Skip to comments.Unquiet on the Western Front (Q&A with Oriana Fallaci)
Posted on 01/31/2003 5:06:00 PM PST by Pokey78
Q Your post-Sept. 11 sermon, ''The Rage and the Pride,'' about the threat from Islamic fundamentalism, is full of anger.
Very. I was bleeding when I wrote. It is an unrestrainable cry, during which I said the truth that I had never said before.
After the stir it has caused around the world, are there parts you wish you had said in a gentler fashion?
Not a word. When I read it again for a translation, I say I was too tender. There is nothing that I would withdraw.
People have since countered you by citing the Islamic world's poetry, the discoveries in math--
True, the Arabs used the graphical numerals that we ourselves have adopted -- thank you very much. When I interviewed the big mouth named Arafat, he was shouting that his culture was superior to mine.
He shouted so much that I didn't care to tell him that I agree with Karl Popper, that we Westerners are living in the best possible society that the history of mankind has produced. We are on the moon, we are going to Mars, we have mapped the genome, we have fewer cases of cancer.
It's not because of Muhammad that they are curing my cancer -- it's the Western medicine.
Aren't you caricaturing the Muslim world, writing off all the moderate Muslims in pro-Western countries like Egypt, Morocco and Turkey?
You want me to be optimistic. I am not. The day the Islamic world will start criticizing itself, the day it will give birth to some Luther or Calvin, then you call me and say, ''Fallaci, you were wrong.'' I will then admit that the Western culture and Islamic culture can coexist.
Can you say nothing positive about Islam?
Let's see. I sure like the poems of Omar Khayyam. I like some mosques and the Alhambra in Spain. But it's not enough. Even if that world offered more, even if Khayyam was better than all of Shakespeare together, all Dante together, when you bring me the image of a woman with the burka, it annihilates everything.
Why have you been so reclusive for the last decade? You've been in total silence until this book.
Why I have kept such an exile in the last 10 years has to do with two reasons. There is the cancer that necessarily isolated me. The second is that I finally started writing the novel that I never had the guts to start before. When I write, I need total concentration, solitude.
How can you live in the middle of Manhattan then?
Because New York is a city where you can live among millions of people without seeing any of them.
As a multicultural city of many religions, doesn't New York stand as a contradiction to what you're advocating?
The opposite? Hell, no! I am a Florentine, a Tuscan. A grandchild of the Renaissance. Of Leonardo da Vinci, of Michelangelo, of Galileo.
A creature of the West. New York is the capital of the West.
You speak of your cancer, and I see you smoking away. How are you?
I survive gloriously. Vivaciously, anyway. This is why, I guess, those enemies of mine are so impatient to see my funeral and torment me with their death threats. Gloriously because I smoke even more than when I was healthy. Vivaciously because I work even more than when I was young. Sometimes I don't feel that well, I agree. But instead of getting scared, I talk with him. I say: ''You idiot masochist. Don't you understand that if you kill me, you die with me? Isn't it wiser to cohabit with me, to let me live?'' Then I feel good again.
The Alien. The guy, the cancer that in my opinion caught me when I was in the Kuwait desert and Saddam Hussein broke those oil wells --
so I was breathing that black cloud, I call him the Alien.
Would you like to interview Saddam now? You have interviewed many of the political giants of the 20th century.
Giants? Though I liked some of them, like Deng Xiaoping or Indira Gandhi or Golda Meir, I don't remember many giants. I do remember a few pygmies. Like Arafat and Qaddafi. But to answer your question, no, I would not like to interview Saddam. No. 1, because I stopped interviewing a long time ago. I have something much more interesting to do. Secondly, it would be impossible to get the truth out of Saddam.
Even for me.
What about bin Laden?
Although he is the enemy, he has some dignity in his position -- a little like Khomeini. Paradoxically, I always felt like bin Laden would talk to me. But, no, I have no time for exceptions.
Oliviero Toscani/Grazia Neri
True, the Arabs used the graphical numerals that we ourselves have adopted <snip> When I interviewed the big mouth named Arafat, he was shouting that his culture was superior to mine. He shouted so much that I didn't care to tell him that I agree with Karl Popper, that we Westerners are living in the best possible society that the history of mankind has produced. <snip> It's not because of Muhammad that they are curing my cancer -- it's the Western medicine.
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