30 May, 2024


Will We Find A Way Out?

By Noel Berman

Noel Berman

“Hitler found that he could gain power and consolidate it, in part, by whipping up a frenzy of hatred toward imagined internal national enemies, including Jews and Communists (often identified and conflated with each other). He played the nationalism card and promised to destroy the enemies who “hated Germany.” Historians said that Germany proved susceptible to this radical message because of the extreme political and economic circumstances it faced and because it lacked resilient democratic traditions to withstand such demagoguery,” says Dr. David Gushee of Mercer University.

What we are seeing today, especially in the aftermath of 21/4, is not much different from what went on in Germany. The Tamils, the erstwhile arch enemy has been vanquished and a new one created to take their place. The so-called calls to boycott Muslim business establishments and sometimes open racism we see masquerading as nationalism is not going to bring about the anticipated “golden era” of Sinhalese civilization. That would require an eradication of corruption, serious changes to the education system, law and order and the implementation of sound economic policies. Racism and fear-mongering on the other hand may win an election and would probably be the main platform of the next elections but electing a party that is trying to outdo the other’s ethnocentrism will not help build a nation.

It appears we not learned the lessons of history. Our ethnocentrism resulted in a bloody civil war at a conservatively estimated financial cost of over US$ 200 billion not counting the loss of lives. Imagine where we would have been if we had that amount of money to fix our education system and build our economy?  

Yet, we let our politicians run amok and politicize racism and marry it with religion for cheap short-term electoral gains. It is only a scoundrel that will create and then appeal to a primordial fear of the other and use it as a tool to manipulate an ignorant electorate for personal political gain at the expense of the future of the nation. 

No wonder Lee Kwan Yew said, “I did not realize that he (JR Jayewardene) would not give way on the supremacy of the Sinhalese over the Tamils, which was to lead to a civil war in 1983 and destroy any hope of a prosperous Sri Lanka for many years, if not generations.” (Lee Kwan Yew, From Third World to First). 

To our shame — we are no longer a tolerant country that wants to heal the wounds of the past and move on to a brighter future. Instead, we are radicalizing a peaceful religion that has been called “The Light of Asia” and turning the majority of peace-loving people into hate filled racists ready to destroy and even kill. Religion began to leave its imprint on politics but soon politics ensnared religion and is now destroying it. And while all this was going on, the people began migrating. So, first it was the Burghers, then the Tamils and now even the Sinhalese are leaving the country because they see no hope in staying on in a country that is doomed to not merely repeat the mistakes of the past but to exacerbate the horrors of the past.

When will we realize that our economy and the poverty of the Sinhalese is not because of the Tamils or the Muslims? Our economic deprivation is because of the corrupt politicians who have systematically raped and robbed this country for 71 years. They are to blame for the ills that affect Sri Lanka and no one else. To cover their corruption, they need a convenient scape-goat and who better than the Tamils of yesterday and the Muslims of today.  

On the positive side, there are a few voices that are emerging, and this brings hope. Also, there are businessmen who have taken a stand and are not succumbing to financial gain by sacrificing their morals to promote racist projects. And maybe a few politicians, a very few.

But where are the senior sane political and religious leaders, the so-called guardians of a nation’s morals and builders of a better future? Where are the celebrities and opinion-leaders who should be coming out and speaking for justice? Or have we all surrendered our ability to think and yielded to a myopic and false narrative of supremacy because it suits our fragile collective egos? Only time will tell if we will be able to find a way out of the rampant racism and rediscover a real democracy where we vote for political parties whose policies will bring about justice, peace and prosperity to all citizens and not cast our votes based on race and fears of the other.

The silence of the nation has become our biggest national crisis and the prophetic words of Lee Kwan Yew will become a tragic epitaph on the tombstone of our nation, “It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendib has given the English language the word, “serendipity” is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.”  

Noel Berman, Chairman: Colombo School for Critical Studies

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  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 1

    we know the the problem noel but what is the solutioin ?

  • 4

    I can only agree with the other 100 percent. If we don’t start talking and bypass the politicians. Sri Lanka has always been void of true leaders, a situation which is not going to change very soon.

  • 4

    When I look back at all the Prime Ministers and Presidents I can only shake my head in disbelief. There is not a single one whom you could call a true leader who only wanted to do what is good for the country and to look at Tamils and Sinhalese as Citizens of Sri Lanka. If we don’t look at our diversity as a strength and unite behind what is common to all of us and stop fighting over what is that divides us like religion and language we will never find peace.

  • 6

    Noel Berman,

    Whoever you are, you have hit the nail on the head. With racism, religious bigotry, and avarice of the Sinhalese political leaders, Sri Lanka has no place to go, except down.

    The question is how far will it go down in its quest for Sinhalese Buddhist supremacy?

    A few days ago I read on a Sri Lankan publication that a Tamil mother and 2 children jumped in front of a train and committed suicide because they could not find a way yo feed themselves.

    A few days later I read of a Sinhalese woman in her late thirties and her 10-year old daughter waiting to jump in front of a train but saved by passers by. They went hungry. I am sure poor Muslims have similar stories.

    Do the Buddhist Bhikkus, Mahanayakes, and the ruling political leaders care? I don’t think so.

    • 0

      Tiru: {” Noel Berman,
      Whoever you are, you have hit the nail on the head………..”}
      Yes and no!
      The nail is expected to hold two woods together. One is hard wood and nails bend. Never reaches the interface. Hammer…..hammer a bent nail?
      BBS_Buddhism Inc supply saffron coated clay nails. The founder of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) is laughing all the way to

  • 0

    This is how NGOs talk about reconciliation from one side. From the other side, they talk about Religions, Buddhists, bhikkus, Ethnic groups
    So, what is the message.
    I know in the USA politics, It is the Evangelism and they take shots at Vatican but not even at Catholics.
    Sri Lankan Sinhala Politicians are just scum bags trained Western Training classes by giving them overseas trips, as well as I suppose local workshops. So, they all bash Sinhala people during the five years and now they all have become ministers for Buddha Sasana and no mention about other religions. They talk reconciliation and then talk about Buddhism being the foremost religion and they protect it. but they add saying we give the same status to other religions too. All Crap.

  • 0

    Mr. Noel Berman
    Tell the minorities that Sinhalese are good people, not bad people even if it is not true. And let the Sinhalese hear those words.


  • 1

    Berman has spoken very clearly on pathetic past and current situation of a failing nation. I had lost all hopes long time ago! Are there any corrective measures for change? I suggest the next presidential candidates should not belonging to any of the political parties nor any former politicians. Constitutional changes for single term for president and prime minister.Term limitations for all other elected officials – 10 years. More devolution and sharing of powers with regions.

  • 0

    The so-called calls to boycott Muslim business establishments and sometimes ////

    Sri lanka should be self sufficient to boycott world. Some times or one time coconut was imported from india. What about to boycott technology . Ships are moving country to country, flights are connecting globally.Sri lanka is exporting gems tea.
    If sri lanka is thing of boycott , the world will do the same boycott. So boycott directed to this policy should be rejected. People should explore the word. and travel far.

  • 0

    Tell this to Chamindry who is looking for reconciliation we never had. There was no such committed or genuine leader in past, none at present , and there is none on the horizon for future. If at all if there is one , our immoral racist public do not want such genuine leaders.

  • 0

    According to the neutral nature of our people and the parliament without harmony till the Sirisena is alive in my noble country due to his dishonest shameless dirty nature with Executive powers my noble motherland is in danger. He knows what he did and do not like to be with Executive powers . Therefore he would spoil the whole presidential election He gave common pardon to Gnanasara . He is going on setting fire all over as his past. I know doctor Saafi ia Sirisena’s fabrication that no one could solve fake mothers shouting with big mouth to deceive Rathana Hamuduruwo genuinely interefere Sirisena did not speak about 25000 metric tonnes imported waste I am sure came to his name most probably from US for violating consensus to sign SOFA He do not want to go to Parlimentary Select Committee knowing heis guilty Ian sure he got the prior warning and asked Pujitha to hide I know this set up I have no access to Face book and G mail Specialist docttor wrote 75 micro gm Thyroxin my hand phone I cannot dial many numbers For years incoming only from sister brother and son All doctors say I have mania give unnecessary serious drugs my phone 0773856721.All are gifts for my honest work I am a professional Engineer For 9 years my vey good mother make me unhappy for no reason WHole family spoiled for no reason When I was at NWSDB as Chief Engineer our Engineers asked me not to do good I left my job in 2014 since engineers insulted me after 27 years I had a very very hard period I think I am not appropriate for the peopl ewho bomb this country who bring terrorism and who planned bring milions of Americans with weapons in uniform here. Would they come to pet us I commented

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