By Sebastian Rasalingam, Toronto
It is with deep pain and a sense of futility that I read the seemingly well-articulated "ataappali" of my fellow Tamil George Willy in Texas, directed at President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his visit to the US.
However, as an old man who grew up during the Donoughmore era, I am probably several decades older than Willy, and heard fine speeches from the silver tongues of the Ramanathans and Ponnambalams of an earlier era. I cringe with pain because we Tamils continue to play the same tune and propagate the same myths which we collectively believe.
Even some Sinhalese, the anglicized minority who read no Tamil, have begun to believe in our own grandiose speeches, where we nurse this beggar’s wound of Majority discrimination against the Tamil minority.
Here we have George Willy, with his non-Tamil name, telling us how important Thamil is to the Tamils, even though there is not a single Tamil quotation in his speech. We are told of red stains from the "Jambu" fruit ("perunaval" in Tamil), where as the perunaval only leaves a brown stain!
As Dr. Jane Russell, the British historian has noted, the Tamil politicians have exploited the Elara-Dutugamunu story even more than the Sinhalese. It was G. G. Ponnambalam who brought the Mahavamsa into modern politics in the 1930s, claiming that it was a false piece of propaganda, and in the next instant claiming that it was really a history of the Tamils, with the aboriginal Veddas taken to be Tamils, Vijaya transmuting into Vijayan, Kasyapa into Kasi-Appan and Parakaramabahu a 66% Dravidian. He went on to incite the Sinhalese in Navalapitiya for the first Sinhala-Tamil riot in 1939! George Willy is unwittingly or wittingly playing the old fiddle of G. G. Ponnambalam.
mp3 Audio of speech by George R. Willy
George Willy says, "Do not make the mistake that sparked the ‘58 riots." Most Tamils of today are too young to know the truth about 1956 and 1958. It was the Tamils and not the Sinhalese who made the mistake. By 1949 the Ilanakai Thail Arasu kadchi (ITAK -Tamil Sovereignty party) had already resolved in Maradana that the "invaders" must be driven out of "the traditional homelands" of the Tamils.
The Tamil-language publications of the ITAK 1952 election expressly said it. If the ITAK really wanted federalism, there was a large and powerful Kandyan group supporting it in 1948 and 1952. But the Tamils made the mistake of NOT going to the country for Federalism. Instead, federalism was talked about in English only in Colombo, to appease the Thiruchelvams, Milroy Pauls and other Karuvakaddu types. ITAK was just a false front for a more ambitious Arasu idea. This idea failed electorally in 1952, but they stoked the 1958 fire by taking advantage of the 1956 Language bill!
It was this same idea that reared in fully grown from in Vadukkoddai, Thimpu and Kilinochchi.
George Willy says, "Do not hold back Tamil youth who want to get into universities." It is amazing that the rich upper-caste Tamils could raise this much ire and fire about the less than 1% of the children who enter the school system and finally end up in University.
What about the school dropouts, and the unstated barriers against the Tamil children belonging to the socially disadvantaged castes to get a decent education?
How many of the Tamil university entrants are Vellalars or Rich Colombo Karaivars?
Why are there NO Tamil undergrads from the socially disadvantaged castes?
This iniquity has existed from the beginnings of Navalar’s times through Ramanathan’s attempts to include caste discrimination in the constitution. Even in the post-Vadukkoddai era, Shanmuganathan of the Communist Party had to lead a campaign in Mavattipuram regarding the ITAK’s attitude to schooling, Temple entry, and even the right to draw water from a well.
And yet George Willy says, "Do not make the Tamils feel as though they are second class citizens". He does not seem to know that the Tamils admit only of a ruling caste and the others are just subject castes?
Interestingly, the LTTE’s was not only a fight for Eelam but also a rejection of the leadership of the Thimpu-Tamils like the George Willys, Wakeley Pauls, Ponnambalams and their (s)ilk.
George Willy lives in America discovered by a Spaniard. Most of California and some southern states of USA are the "Traditional Homelands" of the Hispanics living in the US. But have the Hispanics any rights whatever in the US?
There are many more Hispanics in America than the possibly 10% Tamils now left in Sri Lanka. Ask what would happen in the USA if the Hispanics asked for a strip on the US flag, or what the Tamils had in Sri Lanka even in 1960.
Tamils have to be politically less naive and follow the subtle and successful politics of S. Thondaman who, without slogan, Sathyagraha or slaughter achieved every single political objective of his people through cooperation with the majority and working towards national unity.