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Oriana Fallaci
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 16, 2006

If this doesn't tell you everything you need to know about a remarkable woman, I don't know what would:
Forced to wear a chador while interviewing the Ayotollah Khomeini, Fallaci asked an ... 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.
Rest in peace, Oriana. The world is a poorer place without you.
 
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Godspeed, Orianna. And thank you.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Khomeini fled the room with his hands over his eyes, wimpering like an infant.
 
Written By: Josh
URL: http://
Hit with those deadly hair rays. Oh, the horror.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
I would hope that she wouldn’t have been given an opportunity to interview the Ayotollah Khomeini in the first place had they known of her repugnant insolence. The excerpt posted does not suggest to be that she is remotely remarkable (though I am not suggesting that she was wholly unremarkable) - only that she lacked a proper cultural understanding for why women wear a chador, as wearing it is a claim to respectability and Islamic piety. Also, to say what she did in this instance is insulting to most women who wear chadors.

This statement is reminiscent of the 60 minutes interview by Mike Wallace with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Such insolence is an attention grabber, but has no place in the professional field of journalism. The term associated with this sort of behavior is known as "yellow journalism." I would suggest one keeps this in mind before praising such individuals.
 
Written By: Stefan
URL: http://
as wearing it is a claim to respectability
Exactly. Who could respect any woman who flaunts herself in public by showing any part of her body? Women should know their place, right? It’s not like women don’t have all the same rights as men...oh, wait...never mind.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Looks like the local Hezbollah morale officer has found his way to this site.
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
only that she lacked a proper cultural understanding for why women wear a chador, as wearing it is a claim to respectability and Islamic piety
Nice to see the protectors of piety and respectability show up. I always saw it a sign of misogyny and fear myself.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Ah, so we find the clashing of cultures yet again. Where do benign "cultural modifications" of "basic human rights" end, and systemic violations of individual sovereignty begin? I would be of the opinion that it is in poor taste to disregard some customs in such areas, but on matters such as this, where they "insisted" she wear something, it goes beyond encouraging comfortable adaptation to a culture, and into the equally poor taste of giving undue universality to their mode of living.

Of course the situation also becomes entirely different when the government intrudes so deeply into society. Societal pressures to act in accordance with various "communal" values that are deemed important are altogether different than superficially similar legal obligations to tradition. It is the difference between acknowledging and valuing the "democracy of our ancestors," and blindly enforcing the tyrannies of our present.
 
Written By: Alfred
URL: http://
had they known of her repugnant insolence
Well, OK. How do you swim in a chador?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I would hope that she wouldn’t have been given an opportunity to interview the Ayotollah Khomeini in the first place had they known of her repugnant insolence.
And yet, she was. How about that?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Exactly. Who could respect any woman who flaunts herself in public by showing any part of her body? Women should know their place, right? It’s not like women don’t have all the same rights as men...oh, wait...never mind.
Different people take pride in different things and whether you like it or not, this differs from culture to culture. Your concept of "rights", "honor", and "respect" differ from others (probably even your parents, siblings, peers, etc). It might be wise to consider this before approaching this issue with such miserable cynicism.
Nice to see the protectors of piety and respectability show up. I always saw it a sign of misogyny and fear myself.
Again, I will repeat that different cultures have different conceptions of piety and respectability, among other things. Supporting the right for a woman to take pride in who she is, regardless of how this differs among cultures, is not wrong. If Ms. Fallaci didn’t want to meet the requirement set by the interviewee, she could have requested to do the interview wearing her usual garb. Instead, she used the interview to showcase her disregard for journalistic professionalism and marched right into yellow journalism - sensationalizing something that she, as a non-Muslim, doesn’t agree with through culturally insensitive insults.

Journalists should be more objective and stable. As I stated above, Mike Wallace interviewing the Iranian President is another example of yellow journalism and cultural indifference. And trust me, these aren’t the only two who are guilty of such unprofessional journalism. If we desire constructive dialogue with other nations abroad, we should avoid laughing at and mocking them publicly, regardless of our personal feelings. Although I am not Muslim and don’t agree with the need to wear a chador, it doesn’t mean that I can’t spot snide, unconstructive comments when I see them in print or hear them on TV.
It is the difference between acknowledging and valuing the "democracy of our ancestors," and blindly enforcing the tyrannies of our present.
Excuse me, but who are "our ancestors"? Does democracy have anything to do with "their ancestors"? You might want to clarify what you mean by "our ancestors" before throwing such statements around in such a brash manner. Spreading democracy in such a negative way suggests to me that we (the Western world) have the same destructively aggressive ideology as the communist USSR which sought to have communist revolutions all around the world. When the people are ready to have a voice, they will speak.

I agree with encouraging liberal democracy (as opposed to illiberal democracy) in this day and age, though the approach we currently have is seriously flawed. The decline of professional journalism is merely one problem among many. However, the way to create positive change, as we see it, should be done through free trade - not war (if it can be helped), not grouping up countries into axes of evil as it suits us ideologically, and overthrowing people who seem to us as dictators. Free Trade=Free People. As I see it, this allows for gradual change, development, and liberalization of political institutions.
 
Written By: Stefan
URL: http://
Different people take pride in different things and whether you like it or not, this differs from culture to culture. Your concept of "rights", "honor", and "respect" differ from others (probably even your parents, siblings, peers, etc). It might be wise to consider this before approaching this issue with such miserable cynicism.
So it’s okay to take away the rights of women, as long as it’s part of your culture? Should we also respect their custom of publically executing homosexuals? What about cultures that conduct human sacrifices? Shall we tolerate them as well? I guess anything is permissible when you’re trying to establish your multi-culti bonafides. "I’m so tolerant that I tolerate intolerance!"
 
Written By: Jordan
URL: http://
It might be wise to consider this before approaching this issue with such miserable cynicism.
So you don’t have a problem with a "culture" that beats women if they don’t dress properly? Shame on you.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Thank God for her
We need more like her
 
Written By: Rick
URL: http://
Time has an article from 1979 about her interview:
Khomeini defended the trials and executions of 600 people since the revolution on the ground that those found guilty had been involved in tortures and massacres. But he became somewhat agitated when Fallaci cited executions of those convicted of adultery, prostitution or homosexuality.
How dare she question their custom of killing the sexually unclean. [/stefan]


BTW, the Iran Hostage Crisis began one month later.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Different people take pride in different things and whether you like it or not, this differs from culture to culture. Your concept of "rights", "honor", and "respect" differ from others (probably even your parents, siblings, peers, etc).
Just as I have stated above, different people have different conceptions of "rights". Of course someone who believes in one set of rights probably wouldn’t agree with and may oppose another set of rights or lack of what they believe are inalienable rights. The key word here is "believe". If one BELIEVES that his particular faith in universal rights should be forced upon all people, regardless of what culture someone belongs to, so be it. But one should at least have the common sense to recognize that what is offensive to one person may be a source of pride for another. What is bizarre in one culture is commonplace in another.
So you don’t have a problem with a "culture" that beats women if they don’t dress properly?
If a culture has certain expectations of its women, I’m sure the women are aware of those expectations before they decide to disregard them. They have a choice and they are responsible for the choices they make. If beatings seem better to them than wearing appropriate attire, then who am I to disagree? I’d have a bigger problem with beatings that are administered due to an excessive consumption of alcohol.

I don’t see a need for a Western-minded world police force which needs to save everyone everywhere from any culture that does not share the same beliefs as our current ones. And even we don’t have a uniform set of beliefs to dictate to others since not only developed countries, but regions and states within these countries differ in what set of beliefs they adhere to. I don’t believe in the First World Global Policing just as I don’t believe in the welfare state. People start out with certain conditions and they need to work with what they have to achieve what they want.

Cultural changes do not happen overnight and beatings, murders, torture, and rape occur throughout the entire world. Other than "having a problem" with these things, what are you doing to stop them? Talking with me probably won’t make a difference, but contacting your political representative might get the ball rolling at the very least. "All talk, no action" doesn’t really accomplish much. What’s your plan? I’ve at least written to my congressman numerous times about various societal ills both domestic and abroad that I’m opposed to and work as the humanitarian director for an organization that assists eastern european nations of the former Soviet Union with medical, educational, and adoption needs - what have you done?

If you want things to change, start domestically. For instance, Orianna Fallaci would have done better to focus on helping to eradicate the Camorra mafia organization in Naples. Once our national domestic problems are solved, then we may be more justified in demanding the same of others. What we should push for, at the most, would be to allow those who do not like their way of life in the Middle East to have the opportunity to move somewhere that suits them better.

Anyway, the whole thing with "beating women" as a main point in your argument stinks the same as yellow journalism’s exports in the media. You’ll have more luck fighting the spread of sexual slavery in its main Middle Eastern destination points located in Israel and Turkey which have significant sex trade. Opposing this instead, you will be more successful in fighting beatings, torture, drug use, the spread of STDs such as AIDS, and rape in places that are supposedly more developed and more accessible for your efforts. Let’s pressure these states first to clean up their acts.
How dare she question their custom of killing the sexually unclean.
How dare you misread everything I have just written. My criticism of her was based on her taking off the chador and insulting anyone who wears one. It was an example of yellow journalism and disrespect to a people’s culture since many women wear these as a claim to respectability and Islamic piety. Questioning someone about tortures and executions he was responsible for does not fall under yellow journalism. Those responding to my posts would do well to read what I have already posted before responding with such ridiculous sarcasm and snide one-liners.
 
Written By: Stefan
URL: http://
My criticism of her was based on her taking off the chador and insulting anyone who wears one.
She criticised the garment, not a soul who wears one. After all, they, like she, generally had little choice in the matter. That you would demean Fallaci for her behavior in the presence of a monster like Khomeni tells me all I need to know. Forget "journalism". Yellow will suffice.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Let’s look at your statement again with one minor change:
If a culture has certain expectations of its [minorities], I’m sure the [minorities] are aware of those expectations before they decide to disregard them.
You are arguing that she should have shown respect for a "culture" that was forcing subservience on a portion of their population.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
"You’ll have more luck fighting the spread of sexual slavery in its main Middle Eastern destination points located in Israel and Turkey"

Bingo. sooner or later, it comes out. They just can’t help themselves.


"...and insulting anyone who wears one."

He insulted anyone who doesn’t.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
You are arguing that she should have shown respect for a "culture" that was forcing subservience on a portion of their population.
I never said anyone should respect another culture. I believe we should respect the right to have a different culture that doesn’t mirror our own beliefs.
Bingo. sooner or later, it comes out. They just can’t help themselves.
What are you even talking about? Please elaborate.
That you would demean Fallaci for her behavior in the presence of a monster like Khomeni tells me all I need to know. Forget "journalism". Yellow will suffice.
Since when does being in the presence of a monster allow one to throw out consideration for other women’s feelings? Dealing with monsters doesn’t mean people should drop to their level when interviewing them. If a murderer is freed from jail, should a police officer start toilet papering the ex-criminal’s trees? Should he spit in his face next time he sees him in the street?

Of course Orianna Fallaci shouldn’t be considered worse, but her behavior does not respresent the behavior of a serious, professional interviewer and journalist. Her behavior in this case was listed as an example of a "remarkable woman" - which I would seriously disagree with based on this particular example. She doesn’t strike me as much more than a woman occasionally bent on exploiting journalism for her own personal ends. I would have preferred a better example to showcase her as a remarkable woman - not that infantile display of unprofessionalism in her particular field.
She criticised the garment, not a soul who wears one.
Pablo, so if someone makes Chicken Marsala for dinner and one of the guests states "This tastes horrible! It tastes like dogsh*t!" - by your logic, it would be absolutely ridiculous for the person who took pride in making the meal to get offended, right? I mean, by your logic, only the food was criticized - not the soul who made it and took pride in it. Does this make sense to you? Despite your illogical rhetoric (which is all it really is - style with no substance), common sense would dictate that the insult is implied.
 
Written By: Stefan
URL: http://
Since when does being in the presence of a monster allow one to throw out consideration for other women’s feelings?
Do you know of other women who were present to be offended? Do you understand the feelings of Iranian women better than Fallaci did?
Dealing with monsters doesn’t mean people should drop to their level when interviewing them.
Fallaci never approached Khomeni’s level of depravity.
Of course Orianna Fallaci shouldn’t be considered worse, but her behavior does not respresent the behavior of a serious, professional interviewer and journalist.
And yet she was the only Western journalist ever to do it. Imagine that. I take it that you were not consulted.
She doesn’t strike me as much more than a woman occasionally bent on exploiting journalism for her own personal ends.
You’re not terribly perceptive, it seems. She was deeply concerned about civilization.
I mean, by your logic, only the food was criticized - not the soul who made it and took pride in it.
Khomeni wasn’t cooking chicken. And he didn’t design the chador. Fallaci didn’t ask to wear it. If you’re saying that Khomeni took pride in subjugating women and that it therefore offended him when Fallaci discarded the chador, then yup. I have no problem with that. Why do you?
Does this make sense to you?

None whatsoever.
Despite your illogical rhetoric (which is all it really is - style with no substance), common sense would dictate that the insult is implied.
I’m sure it was intentional, and I haven’t suggested that there was no insult. You’d better get your logic detector tuned up.

 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Judging from Pablo’s inablility to read what I have written for what it is and his inability to understand the meaning of it (as can be seen in his sarcastic remarks and fruitless attempt at witty banter), I’m done with this discussion. Pablo likes to clown around while only JWG and Jordan seem sincere about the topics discussed.

I’ll give Orianna Fallaci the benefit of the doubt that she was probably a decent journalist most of the time, but was occassionally prone to sensationalist attempts at journalism which probably enhanced her notoriety (as one of these attempts has been used as an example of what is "remarkable"). The field of serious journalism is better without such people. Arrivederci, Ms. Fallaci.

Sensationalist attempts are not remarkable and should not be used as an example of what is remarkable. Sensationalism and journalism should not mix as it starts bordering on propaganda - a heavily stylized approach which may or may not have some substance to it upon further inspection. I only hope that someone reading this can begin to tell the difference between yellow journalism and real journalism. Sensationalist attempts to make headlines - regardless of one’s admiration for it - isn’t real journalism. It’s yellow journalism.

Thanks for your time.
 
Written By: Stefan
URL: http://
I’ve responded to you line by line, Stefan. Don’t pretend I haven’t, or that you’ve delivered some wisdom that has been missed here. And don’t whine. It’s unbecoming.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
I never said anyone should respect another culture. I believe we should respect the right to have a different culture that doesn’t mirror our own beliefs.
Like the culture that thought it was OK to stuff Jews into ovens? Or the culture that thought it was OK to kill various African-Americans for trying to vote?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
"What are you even talking about? Please elaborate."

Somehow Israel and/or Jews always seems to get a gratuitous slap when middle eastern problems are discussed. I suppose the chador is worn to protect the purity and safety of Islamic women from the depredations of the Israelis/Jews.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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