I was listening to the Indian Electronica podcast from a few months ago. It was all very political, but one clip was from Arundhati Roy and was is spot on. Commenting on the “anti-american” epithet that is thrown at anyone who disagrees with our government’s failed mission in Afghanistan (which still seems very widely supported) she says we are now told that we should support it to free Afghani women from their burqas.:
But what does the term “anti-American” mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz? Or that you’re opposed to freedom of speech? That you don’t delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias? Does it mean that you don’t admire the hundreds of thousands of American citizens who marched against nuclear weapons? Does it mean that you hate all Americans? This sly conflation of America’s culture, music, literature, the breathtaking physical beauty of the land, the ordinary pleasures of ordinary people with criticism of the U.S. government’s foreign policy is an effective strategy. To be “anti-American” (or for that matter, anti-Indian or anti-Timbuktuan) is not just racist, it’s a failure of the imagination. An inability to see the world in terms other than those the establishment has set out for you. If you’re not a Bushie, you’re a Taliban. If you’re not Good, you’re Evil. If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists. Now that the initial aim of the war in Afghanistan – 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, that the U.S. Marines are actually on a feminist mission. 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 Delhi, Islamabad and Dhaka be destroyed? Is it possible to bomb bigotry out of India? Can we bomb our way to a feminist paradise?
(Googled up this Ms. Magazine article from the quote I remembered. The article is slightly different from the quote I heard, but close enough.) In my mind, this same sort of thing is closely related to why Immigration has become an “issue” during this political season. I’m really not sure what big threat immigrants pose to us, illegal or otherwise. They’re here, as long as they don’t cause trouble and contribute to society, why are we worried? All the arguments sound like a thin cover for Xenophobia to me. Are we really worried about the amount of money we’re spending on illegals? We could give each illegal immigrant a pony and we would spend less than we have spent killing Iraqis and deposing Saddam.