Friday, November 05, 2004

The wit and wisdom of Arundhati Roy 

Last year, it was Palestinian negotiator Hannah Ashrawi. This year, another worthy recipient of the $50,000 Sydney Peace Prize is the Indian novelist and activist Arundhati Roy, who as Australia's ABC notes "[r]ecently encouraged Australians to vote against John Howard because of his decision to go to war in Iraq... [and] also urged people to join the Iraqi resistance." No, not that resistance, as the recipient explains:
"One wasn't urging them to join the Mehdi Army, you know, but to become the resistance, to become part of what ought to be a non-violent resistance against a very violent occupation. So that is to redefine what resistance means, you know, we can't just assume that resistance means terrorism, because that would be playing right into the hands of the occupation."
Non-violent resistance in Iraq? Then one was obviously urging them to join non-existent resistance. Can't seem to find too many people in Iraq going on hunger strikes and singing "We shall not be moved."

As an Indian news service reminds us, "Roy... previously branded US President George W Bush as a 'terrorist' and described Australia's military presence in Iraq as 'inexcusable'. She has also accused Australia of genocide over what she believes to be its mistreatment of Aborigines is reportedly planning to donate her $50,000 peace prize to Aboriginal political activists."

Ah, remember how Roy had rallied against the oppression and genocide in Saddam's Iraq?

Neither can I.

I guess Iraq wasn't then "in the front lines of empire" which is all that matters. You can read Roy's acceptance speech here. It's full of insightful geo-politico-economic analysis like this:
"It has been only a few weeks since a majority of Australians voted to re-elect Prime Minister John Howard who, among other things, led Australia to participate in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The invasion of Iraq will surely go down in history as one of the most cowardly wars ever fought. It was a war in which a band of rich nations, armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, rounded on a poor nation, falsely accused it of having nuclear weapons, used the United Nations to force it to disarm, then invaded it, occupied it and are now in the process of selling it.

"I speak of Iraq, not because everybody is talking about it, (sadly at the cost of leaving other horrors in other places to unfurl in the dark), but because it is a sign of things to come. Iraq marks the beginning of a new cycle. It offers us an opportunity to watch the Corporate-Military cabal that has come to be known as 'Empire' at work. In the new Iraq the gloves are off."
I would have thought that this sort of early-to-middle previous century theorising has been buried under the rubble of the Berlin Wall, but obviously the trendies of Sydney still find it an appealing insight. Roy's "God of small things" I'm sure looks favourably on the left's moral sense


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