Unlike many journalists today, Oriana Fallaci never mistook being a journalist to mean that she shouldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong. Maybe it was because she had grown up under fascism and had seen Hitler when he rolled into her home town of Florence. Whatever the reason she was unshakeable in her support of individual freedoms, separation of church and state, democracy, and freedom of speech.
Perhaps the best story that encapsulates her spirit was her interview with Khomeini soon after the revolution of 1979. She was forced to conduct the interview while wearing a ‘chador’ covering her head, hair and most of her body.
Fallaci continued posing indignant questions about the treatment of women in the new Islamic state. Why, she asked, did Khomeini compel women to “hide themselves, all bundled up,” when they had proved their equal stature by helping to bring about the Islamic revolution? Khomeini replied that the women who “contributed to the revolution were, and are, women with the Islamic dress”; they weren’t women like Fallaci, who “go around all uncovered, dragging behind them a tail of men.” A few minutes later, Fallaci asked a more insolent question: “How do you swim in a chador?” Khomeini snapped, “Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women.” Fallaci saw an opening, and charged in. “That’s very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She yanked off her chador.
In response Khomeini got up with surprising agility and left the room. She was made to wait a day or two before she could see him again to conclude her interview and was sternly told that she would under no circumstances revisit this topic. So of course when she was allowed to see him again the first thing she did was bring up the topic again.
Now contrast this interview to the smarmy and spineless ass-kissing that Mike Wallace engaged in recently with Ahmadinejad.
Oriana Fallaci 1929-2006
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