The hypocrisy in the novelist's utopia

Listening to Amitav Ghosh on NDTV last night, I was struck by what is common to most novelists, maybe even around the world. Their distaste for American foreign policy. The 'imperialist' picture that they paint makes me wonder if their likes can ever come to terms with what is today a stark reality. A reality that is, again, in stark contrast to the Utopian mumbo jumbo that they conjure up in their heads. Note that I admire Amitav's works. But most of the artists I've heard seem to take fiendish pleasure in bad mouthing Dubya. Amitav may not be as rabid as someone like Arundhati, but he too joins up the anti-Dubya chorus.

Am I surprised? No.

Consider the recently conducted Pew survey. We are now told that most of the world hates American policy and therefore the marred image. Now is that really true? Note what Fouad Ajami says in his article titled, 'Anti-Americanism Is Mostly Hype', 'I grew up in the Arab world in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and anti-Americanism was the standard political language – even for those pining for American visas and green cards. Precious few took this seriously. The attraction to the glamorous, distant society was too strong in the Beirut of my boyhood.

It is no different today in Egypt or Pakistan. And what people tell pollsters who turn up in their midst with their clipboards? In Hosni Mubarak's tyranny, anti-Americanism is the permissible safety valve for Egyptians unable to speak of their despot. We stand between Pharaoh and his frustrated people, and the Egyptians railing against America are giving voice to the disappointment that runs through their life and culture. Scapegoating and anti-Americanism are a substitute for a sober assessment of what ails that old, burdened country.'

Sober assessments? Possible for a novelist?


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