30 September, 2020

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A Case For The Racism Paradigm

By Izeth Hussain

 Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

What are ethnic problems about? Almost invariably they are about discrimination. Sometimes ethnic groups claim the right to establish a separate state on the principle of self-determination, and that is the source of some ethnic problems. But for the most part even they are willing to forego the claim to a separate state if they are given fair and equal treatment – that is, if they are not subjected to discrimination. So, discrimination is of the very essence of ethnic problems. But there is a curious lacuna in the terminology used in ethnic discourse. In the act of discrimination x is the subject who discriminates against y who is the object of discrimination. What is the term to designate x? There is no such term as “ethnicist” unlike the term “racist” in the discourse of racism. Therefore ethnic discourse neatly elides away what is at the very core of ethnic problems: discrimination. That suits the purposes of majoritarian racists.

Also revealing is the discourse on national identity. From 1989 to 1994 I participated in several seminars on national identity, and I even presented papers at a couple of them. At that time the widespread assumption in the intellectual community was that the answer to the ethnic problem was to work out an authentic Sri Lankan national identity transcending our ethnic and other identities. Maybe, but how was that to be done? As far as I can recall that question was hardly ever addressed. I myself came to the notion that developing a transcendent national identity would be possible only if the minorities are given fair and equal treatment – that is if they are not discriminated against. They would then develop a sense of togetherness, of belonging, of being not just in Sri Lanka but of Sri Lanka.  A scholar researching all that dreary material on national identity would probably find that it was only I, a minority member, who stressed the importance of the problem of discrimination in connection with national identity. The majority members ignored that problem. That was possible and convenient within the confines of ethnic discourse. On the other hand, the discourse of racism would bring the problem of discrimination to the forefront.

It is a curious fact that the term “racism” has come into vogue in Sri Lanka in recent years, and it looks like it is in the process of replacing the earlier ubiquitous “communalism”. But what is meant by “racism” is not properly understood, certainly not in the way that it is very widely understood in the West. It seems to me important to bring about a proper understanding of what  is meant by “racism”  because the paradigm of racism can enable us to handle our ethnic problems much more effectively than in the past, benefiting greatly from the vast experience gathered in the West in countering racism. The way we have handled our ethnic problems up to now has been – to put it in one precise eloquent word – idiotic.

I will not attempt to define “racism” because all such political terms – for instance democracy, Fascism, terrorism and so on – can have over a hundred definitions and yet none of them will be definitive in the sense that it commands universal assent. Instead I will provide some pointers to show how the term is understood today. The core idea is that some ethnic groups are inherently, intrinsically, essentially, enduringly, almost unchangeably inferior to others. At this point I must make a clarification. Traditionally, in the West, racism was understood to mean that some races are genetically and unchangeably inferior to others. But it came to be established that there is no such thing as a pure race, and besides it has proved impossible to establish that the inferiority of an ethnic group has been genetically determined. Therefore “race” has come to be replaced by “culture” in the sociological sense, and we now have paradoxically racism without race. The important point, however, is that under modern racism some ethnic groups are seen as essentially inferior to others.

I must now explain what is meant by “essentialism” as it is the key concept in race theory. This is what Pierre Andre Taguieff, one of the foremost theorists of race, has to say about it, in my literal translation: “Mode of thought which consists in attributing to all members of a group, and tendentiously to them alone, certain characteristics, explaining these by the nature or essence of the group, (by its natural dispositions) rather than by situational factors”.

Certain consequences follow from the above definition, one of which is what has been called “synechdocic substitution”, by which is meant the application to the whole of what is true only of the part. For instance, I am an orthodox Sunni Muslim and I am proud of being so, in which way I am a typical SL Muslim, but at the same time I am thoroughly Westernized and some would say an intellectual, in which ways I am not a typical SL Muslim. But the racist would say that the Westernization is bogus and being an intellectual intolerable pretentiousness and that in essence I remain a trader, cunning, unscrupulous, and all out for gain. What might be true of a part is thus being applied to the whole. All this points to another characteristic of the racist: the propensity to think in terms of stereotypes.

One of the most important characteristics of racism is irrationality, which for some reason is not given central importance in race theory. It is not an exclusive defining characteristic because non-racists can be irrational, but it is an integral part of racism that should be given central importance because of its terrifying destructive and self-destructive potential. I have pointed out in an earlier article that it is arguable that Hitler lost the Second World War because of his racist belief that the Soviet Union would very quickly cave in to a German invasion. The reason why racism and irrationality go integrally together requires investigation. I have in mind some brilliant thinking by Bertrand Russell, not on racism but on irrationality, which cannot be covered in this article because it includes some complex philosophical arguments. So I will merely quote the following from his 1935 essay The Ancestry of Fascism: “Rationalism and anti-rationalism have existed side by side since the beginning of Greek civiisation, and each, when it has seemed likely to become completely dominant, has always led, by reaction, to a new outburst of its opposite”.

In concluding this exposition of what is meant by racism I must make an important clarification. Ethno-centric prejudice is not the same thing as racism. One of the great anthropologists of the last century, Claude Levi-Strauss, wrote that there is not a single ethnic group, even those lost in the depths of the Matto Grosso jungle, which does not believe that its way of life incarnates all the best of which human life is capable. Suspicion and a jaundiced view of the Other may be practically ubiquitous all over the world. But if that is racism, it would not be particularly objectionable because it would be seen simply as part of the human condition. But it is seen in the contemporary world as deeply objectionable, indeed as a disease that is containable and corrigible, if not entirely ineradicable,

Racism therefore is not just a matter of perceiving the Other negatively. Perception has to lead to action that is inimical to the legitimate interests of the Other. Perceiving the Other as essentially inferior, or as too alien to allow positive rapport with him, or as threatening and dangerous, could lead to his being discriminated against, his being excluded in various ways, and even his being subjected to genocide. Perception is of course important because that is what could lead to negative action.

The above is in broad outline what I have in mind by the paradigm of racism, which I hold will lead to far more effective action on our so-called ethnic problems than has been the case hitherto. We can learn a great deal from the West about action to counter racism, a field in which they have much expertise after 1945. We urgently need legislation against hate speech. We need an Equal Opportunities Bill, which in fact was mooted in the late ’nineties by G.L.Peiris but was shamefully allowed to lapse by CBK. We need the equivalents of the West’s Race Relations Boards. And so on.

I believe that what we need above all is to bring about a widespread awareness that it is racism that has been wrecking our ethnic relations over many decades, racism on both sides of the ethnic fence, with the Muslims relentlessly bootlicking the Sinhalese power-elite. We need the equivalents of RAT (Racism Awareness Training) programs that are in use in some Western countries, because most Sri Lankans I believe are not even aware of their own racism. We need to be made aware that it is the essentialising habit of mind that is at the core of racism that underlies our unconscionably protracted ethnic imbroglio: the Sinhalese believe that the Tamils are essentially separatist and will use devolution only to strike out for Eelam, while the Tamils believe that the Sinhalese will never give them fair and equal treatment because of an essential and unchangeable Mahawamsa mind-set.

I will conclude this article by looking at our ethnic imbroglio through another perspective: that of tribalism and universalism. We cannot transcend tribalism and racism through counter-tribalism and counter-racism. We can do that only through universalism. In Sri Lanka the four great world religions are flourishing, which by definition as world religions transcend tribalism and racism. Furthermore, the wider ecumenism establishing common ground between the four great world religions has been much in vogue in recent decades. But the world religions can also be used only for the affirmation of group bonds and no more than that. The example of Islam in Sri Lanka is very striking. I believe that of all the great world religions Islam is the most universalist, with a deep in-built abhorrence of tribalism and racism. But in recent decades we have seen our Muslims use Islam for the affirmation of group bonds to what looks like a pathological extent. We cannot attain universalism through our religions. Is it – a heretical thought that will drive some Sri Lankans to fury – that we can attain universalism only through Westernization?

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Latest comments

  • 5
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    IZeth Hussaien talks like a frog in the well.

    • 7
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      “Sometimes ethnic groups claim the right to establish a separate state on the principle of self-determination, and that is the source of some ethnic problems.”

      Izeth Hussain,

      You are talking bull shit and propagating blatant lies.

      Did Tamils ask for separate state in 1958, when the Sinhala regime unleashed a massive pogrom against Tamils?

      If you have any integrity left don’t talk lies.

      • 1
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        Why is this fellow Thiru being so gratuitously insulting and abusive? He has been directing his babooneries against me for weeks, and I haven’t dealt with him for purely accidental reasons. I will now punish him. It will hurt.
        There are two reasons why I cannot dismiss his babooneries as beneath contempt. As the latest example shows they have been striking for their irrationality, an irrationality so extreme that it verges on lunacy.As such, his latest baboonery is a perfect exemplification of the point made in my article that irrationality is an integral part of racism.
        He quotes me as follows: “Sometimes ethnic groups claim the right to establish a separate state on the principle of self-determination, and that is the source of some ethnic problems”. That surely is a simple and sober statement of a well-known fact, with nothing polemical or provocative in it. But this Thiru fellow explodes – bull-shit, blatant lies.
        Why? Believe it or not, this is his explanation: “Did Tamils ask for separate state in 1958, when the Sinhalese regime unleashed a massive pogrom against Tamils?” But for goodness sake, does my sentence imply , even remotely, that the 1958 riots were the result of a Tamil claim to a separate state? Only someone who has lapsed into an irrationality verging on lunacy can make that charge.
        The second reason why I cannot ignore Thiru’s babooneries, like the babooneries of several others over my recent articles, is that they betray an extreme Tamil anti-Muslim racist hatred. I will write more about that later. Before concluding I must clarify that I am nor committing the racist crime of stereotyping all Tamils as anti-Muslim racists.A Tamil expatriate, widely known globally. yesterday sent me an email containing this: “Thank you for the excellent article re racism”.
        A word of advice in conclusion. Thiru, Check on the meaning of “babooneries” before you explode again. Better still, don’t explode again. I will reply. It will hurt.

      • 2
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        Racism is largely associated with Whites and Blacks. The term is more relevant in the USA, UK and Europe. Our problem is ethno-related. What the Tamils are trying to re-assert since the 1950s, in the failure of the coming into being of a peaceful multi-racial Nation, is the wish for their own rule in the North-Eastern part of the island where they have been the majority for nearly 3,000 years and more.

        The Sinhalese have at last realised this and appear to be in the process of making up with the Tamils. Those well-intentioned efforts to forge a national identity have not produced the desired result so far. With State-inspired religious fanatics encouraged to hijack the Sinhala political landscape to serve parochial political objectives to hold on to power, it is unfortunate these efforts have so far failed.

        To one unabashedly claiming to be an “intellectual” to insist “Islam of all the great religions is the most Universalist”
        is queer. If indeed it were so there would have been growing universal acceptance of it in the 1,700 years it has been around. In most countries outside the Arabian desert, it was forced on to others by the sword and survives because of its intolerant nature. In a world inclined towards universal learning and the proliferation of educational tools (I/T, TV etc) acceptance will favour more liberal religious traditions.

        Kettikaran

        • 0
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          Kettikaran- You write “To one unabashedly claiming to be an ‘intellectual’ to insist ‘Islam of all the great religions is the most Universalist” is queer”. Can you kindly tell me where exactly I have unabashedly made a claim to be an intellectual? You can’t. What I have stated in the article under discussion is something quite different: ” … I am thoroughly Westernized and some would say an intellectual …”. You have misinterpreted what I wrote, and you clearly imply that I am an unabashedly boastful fellow. Why? You seem to share the propensity to misinterpret what I write of several others whom I regard as Tamil anti-Muslim racists.
          Your views on Islam are clearly those of Western Islamophobes –

          • 2
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            While Izzeth Hussain’s reference to him being an intellectual is implicit and there for all to see, let me assure him his reading, writing and general knowledge certainly makes him one. The reservation was only for the self-claim – which I thought rather unusual.

            Kettikaran

      • 1
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        Thiru,
        No, Tamils did not ask for a separate state. What they wanted in 1958 was a greater control of central government and commercial enterprise, which they felt was based on their ability, intellect, and knowledge, rather than on democratic principle and the veracity that over 75% of Sri Lanka was Sinhalese Buddhist.

        “Pogroms,” as you call them were reactions to poverty, unhappiness and the “Uneducated-in Western-Learning” status of Sinhala masses at the time. But were not in the form of ethnic cleansing based on creating Racially-Pure bloodlines (like what the Germans did to their Jews, or how the Hindus created their caste system to place humans into eternally segregated racial groups).

        Should 2.3 million Tamils hold 17.7 other Lankans at ransom based on Tamils’ lack of understand and acceptance of the rest of Sri Lanka?

        By alienating themselves from the rest of Lanka, they will form a tight liaison with Tamil Nadu. Based on Eelam concepts, Sinhala-Buddhist heritage will surely be constantly under threat. It will be a continual war of heritages. Tamils feel that their heritage is under threat. But Tamil heritage is never at threat of becoming extinct because of the 72 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu. However, Sinhala Buddhist heritage under threat will mean its complete annihilation.

        In modern day, with the ability to move and marry according to will, staying secluded in one’s own ethnic niche will kill modernity, democracy, fairness and progression. Therefore it is best that Tamils assimilate with Sinhalese and become one Lankan race. It won’t happen overnight, but surely in a generation or two, it will be wondered what the fight was ever about.

    • 1
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      Jim Softy,

      Are you a Sinhala Mahanama “Buddhist” Racist , or an Sinhala Buddhist or an Egalitarian or an Theist, Agnostic or a Atheist.

      Need to calibrate to your transmission frequency and wavelength for better reception.

      You can select whatever frequency you cant to broadcast, but it will be useful for better optimization for the signal reception.

    • 0
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      JimSoftly – You say that I “talk like a frog in the well”. Why?

  • 4
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    What is westernuization ? Is it aligning with the market economy, European and Christian value system ?

    Every one is brought under a certain value system.

    You first need to understand the importance of human insecurity and value of it.

  • 8
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    Always looking from the racist point of view.

    Only racists have an ethnic problem. All those who have an ethnic problem should go to a mental doctor and get treatment.

    Ethnic problem is only in the heads of the infected.

    • 1
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      Quite Riqht Fathima as your case proves once infected you also loose the capacity to inspect your own head. This is a preventive measure that is there to ensure the nasty suprise of you discovering that your head is filled with municipal waste.

  • 2
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    Dear Izeth Hussain,

    Thank you. You say:

    “It is a curious fact that the term “racism” has come into vogue in Sri Lanka in recent years, and it looks like it is in the process of replacing the earlier ubiquitous “communalism”. But what is meant by “racism” is not properly understood, certainly not in the way that it is very widely understood in the West. It seems to me important to bring about a proper understanding of what is meant by “racism” because the paradigm of racism can enable us to handle our ethnic problems much more effectively than in the past, benefiting greatly from the vast experience gathered in the West in countering racism. The way we have handled our ethnic problems up to now has been – to put it in one precise eloquent word – idiotic.”

    1. Thank you for a revealing look at Sri Lanka’s Communalism, Chauvinism and Racism. While is is very true, this is the Core Problem in Sri Lanka that prevents a national identity, it should be mentioned that each community has the community to varying degrees.

    However, what differentiates Sri Lanka is Monk Mahanama Sinhala “Buddhist” Racism, as written in the Mahawansa. In fact, there is ample data to describe Sri Lanka’s problems in one sentence, just one Sentence.

    2. The core problem and curse of Sri Lanka in preventing a national identity and forming an egalitarian, goes back to 5th Century AD writings and imaginations of Racist Sinhala “Buddhist” Monk Mahanama, who wrote his imaginations of what Sinhala Buddhism, Sinhala, and the blessing of the Island to be Mahanama ” Buddhist ” Island, called Dhamma Deepaya.

    Many people recognize, in order to solve a problem, and come up up with a solution the core problems need to be identified. Unfortunately, the Sinhala “Buddhist” socialists and egalitarians have sold out their soul and principles, in order to lick the asses of the Sinhala Mahanama Buddhist Racists. Read the History of LSSP, Lanka Sama Samaji Party, Lanka Equal Society Party, or or Lanka Egalitarian Party.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanka_Sama_Samaja_Party

    3. We all know what the core problem is. Monk Mahanama Sinhala “Buddhist” Racism that is imbibed from a young age to Sinhala Buddhist Children.

    This is what the True Natives, Native Veddas have to say about the Para- Sinhala and other Paras-, the Paradeshis or foreigners.

    4. All the above descriptions support the Sinhala and Tamil as Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamil, like Para-deshi, Foreigners, as far a the Native Veddah are concerned, who walked at least 16,000 years ago when Lanka and India were connected by a land bridge as the sea levels were low. So, the Sinhala and Tamil Nationalism need to be identified as, Racism, Para-Sinhala Nationalism and Para-Tamil Nationalism. Monk Mahanama imaginations of Mahawansa need to be exposed and discarded.

    Why? Non- Confirmation bias of Mahawansa

    Did Dr. Para-nawithana, the noted Sri Lankan Archaeologist. believe, the Imaginations of monk Mahanama of 5th Century such as:

    a) Grandfather of Para-Vijaya was a lion? Any DNA data in support of this imagination?

    b) Buddha visited Lanka three-times in 500 BC? any support for the Imagination.

    c) During one visit, Buddha left his giant footprint on top of Mount Samanala Kanda, “Adams Peak”. Did he fly by the Dandu Monera Yanthraya, Giant Bird, and parachute?

    d) The Veddah are the offspring of Para-Vijaya and Kuveni.

    Is there any DNA data to support this? No. Another Monk Mahanama Imagination. Sri Lanka’s indigenous inhabitants, the Veddas — or Wanniya-laeto (‘forest-dwellers’) as they call themselves — preserve a direct line of descent from the island’s original Neolithic community dating from at least 16,000 BC and probably far earlier according to current scientific opinion.1 Even today, the surviving Wanniya-laeto community retains much of its own distinctive cyclic worldview, prehistoric cultural memory, and time-tested knowledge of their semi-evergreen dry monsoon forest habitat that has enabled their ancestor-revering culture to meet the diverse challenges to their collective identity and survival. With the impending extinction of Wanniya-laeto culture, however, Sri Lanka and the world stand to lose a rich body of indigenous lore and living ecological wisdom that is urgently needed for the sustainable future of the rest of mankind. Historically, for the past twenty-five centuries or more Sri Lanka’s indigenous community has been buffeted by successive waves of immigration and colonization that began with the arrival of the Sinhalese from North India in the 5th century BC. Consequently, the Wanniyalaeto have repeatedly been forced to choose between two alternative survival strategies: either to be assimilated into other cultures or to retreat ever further into a shrinking forest habitat.

    Who are the natives of Lanka? Native Vedda. The walked. They are not Para- and not Paradeshi, Kallathoni, Illegal Boat People or Hora-Oru, like the Para-Sinhala, Para-Demala and other Paras.

    Read: http://vedda.org/deraniyagala.htm

    • 3
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      I doubt the Sinhala race was ever so damned stupid in the past. But I do think they became a bit stupid when the British pitted one against the other and have been watching the fun these past decades.

      They told the Sinhalese that they were of an Aryan strain, and told the Tamils that they were of ancient classical purity. Tamils then got the taste for provocation and started taunting Sinhalese with their racial purity. This inflamed Sinhala sensibilities that even Jayawardena started sulking and brooding about the lack of racial purity of the Sinhala race, and went digging into his family background to ‘prove’ Sinhala purity.

      Furthermore, the Naykes who came down from Tamil Nadu, brought in their caste system, became Sinhalese overnight, and then pitted Sinhalese against Sinhalese.

      Time to lay down all this madness!!!

  • 1
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    Dear Izeth Hussain,

    Thank you. You say:

    “In Sri Lanka the four great world religions are flourishing, which by definition as world religions transcend tribalism and racism.”

    Correction:

    Except Monk Mahanama Sinhala “Buddhism”. It is a Racist “Religion” found only in Sri Lanka.

    Yes, the Great Religions, the scriptures, belief systems, except Judaism is not racist. ( Hinduism is another story-but it is racism, the caste system)

    Sinhala Monk Mahanama “Buddhism” is not Buddhism. It is simply Racism misusing the good name of the enlightened Buddhas teachings. The Nazis dis that to Christianity. The South Africans and Western Colonial Imperialists did that.

    Even though Christians practiced racism and slavery, racism is not there in the Testament. That cannot be said of the Old Testament.

    In Islam three is no racism in the scriptures.

    So, please DO NOT include Monk Mahanama Sinhala “Buddhism”, as a great religion. It is perverted Buddhism to legitimize racism.

    Have you ever wondered WHY, in Sri Lanka, the Land of the Native Vedda, despite 2,300 years of interaction between Sinhala and Tamils ( Both groups originated from South India), there are hardly any Tamil Buddhists, whereas, in India, every sate has a few percent Buddhists, yes non-monk Mahanama Buddhists.

    By the way, Buddhaghosa, was Buddhist monk 4th or 5th Century from Tamil Nadu and another state, who spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka at Mahavihara, BEFORE monk Mahanama.

  • 2
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    RAT sounds a very good thing for Sri Lanka. However, Westernization is not the answer. For example, in England all races have to speak English. Same in the US. US has affirmative action, and so minorities get more than their percentages in all avenues e.g. employment, education. Therefore, Tamils should get 20% of all the action, rather than the true 12-15%. Trouble is, they want 33%-50%, and more!

    • 1
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      Ramona Fernando – I had two things in mind when I spoke of Westernization in my article. Since my focus was on racism, I had very much in mind all the action being taken in the West to counter racism.No doubt this is the consequence of the Nazi holocaust against the Jews which has made Westerners aware how terribly destructive and self-destructive racism can be. There is no such understanding in Sri Lanka. We have still to understand that at the core of our ethnic imbroglio is the essentialising and stereotyping habit of mind that is at the core of racism: one side believes that the Mahawamsa mindset will never change, while the other believes that the drive for Eelam will never change.
      The other thing that I had in mind is Western universalism, shown in the drive to treat people as equals irrespective of their ethnic and other identities. That is embodied in the universalist ideology of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, but it goes back to the secular universalist tradition started by the Roman Empire. In Sri Lanka the four great world religions have been tribalist in their application. It may be that we can reach out to universalism only through Westernisation. I hope to expand on this idea in further articles. Izeth

      • 0
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        Sir,
        Problems in Sri Lanka can never be compared to the Nazi Holocaust. Such a thing has never happened in Sri Lanka from the Mahavamsa point of view. True there are some Sinhala Buddhists who dabble with it a bit (e.g. old ladies who indulge in putting down their personal enemies who have the brass to act superior to them). But in the larger Sinhala society, the egalitarianism of Buddha’s word brings back human sensibilities. For indeed, throughout the ages of human migration and assimilation, have Sinhalese Buddhists accepted into their Sinhala-Buddhist fold Tamils, Europeans, Muslims, Chinese, Africans, and Dalits-castes. Sinhalese generally accept and are proud of their vibrant and varied genes. One can’t say that of the Tamils, unfortunately.

        We hardly need Western Universalism with the Buddha concept in our midst. In fact it was the Europeans, in spite of the Western Universalism concepts of the 18th century enlightenment, who brought in Nazi concepts into Sri Lanka! One look at the Mahavamsa, and the Europeans saw a tiny verse which sounded a bit Nazi. One look at the Eelam textbook on the other hand, and Nazism found its fulfillment. Indeed, they copied and inverted that Swastika symbol from Hindu Texts.

  • 0
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    The Goops they lick their fingers,
    And the Goops they lick their knives;
    They spill their broth on the tablecloth–
    Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
    The Goops they talk while eating,
    And loud and fast they chew;
    And that is why I’m glad that I
    Am not a Goop–are you?

    This was a poem I read in the readers digest when I was a child. It essentially portrays a superiority complex of one over the others. I have heard such comments made time and time again in an ethnic and religous context by perfectly ordinary decent people. Yet we seem to think we are justified in feeling superior and looking down on others. It stems primarily the misplaced ego in people which overcomes humility and egalitarianism.

    I dare say that true religon suppresses the ego and encourages eagalitarianism. Western thought sometimes encourages feeling superior over others. The west very often feels that it has to impose its culture and values on others. One has to decide what is good or bad for ones self. The west has what is good as well as the bad. So called religon has the bad as well as the good.

  • 4
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    Amarasiri

    I grew up as a Sinhala buddhist AND was not indoctrinated in what you call “Monk Mahanama Sinhala “Buddhist” Racism”. When you make such generalized statements, you are “stereotyping”, as Izeth states.

    I studied buddhism for 10 years in school, and was never taught that Sri Lanka only “belonged” to Sinhala Buddhsits. In fact our government issued buddhsit text books had 1 chapter each on christianity, islam and hinduism. I had friends who believed in each of these religions and we got along well. Most of my best friends happened to be Muslims, Christians or Hindus.

    While we were aware of the Mahawansa, we were not indoctrinated using that ancient text – nor were (or are) we stupid enough to think that the content of that document is 100% factual (just like I don’t believe the Bible of the Qur’an are 100% factual).

    There is plenty of evidence that show Sri Lanka has been a multi-ethnic island for several thousand years. Jainas, hindus and buddhists have long histories in SL, and muslims have probably at least a good 800-1000 years. Christians obviously have by now at least 500 years of existence in SL.

    The fact that all these groups of people have been living in the island for over 500 years, is evidence that the majority buddhists are NOT intolerant racists as some commentators are trying to portray.

    Sri Lanka is an island in the middle of the most ancient sea route in the world; thus it’s only natural that it is multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Let’s work to keep it that way.

    As Izeth says, in order to co-exist without segregation, we need to educate people from all groups on the dangers of ethno/religio-centric stereotyping.

    What’s the best way to do that? He suggests a “western model”/ i am not sure whether it has worked that well int he West it self (think of Switzerland where you cannot build minarets for a mosque, or France where women cannot wear the veil in public).

    So looking to the West for answers might not prove very useful. The one country in the West that I think has been somewhat successful at addressing racism is the US. There I think the main reason has been the importance placed on the INDIVIDUAL and the corresponding de-emphasis on communalism. There is you have merit, it does not matter who you are, you can still become a success. Such cannot be said about SL or most of the countries in Europe. The flip side of such a meritocracy is of course the “homogenization” of ethnic and cultural differences. This includes the loss of language diversity. just think, despite the hispanic population being close to 30% in California (or about 15% nationally), spanish is not a major language in America, and no one can be successful in the US if they are monolingual in Spanish.

    So are Sri Lankans ready to abandon their native languages in order to unite under one flag and identify themselves as “Sri Lankans”, instead of as sinhalese, tamil, burgher, muslim etc.?

    What has happened in India to ethnicity after colonialism? Most middle and upper-middle class Indians are bilingual in English and another language and use English as their primary language at work. Most of my Indian Tamil friends, don’t speak or write Tamil that well – English is their primary language. So in a multi-ethnic region such as south asia, the best answer to ethnic conflict might be to co-opt the English language as a unifier. Is it practical in SL? i am not sure, given that the quality of written and spoken English in Sri Lanka is much inferior to that of India, due to the dearth of qualified English teachers.

    How can we unite?

    • 4
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      Thanks. A very rational and sensible comment. The questions to be asked are: who will bell the predatory cats that have caused the mess we are in? How can we marginalise them in politics and other aspects of life? How can we bring reason and rationality to the fore in our national discourse? How can we treat our citizens as citizens and not as Veddahs, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc, ?

      Dr a Rajasingham Narendran,

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        The present Gosl is belling the cat this very minute, but forces of outside interference can make it difficult.

    • 1
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      Dear a sinhala buddist,

      Than you for your comment. Yes, it is incorrect to paint Sinhala Buddhists who follow the enlightened Buddhas teachings with the wide brush of the racists. However, one needs to call a spade, a Sinhala Buddhist Racist Monk Mahanma , a spade, a racist.

      Contrary to your opinion s, are a quite a few Sinhala Buddhist Monk Mahanama Racists in Sri lanka, The current SL State is infested with Monk Mahanma Buddist and their Supporters.

      Who taught all these so-called Sinhala “buddists”? Daham Pasela?

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/fireworks-in-cabinet-mahinda-asks-hakeem-to-decide-on-his-future-with-the-govt/

      It is reported that President Mahinda Rajapaksa lashed out at Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauf Hakeem at the recent Cabinet meeting demanding that he and his party decides whether they would wish to remain within the government. The President’s wrath has been incurred by what is widely speculated to be a document that was given by some SLMC members to UN Human Rights Council chief Navi Pillay during her visit to Sri Lanka in August 2013. The document cited hundreds of attacks on Muslim and Christian places of worship. Navi Pillay’s recent report at the UNHRC had cited the SLMC document as evidence of the Rajapaksa’s regimes anti minority activities.

      It is well known that the anti Muslim and anti Christian campaigns launched by groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena and Ravana Balakaya have been getting the approval and patronage of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the ruling regime. The leading Sinhala nationalists within the government, Ministers Patali Champika Ranawaka and Wimal Weerawansa had raised questions about the SLMC document at the Cabinet meeting. President Rajapaksa, who align with these elements within his Cabinet rather than with how own more moderate party, the Sri Lankan Freedom Party, have lambasted the SLMC and its leader Hakeem.

      A visibly angry President Rajapaksa had asked Minister Hakeem about the document given to Pillay. Minister Hakeem had told the President that in as much as the President did not have control over some of the UPFA members he too had no control over some of SLMC members. He had told the President that it was not him but the SLMC Secretary who had given the document to Ms. Pillay. It was at this point that President Rajapaksa had asked Minister Hakeem to decide whether he wished to continue as a minister in the UPFA Government.

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      Sinhala buddhist:

      Buddhists can not be indoctrinated. Because, in Kalama suthra, THE ALMIGHTY the LORD BUDDHA says don’t accept any thing for what ever reason it states, Investigate every thing you learn; Accept those ONLY if you can understand into your common sense that those things are true and acceptable.

      Buddhists have to investigate even Buddha – dhamma before they accept it.

      Remember that.

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        Jim Softy,

        “investigate every thing you learn; Accept those ONLY if you can understand into your common sense that those things are true and acceptable.”

        Can you investigate the Monk Mahanam Mahawansa writing for its truth.

        One German scholar called the Mahawansa a tissue of Absurdities.

        The Sinhala Buddhist racism an, nationalism and Chauvinism is based on tissue of absurdities, according to Buddhas teachings.

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      A Sinhala Buddhist – thank you very much for your enlightening comments. I wonder in which years you were at school. I believe that at one time text books showed prejudice to a serious extent. Regi Siriwardene and others campaigned against that. Sometime in the early ‘ninetees I asked Regi what the impact was. He was not sure but he thought that the campaign had been a failure. However indoctrination at school is of vital importance.
      May be we should have a campaign against the nonsense about the Mahawamsa mindset.
      Re Westernisation. please see my reply to Ramona Fernando. I believe that instead of learning each other’s languages, we should learn our own language plus English.It will facilitate universalism, the absolute requisite for transcending ethnic particularism.

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    Nonsense
    “The example of Islam in Sri Lanka is very striking. I believe that of all the great world religions Islam is the most universalist, with a deep in-built abhorrence of tribalism and racism”

    That religion teches followers like that, right or wrong obey and believe
    see below & get better understanding

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=854_1377509866

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      Bebbon,

      “That religion teches followers like that, right or wrong obey and believe see below & get better understanding
      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=854_1377509866

      Religion is the Opium of the masses- Karl Marx.

      1. This is done by the Wahhabis and Salafis in Syria in order to topple the Secular Syrian Dictatorship, and replace it with a Wahhabi Dictatorship, where only Wahhabism is allowed. These radical groups were funded and armed by armed by:

      1. Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, who sent 8,000 Saudi Wahhabis to kill in Syria

      2. By the Wahhabi Gulf States and other Wahhabi Devil Synthesizers.

      3. By the Wahhabi loving West, especially Britain and France.

      They wanted, USA to Bomb Syria. Obama was wiser. Putin was much more wiser. He threatened to Bomb Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.

      The Christians, the Shia Muslims and the Sunni Muslims, are all right with a Secular State. All they want is a democratic secular state.

      The Wahhabi want a Wahhabi Dictatorship of the Devil, Satan, because the Wahhabi follow the Satan the Devil, and want a Devil Dictatorship, where there is room and tolerance only for the Devil Worshiping Wahhabi Followers.

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    Muslims themselves accept how controlling Islam is. They explain how wrong Muslims practice Islam. what muslims practice is not what their Prophet Mohammed said. what muslims practice is completely different from what Mohammed said. The practice is completely a FRAUD.

    Both the Christianity and Original ISlAM has Buddhist Influence. But, what muslims practice is something completely different.

    In this case, Hussein is confused about Tribalism, Religious Fanaticism, patriotism and all kinds of extremisms.

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    [Edited out]

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    ela kolla

    Thanks for making your presence known. Keep up the good work.
    Your eloquence is unparalleled.

    Kutti

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    There is more than ample evidence in these pages Izzeth Hussain, who is said to be a former diplomat and who calls himself an intellectual is more than subtle in his anti-Tamil preachings. Here he recklessly and mischievously writes “while the other believes that the drive for Eelam will never change” Hussain, we note is fairly well informed of matters and is given into adequate reading. He knows all too well, the TNA, representing the majority of the Tamil Nation in the country has declared – both in and out of Parliament, Tamils in the country today
    are ready to work towards a solution within an undivided country.
    Why does this Hussain continue to preach hatred and racial division whereas it is the duty of the educated and the responsible by the country to work towards peace, unity and reconciliation?

    Nettabomman

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    I have just seen Nettobomman’s comment.It is a further example of a propensity or compulsion to misinterpret what I write. I wrote “while the other believes that the drive for Eelam will never change”. That is a sober statement of fact It is a fact that there are Sinhalese racists who believe that. How on earth does my referring to that fact mean that I “preach hatred and racial division”? Nettobomman is showing the extreme irrationality that goes with racism. I charge that he is so full of anti-Muslim hatred that his reasoning faculty disappears when he reads me.

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      Even those gullible Marines are unlikely to swallow our friend Izzeth Hussain’s drivel – trotted out as defence here. My point is made. Once again, the confused man leans towards the Muslim community, of whom I made no mention at all, to offer him support. Watch out, ole chap, you are rapidly sinking into the negatives of senility.

      Nettabomman

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