In late September Indian writer Arundhati Roy gave a major address in Santa Fe, New Mexico on the war in Iraq, U.S. foreign policy, Palestine and corporate globalization. Her speech was sponsored by the Lannan Foundation.
“None of us need anniversaries to remind us of what we cannot forget. So it’s no more than co-incidence that I happen to be here, on American soil, in September–this month of dreadful anniversaries. Uppermost on everybody’s mind of course, particularly here in America, is the horror of what has come to be known as 9/11. Nearly three thousand civilians lost their lives in that lethal terrorist strike. The grief is still deep. The rage still sharp. 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 or bring their own loved ones back. War cannot avenge those who have died. War is only a brutal desecration of their memory.
"To fuel yet another war — this time against Iraq — by cynically manipulating people’s grief, by packaging it for TV specials sponsored by corporations selling detergent and running shoes, is to cheapen and devalue grief, to drain it of meaning. What we are seeing now is a vulgar display of the business of grief, the commerce of grief, the pillaging of even the most private human feelings for political purpose. It is a terrible, violent thing for a State to do to its people . . . ."
- Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things and Power Politics. Trained as an architect, she is an outspoken critic of India’s nuclear weapons testing and environmental policies. She has been tried for her political beliefs.