By Michael Roberts –
The recent outbursts of abuse and riotous act on the cricket grounds at Pallekele and Rangiri when our cricketers were defeated after some poor cricket are significant in the wider scheme of local culture and ethics. Such reactions reveal the reverberations that can be generated by a small body of extremists. It is ironic that some of these very same extremists, some among these abusive fans, would have been among those who indulged in effusive cheering an adulation of the cricket team when they triumphed.
That is a speculation on my part but a reasonable conjecture. As conjecture it is aimed at reflection. When the same individual can swing from one extreme to the other, what does it say. That phenomenon reveals an extremist par excellence, a dangerous bloke who swings from one pole to the opposite pole … one who cannot rest in the region of moderation in evaluation or action.
Speculatively, then, I ask: how do such personnel behave in the field of politics? Are they among the thugs who are spurred into action by political demagogues? Are they the spearheads of violence directed at an Ethnic Other for assumed slights or offences real or imagined? Are they the sort of personnel who buy into spurious rumours and take up cudgels by assailing and burning the supposed menace within their midst?
Were these the type of people, in this instance Sinhalese people, who attacked Tamils during the 1983 July pogrom? Were these among the Muslims and Sinhalese who assailed each other during the Aluthgama riots?
I note here that the violent voice and act around the cricket field was mostly male, though a sprinkling of female fans may have been part of the initial ‘voice’. However, in the wider arena of political stirring and rumour that sparks ethnic violence and pogrom, incendiary emotional female voices are often an integral element in the initial sparks. In the instance of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 after Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the photographic evidence indicates that the anguish of women waiting outside Teen Murti hospital was among the factors promoting violent vengeance. (In 1995 I met a couple of the Indian cameramen who documented the riots).
- Michael Roberts, “Anguish as Empowerment: …. and a Path to Retribution,” 22 March 2017, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/?p=24595&preview=true
- Michael Roberts, 1994b “Mentalities, ideologues, assailants, historians and the pogrom against the Moors in 1915,” in Roberts, Exploring confrontation. Sri Lanka: politics, culture and history, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers, pp.149-81… reprinted as “Marakkala kolahalaya…, in Roberts, Confrontations,
- Michael Roberts, 1994c “The agony and ecstasy of a pogrom: southern Lanka, July 1983,” in Roberts, Exploring confrontation. Sri Lanka: politics, culture and history, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers, pp. 317-25. …. Reprinted in Nethra, 2003 vol. 6: 199-213
- Indrajit Coomaraswamy:“Unruly Crowds as Slur …,” 29 August 2017, https://cricketique.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/unruly-cricket-crowds-a-slur-on-our-country-indrajit-coomaraswamy/#more-9887
- Michael Roberts:”Kill Any Sikh …,” 26 March 2017 , https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/kill-any-sikh-the-anti-sikh-pogrom-of-1984-in-delhi-in-bhawan-singhs-images/