By Tisaranee Gunasekara –
“What we must pursue…is not a competitive bruising arena for the claims of ideology or religion, but an open marketplace for both ideas and faiths.”
Wole Soyinka (Convocation Address, Wake Forest University – 1999)
July 2016 could have become a very small-scale reproduction of July 1983, attacks and counterattacks, panicky actions and fear-filled reactions, hysteria, mayhem and some murder. It didn’t because this July the lunatic fringe was not bestriding the politico-societal mainstream, calling the shots, firing the shots.
Every society has extremists who live in their own created realities, some less harmful than others.
Pastor John Hagee, an American evangelical preacher decried Rock and Roll as “Satanic Cyanide” and condemned Harry Potter books for “opening the gates of your mind to the Prince of Darkness”[i].
The BJP student union thrashed the Head of the History Department at Delhi University for including a critical essay on Ramayana by AK Ramanujan[ii] in the BA (Hons) curriculum; they said the essay offended Hindu sensibilities.
A group of Islamist lawyers in Egypt tried to get the Tales from the Thousand and One Nights banned for promoting ‘sin’[iii].
Buddhists extremists in Sri Lanka attacked a workshop for ‘the crime of promoting atheism’, even though atheism is a crime only in fundamentalist countries like Saudi Arabia.
The lunatic fringe will always be with us. So long as they are kept in the fringe, so long as they are not allowed to decide policies or to take the law into their hands, the harm they can do it limited.
The problem is when the lunatic fringe overrides the mainstream and tries to or does take power.
Like Donald Trump or Mahinda Rajapaksa; the IS or the LTTE.
Had the Rajapaksas been in power this July, the army would have been sent to the University of Jaffna over the recent clash and a hysterical campaign against ‘LTTE resurgence’ launched island-wide with imprisonments and abductions galore. In stark and welcoming contrast, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration’s response to the clash was characterised by moderation and sense. In this the government was aided by the TNA’s own praiseworthy moderation (the JVP too abjured immoderation). The issue was treated as a law and order problem, the head of the students association which allegedly launched the attack was arrested and released on bail and attempts by the Joint Opposition and the JHU to benefit from the clash nipped smartly in the bud.
Unhealed Societies; Unfree Universities
In his Nobel Lecture, Irish poet Seamus Heaney referred to ‘wounded spots on the face of earth’. Sri Lanka is such a place. With the LTTE defeated and the Rajapaksas gone, Sri Lanka has a chance to heal old wounds and not create new ones.
This doesn’t mean we should seek comfort in lies, such as racism played no role in the Jaffna University clashes. Racism did play a role.
Racism is not the birthright of any one race. It is a mental virus which can affect every ethnic community.
The clash over a dance item in the Jaffna University was not a Tiger conspiracy or even a sign of Tiger resurgence, let alone the first salvo of another war. But it is equally specious to insist that racism had no hand in the affair. Racism was an ingredient, though not the only one, of the motley cocktail which made that deplorable incident possible.
The Alumni Association of the University of Peradeniya planned to stage Kaushalya Fernando’s drama ‘Dutu Thena Allanu’, an adaptation of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s Opera Wonyosi at the Ediriweera Sarachchandra Open Air Theatre (the legendary Wala) on July 12th. Opera Woyonsi, a humorous social commentary about African dictatorships, couldn’t be staged at Peradeniya because a group of university students – who presumably have never heard of Wole Soyinka – objected, excoriating the play as morally and culturally opprobrious. Had this act of moral policing been opposed by another group of students, a clash would have definitely ensued, with several hospitalisations.
What happened in the University of Jaffna was something fairly similar, made more contentious by the added factor of racism. Taken together, the two incidents demonstrate a disturbing truth about Lankan universities; our centres of higher education are – and have been for a long time – far more unfree, undemocratic, uncivilised and intolerant than the society in general.
Lankan university students are less willing to accept difference and less capable of settling differences peacefully, through negotiations and compromise than Lankan citizens in general. Violent clashes are far more of a norm in Lankan universities than they are in the country as a whole (to mention just one recent example, on July 7th, two groups in the University of Peradeniya Science Faculty clashed during an anti-dengue campaign, resulting in the hospitalisation of ten students.) Lankan universities are – and have been for decades – the breeding ground of extremism, retrogression, obscurantism and violent intolerance.
When Philip Pullman’s provocatively titled book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, hit the bookstands, it provoked many to comment, including Dr.Rowan Willamas, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. No, the prelate did not scream ‘heresy’, nor accuse Pullman of denigrating Christianity nor demand the immediate banning of the book. Instead he penned an interesting critique of the book, conceding a point here, disputing a point there, and concluding by reiterating his unaltered belief in the superiority and relevance of the New Testament.
That is how differences and controversies should be conducted in civilised societies.
Imagine a book supportive of Buddha but critical of Buddhism as a religion, even sans such a provocative title as Pullman’s being published in Sri Lanka. The author would be stoned (if not worse) and the book will be burnt. Actually no Sri Lankan publisher will touch such a book and the state will not permit its importation. Instead of reasoned debate, there will be invective, screechy and fuming; and violence.
Lankan universities should have been places where diverse and antithetical beliefs and cultures could have had civilised encounters, places where controversial ideas could have been discussed and debated. Unfortunately nativism and religio-cultural purism are greater menaces within the Lankan university system than in Lankan society. Take for instance the attempts by some seniors in the Kelaniya University to impose a dress code on newcomers as part of the ragging. The girls were banned from wearing trousers. The senior-student authors of this ban probably consider trousers to be a Western product, proudly ignorant of the fact that the oldest known trousers were found in Asia, in an ancient Chinese cemetery[iv].
So moral policing is alive and well in Lankan universities, with a minority of students deciding, according to their limited knowledge, mean intelligence and narrow vision, what sort of conduct, music, dance, cuisine, dress, art, science, education, health and living is acceptable or not.
Ignorant and Proud – this seems to be the common motto of universities of Sri Lanka.
There are no pure races/religions/cultures; every race/religion/culture has been shaped and changed by cross-pollination. We are all racial, linguistic, religious and cultural mongrels and fortunately so. It is this reality the ignorant cohorts calling the shots in Lankan universities are trying to deny, from North to South.
The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration is only marginally better than its Rajapaksa predecessor when it comes to corruption, nepotism and venality. But in one important respect, the new leaders are a decided and a very substantial improvement on the Rajapaksas – they are not racist.
Under Rajapaksa rule, religio-cultural differences were turned into political problems and every little incident of racial/religious disharmony turned into an existential crisis. Issues were manufactured, when none existed. The best case in point is the anti-Halal campaign conducted by the BBS with toxic ferocity. The anti-Halal appeared from nowhere, occupied the centre stage and vanished, all in just three months.
The campaign to terrify the minorities into submission and forcibly weld them into a Sinhala-led nation ended on January 9th. That political transformation saved Sri Lanka’s mad rush into new conflicts, including with her Muslims (we would have become a target of the IS by now, had the Rajapaksas been in power).
The Jaffna students who opposed the inclusion of a Kandyan dance item form the Tamil mirror images of those Sinhala extremists who advocated Sinhala Only in 1956 and screamed from rooftops against singing the National Anthem in Tamil in 2016. They are ideologically related to the LTTE, the Bodu Bala Sena types and those Wahabit extremists who attack religious places of non-Wahabi Muslims, such as the destruction of a 150 year old Sufi shrine in Ukuwela in 2009[v]. Sinhala or Tamil, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or Islamic, these extremists are united in their abhorrence of moderation and compromise and their fidelity to the belief that “….anyone who dresses or speaks differently is not simply a different person, but a different animal from a different sty with whom there can be no accommodation, and who must be hated and hounded out”[vi].
Extremism and fundamentalism do well in times of economic crises or socio-political upheavals, because they provide the illusion of a straight-line way out for those who are conflicted and confused by complex realities and incapable of dealing with facts. Democracies must not outlaw them. They should be allowed to have their say but never to have their way, so that the havoc they can wreak is severely constrained. The multi-pronged and many-layered battle against extremism of every type is not a digression from the struggle for democracy, peace and humane development but an essential component of it.
The triumph of extremism over moderation, especially of racial and religious variety, is rarely a spontaneous phenomenon. More often than not, it is a top-down process, driven by megalomanic politicians who see in racial/religious extremism an ideal tool to achieve/safeguard power by controlling the masses. Where political leaders play an enabling role, the harm that extremism does increases exponentially; where political leaders abjure pyromania, the spark of extremism remains a spark without turning into an all consuming inferno.
Racism is alive and well, both in the South and the North of Sri Lanka. But it is not in control, it is no longer commanding the fate of the Lankan nation and it is not above criticism. The memories of that other July, when racism took control and turned the pearl of the Indian Ocean into a charnel house, are a sharp reminder of the need to keep the lunatic fringe firmly in the fringe.
[ii] Three Hundred Ramayans: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation.
[iii] Fortunately Egyptian intellectuals successfully fought against this inanely bigoted demand http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/05/05/107772.html
[vi] Victor Klemperer – The Language of the Third Reich
Rohan / July 24, 2016
Thanks TG for a good write up. As you said, student clashes are nothing new. But, most those who are talking about these clashes (and the Jaffna University) one wouldn’t have had a chance to enter a university.
But, I am a bit disappointed abut this ascertion or assumption.
/The Jaffna students who opposed the inclusion of a Kandyan dance item form the Tamil mirror images of those Sinhala extremists who advocated Sinhala Only in 1956 and screamed from rooftops against singing the National Anthem in Tamil in 2016./
As DBSJ articulated elsewhere, Kandyan Dance is nothing new in these student welcome functions. The Sinhala-leaning commentators try to present as is Kandyan Dance was banned in Jaffna University. “This is an attempt to ethnic bias”, they shout. Actually, a clique wanted the Dance from the beginning, not just inside as they traditionally did. The Tamil-leaning commentators are suggesting that a Sinhala culture was about to be imposed. “We should maintain our tradition” they say. Far far from the truth, right?
You are right, TG. Why can’t they bring a book that talks about Buddha, Buddhism and Lankan Buddhism. Also, can we have a debate about a man, who abandoned his wife and son to become Buddha?
gamini / July 24, 2016
In the first place if he was destined to be the Buddha and arrest his journey of samsara, he should have never procreated. His marriage and bearing a son contradicts his purpose of birth, which is believed as his last. Further ordaining his own son at the age of seven and opening the flood gates for young boys to be ordained to be at the mercy of elder frustrated men in robes has brought misery to families and societies that practice the Philosophy. Had he been living today, he would have been charged for desertion without doubt.
Paul / July 24, 2016
Astounding ignorance from a sinhalese. No doubt you will have a very appreciative audience among the bigots and Fools.
Rohan / July 24, 2016
His community, no wonder, has a big number of such people. Many wear robes.
gamini / July 25, 2016
It is certainly not my concoction but what is taught in text for students labelled Sinhala Buddhists in this country. It is said that Prince Siddhartha was born at Lumbini Sal Uyana where he took seven steps on Lotus flowers that bloomed with every step he took. Hence for Wesak now, it s common to see infant Siddhartha clad in a robe walking on lotus flowers, being displayed for public worship. At the same time his life time narrative states that he took to robes at the age of 29. Then who is that young infant in Robes? Further it is said that Prince Siddhartha married at the age of sixteen and left to priesthood at the age of 29. From 16 to 29 like all other Royalty enjoyed life with wine, women and song at a time there was no TV or Cinema. He enjoyed life to the fullest and was sick of it that he renounced all desire. It is described in text that how he stepped over sleeping semi nude women the night he left the palace. I have no qualms about it. But to deny the pleasures he enjoyed to his seven year old son Rahula and all other young samaneras who are ordained today, in his name is a crime denying their childhood and the pleasures of life. I have no objections for an adult becoming a priest but certainly not the children who are coaxed by the adults. Child ordination is Child abuse.
Paul / July 26, 2016
I agree with you Gamini, child ordination is child abuse and should be banned.
sr / July 26, 2016
Your idea reasonable if children are ordained forcefully.
Novice monks must be given protection for all the evil things, then it won’t become child abuse.
it had been lifestyle in Sri Lanka to ordain a child as a monk.
In temple or monastic life they enjoyed the freedom to derobe at any time at their will.
Ordaining as a monk paved the way for them to acquire knowledge not only Buddhism but also subjects like literature, languages like Tamil, pali, sanskrit etc etc.
But in today’s context poor parents may ordain their children because of poverty but I think it may be a good opportunity for them, they can get their basics in abundance and have good education.
Nobody should be jealous of it.
The problem is their behavior; things that a monk should not do.
If they want politics see the possibility of derobing and doing it.
ranjith / July 27, 2016
“” It is said that Prince Siddhartha was born at Lumbini Sal Uyana where “”
Nice Harry Potter Story for kids and grown ups of the time.
check National Geography Mama not found. just tree huggers.Kenzo Tange Uyana.
“The new evidence from this project shows that this ritual activity was taking place centuries prior to the Asokan levels, and this is really significant and interesting,” Young says.
Julia Shaw, a lecturer in South Asian archaeology at University College London, called the claims for a wooden railing surrounding a possible tree shrine convincing but speculative.
Map of Lumbini, Nepal.
Pilgrims meditate in the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini, Nepal. The remains of the earliest temples at the site are in the background.
PHOTOGRAPH BY IRA BLOCK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
She was cautious about the oldest Buddhist shrine claim.
“The worship of trees, often at simple altars, was a ubiquitous feature of ancient Indian religions, and given the degree of overlap between Buddhist ritual and pre-existing traditions, it is also possible that what is being described represents an older tree shrine quite disconnected from the worship of the historical Buddha,” Shaw says.
“Still, it does indeed present some new insights into the archaeology of Indian ritual in general,” she adds.
Coningham called the chance to study the site and contribute toward Lumbini’s conservation important, particularly due to its growing popularity as a pilgrimage site. By 2020, more than four million pilgrims are expected to visit.
“It was amazingly busy at times, people praying and meditating,” Coningham says. “It was challenging and exciting, working on a living religious site.”
lal / July 24, 2016
“Also, can we have a debate about a man, who abandoned his wife and son to become Buddha?”
Rohan, there is no need to debate about a man who abandoned his wife and son. It is a low thing to do. A good father and husband will nuture the son and care for the wife the best way he can.
Paul / July 24, 2016
Where the hell do you fools Rohan, Gamini, Lal, get your ideas from? Siddhartha the man did not abandon his wife and family. He loved them deeply. He realised that they (and all of us) are suffering from a terrible illness for which nobody had found a cure. He left them to search for that cure before it was too late. Wouldn’t you do the same?
‘Always I loved and always love thee well,
And what I sought for All, sought most for thee.
Yet kiss me on the mouth, and drink these words
From heart to heart therewith, that thou mayst know — what others will not — that I loved thee most, because I loved so well all living souls.’
If you want to know what his state of mind might have been like at the time, have a look at the Light of Asia http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/lightasia.pdf
Rohan / July 24, 2016
/He realised that they (and all of us) are suffering from a terrible illness for which nobody had found a cure. /
But, did he find a solution? Appears, NOT!
His followers massacred large number of people. Just look above in the very news item. Those in robe are followers of Buddha? Oh no… OH NO…
/Where the hell do you fools Rohan, Gamini, Lal, get your ideas from? /
Heh… less said the better.
Paul / July 26, 2016
Of course it worked. You could say it was the culmination of Hindu thought.
The people in robes who cause trouble are not his followers, just as the Hindu fanatics who have raped and killed their way through the Muslim population of India are not followers of Hindu Ahimsa.
DeepCut / July 27, 2016
you are the typical catholic army with the blood of tamils on your hands until BBS called the shots David and you were shooting.
Your next step is to play with the catholic tamils as friends and once the job of checking is over Gun the tamils for glory.
that is how the english east india company captured Hindu india – after Marathas defeated the Islamic invaders of north.
Men like paul who divide to rule are the beast of society.- that is your education – carrying a gun.
Emanuel Perumal / July 25, 2016
After 500 years of silence- Alibaba comes and writes his thesaurus.
You never saw, you just heard it after 2000 years and call it the gospel truth that fell from the sky- ho hey crusaders never change their spots.
Check genealogy on the web- we know just a 300 years and that is the record.
No findings of that G.B. or his mother at Lumbine.by UNESCO and that is a national geographic official declaration.
The story written by a Brahmin and paid for by royalty to keep
:the lunatic hindu -fringe-in-the-fringe of their times. follow it up in China- Longman Grettoes the largest number of G.B. sculpture on earth and carved in rock hill 3 miles long.
Amarasiri / July 24, 2016
RE:Keeping The Lunatic Fringe In The Fringe
“July 2016 could have become a very small-scale reproduction of July 1983, attacks and counterattacks, panicky actions and fear-filled reactions, hysteria, mayhem and some murder. It didn’t because this July the lunatic fringe was not bestriding the politico-societal mainstream, calling the shots, firing the shots.”
We had many lunatic fringes since 1948, and the current crop seems to be the least lunatic. The lunatics are outside and wants ti turn everybody into a lunatic.
Yes, we have Para-Sinhala Lunatics, Para- Tamil Lunatics and Para-Wahhabi Lunatics in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.
Can’t we ship them back to where they came from?
Vanguard / July 25, 2016
So JR’s government of 1983 was the lunatic fringe then? Who was it?
“Like Donald Trump or Mahinda Rajapaksa; the IS or the LTTE.”
Of course the author will be branded a lunatic by the supporters of these people
jim softy / July 24, 2016
Waht happened in JAffna is reported incorrect and is discussed partial to the Tamils.
It does not say anything about why the Tamil Student president of the Student union opposed to the inclusion of Kandyan dancers in the procession. How come Tamils show that much power in Sri lanka ?. This university is not in Tamilnadu.
Once the procession started Tamil students came and stopped Kandyan dancers in the procession and attacked Sinhala students who had to be hospitalized.
None of those are reported or discussed.
Important thing is Tamils probably wanted to celebrate 1983 attacks on Army soldiers.
Rohan / July 25, 2016
[Edited out] Please write instead of posting links – CT
punitham / July 25, 2016
I have always been an ardent reader of this author’s very good articles. But in this otherwise very good piece, she most inexplicably misses the context of the virulently militarised Jaffna. In fact as she is read avidly by a section of the Sri Lankan population she could have used this to tell the people of the South what exactly the Civil Military Coordination of Jaffna is doing on behalf of the government. MOST FORTUNATELY Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thero Highlights Importance Of Understanding Complexities That Led To Jaffna Clash, 22 July 2016, https://www.colombotelegraph.c… (Priya’s gracious translation is in one of the comments near the top)
All these days I have been dreading the sword thrust on the lion in the national flag. It is only very recently I found a sword thrust on an elephant in a battlefield in a painting hanging in the main room in the office of the Civil Military Coordination of Jaffna in a photograph of a meeting in that room: http://www.news.lk/news/sri-la…
It is very strange that the MISSION of Civil Military Coordination of Jaffna says:
To be an effective instrument to the Government endeavour to cultivate national harmony in Jaffna Peninsula through uplifting the physical quality of life and spiritual values of the people.
– http://www.cimicjaffna.com/mai… Pl visit the website to see the section of words in bold and in colour.
The path of reconciliation simply doesn’t have thorns or shards of rocks but SWORDS.
KA Sumanasekera / July 24, 2016
Wonder whether they sang the National Anthem in Tamil, Sinhala or both…!!!!
Japwatch / July 24, 2016
i just move my lips when the national anthem is played. Cos I don’t know the words. So what? Why do you get entangled in these little stuff? Isn’t that what the writer is trying to say.
Have a beer and enjoy watching the stars in the sky :)
KA Sumanasekera / July 25, 2016
I don’t mind a Sappora, while watching Yahapalana PM Batalanada Ranil’s Ataka Nataka (Comedy Act) in Parliament .
Japwatch / July 25, 2016
Sapporo beer, grilled sanma and a few other izakaya goodies. Come over, you can chill out. On one condition. That you stop writing hateful stuff, racist stuff and take life easy. Look at me, I wander in the different continents, speak a few languages, love all kinds of people, of all colors, races languages etc. My life is easy, happy and in fact love the PM’s sense of humor.
You sound like you are afraid, like as though you have stolen something and someone is trying to come for it :)
Ranjan Fernando / July 24, 2016
Thank you TG for this sane analysis, the voice of reason.
Raj / July 24, 2016
”Ignorant and Proud – this seems to be the common motto of universities of Sri Lanka”
That sums it up & I agree totally. Is it the education system that is to be blamed or is it partly our heritage, particularly, of the average ‘Sinhala Buddhist’ culture? The danger is that graduates with this mindset ending up as high ranking officials in the Govt.
I think this is the underlying factor of the corruption, lethargy, indifference & lack of integrity we see in Govt. institutions. It is ‘politically incorrect’ to talk about these issues & the cancer continues to grow. We just go with the flow, some even in denial.
Hamlet / July 26, 2016
Raj:- “It is ‘politically incorrect’ to talk about these issues & the cancer continues to grow.”
How right you are!
Those Rational and Compassionate Buddhists who speak against Bigoted ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ are denounced as Traitors, and attract Followers who are too Selfcentred or too Incapable, of Thinking for themselves.
pacs / July 24, 2016
Moriori are the indigenous people of the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu in Moriori, Wharekauri in Māori), east of the New Zealand archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. These people lived by a code of non-violence and passive resistance (see Nunuku-whenua), which made it easier for Taranaki Māori invaders to nearly exterminate them in the 1830s.
Analyst / July 24, 2016
As had been in the past the reinsurgence of Political Madness had been put to a full stop by the new government combination MS/RW Combo Government.
Woof !!’!!!! A Sigh of Relief to all concerned , I mean to the True Lankans who believe in Peace and Prosperity.
If the Mad men had been in Power OMG. What would have been the result??
Frightening to RELIVE of the Effects of Similar nature when The Mad Men and Women were in Power .
Just because the PRESENT GOVERNMENT COMBO HANDLED IT EXEMPLARILY avoiding Island wide LOOTING , CURFEW, MURDER AND WHITEVANS ,
THIS CANNOT BE TAKEN AS A MATTER TO BE DENOUNCED AS ” STORM IN A TEA CUP”
Thank god there was no full scale Riot??
PEOPLE BE WARNED THIS IS A GREAT GREAT EXAMPLE FOR RETURN OF DEMOCRACY TO MY LAND OF MISERY.
WE AS TRUE CITIZENS. THANK GOD FOR THE PEACE BROUGHT BY THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT.
UNLESS SOMEONE POINTS OUT THE GOODNESS , OTHER THAN THE WICKEDNESS OF BAD MEN AND WOMEN ARE PUBLICISED MORE EFFECTIVELY WHO BROUGHT MISCHIEF AND TOTAL DESTRUCTION TO MY COUNTRY , THAT WE AS CITIZENS CAN LIVE PEACEFULLY IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT OUR RULERS ARE DOING RIGHT SO WE CAN GO TO BED WITHOUT FEAR.
Congratulations to MS and RW too for not letting the Campus issue become a country wide Riot.
Are we living in a Different Country (not the SL as we used to know )after the July Jaffna “Rumpus in the Campus ” ??
PEACE BUILDING IS MORE ASSOCIATED WITH PEACE KEEPING.
“AGENDA FOR PEACE” or PROPERTIES OF PEACE BUILDING.
Read the link below.
Transcend Media Service (. TMS) 21st February 2011
Thank you. TG for your write up.
Non PhD / July 24, 2016
Spot on Tisaranee.
But you haven’t specifically touched on the 28th July Pathayathra from Kandy to Colombo.
People I know in Colombo say the 28th July could be turning point for MaRa Bros & Co . Whether the march is going to be peaceful or violent MaRa is going to score points and come back to power very soon.
justice / July 24, 2016
Welcoming freshers rather than ragging them – earlier, some even died of ragging – is to be welcomed.
All was going well until outsiders intervened.
“Racism” was instigated by these outsiders, all know who they were.
These were not lunatics, but purposeful instigators who roam the north east seeking such opportunities.
Jehan / July 24, 2016
We need Gnanasara in jail for aluthgama
KA Sumanasekera / July 25, 2016
Wonder where this “Lunatic Fringe” was from 1985 t0 2009…
ramona therese fernando / July 25, 2016
Fantastic essay about the open progressive ways of modern rich Western society. The truth is, such progressive ideology can only come from volumes of monetary richness created from colonial occupation and subjugation of indigenous societies.
It is only in the aforementioned rich Western countries, that cultural diversity can be accepted and debated upon, with no threat to their own secure original heritage.
In a little Island like Sri Lanka, whose ancient heritage has been trampled upon and destroyed since colonization and post-colonization, the ideological rules are quite different. Sri Lanka is rich in her own cross-pollination that is unique and dynamic, and can be full of sincerity if not continually interfered with.
The inalienable rights of the indigenous race (as of 2,500 years), needs to be reinstalled. The complementary Tamil race needs to be integrated.
No more do we need to hear about the success story of the British in their attempts at cross-culturalism, of which they are even at this moment closing in on, with the urgency to protect their own.
Celeo / July 25, 2016
The ‘very patriotic’ Lankan RTF (a by-product of European colonialism) ran away to the US when her spouse won a US lottery visa and never came back to SL but is serving the white man as a slave. While licking the bones that the white man throw at her, criticizing the country that is feeding her and praising SL that she once kicked and left but now (at old age) wants to get back. Changing religion overnight and trying to pretend like one from the majority race and praising about a non-existent (imaginary) old- heritage and culture is not going to make her one of them. This only shows one of the best examples of hypocrisy. What a way of cheating the foolish majority, this is what most of the recent converts did and doing.
ramona therese fernando / July 25, 2016
Oh no, it isn’t like that at all(and not old either). But trust a Tamil to see the most perverse,negative and non-existent side of humans interaction. How long are you people going to live with this underdog mentality?
Loony / July 25, 2016
Don’t worry, Ramona Therese Fernando. You must be one of the loonies who hover around the fringe that the author is talking about. Either that, or a real sucker for punishment.
Nice to see you automatically assume that anyone who holds a view different from you here is a Tamil!
ramona therese fernando / July 25, 2016
The person made it quite clear he was a Tamil in previous comments.
Taraki / July 26, 2016
Quite right Ramona. These fellows are always moaning and complaining and trying to get something for nothing. The West just assumes that if you are a minority, you must be discriminated against, that is the product of the West’s history. They find it inconceivable that a minority could discriminate against a majority, that they could hold the balance of power, be the kingmakers, be represented in every government since 1948, wage war against the state and still complain about discrimination.
This is also the fault of our imbecile Sinhala leaders who have not used state power and influence to educate the West on the truth about these smelly buggers.
Kettikaran / July 25, 2016
According to the VC/Jaffna Mrs. Vasanthi Arasaratnam Kandyan Dance was
allowed from the entrance to the hall up to the Stage. The Tamil mela-thalam (drums/clarinet/dancing) was permitted from the Gate to the Stage. I see nothing wrong with that. That looks like a win/win formulae.
Why was so much heat generated by the army and the Sinhala media on this minor issue whereas, on several instances earlier in Jaffna, Anuradhapura prisons, Vavuniya and other places Tamil students held were beaten and tortured badly. This is now almost routine.
Also, how did Kandyan dancers and their considerable equipment arrive in Jaffna so fast? Or were they housed in the army camp even before the so-called attack began? The matter becomes curious and curiouser the more you go deep into it.
Clearly, communal vultures – lead by career communalists of the Rajapakse ilk – await on the sidelines to set the flames of communalism again, relying on the vulnerabilities of the majority. They desperately need to rule and plunder again. The Sinhala Nation should use their intelligence not to be taken for fools again.
Analyst / July 25, 2016
Why this / your story is kept out mysteriously.
Can see the chap with the stick on the Pics looks an Army chap ? This is becoming more like Agatha Christy Novel no murder yet!!!
Bloody Fools come on out with the TRUTH IDIOTS.
The Buffalo Maniac is after Tamil Blood to start an all out war , only problem is the International community is watching and there’s no LTTE TO PUT THE BLAME.
Upul / July 25, 2016
Isn’t it frightening how ignorant SL university students are compared to their contemporaries in industrialized democracies.
These are the decision makers we are educating free! They appear to feel entitled to their unqualified opinions and dangerously incapable of strategic thinking.
Rodger Dodger / July 25, 2016
” The girls were banned from wearing trousers. The senior-student authors of this ban probably consider trousers to be a Western product”. Wonder if these senior students were wearing sarongs or amude cloth when they were moral policing !
frankistine / July 25, 2016
“”Wonder if these senior students were wearing sarongs or amude cloth when they were moral policing ! “””
Sub-standard education for the newly released colony who would ultimately become a working class trade union entity.
If the girls had any sense of self respect they should have boycotted without informing- there is no academic obligation or law.
whether you pay or not someone has to pay the massive bridging gap even in India or West – hijacking is disallowed. the all built on a political chit VC has no balls.!
weerasinghe / July 25, 2016
We don’t have to split hair on the matter. Its enough if you say “When in Rome do as the Romans do” Should we beat all kinds of drums available in Srilanka at functions where all communities participate. No .It should be the popular drums in the area. There is no cultural or patriotic thinking behind this drama. Its an exhibition of mediocre behavior. None of the student factions would have objected if loud heavy duty western music was played. I am sure that some of the students involved here will not hesitate to leave the country for greener pastures with completely alien cultures given the opportunity.
Lester / July 26, 2016
You may not like Rajapakse or his approach to the war, but it worked. The objective was achieved. If you believe Prabhakaran/LTTE were interested in pursuing “an open marketplace for both ideas and faiths”, I have a bridge to sell you. Not every problem can be solved by rational discourse, that is why most countries have their armed forces.
weerasinghe / July 27, 2016
Your thinking could be applied to justify Prabhakaran taking to arms. Perhaps like you Prabhakaran too thought that “Not every problem can be solved by rational discourse.
Rizwan / July 27, 2016
An excellent article by Ms. Gunasekara as usual, but unfortunately perhaps inappropriate in her comparison of Mr. Trump with Mahinda Rajapakse.
Trump is trying his best to achieve the presidency, but unlike MR he has no need for money or power, having much of these things already. Much of Trump’s statements are taken out of context, though much of what he says is also controversial. He is a showman. His words cannot be taken seriously at this stage.
But if he is not part of the American Establishment as he claims (and it does indeed seem so), then he can only do better than Obama, who is a war monger and has virtually decimated the American economy during his tenure. Obama and his Establishment loving predecessors have done too much harm to the US and the rest of the world. I doubt Trump can trump them.