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Reflection

   

Prejudice, racism, xenophobia, and conspiracy theories ad infinitum

Hearing the three words and using them more often, by far, than I’ve ever used them in many years past, I thought I should go back to a dictionary and check whether I had slid into the slough of intellectual sloppiness that often entraps one using the same words or terminology over a period of time or whether I was still applying those terms appropriately.

In its most common application, “Prejudice” in the Sri Lankan context is synonymous with “bias” and certainly fits the description “to condemn unheard.”  This is what happens without exception if a person or opinion is perceived as being from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. 

If one is a dissenter?  Forget any expectation of fairness or objectivity or, better yet, forget about even trying to express an opinion.  You’re dead in the water before you even start.  And one can often apply that term in its most literal sense without being wrong 100% of the time!

How about “Racism?”  The definition that best fits the Sri Lankan reality is “belief in the inherent superiority of some races over others,” except that here our bigots operate in the singular and believe that the Sinhala race is superior to every other.  One hears, ad infinitum (in English publications, often in execrable English), how the Sinhala population existed in a blissful state of virtue and were veritable saints, every one of them from kings through the nobility to the humblest peasant. 

They personified kindness and civil behaviour and anything approaching bad conduct that they might now display can be attributed to the corrupting influence and domination of the Dravidian hordes and the “white devils” who followed them.  And that should explain any miscreants among the pantheon of Sinhala saints!

Hates foreigners

As to “Xenophobia” — “one who fears or hates foreigners or things foreign” — is there a need to even minimally explore this Sri Lankan reality when it is constantly expressed by those who, thanks to the status quo that prevails in the Pearl of the Orient, are able to dominate the media and have published their most primitive and hate-laden opinions without fear of contradiction? 

The strange dichotomy here, though, is that what is preached is a torrent of abuse against all things foreign while what is practised is a different kettle of fish and is interesting, to say the least.

A slavish adherence to the lowest, crudest and most unsophisticated elements of British and, particularly, North American popular culture.  This encompasses the most ghastly of popular music, velvet paintings or their equivalent, garish clothing…. and the list goes on, all of it within the canon of the Lindsay Lohans of this world.

Inferiority complex

What is significant about all three words I’ve sought to examine in their Sri Lankan context is that conduct that fits under each of them fits under all of them.  It is clearly indicative of an inferiority complex and, judging by the hate that is spewed on all three fronts, it is an inferiority complex of monumental proportions that finds as free expression as it does as a result of the terrible ignorance of so many who have been so successfully brainwashed by the elites outside the well in which they dwell.

God knows there is seemingly no end to the barrage of jingoistic rhetoric which seeks to demonise anyone not prepared to descend to the depths of sycophancy.  Currently, disbelief has been entirely suspended and any rubbish that is publicised in the name of patriotism is forced down the throats of all and sundry. 

The fact that anyone outside the well of ignorance that passes for public discourse in Sri Lanka could well be, literally, operating at risk of life and limb continues, in addition, to have a chilling effect on any serious discourse and dissent.

You might well ask, is all of this a story entirely of doom and gloom?  The answer is both “Yes” and “No.”

Supporting a response in the affirmative are the following facts.

To hear it told by those who recently appear to have a monopoly on print space and air time in the electronic media, much of the world, consistently the “white” part of it, has nothing to do with its free time except to devise means of destroying the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and its 2553 years of Sinhala Buddhist civilisation.  It is the knee-jerk reaction to this alleged threat that provides the primary justification for outpourings of prejudice, racism and xenophobia that have become the hallmark of political discourse, such as it is, in our country. 

A corollary to this is the fact that the real neo-colonialist efforts of some members of the First World fraternity go unobserved or obfuscated by what ultimately amounts to a hysterical smokescreen.  This is serious stuff and certainly is not in the interests of Sri Lanka or its citizens.

The hope under the “No” response appears to rest primarily with  the President who made a landmark statement recently to the effect that every citizen of the land is a Sri Lankan and “there are no minorities.”  This is indeed a laudable sentiment but one that needs to be fleshed out and fleshed out appropriately in the Sri Lankan context.  

Does this mean some form of national homogeneity where everyone is expected to march in lockstep with the regime in power or does it mean a national heterogeneity encompassing a diversity of cultural practices and political beliefs freely expressed? 

I would like to believe it is the latter but only time will tell.


 

 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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