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Rage and Pride Ignites a Firestorm
Part 1: Oriana Fallaci's La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio Sparks Controversy
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"Fallaci non avrebbe mai dovuto stare in silenzio per 10 anni."
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Xenophobe. Razzista. Bigot. Un po' piu' sviscerato. Anti-female. Islamofobo. Rancorous words indeed to describe Italy's most celebrated female writer, Oriana Fallaci. Fallaci, who fought in the anti-Fascist resistance as a teenager, wrote novels and memoirs, and lectured at universities such as Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, gained a reputation as an uncompromising political interviewer to whom virtually no world figure would say no.

But Fallaci, who refuses to give interviews and hasn't published a single word for the past decade, unleashed a torrent of criticism and outrage with her screed La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio (The Rage and The Pride), written in angry reaction to the terrorist attacks in New York, where she lives. The provocative, scornful, four-page essay, which first appeared in the country's leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, was a scathing, expletive-ridden indictment of Muslim immigrants and Italian ambivalence towards the United States that forced both public commentators and the general public alike to rëexamine the Italian response to the terrorist attacks.

Professional Provocateur
In La Rabbia e l'Orgoglio Fallaci begins by announcing that reports that some Italians had celebrated the September 11 terrorist attacks on America had so enraged her that she had decided to break "the self-imposed silence I have kept for 10 years to avoid mixing with cicadas".

Never one to tone down her invective, Fallaci heaped scorn on her fellow Italians and was tough on Arab immigrants, calling their arrival in Italy a colonization that amounts to "a secret invasion". As reported in The New York Times, "...her tone and anti-immigrant theme were all but universally rejected, but the criticism of her native Italy as a country of divided loyalties, deeply conflicted about the US-led military action, is getting a serious hearing."

Prominent writers and thinkers in Italy answered her in print with commentaries such as: Le guerre sante passione e ragione, I coltivatori di dubbi e la spada di Oriana, Uditi i critici ha ragione Oriana, and even an analysis of the rhetorical style of The Rage and The Pride.

More discussion followed. The novelist Dacia Maraini wrote that "if you turn this into the first move of a holy war, you are helping him (Osama bin Laden)," adding, "It is a trap, Oriana, in which you seem to have fallen, spurred on by the impetuousness and the courage—a little quixotic in this case—that characterize you."

Giovanni Sartori, professor of humanities at Columbia University and professor emeritus at the University of Florence, concluded that while he did not completely agree with her, "Oriana Fallaci must be right, since her accusers are thoroughly wrong."

Perhaps emboldened after years of silence, Fallaci went on the offensive. In April, the Italian magazine Panorama published On Jew-Hatred in Europe, an article in which she accused Europe of hating Jews, and pointed to European anti-Semitism as the reason behind support for the Palestinians in the current Middle East crisis.

"I find it shameful that state-run television stations [in Italy] contribute to the resurgent anti-Semitism, crying only over Palestinian deaths while playing down Israeli deaths, glossing over them in unwilling tones. I find it shameful that in their debates they host with much deference the scoundrels with turban or kaffiyeh who yesterday sang hymns to the slaughter at New York and today sing hymns to the slaughters at Jerusalem, at Haifa, at Netanya, at Tel Aviv."
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