Being Oriana Fallaci?

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In Oriana Fallaci’s hard-hitting style, Anna J. Dudek, editor, attacks Miriam Shaded, a Polish human rights activist and an outspoken critic of Islam. Reason: Shaded dared to appoint herself a “Polish equivalent” of the Italian journalist.

In her article “Shaded like Fallaci?” (Polish text here) Dudek treats the ant-Islam activist ruthlessly. This is not a text that defends the Italian reporter and writer’s good name, either. It is an unfair and vile attack on Fallaci, who even if she were alive, would not respond to, as also during her lifetime there were plenty of such “cicadas”, as she referred to people similar to the author of the article.

Dudek appreciates Fallaci as a reporter, well respected before the publication of her book “The Rage and the Pride” and disdains Fallaci as an “Islamophobe” after the publication of her emotional response to the 9/11 attack. “The only thing that connects Fallaci before this book, with Fallaci after “The Rage and the Pride” is a knack for words and passion”, Dudek writes. Were there really two different Orianas?

Fallaci’s collection of reportages “The Roots of Hatred” show her evolution from a supporter of the Palestinian cause to its opponent, from solidarity with the oppressed of this world, to a terror of seing what they are capable of. But even in her interview with Khomeini, which was mentioned by Dudek, she did not hide her views on the new customs introduced in the Islamic Republic of Iran: “Not a day passes without the press giving information about some executed adulteress (…) Homosexuals, prostitutes and pimps are also being shot. (…) However, the law permits man to have four wives.”

And in other excerpts:

“In order to cover this wickedness (a woman’s hair and neck- author’s note) a woman should wear a scarf wrapped like a nun’s wimple, and even better a chador, that is a shroud covering the whole body. All women wear it, making them look like flocks of oppressed bats.”

When talking with Khomeini, Fallaci also criticizes the system of the Islamic Republic, where the most important decisions are taken in accordance with Koran and in agreement with the Islamic clergy. At the end, she calls a veil a “stupid, Medieval rag”. In 1973.

Almost half a century later, according to Anna J. Dudek “The Rage and the Pride” has created a foundation for “Islamophobia”. A veil is becoming more and more common on our continent, but also more common than in the Middle Eastern countries in the 70’s. A journalist who calls a veil a “stupid, Medieval rag” faces attacks, ostracism and other means of pressure. But this does not prevent the impression that “Islamophobia” has dominated the public space.

This is not the only Fallaci’s fault, according to Ms Dudek. She accuses the Italian reporter that “(…) although her words were about Islam, they are willingly used by all those who build their policies on fear of an unspecified “stranger”. I would say that if Fallaci were alive today, she should stand trial for attacks on Muslim women in Polish buses, because she dared to call a veil “a medieval rag” in 1973. That is her logic.

Well, Fallaci was dragged through the courts by various rogues, including Adel Smith, the founder of the Muslim Association in Italy, formerly known for trying to ban crucifixes in hospitals. There were many lawsuits. There were even more attacks and protests, both by the left wing and existing Fallaci’s devotees. They tried to hound her, which she wrote about in her subsequent books.

And yet, a decade after her death, Dudek writes about the reception of her statements, claiming her readers believed that “if Great Fallaci writes that Islam is evil, it certainly is.” This is another lie because she faced an avalanche of criticism.

The only protest that was organized against attempts to censor the journalist took place in Poland and was organized by our Stowarzyszenie Europa Przyszłości (Association for the Future of Europe). The letter defending Fallaci’s right to expression, was signed by Adam Michnik, Piotr Najsztub, Father Adam Boniecki, Justyna Pochanke, Professor Adam Roetfeld, and Professor Maria Janion. I am mentioning only a few names and these are not the right-wing people, for whom Fallaci’s books are a “manifesto”, according to Dudek.

During the debate about freedom of expression, also organized by our association, Jacek Pałkiewicz and Professor Jacek Hołówka defended Fallaci against journalist Jacek Żakowski, who today does not feel anything inappropriate in suggesting that the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (Polish civic organization and NGO promoting democracy, a direct opposition to the PiS government – translator’s note) became a Polish Hamas, even if he has no terrorist attacks in mind. But the above mentioned persons are also not the people of “the triumphantly roaring right”.

Monika Olejnik, a Polish radio, newspaper and TV journalist, wrote on her Facebook page in 2014, after journalist James Foley’s execution: “Oriana Fallaci was always right: ‘New fascism in Nazi-Islamist disguise…’.” Roaring right?

I do not know the origin of Anna Dudek’s faith in Fallaci’s agency, and ability to “divide Europe”, spread hatred and shape “Islamophobia”. Fallaci is shown in this article as a demiurge of the contemporary Europe that has created a divided continent through her ideas.

However, without Fallaci, would reality not provide enough impulses to approach Islam with at least scepticism? I am writing scepticism, because “Islamophobia” is another catchall to attack critics of Islam and people who are simply worried about events in Europe.

There is no consistent definition of the concept. The man who contributed to the popularization of the word, a British social activist Trevor Philips, had the moral courage to admit his mistake that it is not Islamophobia but Islamic fundamentalism that is a threat to Europe. For years, at discussions of non-governmental organizations under the aegis of the OSCE (held in Warsaw), a coherent definition of this psychological case cannot be obtained. However, things have moved forward, because proponents of introducing this term into public life recognized that Islamophobia is “Catch 22” a year ago. They stated that “the very question about the definition of Islamophobia is Islamophobia”. Well done!

Editor Dudek, free from the requirements of truth, goes further into inconsistencies. While her bosses in Krakowskie Przedmieście (main street in Warsaw) shouted “Down with tyrant Erdogan!”, the journalist uses the “European Islamophobia Report” to beat “Islamophobes”. This report was commissioned by the SETA think tank, as an instrument of the Turkish dictatorship under complete control of Islamists faithful to Erdogan. The report’s Polish part was written by Dudek’s friend, Konrad Pędziwiatr, a researcher, who literally has become a “useful idiot” of the emerging autocracy in Turkey. In addition, the researcher was caught lying in this report. Dudek claims it is a “credible report” but one should not be too surprised, as the truth is not the biggest strength of this flame in the “Wysokie Obcasy” magazine.

Flame, because it is probably the most despicable insult for an anti-fascist Fallaci that Dudek has built a train of thought connecting “The Rage and the Pride” with the rage and pride of the extreme right in Poland. Without a doubt, Dudek, who knew Fallaci’s work, had to know about her life-long negative attitude to the extreme right.

When one encounters such a brutal attack, at the same time characterized by emotions and packed with untruth, one should consider whether it has a hidden agenda? Maybe someone would like to be a Polish Oriana Fallaci and suddenly a usurper has appeared?

Here, I hate to use Ms Dudek’s private gallery, but it is probably important, and since her attack is saturated with personal remarks, I think she would approve of such a practice. Whoever catches the glimpse of the following Dudek’s photo, will think: “Fallaci”. Her friends also comment it: “Oriana Fallaci, Oriana”, they admire it, and Dudek does not protest.

There is the film “Being John Malkovich”, where a hero finds a way into the known actor’s head, and sees the world through his eyes. Unfortunately, Dudek is far away from Fallaci’s head, she can merely pose to be her.


Jan Wójcik

The Polish original: Być jak Oriana Fallaci?

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