Because of the convoluted and often ambiguous policies of the American government, the very state seems to have gained a rather notorious reputation in the eyes of millions of people all over the world.
According to Arundhati Roy, there is a logical explanation for the phenomenon in question; as the author of the article The algebra of infinite justice claims, by instilling the principles of the “American Life,” which the U.S. government officials believe to be the only reasonable system to serve as the basis for any state, the former belie the very essence of the American culture.
The reasons for this enmity are quite understandable; the idea of changing some aspects of people’s lives may seem sacrilegious to them, even if these changes are supposedly made for the greater good. Due to the very clever use of tones, themes, imagery, and vocabulary, Roy manages to prove his point in a rather convincing manner.
Though some of the arguments that Roy makes can be viewed as debatable, the incorporation of the near-apocalyptic picture of the world that Roy creates in his article, combined with a rather eloquent manner of getting the message across, a succinct manner of laying the aforementioned message out, a realistic tone and the themes related to globalization, intercultural conflicts and world power, make the idea that Roy’s article carries gargantuan and, quite honestly, adds reasonability to his argument.
Although the United States seems to have been handling the economic and financial issues that the entrance into the global economy and the redesign of the healthcare triggered, a major social issue seems to have come into being. Over the past few decades, the reputation of the United States among the rest of the world countries left much to be desired, yet it was not until the second half of the 20th century that the foreign policy of the state was considered downright aggressive towards the cultures and traditions of other countries.
According to Roy, the United States have become notoriously known for their attempt at foisting the principles of the “American life” on the rest of the nations, and that the American people have been turning a blind eye to the issue in question in their attempt to retain their patriotic spirit.
In other words, Roy makes it clear that the government of the United States treads a very dangerous territory by using violent measures as a response to the acts of terrorism or the threats thereof and justifying these measures in the eyes of the American people as necessary and adequate ones.
More importantly, the U.S. state authorities have been making endeavors to inhibit the self-control of other states under the pretext of keeping the American citizens safe.
More to the point, Roy concludes his argument by stating the necessity for the United States government to alter their approach towards developing foreign relationships and shaping the attitudes towards other states among the American citizens by acknowledging the differences between countries and embracing these cultural differences to locate the existing similarities:
Terrorism, as a phenomenon, may never go away. But if it is to be continued, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other human beings, who, even if they are not on the TV, have loves and griefs and stories and sorrows and songs and, for heaven’s sake, rights. (Roy, 2002, p. 337)
By incorporating a range of compelling themes, a clever use of literary devices and a stunning array of images in his argument, Roy tricks the audience into assuming the correctness of his research without further scrutiny; however, a closer look at the article will show that it may lack objectivity and offer a slightly biased way of looking at the attitudes towards the threat of terrorism in the U.S. society.
Though not all the points that Roy makes can be deemed as valid, one must still give the author credit for using the tools of persuasion that he has at his disposal in a rather efficient and effective manner. Roy expatiates on the subject manner rather glibly, yet every single sentence written serves its purpose and affects the overall impression of the article greatly.
Breaking the text down into its key components, one must pay an especial attention to the vocabulary that Roy uses in order to create a specific atmosphere in his article, the imagery that the author restores in the audience’s minds so that the key points could be immersed into the readers’ memories, and the themes that Roy renders, relating them to the subject matter.
The realization of the article being very eloquent and very well put together is, perhaps, the very first idea that comes into the head of the reader with the very first line uttered. Indeed, Roy appeals to the rational and, perhaps, to the self-indulgent aspects of the reader’s personality by assuming that his audience is just as well-read and educated as he is and, therefore, is capable of understanding the key argument that Roy makes.
In order to exacerbate the groundbreaking effect of the message that he tries to convey, Roy uses a range of images, which an American citizen can relate to.
For instance, in order to render the unsettling feeling of fear, Roy pictures the images of a happy American family that infiltrated the American media long ago: “Will my love come home tonight?” (Roy, 2002, p. 336)“Will my child be safe at school?” (Roy, 2002, p. 336). These images allow every reader to feel personal about the topic of insecurity raised in the article and, therefore, prevent the audience from taking Roy’s words with a grain of salt.
As it has been stressed above, the theme of blooming insecurity, which has been persistent in the United States since the 9/11 tragedy, is obviously the focus of Roy’s attention: “But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin Laden?” (Roy, 2002, p. 337). However, apart from the insecurity issue, the topics of multiculturalism, cultural acceptance, terrorism, warfare, and peacemaking are touched upon.
As far as the veracity of the study carried out by Roy is concerned, one must admit that he clearly did his homework on the subject matter. The facts that the author of the article brings up are doubtlessly true, and the sources that he uses to support his opinion can be regarded as quite trustworthy: “Some have suggested that terrorism fears have been stoked for political advantage […].” (Sinclair & Antonius, 2012, p. 90). Overall, Roy’s interpretation of U.S. history can be deemed as very credible.
The conclusions that the scholar makes so that his argument could be interpreted as adequate, however, may seem somewhat questionable. It looks like Roy tends to generalize the phenomena and facts that he observes and, as a result, make the claims that lack support.
Calling these statements half-baked would be unfair to the researcher, seeing how ample the study that he carried out is; nevertheless, it seems that Roy’s position on the subject matter is somewhat prepossessed and that the current policy of the United States can be viewed from a more objective standpoint. In fact, the citizens of the United States have all reasons to fear terrorism, and ensuring protection against the latter is the least that the government can do (Nikbay & Hancerli, 2007).
Although most of the devices that Roy uses in order to convince his readers in the veracity of the points that he makes are beyond transparent and can be viewed as rather naïve, one must admit that there is a grain of truth in the overall manipulative tone of his narration.
Indeed, there are numerous problems in the current status of relationships between the United States and the rest of the world; more to the point, there is an obvious tension, which often results in military conflicts erupting as a response to the aggressive policy of assimilation, which the United States seems to have adopted.
On the other hand, claiming that the U.S. government has, in some way or another, inhibited reasonable considerations regarding the threat of terrorism, by exaggerating the threat and, therefore, creating the premises for the resurgence of its totalitarian reign would be quite a stretch. There is obvious evidence that the fear of terrorism rejuvenates trust to the state government among the citizens, according to recent research (Sinclair & LoCicero, 2010, p. 57).
Nevertheless, the actions that the U.S. state authorities have been taking in regard with the infamous instances of terrorism resembles over-protectiveness rather than an attempt to seize control over the minds of the American citizens and dictate them a specific modality of perceiving other nations and people.
As far as the economic hegemony is concerned, though, the actions of the U.S. government can be interpreted as quite aggressive, though. However, in the realm of the global economy, building a hegemony seems a hardly plausible concept. Therefore, the fears of the U.S. taking control over any aspect of other states’ lives, be it the economic, cultural, or political one, hardly seems plausible.
While providing admittedly compelling arguments and utilizing a range of literary devices as the tools for improving the credibility of his study, Roy still fails to prove the efforts of the American government to be entirely malign for the rest of the states. Instead, Roy depicts a rather somber image of the U.S. government making desperate endeavors to indemnify the American citizens and, instead, only contributes to the deterioration of its foreign affairs sphere.
True, the topics and issues that Roy raises are rather reasonable, and the manipulative techniques that the American government has been using in order to fuel the post-nine-eleven fears are a requite legitimate reason for concern. However, most of the concerns that Roy raises seem to be farfetched, especially the ones concerning the U.S. government foisting the American lifestyle on the representatives of other cultures and ethnicities. After all, America itself is the cross-section of a variety of cultures, which makes a claim concerning the United States taking over the cultures of other nations absurd.
Brück, T. (2007). The economic analysis of terrorism. New York, NY: Routledge.
Nikbay, O. & Hancerli, S. (2007). Understanding and responding to the terrorism phenomenon: a multi-dimensional perspective. New York, NY: IOS Press.
Roy, A. (2002). The algebra of infinite justice. The new world reader (pp. 333–338). Ed. G. H. Muller. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Sinclair, S. J. & Antonius, D. (2012,). The psychology of terrorism fears. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Sinclair, S. J. & LoCicero, A. (2010). Do fears of terrorism predict trust in government? Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 2(1), 57–68.