Francesca Orsini (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK):
The most obvious thing lacking in Fallaci’s discourse is politics, and with it history. The absence of politics is also the absence of looking into the internal history and vicissitudes of the postcolonial states of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia - the difficult paths of economic development, the disappointment with the westernized nationalist elites, the extremely ambivalent attitudes towards the ‘West’ as an imagined ‘other’. Retrospectively, Fallaci forgets that Arafat (and George Habash) belonged to secular organizations, that President Assad and Saddam Hussein did not establish Islamic regimes, and so on and so forth. Only if one forgets all this can one indeed ask, with Fallaci and Bush, ‘why do they hate us?’ and answer, ‘because they secretly envy us’ (Fallaci 2001: 25). It will not do to answer Fallaci’s oversimplifications with other oversimplifications. As journalist Tiziano Terzani pointed out in his thoughtful reply to Fallaci’s original article in 2001, this is a great occasion to stop and rethink; and our duty as intellectuals is to create ‘fields of comprehension instead of fields of war’ (Said’s phrase). The journalist’s task is to simplify that which is complicated, but one should not go too far (Terzani 2001). Instead, by placing the discourse on the level of values rather than politics, Fallaci and her readers continue to forget history and international politics, the exploitative and manipulative role that Italy (one of the biggest arms producers in the world), the US and other Western countries continue to play on the world scene. Instead, the ‘West’ can present itself as a hapless victim, the victim who of course now should rediscover its toughness, its ‘balls’.
– Orsini, F. (2006) Cannons and Rubber Boats. Oriana Fallaci and the „Clash of Civilizations”, Interventions. The International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 8 (3): 444-60. [PDF]