If the fact that some of the premier apologists for the current regime have devoted several of their columns in recent Sunday papers to personal attacks against me is anything to go by, I appear to have ‘arrived’ in Sri Lanka’s English newspaper world! That some of the Rajapaksa Sycophancy (RS) having chosen me as a target, is as close to a badge of honour as anyone with an ethical bone in his body could aspire to.
The current regime has given more than an adequate indication of its ‘democratic credentials’ and acceptance of dissent and these journalists have insisted on gilding that particular lily by personal attacks on those they see as the enemies of a regime of which they are well-provided-for lackeys. The only reason I have risen to this particular bait is that I see beyond these individuals, who appear to be making a good living by practising a particular brand of sycophantic attack-dog journalism, to a state of affairs that is symptomatic of what prevails in the matter of what is dignified by the term ‘political commentary’ in this country. What comes to mind is that what they produce would do credit to a similar regime from about half a century ago in a country in which some of them might even have garnered their postgraduate education – the USA.
However, since these characters and, I suspect, their ‘handlers’, are either ignorant of that period of US history or choose to pretend ignorance of it for very good reason, let me provide a few specifics.
I speak of that period in the post World War II USA that featured the House Un-American Affairs Committee (HUAC) headed by the late unlamented Senator Joe McCarthy. These journalists have displayed an eerie propensity, like “Tail Gunner Joe,” to take random samples and make sweeping generalisations. McCarthy once made the statement at a large press conference that, “Everyone in the State Department is either a Communist or a homosexual.” In the shocked silence that followed, a voice was heard to pipe up from the back of the hall asking, “What if they are both?” Our horde and their handlers obviously need some ‘voices from the back of the hall!’
Recently, I have been accused, among other things, of being some kind of disillusioned Trotskyist who is “doddering” away his fading years. While my connection to politics of a progressive persuasion is something that I would hardly wish to deny, suffice it to say that a reply appropriate to the kind of accusation would be, “I am not now, nor ever have been a member of a Trotskyist party!” I trust that denial will satisfy even that guy’s McCarthyite proclivities.
No, this coterie of writers to the English newspapers’ epitomises a particular brand of opportunistic apologia for the current regime. They are extremely brave in their pronouncements for the simple reason that they have the blessings of their handlers who have demonstrated a pathological difficulty in the matter of accepting dissent of even the mildest kind, leave alone opposition of a more blatant or militant nature.
These characters have lived lives of privilege under the protective wings of their class and families and continue to make a living as voices for a regime whose actions speak far louder than its words. In fact, there are more historical precedents for this kind of situation than a submission of this kind can do justice to.
In one of my earliest submissions to an English newspaper I lamented that the Sinhala word Awasthawaadiya (Opportunist) had ceased to be a term of derogation and opprobrium in the political dictionary of Sri Lanka. My disgust with those who belong in that category has in no way diminished. What people who conduct their lives guided by opportunism earn thereby, can only be described accurately as blood money when what they propagate ultimately leads to injustice and death. To pretend that they do what they do without any sense of what flows from it is myopia of an unimaginable kind.
However, in all fairness, I must admit to a certain fascination with these people. Their proclivity for bombast, fabrication and downright abuse and insult obviously grows with the level of protection they receive from a regime that displays a growing intolerance of criticism of any description. That propensity for spinning tales with no respect for reality includes sticking people in political pigeon-holes and giving them religious affiliations and God knows what else that they never had! Those who are aware of my political and (lack of) religious affiliations might have to suppress a guffaw or two when they look at one statement that describes me as, “(Suffering) such depravations, emotional and otherwise, that their final refuge becomes an unholy fascination with organised religion…”
I have had the doubtful privilege of being subject to abuse of a blatantly racist nature as well. After all, how else would one interpret the use of the term “mongrel” in an attempt to describe my parentage? The use of blatant lies and falsehoods, of course, makes it impossible for these emanations to come anywhere close to fitting into that hoary old journalistic dictum that “Facts are sacred, comment is free!” There is a method to this madness and a clear pattern to this attempt to demonise anyone who dares to raise their head above the battlements and observe and, heaven forbid, comment on the mess that is the current Sri Lankan reality.
I have chosen to only deal with what has been directed at me. However, I am but one of the targets that these reprehensible characters have chosen. Their net has been cast widely enough to capture any and everyone who has the temerity to criticise the current regime. There is one very clear outcome for these people: significant improvement in their fortunes in a land where the degree of one’s demonstrated sycophancy is the primary qualification for advancement.