Sometimes I would see the image, for me symbolic (therefore infuriating), of the big tent with which one summer ago the Somali Muslims disfigured, smeared with shit and profaned for three months piazza Del Duomo in Florence. My city.
A tent raised to curse and condemn and insult the Italian government that was hosting them but would not give them the necessary documents to run around Europe and would not let them bring into Italy their hordes of their relatives. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, pregnant in-laws and even the relatives of their relatives. A tent raised next to the beautiful building of the Archbishop’s residence on whose sidewalk they kept their shoes and slippers which in their countries they line up outside of their Mosques. And with their shoes and slippers, the bottles of water with which they wash their feet before prayer. A tent raised in front of Brunelleschi’s cupola and next to the Baptistery with Ghiberti’s doors of paradise. A tent, furnished like a primitive apartment: chairs, tables, chaise-lounges, mattresses to sleep on and to copulate, ranges to cook the food and stench up the piazza with the smoke and smell. Thanks to the usual unconscionable Enel who cares about our works of art as much as it cares for our countryside, the tent was furnished with electricity. Thanks to a tape recorder, enriched by the coarse ugly voice of a muezzin who punctually exhorted the faithful, deafening the infidels, and suffocated the sound of the bells. To add to this, the yellow lines of urine that profaned the marble of the Baptistery. (By gosh! They have a long "spray" these sons of Allah! How did they manage to hit their objective, which is separated from the street by a protective fence, hence almost two meters distant from their urinary apparatus?) With the yellow lines of urine, and the stench of the excrements the huge door of San Salvatore was blocked and the Bishop unable to use it. The exquisite romanic styled church (built in the year one thousand) which is right behind Piazza del Duomo and that the sons of Allah had transformed into a shit-hole. You know it well.
Apart from finding the overheated rhetoric that she uses ironic given the reception that Italian immigrants a century ago received (in the United States, France, Argentina, et cetera), and not questioning what happened in Florence since I haven't been to Florence and haven't witnessed the situation, what strikes me is her lack of empathy. Fallaci says it herself: these are poor, desperate refugees. They're not comfortable tourists respectfully visiting foreign coutnries for a spell, they're people trying to escape a country that has become as close to a Mad Max wasteland as possible in our reality and find secure refuge somewhere, trying in the meantime survive as best as they can. And yet, she generalizes so insanely broadly and offensively from this single unrepresentative situation.
I don't read this passage as bold defiance of a multiculturalist orthodoxy, or whatever other establishment one would like to cobble together as a slur. How can you do that? The only way that this passage can be realistically read, I think, is as an example of Fallaci applying the classic strategy of dehumanizing a group by identifying its members as behaving like animals. It doesn't matter whether or not the allegations are true, or whatever the circumstances are. The only thing that does matter is showing up those animals as monsters undeserving of our sympathy.
I don't think that Fallaci should be prosecuted. I think that she should be allowed to hang gherself with her own words and those words' consequences. She might once have had a grand career as a journalist, but now she's deserving of no one's respect.