You ask me to speak, this time. You ask me to break at least this once the silence I’ve chosen, that I’ve imposed on myself these many years to avoid mingling with chattering insects. And I’m going to. Because I’ve heard that in Italy too there are some who rejoice just as the Palestinians of Gaza did the other night on TV. “Victory! Victory!” Men, women, children. Assuming you can call those who do such a thing man, woman, child. I’ve heard that some of the insects of means, politicians or so-called politicians, intellectuals or so-called intellectuals, not to mention others not worthy of the title of citizen, are behaving pretty much the same way. They say: “Good. It serves America right.” And I am very very, very angry. Angry with an anger that is cold, lucid, rational. An anger that eliminates every detachment, every indulgence. An anger that compels me to respond and demands above all that I spit on them. I spit on them. Angry as I am, the African-American poet Maya Angelou roared the other day: “Be angry. It’s good to be angry, it’s healthy.” And I don’t know whether it’s healthy for me. But I know that it won’t be healthy for them, I mean those who admire Osama Bin Laden, those who express comprehension or sympathy or solidarity for him. Your request has triggered a detonator that’s been waiting too long to explode. You’ll see. You also ask me to tell how I experienced this apocalypse. To give, in other words, my testimony. Very well, I’ll start with that.

I was at home, which is in the center of Manhattan. At exactly nine o’clock I had a sensation of danger, of a danger that perhaps would not touch me, but that undoubtedly concerned me. It’s the sensation you feel in war, or rather in combat, when every pore of your skin feels the bullet or the rocket as it approaches, and you perk up your ears and yell at the person next to you: “Down! Get down!” I pushed it away. It’s not like I was in Vietnam. It’s not like I was in one of the many wars, those fucking wars that have tortured my life since World War II. I was in New York for God’s sake, on a marvellous September morning in 2001. But the sensation still possessed me, inexplicably. So I did something I never do in the morning and turned on the TV. The audio wasn’t working. The screen was. And on every channel—and here there are almost a hundred—you saw a tower of the World Trade Center burning like a giant match. A short circuit? A small plane gone off course? Or an act of deliberate terrorism? I stayed there almost paralyzed, fixed on that tower, and while I fixed on it, while I asked myself those three questions, another plane appeared on the screen. White, huge. An airliner. It was flying extremely low. Flying low, it turned toward the second tower like a bomber who draws a bead on a target and then hurls himself at it. That’s when I understood. I also understood because in that same moment the audio came back on and transmitted a chorus of primal screams. Repeated and primal. “God! Oh, God! Oh, God, God, God! Gooooooood!” And the plane went into that second tower like a knife going into a stick of butter.

By now it was quarter past nine. Don’t ask me what I felt during those fifteen minutes. I don’t know, I don’t remember. I was a piece of ice. Even my brain was ice. I don’t even remember whether certain things I saw were from the first tower or the second. For example, the people who threw themselves from the eightieth or ninetieth floor to avoid being burned alive. They broke the glass of the windows, they climbed up and jumped out like someone who jumps out of an airplane with a parachute on. They came down so slowly, waving their arms and legs, swimming in the air. Yes, they seemed to swim in the air, never arriving. Around the thirtieth floor though, they sped up. They started to gesture desperately, penitently I imagine, almost as though they were shouting for help. And maybe they really were. Finally they fell like rocks and splat. You know, I thought I’d seen everything in war. I’d considered myself vaccinated against war, and in substance I am. Nothing surprises me anymore. Not even when I get angry, not even when I get indignant. But in war I’d always seen people who died by the hand of others. I’d never seen people who die killing themselves, throwing themselves without parachutes from the eightieth or ninetieth or hundredth floor. In war, I’d always seen things that explode. That blow up in all directions. And I’d always heard a huge racket. Those two towers though, didn’t explode. The first imploded, swallowed itself. The second fused and melted. It melted just like a stick of butter placed on the fire. And it all happened, or so it seemed to me, in tomblike silence. Is that possible? Was that silence real, or was it inside me?

I also have to say that in war I’d always seen a limited number of deaths. Every battle, two or three hundred dead. Four hundred at most. Like at Dak To in Vietnam. And when the battle was finished, the Americans would gather up and count them. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In the massacre of Mexico City, the one where I caught a fair number of bullets myself, they gathered at least eight hundred dead. And when, thinking me dead, they stuck me in the morgue, the cadavers I soon found around and on myself seemed like a deluge. Well, almost fifty thousand people worked in the two towers. And very few had time to evacuate. The elevators didn’t work any more, obviously, and to go down on foot from the highest floors would have taken an eternity. Flames permitting. We’ll never know the number of dead. (Forty thousand, fifty thousand?) The Americans will never tell, so as not to underline the intensity of this apocalypse. So as not to give satisfaction to Osama Bin Laden and encourage other apocalypses. And anyway the two abysses that absorbed those tens of thousands of creatures are too deep. At most the workers will unearth pieces of scattered members. A nose here, a finger there. Or else a kind of paste that seems like ground coffee but is actually organic material. The residue of bodies pulverized in a flash. Yesterday the mayor Guiliani sent more than ten thousand body bags. But they went unused.

What do I feel for the kamikazes who died with them? No respect. No pity. No, not even pity, I who always wind up giving in to pity. I’ve always disliked kamikazes, that is people who commit suicide in order to kill others. Starting with the Japanese ones from World War II. I never considered them Pietro Miccas who torch the powder and go up with the citadel in order to block the arrival of the enemy troops at Torino. I never considered them soldiers. Even less do I consider them martyrs or heroes, as Mr. Arafat, hollering and spitting saliva, described them to me in 1972. (Or when I interviewed him at Amman, where his marshals were also training the Badder-Meinhof terrorists.) I just consider them vain. Vain people who instead of seeking glory in cinema or politics or sports seek it in the death of themselves and others. A death that, in place of an Oscar or a ministerial seat or a medal, will get them (they think) admiration. And, in the case of those who pray to Allah, a place in the paradise that the Koran speaks of: the paradise where heroes get to fuck houris. I’ll bet they’re even physically vain. I have in front of me a photo of the two kamikaze I speak of in my novel Inshallah: the novel that begins with the destruction of the American base (more than four hundred dead) and the French base (more than three hundred fifty dead) at Beirut. They’d had it taken before going to die, this photo, and before going to die they’d gone to the barber. See what lovely haircuts. What pomaded moustaches, what well–groomed little beards, what coquettish sideburns…

I can just imagine how Mr. Arafat would seethe with rage to hear me. There’s bad blood between us, you know. He never forgave me, either for the scorching differences of opinion we had during that meeting or for the judgments I expressed about him in my book Interview With History. As for me, I never forgave him anything. Including the fact that an Italian journalist who imprudently presented himself as “a friend of mine” found himself with a revolver pointed at his heart. So we don’t see each other any more. It’s too bad. Because if I met him again, or rather if I were to grant him an audience, I’d scream in his face who the martyrs and heroes are. I’d scream: “Illustrious Mr. Arafat, the martyrs are the passengers of the four airplanes that were hijacked and transformed into human bombs. Among them is a four year old little girl who disintegrated in the second tower. Illustrious Mr. Arafat, the martyrs are the employees who worked in the two towers and at the Pentagon. Illustrious Mr. Arafat, the martyrs are the firemen who died trying to save them. And do you know who the heroes are? The passengers of the flight that was supposed to throw itself into the White House but instead crashed into the woods in Pennsylvania because they fought back! There ought to be a paradise for them, illustrious Mr. Arafat. The real problem is that you are now a perpetual head of state. You play the monarch. You visit the pope, announce that you disapprove of terrorism, send condolences to Bush.” And in his chameleon–like ability to contradict himself, he’d even be capable of telling me I’m right. But let’s change the subject. I’m very sick, as you know, and talking with the likes of Arafat gives me a fever.

I prefer to talk about the invulnerability that many, in Europe, attributed to America. Invulnerability? What invulnerability? 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 hijackings or massacres like the ones that took place for many years in Italy and Germany and other parts of Europe. And that now take place, magnified, in America. It’s no accident that non-democratic countries, countries governed by a police regime, have always hosted and financed and helped terrorists. The Soviet Union, the Soviet Union’s satellites and the People’s Republic of China, for example. Ghadaffi’s Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Arafat’s Lebanon, Egypt itself, that same Saudi Arabia of which Osama Bin Laden is a citizen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, of course, and all the Islamic African regions. In those countries’ airports or airplanes I have always felt safe. Tranquil as a sleeping newborn. The only thing I was afraid of was being arrested because I used to write bad things about the terrorists. In European airports and airplanes, on the other hand, I always felt uneasy. In American airports and airplanes I actually felt nervous. Twice as nervous in New York. (Not in Washington DC, though. The plane at the Pentagon was a complete surprise to me.) In my opinion it was ultimately never an issue of “if”: it was always one of “when.” Why do you think that on Tuesday morning my subconscious felt that anxiety, that sensation of danger? Why do you think that despite my habits I turned on the TV? Why do you think that one of the three questions I was asking myself while the first tower was burning and the audio wasn’t working was that of a terrorist attack? Why do you think that when the second airplane appeared I immediately understood? Since America is the strongest country in the world, the richest, the most powerful, the most modern, almost everyone fell into that trap. The Americans did themselves, at times. But America’s vulnerability comes precisely from its strength, its wealth, its power and its modernity. It’s the usual story of the dog chasing its own tail.

It comes from America’s multi-ethnic being, its liberality, its respect for its citizens and guests. Example: about 24 million Americans are Muslim-Arabs. And when a Mustafa or a Mohammed comes, say from Afghanistan, to visit his uncle, nobody tells him he can’t attend pilot training school to learn how to fly a 757 jet airplane. Nobody can keep him from enrolling in a University (something I hope will change) to study chemistry and biology: the two sciences necessary to wage bacteriological war. Nobody. Not even if the government fears that this son of Allah might hijack that 757 or that he might toss a vial full of bacteria into the reservoir and unleash a disaster. (I say “if” because this time the government knew absolutely nothing and the disgrace of the CIA and FBI goes beyond all bounds. If I were President of the United States I’d send them all packing for stupidity with well-placed kicks to the posterior.) Having said that, let’s go back to the original thought. What are the symbols of American strength, wealth, power and modernity? Certainly not jazz and rock and roll, not chewing-gum or hamburgers, Broadway or Hollywood. It’s their skyscrapers. Their Pentagon. Their science. Their technology.

Those impressive skyscrapers, so tall, so beautiful that while you raise your eyes to gaze at them you almost forget the pyramids and the divine buildings of our past. Those gigantic airplanes, oversized, which they now use as they once used sailing ships or trucks because everything here is moved by airplane. Everything. The mail, fresh fish, ourselves. (And don’t forget that they invented the air war. Or at least they’re the ones who developed it to the point of absurdity.) That terrifying Pentagon, that fortress which scares you just looking at it. That all–present, all–powerful science. That chilling technology that in a few short years has completely changed our daily lives, our millennial ways of communicating, eating, living. And where did he strike them, the reverend Osama Bin Laden? In the skyscrapers and in the Pentagon. How? With airplanes, with science and technology. By the way: do you know what gets me the most about this wretched multi–millionaire, this AWOL playboy who instead of courting blonde princesses and running wild in the night clubs (as he used to do in Beirut when he was 20 years old) enjoys himself by killing people in the name of Mohammed and Allah? The fact that his endless wealth comes from the earnings of a corporation specializing in demolition, and that he himself is a demolitions expert. Demolition is an American specialty.

When we met I found you almost stupefied by the heroic efficiency and admirable unity with which the Americans have faced this Apocalypse. That’s right. Despite all the shortcomings that always get rubbed in their face—that I myself always rub in their face (though those of Europe, and of Italy in particular, are even more serious)—America is a country with important things to teach us. And speaking of heroic efficiency, let me sing a paean to the Mayor of New York. That Rudolph Giuliani to whom we Italians should kneel in gratitude. Because he has an Italian last name and an Italian origin and he makes us look good before the whole world. Rudolph Giuliani is a great mayor, one of the greatest. And that’s coming from someone who is never happy with anything or anyone, starting with myself. He’s a mayor worthy of another great mayor with an Italian last name, Fiorello la Guardia, and many of our mayors ought to go and study under him. They ought to come to him with bowed heads, or better with ash on their heads, and ask him: “Signor Giuliani, sir, please tell us how it’s done.”

He doesn’t delegate his duties to others, no. He doesn’t waste his time with bullshit and greed. He doesn’t split himself between the tasks of a mayor and those of a minister or deputy (is anybody listening in the three cities of Stendhal—Naples, Florence and Rome?). He ran over there immediately, and immediately entered the second tower, at the risk of being turned to ashes with all the others. He only made it out by a hair and only by chance. And in the space of four days he put this city back on its feet. A city with nine and a half million inhabitants, mind you, and almost two million in Manhattan alone. How he did it, I don’t know. He’s sick like me, the poor man. The cancer that comes and returns has got him, too. And, like me, he pretends to be healthy: he works anyway. But I work at a desk, for God’s sake, sitting down! He, on the other hand…He looked like a general who joins the battle in person. A soldier who charges with his bayonet: “Come on, people, come on!!! Let’s roll up our sleeves, move!” But he could do it because those people were, are, like him. People without airs and without laziness, my father would have said, and with balls. As for the admirable ability to unite, the almost martial compactness with which the Americans respond to disaster and to the enemy, well: I have to admit that then and there I was astounded as well. I knew, yes, that it had exploded at the time of Pearl Harbor, that is when the people huddled around Roosevelt and Roosevelt entered the war against the Germany of Hitler and the Italy of Mussolini and the Japan of Hirohito. I had caught a whiff of it, yes, after Kennedy’s assassination.

But that had been followed by the war in Vietnam, the lacerating rift caused by the war in Vietnam, and in a certain sense it had reminded me of their Civil War of a century and a half ago. So, when I saw whites and blacks crying in each other’s arms—and I mean in each other’s arms—when I saw Democrats and Republicans arm in arm singing “God Bless America”, when I saw them drop all their differences, I was flabbergasted. Just as I was when I heard Bill Clinton (someone for whom I’ve never harbored much tenderness) declare: “We must stand behind Bush. We must have faith in our president.” I felt the same when those same words were forcefully repeated by his wife Hillary, now senator for the State of New York. And when they were reiterated by Lieberman, the ex–Democratic candidate for the vice–presidency. (Only the defeated Al Gore remained squalidly silent). I felt the same when Congress voted unanimously to accept war and punish those responsible.

Oh, if only Italy would learn this lesson! It’s such a divided country, Italy. So factious, so poisoned by tribal pettiness! They hate each other even within their own parties in Italy. They can’t stick together even when they have the same emblem, or the same banner, for God’s sake! Jealous, bilious, vain, small, they think only of their own personal interests. Of their own careers, their own petty glory, their own small–town popularity. For the sake of their personal interests they spite each other, they betray each other, they accuse each other, they expose each other…I am absolutely convinced that, if Osama Bin Laden were to blow up Giotto’s tower or the Tower of Pisa, the opposition would blame the government. And the government would blame the opposition. The heads of the government and the heads of the opposition would blame their own party people and comrades. And having said this, let me explain where the ability to unite that characterizes the Americans comes from.

It comes from their patriotism. I don’t know whether in Italy you saw and understood what happened in New York when Bush went to thank the rescue men (and women) who are digging in the ruins of the two towers trying to save some survivor but only coming up with the occasional nose or finger. In spite of this, they do it without giving up. Without resigning themselves, so that if you ask them how they do it they say: “I can allow myself to be exhausted, but not to be defeated.” All of them. The young, the very young, the old, the middle aged. White, black, yellow, brown, purple…You saw them, didn’t you? While Bush was thanking them all they did was wave their little American flags, raise their clenched fists, and roar: “USA! USA!” In a totalitarian country I’d have thought: “Look how nicely organized this was by the Powers That Be!” Not in America. In America you don’t organize these things. You don’t manage them, you don’t command them. Especially in a disenchanted metropolis like New York and with workers like New York workers. New York workers are real pieces of work. Freer than the wind. They don’t even obey their unions. But if you touch their flag, or their Patria…In English the word Patria doesn’t exist. To say Patria you have to put two words together. Father Land. Mother Land. Native Land. Or you can simply say My Country. But they have the noun “patriotism.” They have the adjective “patriotic.” And apart from France, I can’t imagine a country more patriotic than America. God! I was so moved to see those workers clenching their fists and waving their flags and roaring USA–USA–USA, without anyone ordering them to.

And I felt a kind of humiliation. Because I can’t even begin to imagine Italian workers waving the tricolor and roaring Italia–Italia. Oh, I’ve seen them wave plenty of red flags in the marches and rallies. Rivers, lakes, of red flags. But never very many tricolor flags. None at all, actually. Ill–led or tyrannized by an arrogant left devoted to the Soviet Union, they always left the tricolor flags to their adversaries. Not that the adversaries made very good use of them, I’d say. Nor did they waste them either, thank God. And those who go to Mass, ditto. As for that yahoo with the green shirt and tie, he doesn’t even know what colors make up the tricolor. I–am–Lombard, I–am–Lombard. That guy wants to take us back to the wars between between Florence and Siena. So the result is that today you see the Italian flag only at the Olympics if you happen to win a medal. Worse: you see it only in the stadiums, when there’s an international soccer match. Which is also, by the way, the only time you’ll ever hear a cry of Italia–Italia.

Well let me tell you something. There’s a big difference between a country in which the flag is waved only by hooligans in a stadium and a country where it’s waved by the entire population. Waved, for example, by indomitable workers who dig in the ruins to come up with an ear or nose of the creatures slaughtered by the sons of Allah. Or to gather the ground coffee.

The truth is that America is a special place, my friend. A country to envy, to be jealous of, for reasons that have nothing to do with wealth et cetera. It’s special because it was born out of a need of the soul, the need to have a homeland, and out of the most sublime idea that Man has ever conceived: the idea of liberty, or rather of liberty married to the idea of equality. It’s special also because the idea of liberty wasn’t fashionable at the time. Nor was the idea of equality. Nobody was talking about these things but a few philosophers of the so–called Enlightenment. You couldn’t find these concepts anywhere except in big expensive books released in installments and called Encyclopedias. And apart from the writers or the other intellectuals, apart from the princes and the lords who had the money to buy the big book or the books that inspired the big book, who knew anything about the Enlightenment? The Enlightenment wasn’t something you could eat! Not even the revolutionaries of the French Revolution were talking about it, seeing how the French Revolution didn’t start until 1789, thirteen years after the American Revolution exploded in 1776. (Another detail that the anti–Americans of the good–it–serves–America–right school ignore or pretend to forget. Bunch of hypocrites!)

What’s more, it’s a special country, a country to envy, because that idea was understood by often illiterate and certainly uneducated farmers. The farmers of the American colonies. And because it was materialized by a small group of extraordinary men. By men of great culture, great quality. The Founding Fathers. Do you have any idea who the Founding Fathers were, the Benjamin Franklins and the Thomas Jeffersons and the Thomas Paines and the John Adamses and the George Washingtons and so on? These weren’t the small–time lawyers (“avvocaticchi” as Vittorio Alfieri rightly called them) of the French Revolution! These weren’t the brooding and hysterical executioners of the Terror, the Marats and the Dantons and the Saint Justs and the Robespierres! These were people, these Founding Fathers, who knew Greek and Latin like our own Italian teachers of Greek and Latin (assuming there still are any) will never know them. People who had read Aristotle and Plato in Greek, who had read Seneca and Cicero in Latin, and who had studied the principles of Greek democracy like not even the Marxists of my day studied the theory of surplus value. (Assuming they really did study it.) Jefferson even knew Italian. (He called it “Toscano”.) He spoke and read in Italian with great fluency. In 1774 as a matter of fact, along with the two thousand vine plants and the thousand olive trees and the music paper which was rare in Virginia, the Florentine Filippo Mazzei brought him multiple copies of a book written by a certain Cesare Beccaria entitled “Of Crimes and Punishments.” As for the self–taught Franklin, he was a genius. Scientist, printer, editor, writer, journalist, politician, inventor. In 1752 he discovered the electric nature of lightning and invented the lightning rod. Is that enough for you? And it was with these extraordinary leaders, these men of great quality, that the often illiterate and certainly uneducated farmers rebelled against England in 1776. They fought the War of Independence, the American Revolution.

Well, despite the muskets and the gun powder, despite the death toll that is the cost of every war, they didn’t do it with the rivers of blood of the future French Revolution. They didn’t do it with the guillotine and massacres at Vandea. They did it with a piece of paper that, along with the need of the soul, the need to have a homeland, put into effect the sublime idea of liberty—or rather of liberty married to quality. The Declaration of Independence. “We hold these Truths to be self–evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” And that piece of paper that we’ve all been copying well or badly from the French Revolution on, or from which we’ve drawn our inspiration, is still the backbone of America. The vital lymph of this nation. You know why? Because it turns the plebes into the People. Because it invites them, rather orders them, to govern themselves, to express their own individuality, to pursue their own happiness. All the opposite of what communism did, prohibiting people to rebel, to govern themselves, to express themselves, to get rich, and setting up His Majesty the State in place of the customary kings. My father used to say, “Communism is a monarchic regime, and it’s an old–school monarchy. Because it cuts off men’s balls. And when you cut off a man’s balls, he’s no longer a man.” He also used to say that instead of freeing the plebes, communism turned everyone into plebes. It made everyone starve to death.

Well, in my view America frees the plebes. Everyone is a plebe there. White, black, yellow, brown, purple, stupid, intelligent, poor, rich. Actually the rich are the most plebeian of all. Most of the time they’re such boors! Crude, ill–mannered. You can tell immediately that they’ve never read Galateo, that they’ve never had anything to do with refinement and good taste and sophistication. In spite of the money they waste on clothes, for example, they’re so inelegant as to make the Queen of England look chic by comparison. But they are freed, by God. And in this world there is nothing stronger or more powerful than freed plebes. You will always get your skull cracked when you go up against the Freed Plebe. And they all got their skulls cracked by America: English, Germans, Mexicans, Russians, Nazis, Fascists, Communists. Even the Vietnamese got theirs cracked in the end, when they had to come to terms after their victory so that now when a former president of the United States goes there to visit they’re in seventh heaven. “Bienvenu, Monsieur le President, bienvenu!” The problem is that the Vietnamese don’t pray to Allah. It’s going to be much harder to deal with the sons of Allah. Much longer and much harder. Unless the rest of the Western world stops peeing its pants. And starts reasoning a little and gives them a hand.

I am not speaking, obviously, to the laughing hyenas who enjoy seeing images of the wreckage and snicker good–it–serves–the–Americans–right. I am speaking to those who, though not stupid or evil, are wallowing in prudence and doubt. And to them I say: “Wake up, people. Wake up!!” Intimidated as you are by your fear of going against the current—that is, appearing racist (a word which is entirely inapt as we are speaking not about a race but about a religion)—you don’t understand or don’t want to understand that a reverse–Crusade is in progress. Accustomed as you are to the double–cross, blinded as you are by myopia, you don’t understand or don’t want to understand that a war of religion is in progress. Desired and declared by a fringe of that religion, perhaps, but a war of religion nonetheless. A war which they call Jihad. Holy War. A war that might not seek to conquer our territory, but that certainly seeks to conquer our souls. That seeks the disappearance of our freedom and our civilization. That seeks to annihilate our way of living and dying, our way of praying or not praying, our way of eating and drinking and dressing and entertaining and informing ourselves. You don’t understand or don’t want to understand that if we don’t oppose them, if we don’t defend ourselves, if we don’t fight, the Jihad will win. And it will destroy the world that for better or worse we’ve managed to build, to change, to improve, to render a little more intelligent, that is to say, less bigoted—or even not bigoted at all. And with that it will destroy our culture, our art, our science, our morals, our values, our pleasures…Christ! Don’t you realize that the Osama Bin Ladens feel authorized to kill you and your children because you drink wine or beer, because you don’t wear your beard long or a chador, because you go to the theater or the movies, because you listen to music and sing pop songs, because you dance in discos or at home, because you watch TV, wear miniskirts or short–shorts, because you go naked or half naked to the beach or the pool, because you fuck when you want and where you want and who you want? Don’t you even care about that, you fools? I am an atheist, thank God. And I have no intention of letting myself be killed for it.

For twenty years I’ve been saying it. For twenty years. With a certain meekness, not with this passion, twenty years ago I wrote an editorial on this subject for the Corriere. It was an article by a person used to being with all races and all creeds, a citizen used to fighting all forms of fascism and intolerance, a lay person without taboos. But it was also an article by a person indignant at those who failed to smell the stench of a coming Holy War and who were letting the the sons of Allah get away with a little too much. I made an argument that went more or less like this, twenty years ago: “What sense is there in respecting those who don’t respect us? What sense is there in defending their culture or presumed culture when they scorn ours? I want to defend ours and I am informing you that I prefer Dante to Omar Khayan.”

The sky came crashing down. They crucified me: “Racist! Racist!” It was these same progressives (who at the time called themselves communists) who crucified me. I got the same treatment when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. Do you remember those bearded men with the gowns and the turbans who, before firing their mortars–or rather with each shot—shouted God’s praises? “Allah akbar! Allah akbar!” I remember them very well. And I used to shiver hearing the word God coupled with the shot of a mortar. I thought I was back in the Middle Ages and I said: “The Soviets are what they are. But we have to admit that by waging that war they are protecting us, too. And I for one thank them.” Again the sky came crashing down. “Racist! Racist!” In their blindness they didn’t even want me to speak of the monstrosities that the sons of Allah were committing on their POWs (they would cut off their legs and arms, remember? A little vice in which they’d already indulged in Lebanon with their Christian and Jewish prisoners.) They didn’t want me to say it, no. And just to be progressive they would applaud the Americans who, having lost their marbles in fear of the Soviet Union, were arming the heroic–Afghan–people. They trained those bearded men, and among them the most–bearded–one–of–all, Osama Bin Laden. Away–with–the–Russians–in–Afghanistaaaaan! The–Russians–must–go–from–Afghanistaaaan! Well, the Russians left Afghanistan. Happy? And from Afghanistan the bearded men of the most–bearded Osama Bin Laden arrived in New York with the unbearded Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and Saudis who made up the band of the identified nineteen kamikaze. Happy? Worse: now people here speak of the next attack that will hit us with chemical weapons, or biological, or radioactive, or nuclear. People are saying the next massacre is inevitable because Iraq provides them with materials. People are talking of vaccinations, of gas masks, of plague. People are wondering when it will happen. Happy?

Some are neither happy nor unhappy. They couldn’t care less. America’s far away anyhow, there’s an ocean between America and Europe…oh, no, my dear friends. There’s a mere thread of water. Because when the destiny of the West, the survival of our civilization is at stake, we are New York. We are America. We Italians, we French, we English, we Germans, we Austrians, we Hungarians, we Slovaks, we Polish, we Scandinavians, we Belgians, we Spaniards, we Greeks, we Portuguese. If America falls, Europe falls. The West falls, we fall. And not just in a financial sense, which seems to be what worries you the most. (Once when I was young and naive, I said to Arthur Miller: “Americans measure everything with money, they only think of money.” And Arthur Miller replied: “You don’t?”) We fall in every sense, my friend. And we’ll find muezzin instead of church bells, chador instead of miniskirts, camel’s milk instead of the old shot of cognac. Don’t you grasp even this? Do you refuse to understand even this?!? Blair understood it. He came here and brought the solidarity of the English people. Renewed it, rather. Not a solidarity expressed with chattering and whining: a solidarity based on hunting down the terrorists and on military alliance. Chirac, on the other hand, didn’t. As you know, last week he was here for an official visit.

A visit scheduled a long time ago, not prompted by events. He saw the wreckage of the two towers; he learned that the death toll is incalculable and unspeakable, but he sure didn’t overextend himself. During the interview with CNN, my friend Cristiana Amanpour asked as many as four times in what way and to what degree he intended to take a stand against this Jihad, and four times Chirac avoided giving an answer. He slipped away like an eel. One wanted to scream at him: “Monsieur le President! Remember the landing at Normandy? Do you know how many Americans croaked at Normandy to kick the Nazis out of France?”

Not that I see any Richard Lionhearts among the other Europeans either, apart from Blair. Certainly not in Italy where the government has yet to single out, let alone arrest, a single accomplice or suspected accomplice of Osama Bin Laden. For God’s sake, Mr. Knight–of–Labor, for God’s sake!! In spite of their fear of war, every country in Europe has found and arrested some accomplice of Osama Bin Laden. In France, in Germany, in England, in Spain. But in Italy, where the mosques of Milan, Turin and Rome overflow with scoundrels singing hymns to Osama Bin Laden and terrorists waiting to blow up Saint Peter’s cupola, not a one. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Please explain, Sir Knight: are your policemen and carabinieri that inept? Your secret services that idiotic? Your civil servants that stupid? And are the sons of Allah we host all saints, all unaware of what happened and is happening? Or is it that if you make the right inquiries, if you single out and arrest those you haven’t singled out and arrested so far, you’re afraid of being tagged with the old racist–racist label? I, as you can see, am not.

Christ! I don’t deny anyone the right to be afraid. Anyone who’s not afraid of war is an idiot. And as I’ve written a thousand times before, anyone who acts as though he’s not afraid of war is both an idiot and a liar. But in Life and in History there are times when one is not permitted to be afraid. Times when being afraid is immoral and uncivilized. And those who evade this tragedy out of weakness or lack of courage or habitual fence–straddling strike me as masochists.

Masochists, yes, masochists. Why? Do you want to talk about what you call the Contrast–between–the–Two–Cultures? Well, if you really must know, it bothers me to even talk about two cultures: to put them on the same plane as though they were two parallel realities of equal weight and equal measure. Because behind our civilization we have Homer, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Phydias, for God’s sake. We have ancient Greece with its Parthenon and its discovery of Democracy. We have ancient Rome with its greatness, its laws, its concept of Law. Its sculptures, its literature, its architecture. Its buildings, its amphitheaters, its aqueducts, its bridges and its roads. We have a revolutionary, that Christ who died on the cross, who taught us (too bad if we didn’t learn it) the concept of love and of justice. Yes, I know, there’s also a Church that gave me the Inquisition. That tortured me and burned me a thousand times at the stake. That oppressed me for centuries, that for centuries forced me to sculpt and paint only Christs and Madonnas, that almost killed Galileo Galilei. Humiliated him, shut him up. But it also made a great contribution to the History of Thought: Yes or no? And then behind our civilization we also have the Renaissance. We have Leonardo da Vinci, we have Michaelangelo, we have Raphael, we have the music of Bach and Mozart and Beethoven. And on and on through Rossini and Donizetti and Verdi and Company. That music without which we could not live and which is prohibited in their culture or supposed culture. God forbid you should whistle a tune or hum the chorus of Nabucco. And finally we have Science, for God’s sake. A science that has understood a lot of diseases and that cures them. I am still alive, for now, thanks to our science. Not Mohammed’s. A science that has invented marvellous machines. The train, the car, the airplane, the spaceships with which we’ve gone to the Moon and Mars and soon will go who knows where. A science that has changed the face of this planet with electricity, the radio, the telephone, the TV, and by the way: is it true that the gurus of the left don’t want to say what I have just said?!? God, what pricks! They will never change.

And now the fatal question: what is behind the other culture? Damned if I know. I search and search and find only Mohammed with his Koran and Averroe with his scholarly merits (The Commentaries on Aristotle, et cetera.) Arafat also finds numbers and math. Again yelling in my face, again covering me with spit, he told me in 1972 that his culture was superior to mine, far superior to mine, because his grandparents had invented numbers and math. But Arafat has a short memory. That’s why he changes his mind and contradicts himself every five minutes. His grandparents did not invent numbers and math. They invented the graphic symbols for numbers that we infidels use as well. Math was conceived almost simultaneously by all ancient civilizations. In Mesopotamia, in Greece, in India, in China, in Egypt, among the Mayans…Your grandparents, my illustrious Mr. Arafat, left us nothing but a few beautiful mosques and a book they’ve been breaking my balls with for the past thousand four hundred years like not even the Christians do with their Bible or the Jews with their Torah. And now let’s see just what are the positive features that distinguish this Koran. Positive, really? Ever since the sons of Allah half–destroyed New York, the scholars of Islam have done nothing but sing the praises of Mohammed, explain how the Koran preaches peace, brotherhood and justice. (Even Bush has been chiming in. Poor Bush. It goes without saying that Bush has to keep on good terms with the twenty–four million Muslim–Americans, convince them to squeal what they know about the relatives, friends or acquaintances who might turn out to be devoted to Osama Bin Laden). So what do we do with the whole Eye–for–an–Eye–Tooth–for–a–Tooth business? What do we do with the chador, or better with the veil that covers the faces of Muslim women so that in order to glance at the person next to them the poor wretches have to peer through a close–meshed net at eye–level? What do we do with polygamy and the principle that women count less than camels, that they can’t go to school, they can’t go to the doctor, they can’t have their pictures taken, etc.? What do we do with the veto on alcohol and the death penalty for those who drink it? This is in the Koran, too. And it doesn’t seem all that just, all that brotherly, all that peaceful.

So here’s my answer to your question on the Contrast–between–the–Two–Cultures: I say in this world there’s room for everyone. In your own home you can do whatever you want. And if in some countries the women are so stupid as to accept the chador, or rather the veil you peer out of through a close-meshed net at eye level, that’s their problem. If they are such birdbrains as to accept not going to school, not going to the doctor, not having their pictures taken, that’s their problem. If they are such idiots as to marry some asshole who wants four wives, that’s their problem. If their men are so silly as not to drink beer or wine, ditto. Far be it from me to stand in their way. I was raised with the concept of liberty, I was, and my mother used to say: “Variety is what makes the world beautiful.” But if they presume to impose the same things on me, in my home…And they do presume it. Osama Bin Laden says that the entire planet Earth must become Muslim, that we must convert to Islam, that he will convert us by fair means or foul, that this is why he massacres us and will continue to do so. And this can’t be pleasing to us. It can’t help but make us itch to turn the tables and kill him. But this thing won’t end, won’t die out with the death of Osama Bin Laden. Because there are tens of thousands of Osama Bin Ladens by now, and they’re not only in Afghanistan or in other Arabic countries. They’re everywhere, and the most hardened ones are right in the Western world. In our cities, in our roads, in our universities, in the ganglions of technology. That technology that any dolt can handle. The Crusade has been in progress for some time. It works like a Swiss watch, sustained by a faith and a malice comparable only to the faith and malice of Torquemada when he led the Inquisition. The fact is that dealing with them is impossible. Reasoning, unthinkable. Treating them with indulgence, tolerance or hope, suicide. Whoever thinks differently is deluded.

This is coming from one who has known this type of fanaticism rather well in Iran, in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, in Saudia Arabia, in Kuwait, in Libya, in Jordan, in Lebanon, and at home. That is, in Italy. Known it, and had it chillingly confirmed through a number of trivial episodes—or rather, grotesque ones. I’ll never forget what happened to me at the Iranian Embassy in Rome when I asked for a visa to go to Teheran, to interview Khomeini, and I showed up wearing red nail polish. To them, this is a sign of immorality. They treated me like a whore to be burned at the stake. They ordered me to take off that red immediately. And if I hadn’t told them, or rather screamed at them, what I really felt like taking off—or better yet, cutting off of them…Nor can I forget what happened in Qom, Khomeini’s holy city where as a woman I was turned away from all the hotels. To interview Khomeini I had to wear chador, to put on the chador I had to take off my jeans, to take off my jeans I had to find a secluded place. Naturally, I could have performed the operation in the car in which I had arrived from Teheran. But the interpreter wouldn’t let me. You’re–crazy, you’re–crazy, you–get–shot–in–Qom–for–doing–something–like–that. He preferred to bring me to the former Royal Palace where a merciful custodian took us in and let us use the former Throne Room. I actually felt like the Virgin Mary who has to take refuge with Joseph in the barn heated by the donkey and the ox to give birth to Baby Jesus. But the Koran forbids a man and a woman not married to each other to be alone behind a closed door, and alas, all of a sudden the door opened. The mullah in charge of Morality Control barged in screaming shame–shame, sin–sin, and there was only one way not to wind up being shot: get married. Sign the temporary (four months) marriage certificate the mullah was fanning in our faces. The problem was that the interpreter had a Spanish wife, a woman by the name of Consuelo who was not at all disposed to accept polygamy, and I didn’t want to marry anyone. Least of all an Iranian with a Spanish wife not at all disposed to accept polygamy. At the same time I didn’t want to be shot, that is, miss my interview with Khomeini. As I was debating what to do in this dilemma…

You’re laughing, I’m sure. These seem like jokes to you. In that case, I won’t tell you the rest of this episode. To make you cry I’ll tell you about the twelve young impure men I saw executed at Dacca at the end of the Bangladesh war. They executed them on the field of Dacca stadium, with bayonet blows to the torso or abdomen, in the presence of twenty thousand faithful who applauded in the name of God from the bleachers. They thundered “Allah akbar, Allah akbar.” Yes, I know: the ancient Romans, those ancient Romans of whom my culture is so proud, entertained themselves in the Coliseum by watching the deaths of Christians fed to the lions. I know, I know: in every country of Europe the Christians, those Christians whose contribution to the History of Thought I recognize despite my atheism, entertained themselves by watching the burning of heretics. But a lot of time has passed since then, we have become a little more civilized, and even the sons of Allah ought to have figured out by now that certain things are just not done. After the twelve impure young men they killed a little boy who had thrown himself at the executioners to save his brother who had been condemned to death. They smashed his head with their combat boots. And if you don’t believe it, well, reread my report or the reports of the French and German journalists who, horrified as I was, were there with me. Or better: look at the photographs that one of them took. Anyway this isn’t even what I want to underline. It’s that, at the conclusion of the slaughter, the twenty thousand faithful (many of whom were women) left the bleachers and went down on the field. Not as a disorganized mob, no. In an orderly manner, with solemnity. They slowly formed a line and, again in the name of God, walked over the cadavers. All the while thundering Allah–akbar, Allah–akbar. They destroyed them like the Twin Towers of New York. They reduced them to a bleeding carpet of smashed bones.

Oh, I could go on ad infinitum. Tell you things never told, things to make your hair stand on end. About that dotard Khomeini, for example, who after our interview held an assembly at Qom to declare that I had accused him of cutting off women’s breasts. He extracted a video from this assembly that was shown for months on Teheran television so that, when I returned to Teheran the next year, I was arrested as soon as I got off the plane. It looked bad for me, you know, very bad. This was the period of the American hostages…I could tell you about Mujib Rahman, who, again at Dacca, had ordered his guerillas to eliminate me as a dangerous European, and lucky for me an English colonel saved me at the risk of his life. Or about that Palestinian named Habash who held me for twenty minutes with a machine gun pointed at my head. God, what people! The only ones I’ve had a civil relationship with remain poor Ali Bhutto, the first prime minister of Pakistan, who was hanged because he was too friendly to the West, and the most excellent king of Jordan: King Hussein. But those two were as Muslim as I am Catholic. Anyway I want to get to the point of my argument. A point that will not please many, given that defending one’s own culture, in Italy, is becoming a mortal sin. And given that, intimidated by the inapt term “racist,” everyone shuts up like rabbits.

I don’t go pitching tents at Mecca. I don’t go singing Our Fathers and Hail Marys in front of Mohammed’s tomb. I don’t go peeing on the marble of their mosques; I don’t go shitting at the feet of their minarets. When I find myself in their countries (something from which I never derive pleasure), I never forget that I am a guest and a foreigner. I am careful not to offend them with clothing or gestures or behavior that are normal for us but impermissible to them. I treat them with dutiful respect, dutiful courtesy, and I excuse myself when through mistake or ignorance I infringe some rule or superstition of theirs. And the images I’ve had before my eyes while writing this scream of pain and indignation haven’t always been those of the apocalyptic scenes I started with. Sometimes I see another image instead, a symbolic (and therefore infuriating) one: the huge tent with which the Somalian Muslims disfigured and befouled and profaned the Piazza del Duomo at Florence for three months last summer. My city.

A tent put up in order to beg–condemn–insult the Italian government that hosted them but wouldn’t give them the papers necessary to rove about Europe and wouldn’t let them bring the hordes of their relatives to Italy. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, pregnant sisters–in–law, and if they had their way, their relatives’ relatives as well. A tent situated next to the beautiful palazzo of the Archbishop on whose sidewalk they kept the shoes or sandals that are lined up outside the mosques in their countries. And along with the shoes or sandals, the empty bottles of water they’d used to wash their feet before praying. A tent placed in front of the cathedral with Brunelleschi’s cupola and by the side of the Baptistery with Ghiberti’s golden doors. A tent, finally, furnished like a sleazy little apartment: seats, tables, chaise–lounges, mattresses for sleeping and for fucking, ovens for cooking food and plaguing the piazza with smoke and stench. And, thanks to the customary irresponsibility of ENEL, which cares about our works of art about as much as it cares about our landscape, furnished with electric light. Thanks to a radio tape player, enriched by the uncouth wailing of a muezzin who punctually exorted the faithful, deafened the infidels, and smothered the sound of the church bells. Add to all this the yellow streaks of urine that profaned the marble of the Baptistry. (My, these sons of Allah sure have a long range! However did they manage to hit the target when they were held back by a protective railing that kept it nearly two whole meters away from their urinary equipment?) And along with the yellow streaks of urine, the stench of the excrement that blocked the door of San Salvatore al Vescovo: that exquisite Romanesque church (year 1000) that stands at the rear of the Piazza del Duomo and that the sons of Allah transformed into a shithouse. You’re well aware of this.

You’re well aware because I’m the one who called you, begged you to talk about it in the Corriere, remember? I also called the mayor, who, I admit, came politely to my house. He listened to me, he agreed with me: “You’re right. You’re quite right.” But he didn’t remove the tent. He forgot or he wasn’t able. I also called the Foreign Minister, who was a Florentine, indeed one of those Florentines who speaks with a very Florentine accent, not to mention being involved in the whole affair. And he too, I admit, listened to me. He agreed with me: “Oh, yes. You’re right, yes.” But he didn’t lift a finger to remove that tent, and as for the sons of Allah who urinated on the Baptistery and shat all over San Salvatore al Vescovo, he moved quickly to appease them. (I understand that the fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and cousins and pregnant sisters-in-law are now where they wanted to be. That is in Florence and in other cities of Europe.) So I changed tactics. I called a nice police officer who directs the security office and said to him: “My dear officer, I am not a politician. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I also know something about war and have certain skills. If by tomorrow you don’t get that fucking tent out of here, I will burn it. I swear on my honor that I will burn it, that not even a regiment of carabinieri could stop me, and I want to be arrested for it. Taken to jail in handcuffs. That way I’ll get into all the newspapers.” Well, being more intelligent than the others, in the space of a few hours he got rid of it. In place of the tent there remained only an immense and disgusting stain of filth. It was a Pyrrhic victory, though. Because it had no effect on the other atrocities that for years have wounded and humiliated what used to be the capital of art and culture and beauty.

It did nothing to discourage the other arrogant guests of the city: the Albanians, the Sudanese, the Bengalese, the Tunisians, the Algerians, the Pakistani, the Nigerians who contribute with so much fervor to the drug trade and prostitution which, it appears, are not prohibited by the Koran. Oh yes: they’re all right where they were before my policeman took away the tent. In the courtyard of the Uffizi Galleries, at the foot of Giotto’s tower. In front of the Loggia dell’ Orcagna, around the Loggie del Porcellino. Opposite the National Library, at the entrances to the museums. On Ponte Vecchio where every so often they kill each other with knives or revolvers. Along the banks of the Arno where they asked for and received municipal funding. (That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: municipal funding.) In the churchyard of San Lorenzo where they get drunk on wine and beer and liquor, bunch of hypocrites, and where they utter obscenities at women. (Last summer in that churchyard they even tried it with me, an old lady. Needless to say they lived to regret it. Oooh, did they regret it! One of them’s still there whimpering over his genitals.) In the historic streets where they camp out on the pretext of selling merchandise. By “merchandise” I mean purses and bags illegally copied from patented models, photo murals, pencils, African statuettes that ignorant tourists take for Bernini sculptures, stuff–to–sniff. (“Je connais mes droits, I know my rights” one of them hissed at me on Ponte Vecchio, one who I’d seen selling stuff–to–sniff). And God forbid that a citizen protest, God forbid that someone tell him to take–those–rights–of–yours–and–go–exercise–them–at–home. “Racist, racist!” God forbid that a pedestrian brush up against a presumed Bernini sculpture while trying to walk through the merchandise that blocks the way. “Racist, racist!” God forbid that a metro cop should walk up to him and dare to say, “Signor son of Allah, Your Excellence, would you mind moving over a hairsbreadth to let people get by?” They’d eat him alive. They’d go after him with knives. At the very least, they’d insult his mother and progeny. “Racist, racist!” And people just take it, resigned. They don’t react even if you yell what my old man used to yell during fascism: “Don’t you care at all about dignity? Don’t you have even a little pride, you big sheep?”

The same thing happens in other cities, I know. At Turin, for example. That Turin that created Italy and now doesn’t even seem like an Italian city. It seems like Algiers, Dacca, Nairobi, Damascus, Beirut. At Venice. That Venice where the pigeons of Piazza San Marco have been replaced by little rugs with “merchandise” and even Othello would feel ill at ease. At Genoa. That Genoa where the marvellous palazzi that Rubens so admired have been seized by them and are now perishing like beautiful women who have been raped. At Rome. That Rome where the cynicism of a politics of every falsehood and every color courts them in the hope of obtaining their future votes, and where the Pope himself protects them. (Your Holiness, why in the name of the One God don’t you take them into the Vatican? Strictly on condition, of course, that they refrain from shitting on the Sistine Chapel and the paintings of Raphael.) And here’s something I really don’t understand. Instead of sons of Allah, in Italy they call them “foreign laborers.” Or else “manual–labor–for–which–there–is–demand.” And I don’t doubt that some of them work. The Italians have become such little lords. They vacation in Seychelles, come to New York to buy sheets at Bloomingdale’s. They’re ashamed to be laborers and farmers, and won’t be associated with the proletariat. But those of whom I speak, what kind of laborers are they? What work do they do? In what way do they satisfy the demand for manual labor that the Italian ex–proletariat no longer supplies? Camping out in the city on the pretext of selling merchandise? Loitering and defacing our monuments? Praying five times a day? And then there’s something else I don’t understand. If they’re really so poor, who’s giving them the money for the voyage by ship or rubber dinghy that brings them to Italy? Who gives them the ten million lira a head (at least ten million) necessary to buy the ticket? It’s not by any chance Osama Bin Laden looking to launch a conquest not only of souls, but of real estate?

Well, even if he’s not the one giving them money, the situation bothers me. Even if our guests are absolutely innocent, even if there’s no one among them who wants to destroy the Tower of Pisa or the Tower of Giotto, wants to put me in chador, wants to burn me at the stake of a new Inquisition, their presence alarms me. It makes me uncomfortable. And whoever takes this situation lightly or optimistically is wrong. And even more wrong is the person who compares the wave of migration hitting Italy and Europe to that which spilled into America in the second half of the 1800’s or rather at the end of the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s. Now I’ll tell you why.

Not long ago I happened to catch a phrase uttered by one of the thousand prime ministers that have honored Italy with their presence over these past few decades. “Well, my uncle was an immigrant too! I can remember him leaving for America with his little cardboard suitcase.” Or something along those lines. No, my friend. No. It’s not the same thing at all. And it’s not for two rather simple reasons.

The first is that the wave of migration to America that took place in the latter half of the 1800’s was not clandestine and was not carried out by bullying on the part of those who effected it. It was the Americans themselves who wanted it, urged it, and by a specific act of Congress. “Come, come, we need you. If you come, we’ll give you a nice piece of land.” The Americans even made a movie about it. That one with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and what struck me about it was the ending. The scene with the poor souls running to plant a little white flag on the piece of land they want to claim as theirs, so that only the youngest and strongest are able to make it. The rest wind up with diddly squat and some of them die in the process. To my knowledge, there was never any act of Parliament in Italy inviting or rather urging our present guests to leave their countries. Come–come–we–really–need–you, if–you–come–we’ll–give–you–a–little–farm–in–Chianti. They came to us on their own initiative, with their accursed dinghies and in the teeth of the customs officers who tried to send them back. What occurred was not an immigration, it was more of an invasion conducted under an emblem of secrecy. A secrecy that’s disturbing because it’s not meek and dolorous but arrogant and protected by the cynicism of politicians who close an eye or maybe even both. I’ll never forget the way these stow–aways filled the piazzas of Italy with assemblies last year to clamor for visas. Those distorted, savage faces. Those raised fists, threatening. Those baleful voices that took me back to the Teheran of Khomeini. I’ll never forget it because I felt offended by their bullying in my home, and because I felt made fun of by the ministers who told us: “We’d like to deport them but we don’t know where they’re hiding.” Bastards! There were thousands of them in those piazzas and they sure as hell weren’t hiding. To deport them all they had to do was put them in line, please–right–this–way–sir, and escort them to a port or airport.

The second reason, my dear nephew of the uncle with the little cardboard suitcase, is one even a schoolboy could understand. It requires only two elements to expound. One: America is a continent. And in the latter half of the 1800’s when the American Congress gave the green light to immigration, this continent was practically unpopulated. Most of the population was massed in the eastern states, in other words those on the side of the Atlantic, and there were even fewer people in the Midwest. California was practically empty. Well, Italy isn’t a continent. It’s a very small country, and far from unpopulated. Two: America is a very young country. If you recall that the War of Independence took place at the end of the 1700’s, you can deduce that it’s only two hundred years old and you understand why its cultural identity is not yet well defined. Italy, on the other hand, is a very old country. Its history goes back at least three thousand years. Its cultural identity is thus very precise—and let’s not beat around the bush: that identity has quite a bit to do with a religion called Christian religion and a church called the Catholic Church. People like me have a nice little saying: the–Catholic–church–has–nothing–to–do–with–me. But boy does it have to do with me. Whether I like it or not, it has to do with me. And how could it not? I was born into a landscape of churches, convents, Christs, Madonnas, Saints. The first music I heard coming into the world was the music of church bells. Those bells of Santa Maria del Fiore that were smothered by the uncouth voice of the muezzin during the Tent Age. And I grew up in that music, in that landscape. And it was through that music and that landscape that I learned what architecture is, what sculpture is, what painting is, what art is. It was through that church (which I later rejected) that I began to ask myself what is Good, what is Evil, and by God…

There: you see? I wrote “by God” again. With all my secularism, all my atheism, I am so imbued with Catholic culture that it’s even part of my way of expressing myself. Oh God, my God, thank God, by God, sweet Jesus, good God, Mother Mary, here a Christ, there a Christ. These words come so spontaneously to me that I don’t even realize I’m speaking or writing them. And you want me to lay it all out? Even if I’ve never pardoned Catholicism for the infamies it inflicted on me for centuries, starting with the Inquisition that burned even my grandmother—poor grandmother!—even if I’ve never gotten along well with priests and have no use for their prayers, all the same I really love the music of church bells. It caresses my heart. I also love those painted or sculpted Christs and Madonnas and Saints. In fact I have a thing for icons. I also love monasteries and convents. They give me a sense of peace, and sometimes I envy those inside. And then let’s admit it: our cathedrals are more beautiful than mosques and synagogues. Yes or no? They’re also more beautiful than Protestant churches. Look, my family’s cemetery is Protestant. It accepts the dead of all religions but it’s Protestant. And one of my great–grandmothers was Walensian. One of my great–aunts, Evangelist. I never knew my Walensian great–grandmother. But I did know the Evangelist great–aunt. When I was a little girl she would always take me to her church functions in Via de’ Benci at Florence, and…God, how bored I was! I felt so alone with those faithful who did nothing but sing psalms, that priest who wasn’t a priest and did nothing but read the Bible, that church that didn’t seem like a church and apart from a little pulpit had nothing but a big crucifix. No angels, no Madonnas, no incense. I even missed the smell of incense, and would rather have been in the nearby Basilica di Santa Croce where they had these things. The things I was used to. And I’ll say more: in my country house, in Tuscany, there is a tiny little chapel. It’s always closed. No one goes there since my mother died. But I go there sometimes, to dust, to make sure the mice haven’t made a nest, and despite my secular upbringing I feel comfortable there. Despite my priest–hating tendencies, I move there with casual ease. And I believe that the vast majority of Italians would confess the same thing. (Even Berlinguer, the head of the Italian Communist Party, confessed as much to me.)

Good God! (Here we go again.) I’m telling you that we Italians are not in the same position as the Americans: mosaic of ethnic and religious groups, hodgepodge of a thousand cultures, at once open to every invasion and able to stave it off. I’m telling you that, for the very reason that our cultural identity is so precise and defined by so many centuries, it cannot sustain a wave of immigration composed of people who in one way or another want to change our way of life. Our values. I’m telling you that we have no room for muezzins, for minarets, for false teetotalers, for their fucking Middle Ages, for their fucking chador. And if we had room, I wouldn’t give it to them. Because it would be the equivalent of throwing away Dante Alighieri, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, the Renaissance, the Risorgimento, the liberty that for better or worse we fought for and won, our Patria. It would mean giving them Italy. And I won’t give them Italy.

I am Italian. The fools who think I’m an American by now are wrong. I’ve never asked for American citizenship. Years ago an American ambassador offered it to me on Celebrity Status, and after thanking him I replied: “Sir, I’m very tied to America. I’m always arguing with it, always telling it off, but I’m still profoundly tied to it. For me America is a lover—no, a husband—to whom I will always be faithful. Assuming he doesn’t sleep around on me. I care about this husband of mine. And I never forget that if he hadn’t troubled himself to wage war on Hitler and Mussolini, today I’d speak German. I never forget that if he hadn’t kept an eye on the Soviet Union, today I’d speak Russian. I care about him and I like him. I like for example that when I come back to New York and hand over my passport and green card, the customs agent gives me a big smile and says “Welcome home.” The gesture seems so generous, so affectionate. I also remember that America has always been the Refugium Peccatorum for people without a homeland. But I already have a homeland, sir. Italy is my Patria, and Italy is my mamma. I love Italy, sir. And it would seem like renouncing my mamma to take American citizenship.” I also told him that my language is Italian, that I write in Italian, whereas I only translate myself in English. Just as I translate myself in French, feeling it to be a foreign language. And then I told him that when I listen to Mameli’s anthem I get emotional. That when I hear that “Fratelli–d’Italia, l’Italia–s’è–desta, parapà–parapà–parapà”, I get a lump in my throat. I don’t even notice that as anthems go, it’s pretty ugly. I only think: that’s the anthem of my Patria. I also get a lump in my throat when I see the white red and green flag waving. Apart from the stadium hooligans, that is.

I have a white red and green flag from the 1800s. It’s full of stains, stains of blood, all pink from mice. And despite the fact that it has the coat of arms of the House of Savoy in the center (though without Cavour and without Victor Emmanuel II and without Garibaldi who bowed to that coat of arms we would never have unified Italy), I hold onto it like gold. I treasure it as a jewel. Christ! We died for that flag! Hanged, shot, decapitated. Killed by the Austrians, by the Pope, by the Duke of Modena, by the Bourbons. We carried out the Risorgimento with that flag. And the unification of Italy, and the war in Carso, and the Resistance. My maternal great–great–grandfather Giobatta fought for that flag at Curtatone and Montanara and was horribly disfigured by an Austrian rocket. My paternal uncles endured every kind of pain for that flag in the trenches of Carso. My father was arrested and tortured for that flag by the nazi–fascists at Villa Triste. My whole family fought for that flag in the Resistance, and I did too. In the ranks of Justice and Liberty, with the battle name Emilia. I was fourteen. The next year when they discharged me from the Volunteer Italian Army Corps of Liberty, I felt so proud. Jesus and Mary, I had been an Italian soldier! And when I found out that along with the discharge went 14,450 lire, I didn’t know whether to accept it or not. It seemed wrong to accept it for doing my duty to the Patria. Then I did accept it. None of us had shoes at home. And with that money I bought shoes for myself and my little sisters.

Obviously my homeland, my Italy, is not the Italy of today. The scheming, vulgar, fat–dumb–and–happy Italy of Italians whose only concern is getting their pensions by 50 and whose only passions are foreign vacations and soccer matches. The rotten, stupid, cowardly Italy, of little hyenas who would sell their daughter to a Beirut whorehouse in order to shake the hand of a Hollywood divo or diva but if Osama Bin Laden’s kamikazes reduce thousands of New Yorkers to a mountain of ashes that seem like ground coffee they snigger contentedly good–it–serves–America–right. The squalid, faint–hearted, soulless Italy, of presumptuous and incompetent political parties that don’t know how to win or lose but know how to glue the fat posteriors of their representatives into the seat of a deputy or minister or mayor. The still–Mussolinesque Italy of black and red fascists that make you think of Ennio Flaiano’s terrible joke: “In Italy there are two kinds of fascists: fascists and anti–fascists.” Nor is it the Italy of the magistrates and politicians who in their ignorance of proper verb tense commit monstrous errors of syntax while pontificating on television screens. (You don’t say, “If it was,” you animals! You say “If it were.”) Nor is it the Italy of young people who, having similar teachers, are drowning in the most scandalous ignorance, the most excruciating superficiality, drowning in emptiness. So that they add errors of spelling to errors of syntax and if you ask them who the Carbonari were, who the liberals were, who Silvio Pellico was, who Mazzini was, who Massimo D’Azeglio was, who Cavour was, who Victor Emmanuel II was, they look at you with dulled pupils and dangling tongues. They know nothing or at most they know how to play the comfortable role of aspiring terrorists in a time of peace and democracy, how to wave black flags, hide their faces behind ski masks, the little fools. Inept fools.

And even less is it the Italy of the chattering insects who after reading this will hate me for having written the truth. Between one bowl of spaghetti and another they’ll curse me and hope I get killed by one of those whom they protect, that is by Osama Bin Laden. No, no: my Italy is an ideal Italy. It’s an Italy that I dreamed of as a young girl, when I was discharged from the Italian Volunteer Army Corps of Liberty, and I was full of illusions. An intelligent, dignified, courageous Italy, and therefore worthy of respect. And this Italy, an Italy that exists even if it is silenced or ridiculed or insulted—woe to anyone who lays a finger on it. Woe to anyone who robs it from me or invades it. Because whether the invaders are Napoleon’s French or Francis Joseph’s Austrians or Hitler’s Germans or Osama Bin Ladin’s comrades, it’s all the same to me. Whether they invade it using cannons or rubber dinghies, ditto.

And with that I bid you an affectionate farewell, my dear Ferruccio, and I warn you: ask nothing further of me. Least of all, to get involved in disputes or pointless polemics. I’ve said what I had to say. Anger and pride ordered me to. Age and a clean conscience allowed me to. But now I have to get back to work; I don’t want to be disturbed. End of story.

I recently had an opportunity to speak at a church in the midwest. I had spoken at the church previously and had become Facebook friends with the pastor. About a month before my time there this pastor posted on Facebook that his 17-year old daughter had run away from home with another young man. He was asking for prayer from all his Facebook friends.

The morning I spoke, the pastor opened up announcements with an update on his daughter’s situation and asked the congregation to continue praying for her.

Earlier that week I spoke personally with the pastor at a conference we both were attending. I encouraged him to not give up. I told him of our own personal struggles with our daughter who did the same thing at 17 years of age. She had run off with her boyfriend and were living out of her car on the streets of central Texas. After a year or so of this our daughter realized the futility of her behavior and returned home. She has made remarkable progress since.

I say all that to say this. I find it remarkably refreshing when I hear pastors talk of their real struggles as a man, a family, and ministry. Somehow our culture has bought into the misconception that pastors are more than human; they are near saints. They never have problems. Life is wonderful. All is good.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Sometimes I think Christians themselves are responsible for this misconception by placing pastors on a pedestal. And I personally find it uncomfortable and disturbing to meet a pastor who always greets you with the painted-on smile. That fake smile that says “I never have struggles.”

That’s not reality. And such a pastor is not real. Nor trustworthy. Because if he can mislead about his personal life, what’s to think he may not also deceive when it comes to the Bible and spiritual principles?

Find a real pastor.

This past Sunday, Devin Kelley gunned down 26 members of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas and injured 20 more. Sutherland Springs is a small town, the church was a centerpiece, and the number killed and injured represented nearly half the members.

The media has been covering the story in all the major outlets, with the expected calls for “more and tougher gun control laws.” But the media is overlooking something significant here, because of their ignorance of Texas gun laws. Follow me here. Media pundits are asking, “Why, in a state known for liberal gun laws, were the guns of the parishioners in their vehicles? Why was nobody in the congregation armed?

Here is what you need to know.

Texas allows any citizen able to possess a gun legally to carry that gun fully loaded and concealed inside a vehicle. No concealed carry permit is required to carry a loaded, concealed gun in a car.

Only three percent of citizens in Texas have a License to Carry (LTC). And about one percent actually carry regularly. These figures run counter to the common narrative that every one in Texas is armed.

When Devin Kelley burst into First Baptist of Sutherland Springs, nobody in the congregation was carrying a weapon. The media has noted that many members had guns in their vehicles in the parking lot, but none was carrying inside the building. But they are left wondering why.

The answer is simple. The church members were abiding by the laws. They left their guns in the cars because the guns were legal there, even though they were loaded. They did not carry the loaded guns into the church because none had an LTC. In other words, they abided by existing laws and left their loaded weapons in their vehicles. They abided by the laws and became defenseless sitting ducks.

And Devin Kelley, who was denied an LTC because of his background, carried a loaded weapon into the church illegally, and killed and wounded dozens.

The left wing media is clamoring for more laws to stop future carnage like this.

To CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, and all the liberal propaganda outlets, please tell me how more laws will prevent this from reoccurring? Once again, law abiding gun owners abided by existing laws and were left defenseless at the hands of someone who ignored all laws to commit murder.

And someone bent on murder certainly has no qualm about breaking a minor firearms offense.

But the left wing media will never understand, because facts and logic are foreign concepts to them. They think and act on emotion rather than intellect, and that’s always a recipe for disaster.

I am the oldest of four male siblings. As I was cleaning up after dinner tonight I was pondering the fact that I haven’t heard from my next youngest brother in eight years. Donald cut off all communication with me eight years ago. At first I was stumped why. But then my mother said he told her I was simply wrong about Obama, and because of that he could no longer talk to me or interact in any way whatsoever. He chose to alienate himself from me and the rest of the family.

Here’s the interesting part. Donald is a tried and true liberal. He’s an attorney. He spouts the liberal line of tolerance, respect, and acceptance of all. Yet he has no room for tolerance, respect, or acceptance of any views that differ from his. Typical liberal.

Typical liberal mantra: “You will be allowed to voice your opinion, and your opinion will be respected, so long as it conforms to mine.” And because my opinions differed from his, mine are not respected and accepted; in a word, there is no “tolerance” for a difference of opinion. This is typical liberal double-speak.

But this isn’t just limited to those who identify as liberals. I’ve noticed this as a general trend in society. Even among so-called friends. Friends I’ve known for years.

That’s one reason why I’m no longer active on Facebook. Oh, I still occasionally scan through my FB feed and comment here and there, but by and large I don’t share anything outright on FB. I still post my thoughts on Twitter, and those post automatically to Facebook. I’m sure I get some responses to those auto-posted tweets. I don’t read them.

You see, I found my own thoughts and opinions being censored in the same way my liberal brother did me, except most of my Facebook “friends” are similarly conservative in their opinions as I am. But that doesn’t seem to matter any longer. Social media has become a vehicle for friends and acquaintances to say via a keyboard what they would never say face to face. We’ve lost all decorum and etiquette in personal communication. The only opinion that matters is that of your “friend;” if your view differs, you are simply wrong, or stupid, or ignorant, or [insert your pejorative term here]. I have neither the time, patience, nor interest in such nonsense.

Social media can be a wonderful vehicle for sharing information quickly to a large number of others. It is a good way to stay in touch with others from a distance. But sadly, it can also be abused, and I’m seeing more and more abuse.

Maybe it’s time to revert to the days when we picked up a phone or wrote a letter.

I’ve done this a few times over the past several years. Took a break from Facebook for a period of time, but each time I found myself eventually working my way back. I have to admit, the platform is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends from a distance. I have friends scattered around the USA and some around the world. It’s impossible to maintain that relationship face to face, and social media provides a way to maintain that personal touch of sorts, although the personal touch via keyboard is not the same as face to face.

But the time has come to say goodbye for good. I will still maintain a Facebook account because I need to post updates, articles, events, and such to the ministry page of Radical Truth. But my personal page will be silent going forward. I have thought this through extensively, weighing both benefits and costs, positive and negative effects, and in the end a number of factors, taken together, have led me to this decision.

  1. I cannot, in good conscience, support financially the liberal agenda pushed by Facebook. The majority of income going into the pockets of Mark what’s-his-name and Facebook corporate is derived from feeding targeted advertising into your newsfeed. We’re talking billions of dollars annually. And those dollars go to support abortion on demand, the advancement of a militant homosexual agenda in society, antagonism and mockery of conservative values, censorship of ideas Facebook finds objectionable with Facebook using groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center as experts for determining what content is objectionable. Facebook is using the money they make from me to fight against the very ideas I stand for, while using their money and tremendous influence to advance ideas and policies that stand against the very principles I hold dearly. They will no longer get another dime from feeding ad content to my newsfeed, because I won’t be a part of it.
  2. Virtual friendships via social media have a different character than real, actual, face to face friendships. While I have come to love and appreciate so many friends on my Facebook account, I find that kind of interaction unfulfilling and unsatisfactory. I love many of you who have interacted with me over these many years. But in all honesty, social media has changed the way we interact as humans, and in some respects for the worse. For example, I find some folks willing to type via keyboard comments to posts that they would never be willing to say face-to-face. Folks have become rude, nasty, disgusting.
  3. I love a good conversation. I don’t mind at all my ideas being challenged. In fact when others challenge my thoughts and ideas, two outcomes are possible. I either change my views because of a position I hadn’t considered previously, or I become even more convinced I’m correct because I dig deeper to support my particular claim. Either way, a healthy conversation results in a healthy outcome. But for the most part, there is no such concept any longer of a healthy conversation on social media. Far more often than not, if someone posts an article or thought and another friend objects, the resulting trail of comments end up being a virtual shouting match among one another. Personal attacks seem to be the norm. Name calling is now an acceptable response to disagreement with someone else. Society, via social media, has lost the ability to have a casual, rational, unemotional back-and-forth discussion of ideas and potentially controversial topics. We’ve reverted, as it were, back to the cave man mentality of cartoons I used to watch as a child, were one cave man would say something and the other would clobber him in the head with a club, and back and forth the clobbering would go. I’m tired of being clobbered over the head and belittled simply because someone disagrees with my ideas.
  4. Plastic people. This is a phenomenon not limited just to social media but society in general, especially among Christians. We’ve lost the ability to be open about how we’re feeling, what we’re going through. We’ve lost the ability to sympathize with others who are hurting, to hurt like they hurt, to feel lonely when they’re feeling lonely. I’ve been unfriended on Facebook by several former friends, simply for sharing my hurt, my loneliness, my frustration, my trials. I was even unfriended by a long time friend who is a staff pastor of my former church. He didn’t like my negative posts, and when I needed encouragement I guess it was just too much for him. Friends, true friends, celebrate the victories with you. They also mourn the defeats and down times. I’ve noticed a trend over the past year. When I post something positive on Facebook, I have dozens of responses, likes, and notes of praise and thanks. But when I post a difficulty I’m going through, the responses are far less. Are we only appreciative of the positive stuff? True friends are there during the ups and the downs.The common response from one Christian to another who may be experiencing difficulties is “I’ll pray for you.” But do you really? If so, wonderful. But more often than not, the friend sharing trials needs more than prayer. They need a hug. They need someone to talk to, in real time, in person or over the phone. They may need financial help to get through a rough period. They may need to borrow a car or get a ride somewhere. “I’ll pray for you” doesn’t relieve the very real physical, emotional, or psychological need. Pray yes, then take action. But far too often, the “I’ll pray for you” is tossed out without further thought, concern, or interest from the one doing the tossing. Plastic response. I’m reminded of the words of the song by Casting Crowns: “Stained Glass Masquerade.”

    Is there anyone that fails
    Is there anyone that falls
    Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small
    Cause when I take a look around
    Everybody seems so strong
    I know they’ll soon discover
    That I don’t belong

    So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
    If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
    So with a painted grin, I play the part again
    So everyone will see me the way that I see them

    Are we happy plastic people
    Under shiny plastic steeples
    With walls around our weakness
    And smiles to hide our pain
    But if the invitation’s open
    To every heart that has been broken
    Maybe then we close the curtain
    On our stained glass masquerade

    Is there anyone who’s been there
    Are there any hands to raise
    Am I the only one who’s traded
    In the altar for a stage
    The performance is convincing
    And we know every line by heart
    Only when no one is watching
    Can we really fall apart

    But would it set me free
    If I dared to let you see
    The truth behind the person
    That you imagine me to be
    Would your arms be open
    Or would you walk away
    Would the love of Jesus
    Be enough to make you stay

  5. Time management. It’s fun connecting with others, catching up on the news around the country and around the world. I found Facebook to be a great way to find news stories I may have missed as others share. But there is a danger in getting caught up in the catching up. I’ve found myself often opening Facebook for a brief glance at what’s happening elsewhere, only to find myself an hour later still doing the same thing. An hour lost here, 30 minutes there, it all adds up. I have many more urgent tasks to attend to. Facebook is far too much of a temptation, and a time-sucker. I can’t do it. Time is short, my free time is precious, and my productive hours are spent much more effectively doing what I should be doing.

So there you have it. It’s been fun. It’s been emotional at times. But I can’t. I’ll still be around, I still have messenger to send me private messages. I’ll still post for ministry, and be involved in a limited way with a few special interests groups on Facebook, like apologetics forums and a photography forum (my spare time hobby). But I can’t do the newsfeed thing any longer.

With much love and respect to you with whom I’ve come to know through the years. I’m just done.

 

Thursday evening, February 23, 2017, something happened that I thought I would never see. ACT! for America capitulated to the demands of CAIR and in the process relieved a good friend and patriot as chapter leader of the ACT chapter in San Antonio. The details follow. I must say I am deeply disappointed in the actions of national ACT leadership and now wonder if they really are who they have been claiming to be all along.

Brigitte Gabriel (pseudonym), the founder of ACT For America is a frequent guest on Fox News and promotes herself as a national security expert. She has written two books on the dangers of radical Islam. The organization’s web page says  “ACT for America stands ready to take effective action as the only national security grassroots organization in America.” Their mission statement as it reads on Guidestar says “We aim to establish a means for all American citizens to provide a collective voice (I) for the democratic values of western civilization and (II) against the threats to our national security.”

But with this new development, one has to wonder. Has all the talk of taking a firm stand against Islam simply been that: talk? Have they lost their conviction recently after having once been a voice against Islamic aggression in our society? If so, what happened? More importantly, what are those who once supported ACT financially now to do?

BACKGROUND

Over the last couple weeks, Lt. Col (ret) Roy White sent out a series of short newsletters to his ACT chapter members in San Antonio announcing the topic of the next meeting. An attorney whom I also know, Karen Lugo, constitutional expert and and author, was to present information based on her research on construction of new mosques in the USA. Roy’s letter exhorted chapter members to learn how to “push back” with city authorities on the mosque permitting process. NOTE: At no time did Roy ever suggest the meeting was to learn how to stop construction of mosques altogether. That meeting took place Thursday night, February 23. I was in attendance.

Prior to the meeting, Roy was contacted by ACT National HQ and advised to cancel the meeting. Their reason will be apparent shortly in a letter I will share from J. Craig, ACT National Director of Field Operations.

MEETING

Thursday evening 2/23 Karen Lugo made a presentation to the San Antonio chapter. Karen is the author of a new book “Mosques in America: A Guide to Accountable Permit Hearings and Continuing Citizen Oversight” and an expert on the subject. The presentation was video recorded for archival purposes. Karen spoke about the permitting process for new mosque construction projects and how citizens can become involved in giving proper oversight to the process with the planning commission in each city. She spoke about how some mosques have caused problems for the neighborhoods within which they are located. A lack of adequate parking spaces for congregants results in mosque attendees crowding residential neighborhood roads with parked vehicles, sometimes for blocks. She spoke about the traffic nightmares of hundreds of cars flooding a residential neighborhood every Friday afternoon with little regard for traffic control, and even those mosques which seemed interested in mitigating traffic were using untrained personnel for traffic control. Karen simply advised citizen activists to monitor the permit process to ensure mosques were not given a pass or exemption from meeting the requirements that would be incumbent on any other similar construction project. At NO TIME did Karen suggest citizens should seek ways to shut down mosque applications altogether. In fact, she explicitly said such an action would be unconstitutional, and make it clear that was not the intent of her presentation at all.

CAIR

Some time prior to the meeting, the San Antonio chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) caught wind of the meeting and its topic. CAIR went into full press mode like they always do. They contacted various media outlets. They contacted city officials. They contacted “interfaith partners” and other sympathetic organizations. They issued a press release. They organized a protest of the meeting, for which I posted a handful of pictures with commentary. The local media covered the event with a story and video.

Noteworthy is the following statement in CAIR’s press release: “The ACT for America event features a speaker who will outline how to “push back” against the constitutionally-protected construction of mosques in Texas and around the nation. The mission statement of the San Antonio chapter of the ACT for America hate group states: “Islamic ideology if implemented partially or fully denies US citizens their individual rights granted by God and guaranteed in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

Yes, Islamic ideology, if implemented, does indeed deny citizens of their rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Islamic sharia is fully incompatible with our Constitution. But for CAIR to suggest the meeting was somehow in opposition to Muslims’ “constitutionally-protected construction of mosques in Texas and around the nation” is an over exaggeration of what took place at the meeting. Nevertheless, ACT National HQ latched on to CAIR’s threat of a potential violation of the Constitution, and asked Roy to cancel the meeting. Being the man of integrity he is, a combat veteran who has faced real fear, and a patriot, Roy knew he was well within his Constitutional rights to discuss the topic without violating any laws. The meeting went forward as planned.

POST MEETING

The past two days have been a flurry of activity. Roy was notified by ACT National at the end of the meeting Thursday that he had been relieved of his position as San Antonio chapter leader, for making CAIR angry (my words).

Friday evening, J Craig, Director of Field Operations for ACT National, sent the following letter to San Antonio Chapter members. Note closely what he says about the Constitutional rights of Muslims to construct mosques, and tell me if it isn’t close to the same wording used by CAIR in their threatening press release.

Dear Joe,

This week, we had to make a very difficult decision. We had to let go one of our best chapter leaders, Lt. Col. (ret) Roy White.

The reason we were forced to let Lt. Col. White go was because he advertised on the Internet a chapter meeting to learn how to “shut down mosques.”

We have worked with attorney Karen Lugo, a great patriot, for years, so that our membership is fully educated about all aspects of the threat, including mosques, and we hope to continue working with her in the future. But never once have we posted our work on the Internet, nor offered an open invitation for the public to come learn how one can legally shut down mosques.

Even in the midst of what we are doing, we must remember our Constitution, which Lt. Col. White, proudly fought to defend, includes the freedom to worship at a place of one’s choosing.

Unfortunately, Lt. Col. White’s actions including his refusal to cancel this meeting when advised to do so, gave us no choice but to let him go for legal and public reasons.

This is not to be mistaken as cow-towing to CAIR. It is to protect us legally. We cannot be in a position of having to fight legal battles on the constitutionality of building a mosque – a right guaranteed by the first amendment.

In addition, we focus on national security and the defense of our country including fighting Islamofacism which we believe is the greatest threat to Western civilization today.

We have a lot of important work to do and we must be wise and strategic in the way we message.

For those of you who believe in the bible, it says: “Be as kind as doves but as wise as serpents”. Now more than ever we have to exercise wisdom in the way we communicate and mobilize our nation to come together and learn about the Islamic ideology, the Koran in which it is based, and the call for violence against us infidels in the name of their Jihad.

We are currently processing 92 chapter leader applications this week alone. These 92 people did not sign up to shut down houses of worship in America. They support issues and legislation to make our country safer and more secure such as refugee resettlement and designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization just to mention a few.

ACT for America led by Brigitte Gabriel will never waiver or shy away from the truth. As a matter of fact we are doubling down on our fight.

Tonight, you may watch the Sean Hannity special on Fox News where Brigitte debates Imams defending President Trump’s ban calling it a fight between civilizations and getting into a heated debate about calling it by its accurate name “Islamic Terrorism”. The special was recorded last week and will air tonight. Brigitte Gabriel is currently out of the country.

We look forward to continue working with you and the new chapter leader who will pick up the leadership role from Lt. Col. White. Your ACT San Antonio Chapter has done great things and continue to do so. Together, we rise in defense of our country and the values which made it exceptional.

If you’d like to take over the reigns as the ACT San Antonio Chapter Leader, please send me an email to jcraig@actforamerica.org.

For Freedom,

J Craig | Director of Field Operations
ACT for America

Again, for the record, Roy at no point ever suggest the meeting was to learn how to “shut down mosques” as Mr. Craig suggests. This is a blatant lie, and slander of a good man. I would challenge ACT National to produce one email, one comment, where such a statement was made. They cannot. The only place where one can find the term “shut down mosques” is in the CAIR press release. It appears ACT latched on to that comment and used it release one of their most active chapter leaders. ACT capitulated to CAIR. Period.

Some of us responded to Mr. Craig’s invitation to share our thoughts with him. I will share two: my personal response and that of another good friend Mike Ramirez, Roy’s chapter co-leader. Mike gave me permission to share his letter.

I wrote to Mr. Craig the following:

Hi J Craig,

I’m writing to let you know I’m ashamed of ACT! For America for letting go of Roy White. This is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction made in the absence of all the facts. You will regret your decision and I strongly urge you to reconsider.

I’ve known Roy for several years. He is a patriot and has worked tirelessly for ACT! For America, as well as several other non-profits. Most of the work he’s done for ACT has been at his own personal expense, which is not insignificant.

I was at the meeting last night, the subject of your email. Let me assure you, it WAS NOT about shutting down mosques. As I have diligently worked to inform my social network circles today, Karen Lugo, someone else I’ve also known for years and a constitutional attorney and author of a new book on mosques, simply exhorted the community to become involved with local planning commissions to ensure cities require new mosque construction projects to comply with all requirements any other similar project would be required to abide by, such as # of parking spaces for estimated attendance, traffic control and flow mitigation, etc. The reality is many such projects have actually been given the green light before meeting all requirements, because Islam seems to get a pass when others do not. Karen at no time suggested we should take a stand against any and all mosque construction; in fact she stated clearly that was not the intent.

Roy’s email simply said to learn how to ‘push back’ regarding mosque building plans. If you remember Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that mosque received many favors from the planning commission. This happens frequently. It is not wrong to ‘push back’ and require cities to hold mosques accountable to meet ALL requirements of such a project.

ACT! For America has lost it’s backbone. Your decision, regardless of what you said in your email, was capitulation to CAIR, who organized a media-backed protest of the meeting.

Shame on ACT.

Regards,
Joe Carey
Radical Truth
http://radicaltruth.net

Mike Ramirez, Roy’s chapter co-leader wrote the following to Mr. Craig:

To: J Craig & ACT for America, National Headquarters:
Re: Lt. Col. Roy White
From: Mike Ramirez

It is with disbelief, deep regret and major disappointment to be advised by your office that you have dismissed Lt. Col. Roy White from leadership of the San Antonio Chapter of Act for America; the chapter that he personally took interest in and established in our area of Texas.

In my opinion, I believe that your hasty decision to not allow a cooling-off period in order to investigate the facts prior to your last-minute mandate to have him cancel the ACT meeting of February 23, 2017 was a major blunder on your part. It appears that you based your decision on pressure from outside sources and, yes, you did cave in to that pressure, whether by CAIR or elsewhere.

It is apparent that you have succumbed to the very ideology and threats from CAIR that you claim to be countering and in my view have totally discredited your organization through a spineless and knee-jerk reaction because you “feared” legal recourse due to a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what the February 23rd presentation was going to be about. Something that could have been legally corrected and remedied with the proper handling in the matter.

Perhaps you are not aware that Lt. Col. White personally invested over $7,000.00 of his personal funds recently in helping advance the cause of what ACT for America headquarters claims to be doing. This is in addition to the many tireless hours and financial investment that he has given to print literature, color brochures and where he has worked with your organization to distribute your material throughout the country in helping organize and support other ACT for America Chapters.

I was personally involved in assisting Lt. Col. Roy White when he first started the San Antonio Chapter and saw first-hand the fervor and intense dedication and belief that he had in ACT for America throughout the years. It is, therefore, with deep regret that I too will be withdrawing from the San Antonio, Texas ACT for America organization as his co-leader and will find another active group that does not swiftly act to throw a dedicated patriot under the bus as I feel that you have done to Lt. Col. Roy White.

Please enter this correspondence as part of your organizational and legal files and I respectfully request that this letter also be personally shown to Ms. Brigitte Gabriel, founder and president of ACT for America.

Thank you,

Mike Ramirez
San Antonio, TX 78217

This afternoon, Roy White made the following announcement to his chapter members:

Dear ACT San Antonio Members,

I know many of you have received an email from Mr. J Craig, Director of Field Operations for ACT for America. I can confirm that I was removed as Chapter Leader of the San Antonio ACT for America Chapter on Thursday evening, February 23 via email during our monthly meeting for my failure to follow his directive to cancel the meeting.

For those concerned for my health, I’m fine and actually feel very unburdened by the recent developments. Many of you have called and emailed voicing your support…it is greatly appreciated and very humbling.

I am preparing a lengthy reply that will include the video of the event for those of you who weren’t there to judge for yourself if the cancellation order was merited or not.

I will also include all emails and communications between ACT National and myself for you to assess the inconsistencies in Mr. Craig’s varying positions on why they wished to cancel the meeting.

Until then, I’m asking that anyone who may have attended the briefing and received an email from ACT National about my removal to please send your own views and observations about the evening and my removal to the following persons:

Brigitte Gabriel ************@aol.com
J Craig *****@actforamerica.org
Kerry French *******@actforamerica.org
Stephanie Reis ********@actforamerica.org

If you would “cc” me if you choose to write to any or all of them at actbexar@reagan.com. I would greatly appreciate it.

If you are interested in taking over as the San Antonio ACT for America Chapter Leader, I will be happy to meet with anyone and pass along any information you may need.

For any others, I will continue to meet and you are welcome to join me. Look for an announcement on that but a full explanation will be forthcoming shortly.

It is sad day when volunteers for an organization are punished by those who they believed in and have been loyal supporters for many years.

Like many non-profits, overtime they can begin to be more concerned about the power, influence, money and taking a safer road that minimizes the risks of losing any of these elements of power.

I have stopped contributing to ACT for America.

You need to make your own decision. There are several secular and religious groups that are fighting the battle against the ideology of Islam. I will be providing more information on these groups in the near future for those who are looking for financial outlets.

I apologize for this interruption but will be back to you in a few days with more clarity and information.

Lt Col (ret) Roy White,
San Antonio

NOTE: I’ve hidden the emails to ACT in Roy’s letter since he asked only those who attended to contact ACT National.

My friends, what you choose to do with this information is entirely your business. As for me, ACT has lost their vision, has become weak, will not stand up to bullying by Muslim organizations, and no longer deserves my support.

This is a review you will never see posted on the home page for the website of Heartland RV of Elkhart, Indiana. If you go to their page, you will see glowing reviews scrolling along the right hand side of their main page. This is not one of those. This review is intended to be used to share my story from sites like Google, Yelp, and other similar sites which allow consumers independently to rate businesses. Those sites don’t allow enough narrative to tell my story completely.

As I write this, my local Camping World is replacing the entire floor, including the support beams, of my 2013 Sundance which I purchased new. I am the original owner. The floor has slowly been deteriorating due to a manufacturing defect which Heartland will not cover. The repairs are expected to be close to $10,000. But this is not the only manufacturing defect we have discovered. Before I share the details of what happened to the floor, since we bought the RV four years ago, the following problems have come to light, most of them after the one year warranty expired, and for which I had to pay out of pocket to repair.

  • Heater ducts were improperly connected. No heat from the furnace was reaching the bathroom and bedroom above the hitch area.
  • Air conditioning ducts were also improperly connected; no A/C to the main bedroom.
  • Water lines were connected improperly. I got a mix of hot and cold water from the cold water tap.
  • Fresh water holding tank improperly installed. After filling the tank for a road trip, water would leak out significantly from the under side. This cost me over $700 to fix as the shop had to remove the entire cover for the underside. They found the cap for the tank never secured and water leaked from around the filler cap itself, not any overflow mechanism. This leads me to wonder if my fresh water tank was contaminated when this was occurring; there was no seal to keep out contaminants.
  • There is no proper support for mounting the TV in the entertainment center. The mount was originally attached merely to the wood paneling which flexed when driving and nearly ripped a large hole in the paneling. In the bedroom there is a proper wood mounting plate behind the paneling to which the TV is attached. Such a wood mounting plate behind the paneling is missing in the main entertainment center. The dealer was able to attach the TV mount with one bolt to a small stud in the wall but don’t know how long that will last. It is impossible to attach the proper mounting structure behind the panel without disassembling the entire entertainment center.
  • The brakes on the coach did not work at all the moment I drove it off the lot. I drove all the way home from the dealer before discovering this. The brake wiring was incorrect. The dealer fixed this under warranty.
  • The second year of ownership I began to notice delamination bubbling of the exterior fiberglas near the slide opening. The first dealer I took it to replaced the slide seal, thinking that was the source of the leak. But the delamination continues. My current dealer says this is usually caused by an improperly installed roof or seal such as around a window. I called Heartland and sent them pictures of the bubbling of the side. Their response: it’s outside the one year warranty so not covered. I should have noticed it in the first year. But my first year of ownership it was kept under a covered area away from weather and the elements. In the second year we moved and it was no longer protected from rain, and that’s when the delamination began to show. But that matters not to Heartland. I guess I should have known to put the RV through the worst possible conditions, rather than taking care to protect it, so this issue would have manifest in my first year of ownership.

And now, the floor. By far the most expensive repair to date. Apparently the floor has been deteriorating slowly since the day we drove it off the dealer’s lot. But it was so gradual we didn’t notice, until a few months back as we were preparing it for a road trip, my wife stepped on a section of the floor and almost fell through. Camping World says they’ve never seen floor rot like this one. And they discovered the cause, again a manufacturing defect. The faucet in the shower was not installed properly. There was no gasket or caulking to keep water within the shower enclosure. So every time we showered, water running down the shower wall would leak behind the faucet, down the opposite side of the wall and on to the floor, out of sight, since that area is not normally not accessible. One small puddle at a time. Each puddle would soak into the floor under the shower, and gradually weaken the wood. The water wicked along the entire floor, from front to back. No water seal on the shower faucet. Now costing me about $10,000 to fix, again because Heartland says I should have discovered these things within the first year’s warranty period. Seriously? Who in their right mind would take the time to test the shower, remove the barriers to get behind the shower to make sure it’s not leaking?

I truly regret purchasing an RV from Heartland. And I am warning others to consider another brand. Heartland does not stand behind their product, even when damage is caused so obviously from defective or incomplete manufacturing procedures.

Buyer beware.

Tomorrow is election day. The masses will begin flocking to polling stations at 7am local time. Many states have reported record numbers voting already. In my home state of Texas, which has early voting for two weeks prior to an election, records have been broken. Most counties report unprecedented numbers turned out for early voting. This seems to be the election that has stirred the populace into action. Folks who in the past have simply not bothered to vote are this time expressing their desire at the voting booth. And that is probably a good thing.

But regardless who wins, I will not be celebrating Wednesday morning after the election.

This election has been the most divisive of any election in my 60 years on planet earth. Republican against Democrat. Democrat against Republican. Republican against Republican. Democrat against Democrat. Christian against Christian. Christian against non-Christian.

I am truly heartbroken and dismayed that so many who identify as ‘Christian’ engaged in hateful rhetoric against other fellow Christians who simply stood by their convictions. One would think standing on principles and conviction would be celebrated among fellow believers. But many believers, more than I care to even imagine, abandoned this concept for the sake of political expediency, to badger or attempt to shame others into voting “their way” and if you didn’t, you’re not a patriot nor a true Christian. Since when has one’s faith and salvation hinged on whom one votes for in an election? To listen to some believers, that’s the new measuring rod for salvation!

Nor can I celebrate the election of either of the two candidates likely to win. One is pure evil. She has only her personal best interests in mind, not the best interests of the nation. She has low regard for the average American citizen and sees herself as superior in every way. She wants to instill Marxist ideology on the American political system. She wants to shred our Constitution, disarm citizens, trash the fourth amendment guarantee of illegal search, trash the tenth amendment of state’s rights and federalize every branch of local government. She wants total and complete power over every citizen, dictating what they can do and when they can do it.

The other is not quite as bad, but still cause for deep concern. His past is highly checkered. He has been an advocate and financial supporter of liberal ideas and programs. He brags about using power to squash those who get in the way of what he wants to do. His moral character is abhorrent. He revels in owning strip joints where women are exploited. He celebrates helping others part with their money through the many casinos he owns. He lied about, smeared, belittled, and verbally abused his chief rival during the primaries, and was applauded by Christians for doing so. He has a foul mouth. He has a foul character. He lacks integrity. And that bothers me. Just like his opponent in the election, he has his own personal interests foremost in mind. That was demonstrated clearly with his actions during the primaries.

I’ve heard many well-meaning Christians say “But we’re electing a Commander-In-Chief, not a Pastor-In-Chief.” Again, I am dismayed at how many are choosing to set aside moral virtue for political expediency. Yes, we’re not electing a Pastor but a President. But character matters. Integrity matters. Morality matters. These character attributes, or lack thereof, will factor in highly in any decision he might make as President, should he be elected. If you choose to set aside integrity, morality, and good character now to get him elected, do not act surprised when he makes decisions that will affect your future when such decisions display a lack of morality and integrity.

I am tired and done with being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. If we continue to settle for less than the best, if we continue to accept mediocrity, we will continue to be offered mediocrity in the future. If you don’t demand the best the party has to offer, you will never get it. I cannot settle for mediocrity any longer. I cannot settle for a candidate who lacks a moral compass, as both candidates do.

I demand better. I want a leader who honors God. Because a leader who honors God in his personal life will honor God in the decisions he makes for the nation.

I don’t see that in either candidate. I cannot celebrate.

My wife and I just returned from another road trip. As we do several times a year, we set out with our fifth wheel and speak at churches in a section of the US, going from one church to another over a period of several weeks. My sermons generally focus on Islam and the Christian response.

This trip one message I gave at several churches was titled “Islam and the Last Days.” I focused on the acceleration of Islam around the world, the vacuum that has been created in Europe and the US as those societies have abandoned their Christian roots, and what has crept in to replace that spiritual vacuum.

My wife made an interesting observation on this road trip. Standing in the foyer of a church one Sunday morning after service, she looked at the faces of those leaving. Later she commented that most people had the look of “OK, I’ve done my ‘Christian duty for the week. Time to get back to the world.’ I have to say I fear she was right in her observation.

The church is apathetic; no, the church is anemic. It has lost its strength. It has lost its vision. It has lost its will to thrive, to be the salt and light Jesus called it to be, to stand against worldviews and ideologies that create strongholds and deceive the masses, that come against the knowledge of God. In short, the Church has ceased to be “Christian.”

Jesus Christ was no weakling, the meek and mild caricature he is often depicted as being. He impacted the world. He called out evil when he saw it. He judged others and exposed hypocrisy. The apostles did the same. The first century church was RADICAL. Churches today? No so much.

Pastors today have it tough, at least pastors that fit the Biblical definition of what a pastor should be and do. I’m not talking about so-called pastors or ministers who give a seeker-friendly watered-down feel-good message about love and acceptance on Sunday mornings. Those pastors seem to rake in millions, have congregations of thousands, and book sales galore. No, I’m talking about pastors who fulfill their duty to preach the word.

2 Timothy 4:1-4  I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

What is the duty of a pastor/teacher? Convince, rebuke, exhort, with patience and teaching. To speak the truth of the gospel message that we are all sinners doomed to an eternity of separation from God a choice of our own free will, until and unless we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ and his shed blood for forgiveness. To rebuke others when they stray, which goes against the grain today of being accepting of everyone, endorsing gay marriage and clergy, and embracing other sinful lifestyles. Exhort, to call true believers to lives of holiness and devotion to God, not worldly pursuits. It’s not popular. It’s not profitable. But it’s Biblical. And it happens infrequently and in a small percentage of churches.

I have personally been the recipient of consequences for calling the church and Christians to holiness. I have been slandered, called names, and have suffered financially. And this by other Christians!

Has the great falling away begun that precedes the revealing of “the lawless one” known also as the anti-Christ? Not only has it begun, it appears to be accelerating at a rapid pace!

Dear USAA:

Your members need to know you do not have their best interests in mind. You do not attempt to keep your rates low. On the contrary, you do everything you can to make sure you pay more than is necessary to settle a claim, thereby driving up the rates you charge for your clients. How? Read on for one personal experience.

A client of USAA broadsided my wife in June 2016. My wife was driving down a road in Austin, and the USAA client exited the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy while distracted. She admits to talking on her cell phone, not checking for cross traffic, and slamming into the side of my car with my wife driving and my daughter in the passenger front seat.

I immediately called USAA to file a claim and spoke with claims adjuster Elizabeth Schoen. Yes, I’m naming names for reasons that will become evident. I explained to Ms. Schoen that I had no desire to get an attorney involved because doing so drives up costs for everyone. I told her I simply wanted my car to be repaired and USAA to cover minor medical issues related to whiplash my wife experienced. Nothing major, mind you. I was actually the one advocating for keeping costs down on behalf of USAA policy holders. Ms. Schoen was very gracious and appreciative of my gesture to not get an attorney involved.

But it was not to be.

For two months we made multiple calls to Ms. Schoen requesting a status update on our claim. She never once returned a call from voice mail messages we left requesting a callback.

Finally after two months, we received notification that USAA had accepted full financial responsibility. The delay was attributed to USAA not being able to connect with their insured party to get her statement of the accident. Two months??

Then the fun began. We again made multiple calls to Ms. Schoen requesting an authorization number to get an estimate from a body shop for repairs. Again, no returned calls from USAA.

After frustration that seemed unending, we had no choice but to get an attorney involved. I tried to avoid it. USAA left me no choice.

And then USAA began playing more games. Since we now had an attorney representing us, USAA said they could no longer contact us directly, but could only communicate with us through the attorney. Our attorney wrote a letter to USAA giving them permission to speak directly with us. But the gaming continued. No call, no emails. Silence from USAA.

I spent the last several years of my career in middle management of a Fortune 500 corporation. In my estimation, Ms. Schoen ought to be relieve of duties for failure to perform. If she was out of the office and not capable of responding, processes should have been in place at USAA for another adjuster to pick up her work load. Barring either scenario, perhaps it’s corporate policy at USAA to delay claims processing to hold on to the funds as long as possible.

Last Friday, October 28, 2016, almost five months since the accident, we finally received authorization from USAA to get an estimate for repairs. USAA gave the body shop an authorization, gave Enterprise Rental Car an authorization for a rental car while repairs were being made. Today I dropped off the car for repairs, obtained the rental car from Enterprise. The agent at Enterprise told me that USAA only authorized the car through Thursday this week, even though the body shop told me the repairs would likely take through Friday. So I called USAA to get the rental contract extended. The agent proceeded to tell me I had no right to the rental car yet, I was ordered to return the rental car and pick up my car from the body shop, because nothing had YET been authorized!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

So why would Enterprise have an authorization number, and instructions to cover the car through Thursday, if such authorization had not yet been given?

USAA is completely incompetent. They have no desire to keep costs down. I tried and offered to do so. It didn’t work. The left hand in the company apparently does not know what the right hand is doing. In other words, the internal processes are disconnected, inefficient, and further drive up costs for USAA clients.

I recommend others shop for insurance elsewhere.