Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci was famous worldwide for her “take no prisoners” interviews with worldwide leaders during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Nothing was off limits in her exchanges with the likes of Yasser Arafat, Golda Meir and North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap.
She said the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, considered women simply as graceful ornaments. Fallaci insulted Federico Fellini and described Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as a tyrant and removed the required veil in front of him. Henry Kissinger wrote his interview with Fallaci was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press.” As a special correspondent, she was shot three times and dragged down stairs by her hair.
The Florentine daughter of a cabinet maker was a political activist who struggled to end the dictatorship of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. An Italian partisan during WWII, she became famous for her coverage of war and revolution. She lectured at the University of Chicago, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia. She wrote three books critical of Islamic extremists and warned Europe was “too tolerant of Muslims.” Fallaci died September 15, 2006 in her native Florence from lung cancer. A lifelong heavy smoker, she was 77-years-old.
Some of her notable quotes include:
“The moment you give up your principles and your values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period.”
“The more democratic and open a society is, the more it’s exposed to terrorism. The more a country is free, not governed by a police regime, the more it risks high-jackings or massacres like the ones that took place in Italy, Germany and other parts of Europe.”
“Instead of learned young people, we have donkeys with University degrees. Instead of future leaders we have mollusks with expensive blue jeans and phony revolutionaries with ski masks.”