Abhinav Kumar, a serving IPS officer has written an open letter to Roy that brings into sharp relief for me many things that Roy's piece (and her other writing in general) lacks- balance, a willingness to think one's arguments through to their logical end, a avoidance of moral relativism and a sense of the bigger picture. And he writes pretty well too.
Kumar beings by acknowledging Roy's role as a voice that prickles our collective conscience, which I think is more generous that he needs to be but that's where the familiar sense of ambivalence ends. I think he nicely and much more succintly devastates Roy.
Kumar echoes one of my previous commentators (Jai) in the thought that Roy appears to be more interested in her own brand as the Indian voice of dissent than in formulating a genuine and original response to each issue that she wants to talk about. Thus, she has an Arundhati Roy agenda with its well establishes and predictable talking points (this is me, not Kumar). For Kumar, this means that Roy ignores the moral responsibility of a public intellectual. And he directs most of his essay at Roy's callous disregard for the human loss of the Bombay attacks and her petty at best tirade against the security forces. These parts struck a particularly sour note in her piece.
His comments on the stupidity of comparing Hindutva to radical Islam are more controversial and will not please everyone but on balance, I think he's right if you have a sense of perspective and are not excessively politically-correct.
If you're at all interested in this, you should really read the whole essay but I'll leave you with two points that impressed me particularly:
You seem to passionately believe in and defend the 'right' of the Kashmiris to ethnic, cultural, religious and geographical exclusivism. If this is correct than why should we vilify Raj Thackeray or any other chauvinist who seeks to preserve the purity (however defined) of his people (however defined) from outsiders (also however defined)?...I do hope you have taken the trouble to examine the fundamental assumptions underlying all such movements based on an assertion of a cultural identity. The creation of a hated outsider, in the case of Kashmir, the Indian; in the case of Raj Thackeray, the bhaiya of UP and Bihar; and in the case of the jihadists, anyone and everyone who does not subscribe to their virulent strain of Islam, including Muslims, is common to all these ideologies but you seem to pick and choose the bigotries you will demonize and the bigotries you will defend. Is it possible to freeze identity to a moment in time and on the basis of this demand recognition, retribution and rights for all time to come?
I wonder what Roy would say to that. Actually, I have a good idea of what she would say but indeed her defense would be hollow.
The liberties you have exercised in the past and continue to do today, however gratuitously and offensively, do not exist in a vacuum. I am not sure if any of these liberties would have a place in a Naxalite Utopia or a Jihadi Caliphate or even in a self-determined Kashmiri paradise that you eloquently espoused... In any case, the liberties that you have recently taken with the sensibilities of proud Indians too exist in a cultural, political and constitutional context, a context that is ultimately safeguarded by men such as Hemant Karkare and Major Unnikrishnan with disregard for their own life.
My anti-Arundhati voice to my pro-Arundhati voice: Take that!