The Film Archives
Published on Nov 25, 2013
Suzanna Arundhati Roy (born 24 November 1961) is an Indian author and political activist who is best known for the 1998 Man Booker Prize for Fiction winning novel The God of Small Things (1997) and for her involvement in environmental and human rights causes. Roy’s novel became the biggest-selling book by a nonexpatriate Indian author.
In a 2001 opinion piece in the British newspaper The Guardian, Arundhati Roy responded to the US military invasion of Afghanistan, finding fault with the argument that this war would be a retaliation for the September 11 attacks: “The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet another act of terror against the people of the world.” According to her, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were guilty of a Big Brother kind of doublethink: “When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: ‘We’re a peaceful nation.’ America’s favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him: ‘We’re a peaceful people.’ So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys.
War is peace.”
She disputes US claims of being a peaceful and freedom-loving nation, listing China and nineteen 3rd World “countries that America has been at war with — and bombed — since the second world war”, as well as previous US support for the Taliban movement and support for the Northern Alliance (whose “track record is not very different from the Taliban’s”). She does not spare the Taliban: “Now, as adults and rulers, the Taliban beat, stone, rape and brutalise women, they don’t seem to know what else to do with them.”
In the final analysis, Roy sees American-style capitalism as the culprit: “In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the major media networks, and, indeed, US foreign policy, are all controlled by the same business combines.” She puts the attacks on the World Trade Center and on Afghanistan on the same moral level, that of terrorism, and mourns the impossibility of imagining beauty after 2001: “Will it be possible ever again to watch the slow, amazed blink of a newborn gecko in the sun, or whisper back to the marmot who has just whispered in your ear — without thinking of the World Trade Centre and Afghanistan?”
In May 2003 she delivered a speech entitled “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)” at the Riverside Church in New York City. In it she described the United States as a global empire that reserves the right to bomb any of its subjects at any time, deriving its legitimacy directly from God. The speech was an indictment of the US actions relating to the Iraq War. In June 2005 she took part in the World Tribunal on Iraq. In March 2006, Roy criticised US President George W. Bush’s visit to India, calling him a “war criminal”.
In August 2006, Roy, along with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and others, signed a letter in The Guardian called the 2006 Lebanon War a “war crime” and accused Israel of “state terror.” In 2007, Roy was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter initiated by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism and the South West Asian, North African Bay Area Queers and calling on the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival “to honor calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not cosponsoring events with the Israeli consulate.”
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