Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Arundhati Roy Does it Again

I know. I know. I praise her too much, but she amazes me with her prose. There are not too many people, at least in my opinion, who have the ability to inspire such passion or emotion, the way that Arundhati Roy can. The most recent writing of hers that I found has appeared in the British paper, the Guardian, where she discusses the newest branch of the War on Terror, Iraq. She also writes about other U.S. covert operations including a detailed discussion of the U.S. role in Chile in the seventies. I do have to take some issue with some of her points, but overall, I find her writing straight-up evocative. I shouldn't gush, I know it takes the objectivity away, so I will stop. But I am pasting some of the better passages, as well as some of my criticisms below.

"Now that the initial aim of the war - capturing Osama bin Laden (dead or alive) - seems to have run into bad weather, the goalposts have been moved. It's being made out that the whole point of the war was to topple the Taliban regime and liberate Afghan women from their burqas. We're being asked to believe that the US marines are actually on a feminist mission. (If so, will their next stop be America's military ally Saudi Arabia?) Think of it this way: In India there are some pretty reprehensible social practices, against 'untouchables', against Christians and Muslims, against women. Pakistan and Bangladesh have even worse ways of dealing with minority communities and women. Should they be bombed? Should Delhi, Islamabad, and Dhaka be destroyed? Is it possible to bomb bigotry out of India? Can we bomb our way to a feminist paradise? Is that how women won the vote in the US? Or how slavery was abolished? Can we win redress for the genocide of the millions of native Americans upon whose corpses the US was founded by bombing Santa Fe?"

She later goes on to discuss one of George W. Bush's heroes, Winston Churchill, a favorite leader of many people from South Asia.

"In 1937 Winston Churchill said of the Palestinians: 'I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place'. That set the trend for the Israeli state's attitude towards Palestinians. In 1969, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said: 'Palestinians do not exist'. Her successor, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, said: 'What are Palestinians? When I came here [to Palestine] there were 250,000 non-Jews, mainly Arabs and Bedouins. It was desert, more than underdeveloped. Nothing'. Prime Minister Menachem Begin called Palestinians 'two-legged beasts'. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called them 'grasshoppers' who could be crushed. This is the language of heads of state, not the words of ordinary people."

In efforts to not use bad language, I will not comment on the racist (and stupid) mentality of Winston Churchill, but I think too many give the man too mcuh credit when it comes to international affairs. He was a wannabee cultural imperialist who really did think that the whites of the world were supreme. Many of his policies shoed this, as does his previous statement. The end of this paragraph is also where I think Roy takes a bad turn. It is now en vogue to take up the Palestinian cause, especially at the behest of becoming anti-semitic. While Roy in no way comes close to being anti-semitic, or even anti-Israel, in discussing the poor plight of the Palestinians throughout history, she forgets to place some of the blame on the Palestinians themselves. The mid 1900's saw the Palestinians use terrorism, much like the Israeli's, but as strategy rather than tactic. Terror was used too much, and compromise too little, and thus, the Palestinian state is now what it is. Compromise I feel is a word that too many states, leaders, and people in general are not using now a days. We talk too definitively and too one sidedly as if ours are the only interests that matter. Ours is a world not made of solely white and black. There are indeed gray areas, and for that matter, red, brown and blue areas as well. There are not two sides to choose from anymore, and it is important for ALL leaders around the world to go back to thinking this way.

Anyway, The link provided above should lead to a listing of some of Arundhati Roy's most recent writings. I suggest you check them out.


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