of Giotto. When I cannot even wear a cross or carry a Bible in their country! So I BLOW IT UP! ”
Reading it, you could almost imagine the hair of the Fluffiness standing up on end during their encounter. For what it's worth, I could listen to her all day. Not that I'd agree with it all, but you can't help but be engaged.

Tip to the First Things blog -- one of my guilty pleasures.