R.I.P. Oriana Fallaci

While Oriana Fallaci was an atheist, she drew more hatred from militant Islam than the Pope has drawn today, and I find myself wondering what she'd say if she could see the violent Islamic riots taking place on the day she died.

Glenn Reynolds links Pajamas Media's huge roundup of blogger reactions to her death, and they include these:

  • Roger L. Simon:
    One of my personal heroes is dead.
  • Michelle Malkin:
    May her life, an embodiment of the rejoinder "I will not submit," continue to inspire more boldness.
  • Sissy Willis remembers her previous post and touches on the irony of "when an atheist and a pope think the same things."
  • It's Friday afternoon and I have to get caught up on the things I've neglected all week (and this blogging eats at my time like you wouldn't believe!) So I can't read all the tributes, even though I'm sure they're all good. But I knew Jeff Goldstein wouldn't disappoint, and sure enough, he didn't:

    Fallaci was in some respects the Christopher Hitchens of Italy. Once celebrated by the left, she recognized the danger to her civilizational values posed by radical Islam, and for speaking out her understanding was made a pariah by the European socialist news apparatus and the Western lefty blogosphere.

    I owe Fallaci this debt: when I studied in Italy I learned her Letter to a Child Never Born as a model for how to write clear, concise Italian. She was an interviewer (and interviewee) of devastating intellect, and although an atheist herself understood the importance to Europe of its Christian heritage. Her Strength of Reason, very directly critical of Islam, caused a firestorm of controversy in Europe and landed her in an Italian court under charges of defamation.

    Fortunately, people can't be put on trial here for "defaming" a religion. Or a minority. (Yet.)

    One of the finest tributes to Oriana Fallaci was the fact that her books were banned by San Francisco's City Lights books.

    The crank of a classical augur in me likes to think that the riots might mean that she's enjoying some sort of cosmic joke in the atheist heaven which has to exist for writers who make trouble for a good cause.

    (And if such a heaven didn't exist, I'd have to invent it, for God's sake.)

    UPDATE (09/16/06): From the Philadelphia Inquirer's obituary, titled "Oriana Fallaci; made the strong cringe":

    Ms. Fallaci took the Catholic Church to task for being what she considered too weak before the Muslim world. But she praised Pope Benedict XVI for urging Europeans to value their Christian roots and had a private audience with him.

    "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a pope think the same things, there must be something true," she said in a recent interview.

    Must have been the dialogue that can't speak its name.

    Nice obit, by the way. Too bad it had to be buried on page B-6.

    (I guess some topics are just too hot for the masses.)

    UPDATE (09/17/06): A reflection on Oriana Fallaci's atheist soul from the great Victor Davis Hanson:

    long may you run, Ms. Fallaci, you who by now have learned that, yes, there is a soul, and, yes, yours was indeed saved for eternity if only for its singular courage and honesty alone.
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    posted by Eric on 09.15.06 at 03:22 PM


    Falacci is the kind of atheist heaven was made to house.

    Harkonnendog   ·  September 15, 2006 6:58 PM

    The interesting thing about this is that if we assume for the sake of argument that there is a god and an afterlife, then why would an honest atheist be precluded from such an afterlife simply for having the honesty to admit to unbelief? I'm not saying there aren't true believers, but I have known many "religious" churchgoing people who don't truly believe, but only want and hope that the stuff they claim to believe (usually in the form of religious texts) is true. By rejecting a life spent living in doubt, atheists demonstrate the courage of their convictions, and an honesty that more resembles that of the true believers than the secret doubters who are outwardly religious. Considering the horrors wrought by religion (and the inherent impossibility of knowing to a certainty which man-made book constitutes god), I think a good argument can be made that if there were a god and such a deity were compassionate, honest atheists who led good lives would be just as welcome to whatever eternity might be made available to those who succumbed to peer pressure or fear.

    As to the "true believers," simple logic dictates that they cannot all be right. Can any human say with certainty whose god decides whose true believers win whose eternity? (If the 9/11, virgin-supplying bigot god is in charge, hell awaits me, so bring it on, asshole.)

    Eric Scheie   ·  September 16, 2006 7:49 AM

    Being a true non-believer I hope that, were I to be mistaken, Fran Porretto is not:

    Some people just don't have the ability to open themselves to faith. But God is just, and demands nothing of any man that would exceed his abilities. As long as he lives right, he'll be all right, both in this world and the next.

    On the other hand, that most probably would not be enough; there are my other sins...

    Marzo   ·  September 18, 2006 5:54 PM

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