20 May, 2022

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Insulting America – The Case Of Basil

By Asoka Seneviratne – 

Asoka Seneviratne

Day in and day out, we see reports of people referring to Basil Rajapaksa as the American who is part and parcel of messing up Sri Lanka. Ridiculing Basil on social and main stream media as the American who can’t speak English, or even Sinhalese is common place. Political opponents often refer to Basil as the American crook or even American agent. Infamous “Kaputas” comments have become the ultimate political joke and personally I believe rightly so too. It is obvious that Basil’s mastery of English language is shameful, especially for a man who lived in English speaking USA for decades.

I have been the beneficiary of living in America for several decades. Despite being a senior building Engineer in Sri Lanka, upon arrival to America, I had to start my career from ground zero. My qualifications and experience in Sri Lanka and overseas was not recognized as I would have liked. However America gave me the gift and opportunity to rise along ranks very quickly to get well into the middle class within a matter of a decade.

Hard work, commitment, integrity, competency coupled with the great American corporate culture gave me that opportunity. While America is in no way free of racial or ethnic biases, I was rewarded for my hard work and abilities. This is the gift of America for which millions try to flock to America even risking their lives. Despite serious inequalities of income and wealth that has sprung up within the past two decades, America remains to be that shining house on the hills.

America’s hallmark is being the longest running Democracy of its kind in the world with its limitless freedoms and opportunities. Large homes, large cars, luxury living and large opportunities are for the taking or those who are willing to work hard. That is the gift of America. Indeed and often, America has come under fierce criticism for its role in military involvements across the world. Even everyday Americans and hundreds of American leaders acknowledge that fact. Those who violate rules of engagement in war are readily exposed punished. In the poorer world America is often criticized and looked upon as a powerful bully rather than a great policeman or democracy.

While acknowledging serious mistakes have been made in other nations while in battle that are readily exposed in the free media (with absolutely no repercussions from the government) and even a large swath of everyday Americans. I like to ask the critics this simple question.

What will the world be like without America and its mighty economy and military? Will the two major non democratic dictatorship nations like Russia and China walk into other nations with impunity? Will the United Nations to whom America contributes 22% of its budget succumb to the lack of funding? Will the IMF exist with its $120 B funding by America?

Will NATO exist with its massive $ 6.85 Trillion (to-date) spending by America while the 2nd contributor Britain has spent just $ 655 Billion? On a lighter vein, perhaps even will the world have Internet, smart phones, and life changing drugs and medical procedures, deep space exploration and many more cutting edge technologies? Yes Russia and China has challenged it of late but America always led the world with its immense contributions to mankind’s progress. I also need to add that it is common knowledge that both China and China frequently steal America’s intellectual property.

By no means, I do not portray America as a perfect nation or even close to it. Far from it. But it continually moves the needle to the RIGHT! Just a mere 43 years after voting rights for African Americans, a black President was elected. And a large number of first or second generation Asian and African immigrants hold top posts in the federal government. America is work in progress, not regress.

So now coming back to Basil, relating him America is a cheap political shot. The crocked and bankrupt politicians know that to millions of Lankans, the mere word “America” portrays bad. This is sad. Americans have no idea who the heck is Basil. He is just one of many millions of immigrants who flocked to this great land. If he failed to gain proper employment or speak English, it is Basil’s fault. He was a failed immigrant that had the great fortune to be born to a powerful political family that is now fast falling out of grace.

He is one hell of a lucky American!!

I expect quite a push back from Colombo Telegraph readers on the contents of article. In the spirit of that great democratic virtue, Freedom of Speech, I welcome them!

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Latest comments

  • 32
    0

    “….He was a failed immigrant….”
    No arguments about that!!
    He has terribly failed his birth place too….

    • 7
      0

      Jit,
      .
      My response to your comment here is coming.
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/go-gota-go/
      .
      It’s good that expats take an interest in the home country – unlike my youngest sister in North Carolina. She has a daughter (I’ve met her on two of her visits here) who’s a really nice American. Her PhD husband is into computer software, same as you. Her mother-in-law still lives in Sri Lanka, but was Austrian. All rich. Migrants lose all roots, at least the next generation.
      .
      However, what Basil has been doing has been to transfer Lankan money to the US. Doesn’t the fellow drape the “kurakkan coloured” satakaya? What hypocrisy!
      .
      That these fellows deserve a horrible death is correct, but let us not prioritise that using empty rhetoric. When that doesn’t happen, the kurakkan-growing villager loses faith in ALL politicians.
      .
      Then what happens to OUR society?

      • 8
        2

        Asoka,
        “Just a mere 43 years after voting rights for African Americans, a black President was elected”
        “What will the world be like without America and its mighty economy and military? Will the two major non democratic dictatorship nations like Russia and China….”
        Perhaps we should rephrase the question. Would blacks have been given the vote if Russia didn’t exist at the time?
        The US in the 50’s was just as bad as South Africa . Much of the credit for progress must go to uncomplimentary Soviet propaganda.
        Be that as it may, certainly the US is a good place for immigrants. Even Basil prefers to keep his dual citizenship. But his grandchildren won’t be followers of the feudal culture of their elders.
        The likes of Weerawansa are more responsible than Basil for the mess this country is in, and it is hilarious to see them together with that slimy opportunist Maitnri, presenting a “plan” to save the economy. Just the fact that they chose to present it to a set of ignorant Mahanayakas shows their mindset.

  • 18
    0

    Dear Asoka
    I agree with your assessment of America as a nation. It’s a land full of opportunities.
    Yes, with all its pitfalls, America is better than both Russia and China in many aspects. The world would be a different/worst place if Russia or China were to dominate
    As for Basil what one can say, it’s the electorate and the racist elements in the society who keep these inept, uncouth, and corrupt politicos in power. Finance minister it’s a joke along with CB governor Cabraal. Not just the R’s but all the rest put together (can’t blame the Rajapaksa’s for electing themselves)
    Nowhere on the planet would this be acceptable or be tolerated
    If there were to be an election tomorrow, I would put my bottom dollar that the current outfit will be back in power with the magic racist card
    What democracy in Sri Lanka? It stinks my friend

  • 19
    0

    Asoka Seneviratne, Thank You so much for telling the facts. I too like many benefited living in the U.S for decades. For people who are stereotypical or eternally anti US /West,this may not matter. But I personally understood the real meaning of democracy, freedom to speak/write/express, practice own religion/culture is when I lived there, because until then I believed in the SHAM,what was told and taught in schools, in Lanka. If anyone reads Prof Asoka’s article will realize it’s we who had discrimination, hatred and division the led to 30 years of arms struggle and now dysfunctional, failed and bankrupt.

  • 12
    0

    The title of this essay could also be Insulting Srilanka – The case of Basil.
    A very candid write-up by the essayist.
    Surely,one must have some basic credentials to be A Minister of Finance.!
    An ex.Colonel is the Head of State and his seventh standard educated sibling is the Minister of Finance.
    Srilankans living overseas must be blushing when their friends refer to these credentials.
    But then what to do………..
    Srilanka is indeed A Land Like No other.
    This could be another reason why a large number of Tourists come over here……………….
    Seeing is believing…………..

  • 12
    0

    Srilanka never started off since independence , the leaders we were offered to
    look up for leadership , didn’t distribute it ! All they did was ” ignoring ” that
    they have a country to live in ! What we are facing today is the Consequence of
    that hard work ! In the case of Basil and Gota , they must be honest to themselves
    as to why they Chose the U S for settlement and why end up back in a ” Slum “
    (sorry for the word) like this at the end ! Let us forget about their ability to learn
    a foreign language , but how come the mother tongue ? And above all , how
    men like Vasu , G L P , Dinesh and Sabry believe they can work with people who
    don’t believe in any skill to lead people , let alone their own lives ! Simply because
    you can get some votes by any means , can you just come in and run a show like
    this ? Is it a job that any mother’s son can do if gifted ? One must ask MARA to
    spell it out why he wanted ” Unskilled ” men on country’s Top positions ? How are
    they expressing themselves with sharp foreign dignitaries ? Has Srilanka not
    become a laughing stock on International platforms ?

  • 9
    9

    Ordinary people escaping rank injustice and bias in often racist or unfair societies of the third world, entering the glittering and glamourous cities of the US with its huge monuments, bustling streets, food aplenty, large, cheap cars and dirt cheap fuel and utterly free society with all sorts of “weirdos” one bumps into, stand in awe of what America is. Yet, any student of the social sciences will confirm that much of the world’s ills, including maintaining poor nations in poverty, keeping the gap between rich and poor wide enough, obliterating any nation that dares to be independent (but having useful natural resources) are all part of the evil that the US and its crony allies exemplify. While Russia and China have far less influence in how the planet revolves, ascendant China seems to have a far different take on what to do with the rest of the world. In that regard, it is good that the US hegemony is challenged by other power blocs that will help maintain the balance and some day break free from dependence on the artificial value of the US dollar.

    • 11
      2

      Lasantha – I am confused.

      If the West headed by America has been suppressing those in poorer countries, how come Asian giants like China, Singapore, Malaysia , Thailand, S. Korea become economically strong nations ?

      Could it not be that at some point these nations were led by smart and educated leaders while SL was not.

      Americans are not any more smarter than Lankans, but the founding fathers made a nice blueprint in its constitution that promoted economic growth through a time tested democracy. And the smart leaders that followed built on it. A ton of sweat, blood and hard work went into building a super power within 200 years out of just bare land.

      Lankans have nobody to blame but the unwise and corrupt leaders for its plight!

      Like I mentioned in my article, world has no shortage of people who prefer to look outwards and blame others rather than look inwards and see the culprits who blundered right in our back yard! We called them leaders !

      • 8
        1

        Asoka, though this may sound too simple it’s my observation. People who claim to have been wronged by the US including Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran , Palestine are still migrating in large numbers to the US, when provided with opportunity. I wonder why ???

        • 8
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          The American dream is still there for the hard working to make it real. What we have in Lanka is nightmares.

    • 9
      1

      Lasantha it’s not just ordinary people from often racist or unfair societies from third world go to the US. People from all over the world go to the US to fulfill their dreams , ambitions, education, advance careers, provide the best for their childten, opportunity to compete in fair and free equal footing and for many other reasons. A stereotypical comment which is unlikely of you.

    • 4
      1

      …..”help maintain the balance and some day break free from dependence on the artificial value of the US dollar “…..
      See :
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5onB09SS1dE
      Its coming. Very soon Saudi will sell oil to China in Yuan/Renminbi and break away from the US$. Chavez and Saddam tried this and paid wit their lives.

  • 9
    0

    I am of opinion that no country in the world is bad, but it is the PEOPLE who make that country “Good”, “Bad” and “Ugly”. The “People” I refer to include the “Politicians”, “Administrators”, “Intellectuals”, “Professionals”, “Celebrities” etc…etc…

    Now comparing my opinion expressed above, this “Basil”, now referred to by his own colleagues as “Ugly American” (Avalassana Americanuwa) should not be used to assess the whole of the nation called “AMERICAN”. Aren’t there are these types of “Ugly Americans” in all walks of life, spreading from the “Top” to the “Bottom”? Weren’t there “Presidents”, “Governors”, “Mayors”, “Sports Stars” and all other categories of “Celebrities” who got classified into that “Ugly American”? There were and there are and there will be.

    Now, this “Basil”, we all know is “Bad”, “Ugly”, “Rotten” for decades. Did he become “Ugly” after becoming an “American”? NO. Then, WHY did we bring him to our Legislature? Next, knowing him so well “WHO” brought him to his status today? No one else, other than the “PEOPLE” and their “REPRESENTATIVES” who took all the trouble even to AMEND our Constitution to qualify him to be one of our “HEROES”. So why blame “America”? That Nation, America must be cheering us for having brought one of many “UGLY” of their own to manage our finances. Who are the “UGLIEST”?

  • 8
    2

    There is a brutal honesty about America ……… they value money above everything else and don’t hide it.


    There is a pretence in the rest of the world ……… although they too value money above everything else, they pretend that other things are more important than money …….

    To me, that pretence/illusion ……. the make-believe world …….. in some of the other places around the world ……… is more alluring

    To me, America is a soulless place ……. How many big houses, cars, TVs …….. can you ……. live-in, drive, watch?

    Driving/riding through small-town America is a real eye-opener …….

    America is just another place on this earth …….. populated by humans …….. Trump proved my initial childhood suspicion ……….

  • 9
    0

    Mr Seneviratne

    I, too, share your views about the West, & like you, have benefitted living in UK, despite a fairly comfortable life style in my early days in SL. Initially, it was tough for us in UK, particularly, for our small daughter who had to be left with child minders from 7am to 6pm until we returned home. We lived in cheap rented accommodation & my wife had to use public transport but over the years, we built our careers, having to start from scratch, despite both of us being professionals & we now have a comfortable lifestyle that would not have been possible in SL. Therefore, I am wondering how, an apparently uneducated & unskilled man with poor English, a school dropout, was able to live in the US, unless at poverty level. Did he win the green card lottery to get to the US or was he a bogus refugee? SL had all kinds of uneducated yobs in high positions but when such a man is brought back & appointed the Minister of Finance at a crucial time, I can’t imagine how people of SL are putting up to such blatant nepotism.

  • 4
    3

    I was rewarded for my hard work and abilities. This is the gift of America for which millions try to flock to America even risking their lives.
    ————
    The USA favours freemasons and tares (those who come from the bloodline of Cain).
    The migrants who land there and ‘reach the top quickly’ are almost always from this satanic club and/or bloodline

  • 4
    1

    Asoka Seneviratne,

    When you remove your Meta Ray-Ban Stories ……….. you will see the real America. :)) ……… ( Don’t get me wrong I like Meta/FB ……. it made me money …… but I see things for want they are: the corporate-America )

    Who owns the world ……… https://odysee.com/@FreeYourMindAz:d/MonopolyWhoOwnsTheWorld

    Something I wrote many moons ago ………..


    In recent times two gigantic monsters that held/hold people in bondage did emerge; the Soviet “communist” system and the American “corporate” system. Most citizens are small cogs in the well-oiled monsters. Their wellbeing/survival depends on how well they perform their task in propelling the monsters.

    No individual can challenge the monster ………… for foolishly challenging the monster for change, Nikita Khrushchev ended up switching off lights in a factory after the workers have finished. Leonid Brezhnev was no such fool, a cunning fox, who knew exactly what the monster wanted of him.

    No individual cog can challenge, until a cataclysmic event takes place and many of the cogs can “come out” and slay the monster.

    • 5
      1

      continued


      If you travel through small-town USA by road, you will encounter modern-day slavery irrespective of the hue; black, white, brown or striped. How “corporate” America has reduced workers to battery-hens; systematically stripped off everything and given just enough sustenance to come back to work the next day. In the “Land of the Free” where people whose souls have been sucked out, struggling without proper remunerations/benefits for their labour striving to first find economic-freedom to enjoy the distant mirage of other “freedoms.”

      The Chinese have gone one step further and taken it into the next stage ……… Pseudo-Communist-corporate stage (Communism was always nothing but pseudo)

      “Self-interest” propels human-activity ………. the good and the bad………… that’s how man survives among other man-animals ……….

      These are the times we live in ………….

      And daily we complain for some consolation ………. :)) ………….. And there goes my complaint.

    • 4
      1

      “…..Who owns the world ……”

      Nimal, ditch your video!

      These are the people who really OWN the world..

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilderberg_meeting

      Whether you like it or not, they schedule the world order….

      • 3
        0

        “Bilderberg meeting”

        Fascinating! …….. but Vanguard and Black Rock own most of the companies around the word …….. if you look at the share registers of companies you’ll find that.

        The video makes a good point.

      • 3
        0

        “Bilderberg meeting”

        Fascinating! …….. but Vanguard and Black Rock own most of the companies around the world …….. if you look at the share registers of companies you’ll find that.

        The video makes a good point.

  • 2
    1

    The fact that Barack Obama succeeded in occupying the White House is an exception rather than the rule. The US remains White – Christian country to this day.
    The US adopts double standards in its foreign relations. ஐவ has imposed trade sanctions against Cuba because it is a communist country, but it trades with China, a one-party state like Cuba, to make money.

    The US has a long history of invading countries. It has invaded or fought in 84 of the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations and has been militarily involved with 191 of 193 – a staggering 98 percent. Here is a shortlist of countries the US has invaded in recent times.

    1. Grenada (1983-1984)
    2. Bolivia (1986)
    3. Virgin Islands (1989)
    4. Liberia (1990; 1997; 2003)
    5. Saudi Arabia (1990-1991)
    6. Kuwait (1991)
    7. Somalia (1992-1994; 2006)
    8. Bosnia (1993-)
    9. Zaire/Congo (1996-1997)
    10. Albania (1997)
    11. Sudan (1998)
    12. Afghanistan (1998; 2001-)
    13. Yemen (2000; 2002-)
    14. Macedonia (2001)
    15. Colombia (2002-)
    16 Pakistan (2005-)
    17. Syria (2008; 2011-)
    18. Uganda (2011)
    19. Mali (2013)
    20. Niger (2013)
    21. Yugoslavia (1919; 1946; 1992-1994; 1999)
    22. Iraq (1958; 1963; 1990-1991; 1990-2003; 1998; 2003-2011)
    23. Angola (1976-1992)

    Coming down to the invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden described Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and a butcher unbecoming of the high post he holds. But, how will he describe Sr, Bush and Jr. Bush who invaded Iraq and Bill Clinton who waged war against Afghanistan?

    Finally, will the US allow Cuba, a sovereign country the freedom to allow Russia to build military bases in Cuba with Hypersonic missiles aimed at the US? The answer is a resounding no in the face of Monroe doctrine originated by President James Monroe in 1823, that any intervention by external powers in the politics of the Americas is a potentially hostile act against the US.

    • 4
      1

      To all the CT readers who made positive or negative comments about America, thank you!

      Debate make people wiser always’

      Few clarifications. When somebody accuse America of going to war in other countries, one has to understand the context. For example, US went to Kuwait on the invitation of Kuwait when Saddham invaded it. US obtained clearance from the UN and with its Allies sent troops to liberate Kuwait.

      Even when US sent troops to Iraq, it went to the UN to get approval.

      But Putin is invading a sovereign country without provocation and without UN agreement.

      But I have witnessed one thing about critics of US for sure. Given the opportunity to go to any country , they will jump to go to US. I have experienced this often.

      Finally , there is a difference when living and raising your family verses those who read about US from far. While still having many problems, it’s opportunities, freedoms, rights, dispensing of justice ( no matter who your are) are deeply enshrined in its character. Those who come from countries where these virtues are seriously lacking, readily admire this great nation of doers not talkers !

      • 1
        4

        Asoka
        There are plenty of contexts to talk about.
        The only relevant context in all cases is the interest of US imperialism.
        They failed to learn from humiliations in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and Afghanistan among others.
        They will learn soon I expect though.

  • 1
    1

    Asoka,

    If you are happy, I’m happy for you. ……. In the end that’s all what matters.

    Happiness is the key!

    One man who has found his El Dorado.

    • 0
      0

      Nimal, as you say the choice is yours. If majority people in a country are content living where they are then who are we to judge them. US may not be in the top of HAPPY INDEX like Scandinavia, Pacific or Canada but never in the bottom. Obviously Lankans right now cannot claim the same. Though I lived in US for decades I decided to return to India where I received my education’, which was denied in my own country. Personally I feel, though the pay is much less, job satisfaction is more here in India. But I have decided to keep all options open for my children , to providewith opportunities, I was fortunate to have.

  • 1
    4

    If the US is such a land of joy and happiness, how come that it spreads so much misery across the globe?

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