by Lorenzo Vidino
National Review Online
June 10, 2005
"Oriana Fallaci" is not a household name in the United States, but it cannot be uttered in Europe without generating a heated reaction. Even though her 2002 book, The Rage and the Pride, was translated into English (by Fallaci herself) and sold many copies in the U.S., it was on the other side of the ocean that intellectuals, politicians, and ordinary citizens passionately debated the views of the celebrated Italian journalist.
The Rage and the Pride is either loved or hated; the positions Fallaci takes in it leave no middle ground. Outraged by the events of 9/11, Fallaci criticizes both Muslims (bent, according to her, on conquering the West and annihilating its culture) and Europeans (described as spoiled, hypocritical, and blind to the mortal threat represented by Islamic expansionism). Fallaci's views as expressed in the Rage and the Pride caused an uproar in politically correct Europe, death threats and lawsuits included. Now, two years later, Fallaci has published a new book, entitled La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason), which continues the discourse she began in The Rage and the Pride.
As its title suggests, The Force of Reason is not dictated by the (sometimes excessive) fury that inspired The Rage and the Pride, but it gives a more accurate explanation of why Europe has decided not to defend its identity and to surrender to what she calls the "Islamic invasion." With the sarcasm and uniquely direct style that characterizes her work, Fallaci carefully examines the historic and political reasons that have led Europeans to vilify their own culture, consistently embrace anti-Americanism, and pander to every request from the increasingly powerful Muslim communities that populate the dying Old Continent. Her analysis does not leave much hope for the future of Europe, although she takes a far more optimistic position on her adoptive country, the United States (Fallaci currently lives in New York).
The long introduction to The Force of Reason recounts the intellectual lynching to which Fallaci was subjected following the publication of The Rage and the Pride. The PC establishment, which she refers to as the "Modern Inquisition," crucified her, submerging her with lawsuits and accusations of being racist and fomenting a religious war. But all of this publicity just played into Fallaci's hands, as sales of The Rage and the Pride soared into the millions. But what has really struck Fallaci in the wake of The Rage and the Pride are the letters she has received from readers throughout the world.
One of the most significant was written by an Italian, who thanked her for "helping me to understand the things I thought without realizing I was thinking them." And this is Fallaci's goal: provoking Europeans into realizing what is going on right under their noses and getting rid of their fear to say something that goes against the PC dogma. According to Fallaci, the "Modern Inquisition" has managed to keep individuals in fear of expressing what they believe: "If you are a Westerner and you say that your civilization is superior, the most developed that this planet has ever seen, you go to the stake. But if you are a son of Allah or one of their collaborationists and you say that Islam has always been a superior civilization, a ray of light...nobody touches you. Nobody sues you. Nobody condemns you."
Fallaci has her own interpretation of the massive Islamic immigration that is rapidly changing the face of European cities. She sees it as part of the expansionism that has characterized Islam since its birth. After reminding the reader how Islamic armies have aimed for centuries at the heart of Europe (a part of history that is not taught anymore in Europe, since it would offend the sensitivity of Muslim pupils), reaching France, Poland, and Vienna, she lays out her case, claiming that the current flood of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa is part of a carefully planned strategy. Fallaci uses the words of Muslim leaders to support this thesis.
In 1974, former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne said in a speech at the U.N.: "One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere to go to the northern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory." In other words, says Fallaci, what Islamic armies have not been able to do with force in more than 1,000 years can be achieved in less than a century through high birth rates. She cites as evidence a 1975 meeting of Islamic countries in Lahore, in which they announced their project to transform the flow of Muslim immigrants in Europe in "demographic preponderance."
The "sons of Allah," as Fallaci calls them, do not make a secret of their plans. A Catholic bishop recounted that, during an interfaith meeting in Turkey, a respected Muslim cleric told the crowd: "Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you. Thanks to our Islamic laws we will conquer you." But what really makes Fallaci's blood boil is the West's inability to even acknowledge this aggression. A large part of her book is dedicated to analyzing how the main European countries pander to the arrogant demands of radical Muslim organizations, how they are unable to defend their Jewish citizens from acts of Islamic militant violence (often blamed on neo-Nazis and almost never on the Muslim perpetrators, even when the evidence clearly proves otherwise), and said countries' unwillingness to be proud of their cultures and identities.
But when and why did Europe become so weak and submissive in the face of its new Islamic masters, a "province of Islam," as Fallaci calls it? She points the finger squarely at the 1973 oil crisis. Europeans were so afraid of losing their supplies of oil that they decided to pander to the requests of OPEC, discarding Israel and beginning an intense dialogue with Arab countries. From that year on, intellectuals, the media, and politicians have been showered with money for their support of Arab and Islamic causes and numerous lobbying organizations have been created in several European countries. A publication with the ominous title of " Eurabia [about which Bat Yeor has written at length] was created in Paris, and the European parliament established the Parliamentary Association for the Euro-Arabian Cooperation, all part of an Arab-financed effort to influence European politics.
The last chapters of The Force of Reason are dedicated to explaining why Europe's three main political and social forces (Left, Right, and the Church) gave in to what she calls "the Islamic invasion." While Fallaci accuses the Left and Right mostly of ignorance and opportunism, her harshest words are left for the Church. Fallaci has been known throughout her long career for her strong anti-clericalism (she is a long-time leftist, daughter of an Italian partisan who fought the Fascists), but describes herself as a "Christian atheist." While stating that she does not believe in God, she claims that the West cannot ignore its Christian origin and identity. Even if we deny God's existence, Fallaci says, Christianity has shaped the Western world. It defines "who we are, where we are coming from, and where we are going."
But the Church, she says, is not able — or worse, not willing — to defend Christianity. Fallaci accuses the Church of helping the expansion of the "Islamic empire," lobbying for more Muslims to come to Europe. She points out that Christianity offers its churches as shelters to Muslim immigrants, who immediately turn them into mosques, as it has happened repeatedly in France and Italy. It continuously apologizes for the Crusades, but never expects an apology for what Muslims are doing now to Christians in Sudan or Indonesia.
Amid Fallaci's bleak vision for Europe, however, a ray of hope comes from America. In a very emotional last chapter, Fallaci describes her admiration in witnessing the 2004 New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. In a sharp contrast with the fear-constrained Europeans, thousands of New Yorkers decided to defy the Code Orange terror alert and party hard in the face of the terrorists. Proud to honor itself, young and determined, America is perceived by Fallaci as the only hope for the West. In this unprovoked cultural war that has been waged on the West, America should lead the way, but it cannot do it alone. According to Fallaci, the West has not realized that it is under attack, and that this war "wants to hit our soul rather than our body. Our way of life, our philosophy of life. Our way of thinking, acting and loving. Our freedom. Do not be fooled by their explosives. That is just a strategy. The terrorists, the kamikazes, do not kill us just for the sake of killing us. They kill us to bend us. To intimidate us, tire us, demoralize us, blackmail us."
Movingly passionate, The Force of Reason is a desperate wake-up call for the West and for Europe in particular. In Italy, despite a complete silence from the media (who have decided not to make the same mistake they made with The Rage and the Pride, when their criticism made the book's sales skyrocket) the book has sold a half million copies in just two weeks. A translation into English is imminent, making The Force of Reason readily accessible for those in the U.S. who want to learn more about the dire situation Europe faces.
Lorenzo Vidino is a research analyst for the Investigative Project.