Whatever Happened To Concerns About Decency And Principle In Public Debate?
All the bafflegab that has emanated from a multiplicity of pundits since the recent Geneva meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council proves one thing if no other: the Sri Lankan government and its multiplicity of (well compensated) supporters have one thing in common: a refusal to deal with the issues and a policy of abusing and attacking, legally and extra-legally, those they see as “enemies of the state.”
There has been an endless stream of drivel, often invoking the Enlightened One (believe it or not!) to justify the singularly amoral approach that the official government “line” has constituted. We have, without exception it seems, nothing but what can be described most kindly as “rationalizations” of conduct that, even by the admission of the defenders, leaves more than something to be desired. There has been and continues to be a splitting of hairs without end, there has been the now-familiar “you did it first” directed at any nation displaying temerity enough to be in any way critical of Sri Lanka. There has been the never-ending accusation directed at all enemies of “the Motherland” (more appropriately “the Fatherland” given the manner of its administration by the current junta) that they are “in the pay” of a diasporic Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam organization. Among those targets are such as distinguished ex- judges of the Supreme Court of Canada in the person of Louise Arbour, recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize such as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela and the man acknowledged as North America’s pre-eminent intellectual and opponent of imperialism of any kind, Noam Chomsky. In fact, a simple listing of those held in high regard internationally, often despite their connections to “progressive” causes, could well consume better than half this contribution to your Sunday Leader and read like a “Who’s Who” of distinguished humanitarians. Such is the limitless venom of people who have absolutely no respect for the truth or reality in their mindless pursuit of sycophancy that they would, in the final analysis, depict Jesus Christ and the Gautama as “enemies of the state!”
But, to return to the central thread of this column, what the mindless supporters of our Sri Lankan junta seek to do is level a barrage of abuse against any they see as “enemies” of their project, hoping that the heat and smoke they generate will conceal a singular absence of cold fact and substance.
The issues are simply;
1) whether there were war crimes/crimes against humanity/call them what you wish (how about “combat irregularities – CIs – ” as a real whitewash?) committed in the dying days of Sri Lanka’s most vicious and protracted conflict,
2) who, if anyone, committed those CIs, and
3) what, if anything, should be done about the afore-mentioned CIs?
That, my friends, is the kernel of all of these questions. If those three questions weren’t relevant, we wouldn’t be having this debate, the Sri Lankan junta would not be running around like the proverbial decapitated chicken and its sycophantic acolytes (with and without PhDs or professional designations) wouldn’t be babbling incessantly to their converted moronic hordes while deploying white vans to “take care” of those who disagreed with them and their wholesale plunder of the national treasury.
What many find truly reprehensible is the fact that there is a consistent effort to shroud all of this in some quasi-religious garb, particularly that of the single entity known better than any other perhaps for the espousal of non-violence and kindness to all: the Gautama. That is truly obscene and there is no other single word with which to describe it. Not even a virtual amulet of “Pirith Nool” can conceal the truly monumental hypocrisy of this kind of behaviour! The fact that some of the Roman Catholic hierarchy have chosen to march in lockstep with these particular legions does not, in any way, provide it with even a skimpy amude (loin-cloth) of respectability. All that particular unity proves (once again) is that there is nothing like “organized religion” to visit upon humanity all that is vile in this world.
The larger question, though, is “Whatever happened to men and women of conscience, particularly those who consistently wear their religious and moral affiliations on their sleeves?” We have always had the Borgias of organized religion supplying their own needs at the expense of the greater public among whom they lived (and prospered!). But, we’ve also always had at least a minority who raised their voices in protest and even used their bodies to obstruct efforts to deprive their fellow citizens of their inalienable rights. That element of our society if not singularly absent, has certainly stayed pretty much invisible, except for the “Tut-Tut Brigades” who appear at regular (or irregular) intervals to bemoan the status quo, utter some platitude(s) and then retreat into some cave or other, not to be heard from until the next duly appointed date for parading, for a limited time only, in the proverbial sack cloth and ashes.
Except for a few (primarily female) journalists there seems to be a singular lack of what used to be described as “people of conscience” in this country. Are we, indeed, a nation of sycophantic sheep letting ourselves be led willingly to the slaughter at some Nelum Pokuna abbatoir?