Ms. Magazine

spring 2003
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this is what a feminist looks like

Features
The Feminist To-Do List by Gloria Steinem
Ms. Poll Feminist Tide Sweeps In as the 21st Century Begins by Lorraine Dusky
Affirmative Action on Trial by Teresa Stern
Women on Death Row by Claudia Dreifus
In the Thick of Life at 70 by Jessica Chornesky

Special Action Alert
Women Take Action Worldwide
Listing: Coalitions and Groups
National Council of Women's Organizations Statement on War with Iraq
NCWO Partial Members List
Why Peace is (More Than Ever) a Feminist Issue
by Grace Paley

Writing of War and Its Consequences
Ghosts of Home by Patricia Sarrafian Ward
Tales from an Ordinary Iranian Girlhood by Marjane Satrapi
Snow in Summer: LA, CA, 1963 by Helen Zelon

News
Pat Summitt's 800th Victory
Augusta Golf Club's Red Face
National Map of Priest Abuse
Women Warriors
Lesbians with Strollers
Kopp Trial
Trouble in Herat, Afghanistan
Reproductive Rights in Poland
Health Clinics in Guatemala
Congolese Women for Peace
Global Good News Round-Up
The Opposite of a Nuclear Bomb

Departments
Lower Breast Cancer Risks by Liz Galst
The Making of an Activist by Gloria Feldt
Nature Conservancy Gains by Rachel Rabkin
Harvard Stumbles on Rape Rules by Lorraine Dusky
The Bush Overhaul of Federal Courts by Stephanie B. Goldberg
My Friend Yeshi by Alice Walker

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Lorraine Dusky's magazine articles have earned her two EMMAs (Exceptional Merit in Media Award) from the National Women's Political Caucus.


The Opposite of a Nuclear Bomb
Arundhati Roy


Streaming Audio version of Roy's speech from DemocracyNow.org

The following is excerpted from Ms. Roy's remarks at an event sponsored by the Lannan Foundation.

The theme of much of what I write, fiction as well as nonfiction, is the relationship between power and powerlessness and the endless, circular conflict they’re engaged in. The term “anti-American” is usually used by the American establishment to discredit its critics (myself included). Once someone is branded anti-American, the chances are that the person’s argument will be lost in the welter of bruised national pride.

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? [Audience laughter] 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. It’s like a retreating army taking cover in a heavily populated city, hoping that the prospect of hitting civilian targets will deter enemy fire. But there are many Americans who would be mortified to be associated with their government’s policies. [Applause]

It is dangerous to cede to the Indian government or the American government the right to define what “India” or “America” are or ought to be. 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. [Laughter, applause]

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? [Laughter]

In everybody’s mind of course, particularly here in America, is the horror of what has come to be known as 9/11. The tears have not dried. And a strange, deadly war is raging around the world. Yet, each person who has lost a loved one surely knows secretly, deeply, that no war, no act of revenge, no daisy-cutters dropped on someone else’s loved ones or someone else’s children, will blunt the edges of their pain.To fuel yet another war - this time against Iraq - by manipulating people’s grief is to pillage even the most private human feelings for political purpose. It is a terrible, violent thing for a State to do to its people. [Applause]

Real globalization would be the idea that human beings across the world do share love, and terror, and gentleness, and these things which literature links up. That’s why I keep saying that literature is the opposite of a nuclear bomb.

Arundhati Roy received the 1997 Booker Prize for The God of Small Things.
The full text of her speech for the Lannan Foundation in Sante Fe is available in her new book, War Talk (South End Press). Copyright @ 2002 Arundhati Roy.

Copyright Ms. Magazine 2009