By Emil van der Poorten –
The admonition that is the title of this column is an unashamed parody of that warning people against “Greeks bearing gifts.”
It comes to mind in a Sri Lankan context for a not dissimilar reason: a relatively recent trend for those supporting the most violent and corrupt government in Sri Lanka’s post-1948 history who, after giving a new and expanded meaning to the word “apologist,” choosing to leave the sinking ship of state. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to divine the fact that this shift of allegiance is driven by their undeniable skills in recognizing looming disaster brought upon them by the behavior of those whom they have spent an inordinate, though well compensated, amount of time covering up for up to now.
Of course, the apologists, to cover their posteriors as they retreat, keep up the chant of “They did it first!” against those they so assiduously attacked while playing commentating pit bulls to their masters. This was their battle cry and shield every time those they defended until recently were caught with their hand in the metaphorical cookie jar (or worse, much worse). The “disengagement” from those they lionized till just the other day is attempted with a degree of sophistication. Far be it for them to perform a simple volte face, a mea culpa. Rather than simply jump ship, losing the veneer of respectability they have cultivated over the years, they have devised a simple rearguard strategy. After all, their conduct could well still be fresh in the memory banks of even Sri Lankans, a nation notorious for loss of short-term political memory! It also presents an opportunity for those with word-smithing skills to affect a measured and orderly retreat and many of these literary, previously-sea-faring, rodents have the ability to do this.
The fact that the western democracies have a bottomless well of hypocrisy for our pundits to dip into has served as a source of never-ending joy to our “pothay-guras.” They continue to lay the smokescreen of “they did it first” whenever they are cornered into a defence of their previous cover-ups for a government that looked after their every need.
As for those with comprehension skills barely able to cope with a comic book’s compass of politics and who were previously dependant on the tutelage of the now ship-abandoning intellectuals, all they have to do is go to Google, type in something simple on the subject line and hit the “return” key. Hey presto! Up jumps a list that includes the like of Leopold II of Belgium, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Jean Bedel Bokassa etc., all of whom can be pointed at as having “done it first,” whatever the contravention of human rights or act of bestiality, or even cannibalism! So, even if they don’t have tutors as easily available as before, they have other resources to reach for in their efforts to threaten and abuse critics of a government that looks after their needs on a daily basis!
While the loss of the more formally-educated who have hitherto provided leadership to the semi-literate pit bulls writing under a range of pseudonyms is bound to be felt by their charges, those street-corner thugs of the “blog-world” will continue apace with their ranting abuse for reasons that I have already indicated.
When the services of the sophisticated apologists were available to those spouting vulgarities and stupidities parading as comment on internet websites, such contributions were phrased so that they projected explosions of frustration against the victimization of pious “Sinhala Buddhists.” Appearances were obviously totally deceptive in these instances because all of these were simply orchestrated by figures further up the feeding chain.
In any event, the behaviour of people of “European complexion” provides all kinds of bounty in the matter of violence, death and dismemberment. There have been, thanks to the freedom of expression prevailing in Europe and the New World, many graphically descriptive and substantiated stories of violence perpetrated by “white folks” that, literally, turn one’s stomach.
Our propagandists, the front-line commentators on websites particularly, have taken unto themselves the task of using such information to tar every “other” with the same brush. For instance, Hitler’s definition of racial “purity” encompassed fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. The fact that this constituted the classic Nordic person has been utilized to suggest, subtly and otherwise, that the Norwegians were a bunch of pro-LTTE Nazis. When the mad racist Anders Behring Breivik killing 69 people in a bombing and shooting spree, expressed admiration for the behavior of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, it presented a heaven-sent opportunity for several in the government ranks to connect Norwegians with the Tamil Tigers, claiming that Norway sought to propagate something similar in Sri Lanka to that which Breivik sought in Norway! Since Biblical times, the fate of peacemakers has not been one coveted knowingly by anyone with any knowledge of history. The pillorying of the Norwegians and several of the other “Western states” in their efforts as peacemakers in Sri Lanka owes its origin to this fact.
To identify the sophisticated practitioners of this art by name would not be fair by any whose identity might escape me at this time. Also, the list appears to be growing so quickly that I would probably omit some deserving individual by the time this piece is published! However, suffice it to say that their recent “conversion” from lying, fabricating mouthpieces for the government to mealy-mouthed moralists and wanna-be epitomes of sweetness and light are hardly convincing to those who vividly remember their conduct years, months and even mere weeks ago.
Perhaps, something to keep in mind, again, in our present troubled time is that saying that goes, “Fooled me once, shame on you. Fooled me twice, shame on ME!” In any event, “Beware of the pandankarayas who suddenly ‘see the light!’”