In continuing last week’s article on how lies manufactured and manipulated by charismatic leaders and mediocre theorists can distort the perceptions of the masses and lead societies to violence I must make a brief diversion, before I come to the local context – my main purpose — to focus on how Donald Trump is leaving the White House as the most dangerous President that ever walked out of it. He is leaving America under the darkest cloud that threatens to come down not in dismal rain but in ghastly blood.
He left the White House saying: “Goodbye, we love you, we’ll be back in some form,” before boarding Air Force One for the last time. That is an ominous message. And he has the potential to do it considering the following he has. America exploded because of one big lie manufactured and manipulated by Trump. Millions of his followers believed in his big lie that he won the election. And he left the White House as a bitter man vowing to come back to vindicate himself and possibly to get even with those who ‘stole’ his victory.
This makes life risky to his rivals. To begin with, I fear for the lives of both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. America has a bitter history of assassinating controversial and reformist leaders who dominate tumultuous times.
It has a history of assassinating four Presidents: 1. Abraham Lincoln (1865) shot by a confederate, white supremacist, immediately after the Civil War which led to the emancipation of Afro-American slaves ; 2. James Garfield (1881) shot by a disgruntled public servant; 3. William McKinley 1901 was shot by an anarchist who had lost his job; and 4. J. F. Kennedy shot in 1963 with conspiracy theories pointing a finger at egregious Edgar Hoover, the head of FBI. In between Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan narrowly escaped assassination attempts.
The last phase of Trump’s regime was a volatile time where the American nation was split right down the middle. It was the time closest to that of the Civil War where racist supremacists were riding high. Then violence originated from the overall conditions of the Civil War.
The unique aspect of our time is that violence has come straight down from the President who tried every trick in the book and failed to retain his seat in the White House. He challenged the election result in 62 courts which rejected his lie that the election was stolen from him through fraudulent means. His own Party was divided on it. The people rejected it.
He fought two Senate seats in Georgia on his lie and lost both. Finally, when he ran out of all avenues, the last means available to him was to stop the Congress assembled to count the electoral votes and endorse Joe Biden as the winner of the election.
In a desperate bid he sent his mob down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Congress to grab power with physical force – a blood-thirsty mob which was out to ‘Hang Pence!’ who was presiding at the count, and also Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, if they could get her.
Inciting an insurrection to stop the democratic process to grab power violently was a crime committed by Trump in full public view. This desperate act, which was doomed to fail, questions his mental state.
Can a rational man who can think logically reject the reality staring in his face and continue obsessively and fanatically to believe in his own lies — lies which he could not substantiate and were leading him, every step of the way, to his nemesis? Could he stop the will of the American people expressed overwhelmingly in favour of his rival, Joe Biden, in the presidential election by sending his rag-tag mob down the mall to stop the legitimate act of the first branch of government assembled to endorse his defeat? Only a half-demented, self-pitying, intransigent maniac, paralysed by the fear of facing the world waiting to get him once he leaves the protective office, could believe in phantasmagorial lies like the one he believed in.
He and his followers sincerely believe that tens of thousands of dead men’s votes were cast for Biden along with tens of thousands of votes that were shifted by machines fixed to make Biden win. Our modern societies are plagued by lies manufactured and promoted by self-seeking political leaders whose lies have led to early deaths and unnecessary destruction.
The lies that political leaders have marketed for short-term gains have in the long-term been dangerous to their lives and that of their followers. These lies invariably tend to ricochet and knock them out. As I pointed out earlier it happened to Hitler, it happened to the Tamil leaders and it happened to Donald Trump.
The leaders who thrive on palpable lies deserve their inevitable humiliating end. But it is the consequences to the people and the community that are tragic, leaving them as helpless victims of unmanageable and overwhelming disasters. The poisonous lies injected by the leaders into society create toxic politics that drive people to irredeemable extremism.
For instance, there are 3,006 counties in America and in every one of them there is at least one or two white supremacists, seething with racism and armed with a gun, ready to target both the President and Vice-President, if and when an opportunity arises.
Apart from that there are a sufficient number of red-necked, white supremacists in the armed forces who can do to both President and to Vice-President what the Sikh bodyguard did to Mrs. Indira Gandhi. In the current context, what has happened has happened because one leader believes, in his deranged way, that he alone knows the truth when the whole world proclaims it’s a lie. Consequently, not only America the whole world is facing the horrors of Trump’s mendacious cult.
He, of course, will go out of the White House perpetuating his lie which will fuel the fires of hate that are waiting to explode in the coming days, may be years. Who knows? For what it is worth, it must be recorded that a leading Indian astrologer has predicted that Kamala Harris will be the next president.
This too sounds ominous. It can only mean that Biden will not last his full term. Whether it will be through natural causes or man-made causes is not clear. The Security Forces will have a nightmarish time protecting both as the mood of divided America has turned nasty with fanatics hanging around, waiting to target their perceived enemy.
The battle that was fought and won was battle for the truth. Trump was manipulating and manufacturing an alternative narrative based on brazen lies. In his inaugural speech Biden took on this issue head-on and said: “And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. The recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit,”
Biden’s speech has a great relevance to the world, particularly to Sri Lanka, because foreign policies aimed at bringing lasting peace on earth and reconciliation among divided communities cannot succeed on manufactured lies. This is a large theme that can be explored later. For the moment, it is his statement that “we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured” that will be explored in the Sri Lankan context.
The hostile foreign policies of the West and India in particular are based essentially on the narrative packaged and marketed by the Tamil separatist lobby which has a sizeable toe-hold in most foreign offices of the West and India. There is at least one Tamil lobbyist who had infiltrated as volunteers the political offices of left-wing MPs from UK to New Zealand. Their clout exceeds that of the embassies and high commissions of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To this day no strategy has been worked out to combat the Goebbelsian Tamil narrative that has dominated and determined the anti-Sri Lankan foreign policy of foreign nations.
The latest example confirms how the craftily manufactured Tamil narrative determines the foreign policy of India. After his recent trip to Sri Lanka, Dr. S. Jaishankar, the Indian Foreign Minister, said, parroting the mantra of the Tamils : “It is in Sri Lanka’s own interests that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled.”
This is a politically loaded sentence which in many ways sums up the global perspective on which Sri Lanka is judged and sentenced to the gallows by the international community, The words ‘equality’, justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ have politically explosive connotations indicating that the Tamils have been denied these essentials in a systemic way to deny them their fundamental rights to live as human beings.
Accepting in toto the usual litany of complaints of the Tamil lobby, the Indian state is plainly accusing the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) of denying the Tamils, in particular, their ‘equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’. The Tamil propagandists have succeeded in painting the GOSL as a racist state that had denied the Tamils these fundamental rights.
Herein lies the crux of the North-South conflict. The international dynamics also flow from this premise. This is a lie of Trumpian proportions. The entire case of Tamil Eelamists, separatists, federalists, devolutionists, etc., is based on this monstrous lie. There is no empirical, historical, reliable evidence available to substantiate this case.
There are two main ways by which the veracity of this accusation can be tested. The first is by considering how the Tamils have fared in the past 73 years under the rule of ‘the Sinhala state’, as they are wont to call it to make it sound like a racist state.
The second is by considering how the Tamils have been treated under Tamil regimes starting from 13th century when they settled down for the first time as permanent colonists in Jaffna to the end of Velupillai Prabhakaran’s one-man regime on May 14, 2009.
An objective assessment of the status of the Tamils under these two regimes can settle the argument as to whether the Tamils have been denied these essentials under ‘the Sinhala state’ or the Tamil states. Since the Tamils went down the path of separatism and violence on this theme of the denial of ‘equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ – it is even there in the Indian Foreign Minister’s document – it is of extreme importance to evaluate their accusations as expressed by them at every forum, local and international.
This, of course, is a huge theme which needs volumes to explore. But for our immediate purposes I will have to reduce the comparisons to the bare minimum.
At the end of which I will ask the hired moralists who pontificate on human rights – mainly Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Jehan Perera, Prof. Savithri Gunasekera, Prof. A. Aluvihare, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, and, of course, our man who never fails to advertise himself as a political scientist, Dayan Jayatilleke, and also the assorted anti-Sinhala-Buddhist editorial writers and columnists — to tell us which state had denied the Tamils ‘equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’.
So let’s begin with the Tamil regimes going back in history to the Arya Chakravartis. I repeat I am dealing with only abbreviated historical episodes selected to highlight the condition of the Tamils under the two separate regimes.
The most dramatic episode that sets the templates for the future begins with Sankili who marched down to Mannar on the Christmas eve of 1544 and massacred 600 Tamils who refused to swear allegiance to him. Men, pregnant women, children were slaughtered because they owed allegiance to the King of Portugal.
The political ambition of becoming the sole representative of Jaffna – a common obsession with the Jaffna Tamils — was first established by him. When Sapumal Kumaraya ruled Jaffna the Tamils were governed under the Sinhala-Buddhist ideology of tolerance and equals.
He did not persecute the Tamils demanding total allegiance to Kottte. He even built the sacred Nallur Temple, according to some reports. But it is the authoritarian, intolerant and cruel Sankili fascism which eventually became the dominant political culture of Jaffna. Sapumal Kumaraya’s tolerant culture did not find the necessary fertile ground to grow as a political force in Jaffna.
When the Vellalas took over the running of Jaffna as subalterns to the colonial masters they wielded power ruthlessly to oppress, suppress and persecute the Jaffna Tamil low castes. One of the most memorable Tamil contributions to the Oxford dictionary is the Tamil word ‘pariah’. It reveals the degrading contempt with which the Tamils treated their own Tamil fellowmen. The Tamils did not confer ‘equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ or ‘dignity’ to pariahs. They were the outcasts.
Tamils degrading Tamils and reducing them to subhuman outcasts was a systemic culture enforced with the authority of Hindu religious laws. Their religious dogmas and customs had no compunction in denying ‘equality’, ‘justice’ ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ to the Tamils.
Rajavarothiam Samapanthan goes around capitals of the world complaining about the denial of dignity to the Tamils by ‘the Sinhala state’. Well, what has he done to save the oppressed Tamils from the depths of their despair? Why did he not come out openly to defend the dignity and equality of the low-castes who were denied the right to worship their common God/s at Maviddipuram Temple? When the low-caste Tamils demanded equality to worship in a common prayer house their heads were cracked with bottles filled with sand. So when did the Velella who are now demanding ‘equality’, ‘justice’ ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ give ‘equality’, ‘justice’ ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ to their own low-castes?
Low-caste Tamils were kicked around by the Vellala elite as if they were an unworthy breed who did not deserve ‘equality’, ‘justice’ ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’.
The Vellala elite who ruled Jaffna as subalterns of the colonial masters from the 17th century oppressed, suppressed, persecuted, and denied the Tamil people the fundamental human rights to drink water from their wells, or even to walk in sunlight fearing that it would pollute the high caste eye sight.
They were not allowed to sit in buses. They had to sit on the floor of the bus. There were separate pews in the back for the low-castes. They were not allowed to worship Lord Siva in the same Hindu temples. Their schools were burnt. Those who violated the Vellala supremacist rules were hammered by Vella thugs. Mourners burying their loved ones with traditional drums were waylaid and beaten to near death.
Then came independence. For the first time the subhuman treatment of the Jaffna Tamil low-caste was made illegal by S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike when he passed the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act of 1958.
For the first time the powers of the Vellala supremacists to oppress their own people were clipped. The liberated Tamils were beginning to taste dignity, equality, peace and justice.
But then came the first Tamil state born out of the war declared by the Vellala elite at Vadukoddai on May 14, 1976. The Tamils had a quasi-state, complete with a judiciary, army, navy and an air force. Tamils were proud of their state. But what dignity did Sampanthan and Sumanthiran have under the Tamil state? They complain to the world that they do not have dignity under ‘the Sinhala state’. What is the dignity, security, peace and justice they enjoyed under the Tamil state? What chances did Sampanthan have of being appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in Prabhakaran’s state?
The NGO leaders complained that the Tamils could not find justice in ‘the Sinhala state’. So when did Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu go to the courts in his Tamil state looking for justice? He was even scared to open a branch of his office in his Tamil state.
Whenever he wanted justice he went to the courts of ‘the Sinhala state’. And he boasted triumphantly of his victories against the Sinhala rulers. Didn’t Tamil lawyers such as Sumanthiram, Vigneswaran and Ponnambalam practise and thrive in Sinhala courts? What kind of justice would they have got from the Tamil state in Vanni if they took up the case of a Tamil child abducted by the Tamil state and thrown into Prabhakaran’s futile conflict? They operated in ‘the Sinhala state’ which they claim never gave justice to them, but never went to operate in the Tamil state that was supposed to give them equality. Why?
The evidence of Tamils being denied ‘equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ by the Tamil regimes is overwhelming. But let us now look at how the Tamils were treated by ‘the Sinhala state’. The Tamils never had it so good as under ‘the Sinhala state’. They had free education from kindergarten to the university – a boon not available to the Tamils in S. India, the only homeland of Tamils. They have to pay for tertiary education.
They have free health services which their compatriots do not have in USA – the land of the free. They don’t’ have to wait till three Sinhalese get jobs for one of them to get a job like in Malaysia. There are 193 flags flying at the UN and the only flag that recognises the Tamils is the flag of ‘the Sinhala state’. Never have the Tamils achieved such high status in their history as under ‘the Sinhala state’. Not even the Indian flag, their homeland, has given them a place.
Tamils have been conferred with great dignity with their leaders being given a place of honour in national stamps. Tamil language is dignified in all Sri Lankan currencies. Under ‘the Sinhala state’ Tamils have shone as never before. It has been the golden period of Tamils. In his biography of his father-in-law, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, Prof. A. J. Wilson categorised the Dudley Senanayake- Chelvanayakam coalition as the ‘golden years of Tamil-Sinhala cooperation’.
It is a historical fact that the Tamil never had ‘ equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ as under the Sinhala state. The NGOs and the Indian government have enough research workers to justify their claim that the Tamils were denied ’equality’, ‘justice’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ by ‘the Sinhala state’. In fact, it is election time now in Tamil Nadu.
Modi’s government is facing serious charges of ‘Hindification’ of Tamil Nadu. Ms. S. Vijayadharani, a Congress member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, blasted the Modi government the other day on Newshour 10 program for its one language, one religion, one history, one culture policies imposed on Tamil Nadu by the centre.
There is no space in this article to elaborate the main theme any further. The argument is clear. The Tamils never had ‘equality, peace, justice and dignity’ in any period of their history except under the 73 years of what they called ‘the Sinhala state’. So, the Indian government must seriously consider rephrasing their diplomatic language to make their political pressures credible.
Their diplomatic ability to push their interests through lies is not going to convince the Sri Lankan public that they are genuine in helping Sri Lanka to achieve either its own interests or reconciliation. If ‘the Sinhala state’ has treated the Tamils far better than any of the Tamils regimes throughout their history – leaving aside the common failings that plague the history of all nations – why should the Indian government intervene in the domestic affairs on false accusations of a community that has treated its own people worse than dogs?
India is not going to solve its problem or that of its neighbours if it pursues its interventions on the lies of one community. The Government too must aggressively challenge the fake accusations with the truth.
It has to be done on solid research which has been hijacked by the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist NGOs and media hacks recycling Tamil propaganda. A well-qualified research team can easily blast to smithereens the kind of propaganda on which the Indian policy is based on. Foreign interventions based on Tamil fiction can be easily demolished. It is up to the Foreign Ministry to initiate action to save the nation from foreign interventions.