A simple experiment to highlight ingrained racism in Sri Lanka

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When Etisalat dreams of a Sri Lanka where everyone is connected, it’s clearly thinking only of the Sinhalese. Why else would the company’s website feature, so prominently, a Lion to depict ‘everyone’ in Sri Lanka?

In popular media, corporate marketing and government output, there are numerous other examples of a racism so deeply internalised and ingrained in Sri Lanka that even when flagged, it is dismissed as unimportant or at best, of marginal and passing interest.

As we tweeted,

 

Another particularly revealing example from Government recently came in the form of the Police spokesperson’s comments over an ill-thought out and executed census of vehicular traffic coming into Colombo. As reported in Ceylon Today, the forms handed out to motorists in light vehicles were only in Sinhala, raising the ire of the Government’s own Minister of National Languages and Social Integration, Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, Nanayakkara said handing over forms only in the Sinhala language is a violation of the National Language Policy. He added, the police are bound to follow the National Language Policy and accordingly the forms should have been trilingual.

The Minister also diplomatically noted that the forms could not have been done at the instruction of the Inspector General of Police. This ostensible support of the National Language Policy notwithstanding, the Police spokesman’s comments tell another story.

Police Media Spokesperson, SSP Prashantha Jayakody said the police were unable to give the forms in all three languages as the decision to conduct the survey was a sudden one. He said, no driver was forced to fill the forms, and as the forms were easy to understand, it was not a serious issue.

When Ceylon Today questioned whether the police are planning on giving out the forms in Tamil and English languages as well, he said, at the moment they have no such plan to do so.

Emphasis ours.

So not only do the Police not see any need to comply with the Government’s own language policies, they think non-compliance isn’t really a big problem. The animating mentality, much like Etisalat’s graphic, is quite simply racist.

The litmus test is a very simple one – role reversal. The Police spokesman in particular and all the Sinhalese who think that the marginalisation of Tamil, and by extension, the Tamil people, is “not a serious issue”, should try to fill out the following form, given that it’s so “easy to understand”.

This is a translation into Tamil of the original form in Sinhala handed to motorists by the Police, which is accessible on the web. If the majority of readers and the Police spokesman himself cannot fill this out, then why flippantly suggest that Tamils find it any easier to fill it out in Sinhalese?

Ingrained racism in Sri Lanka runs deep, and is reflected even in the assumption that those calling a leading hospital’s hotline are Sinhalese.

 

The interim recommendations of the LLRC, released as far back as November 2010, clearly noted that “many people who gave evidence before the Commission expressed grave concern that they were expected to communicate with public officials or perfect documents in a language they did not understand”.

In the LLRC’s Final Report, released a year after, it noted with regret that “recommendations on urgent measures made by the Commission in its interim communication to the President on these matters have yet to be implemented” (Section 8.229). Page 308 – 310 of the LLRC’s Final Report have a number of extremely insightful observations, including from members of the Buddhist clergy, about how the marginalisation of the Tamil language, and by extension, the marginalisation of the Tamil community, is a very serious impediment to reconciliation post-war.

And yet why is there no greater condemnation over the Police spokesman’s outrageous sentiments, or the inability of public institutions to greet people in a language that reflects what they would choose to communicate in? Why don’t we identify and condemn marketing that conflates Sinhalese as a group with Sri Lanka as a place? Perhaps the majority, comfortable in the knowledge that their language is after all, what really matters in Sri Lanka, remain oblivious to how demeaning and violent it is to be told that non-representation and non-use of a language is “not a serious issue”.

There is some hope. As @prabudeepan notes,

 

We wonder though whether in a country where racism is so ingrained it is invisible to the majority, small gestures of outrage are enough to avert another drift into open communal violence.

  • Antany Peter

    The Indians and the Westerners could not have done lot of damage to the country and to its people, if the Sinhalese knew how to respect and value their fellow countrymen. Late is better than never, I urge the Sinhalese people to respect and value their fellow citizens. The Tamils are belongs to Sri Lanka as much as the Sinhalese people. I have visited the country in April 2012, and experienced racism & discrimination at first hand, because I am a Tamil. I could not get local tickets at the Peradeniya Garden and Sigiriya, because I do not speak perfect Sinhala. However, I speak perfect Tamil; it did not mean anything to the people who work at the ticket counter. I wanted to stay in Sri Lanka for a while; therefore, I have approached the Dehiwala YMCA to rent a room. However, I was told to bring a recommendation letter. I told them that I left the country twenty two years ago, everyone I knew left the country or dead, and I do not know anyone in Colombo. But they did not bother about anything as soon as they saw my place of birth (Jaffna) on my passport.
    I can’t get a job in the Western countries. It is very obvious to me that the Western governments are preventing me from getting a job to stop me having a website, or publishing a book, to hide the West’s dirty democracy. The way they create ill stories to isolate me from others is really unbelievable and shocking. The Western intelligence members use my email account and mobile phone number to send dreadful emails and text messages to others, in order to make others think that I am not normal. This is how they make others to avoid me in order to hide the truth. The Western intelligence members also follow me wherever I go and spread lies about me, in order to keep me in isolation from others. They are not keeping me in a prison cell, but in an open air prison; so they can fool others by preaching democracy and human rights. Ask Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, they will tell you more about the West.
    My uncle and aunt paid for my flight ticket to be in Sri Lanka. Here I am I could not even buy a ticket as a Sri Lankan to see the Peradeniya Garden and Sigiriya. I have refused to pay as a foreigner and walked out of those places. I could not even get an accommodation at YMCA. I have applied for jobs, but I did not get any reply. Things will get ugly, if the Sinhalese carry on their foolishness as they did in the past. They have defeated foolish Prhabharan; it does not mean they can defeat the 82 million Tamils. Seriously, the Sinhalese and the Tamils have to grow up; I hope they would listen to their intellectuals and become smart & decent human beings.
    I don’t mind being an Asian, but I do look like an Indian Subcontinent fool; that is really bothers me. I have a business degree & diplomas, and worked as an accountant more than ten Years. I have done lot of research on world history and politics. My research is equal to two PhD’s. But do you appreciate or reward for my knowledge and skills? If I am a Westerner or Chinese they would have recognised my knowledge and skills long time ago. Unfortunately, I was born in Sri Lanka; among the fools who destroy their own intellectuals. The Indians think that they can rule Asia by holding onto the Westerners’ tail; that’s mean the Indians plan to keep the Asians under the Westerners for a long time. But I have a message for the Indians, it will never happen. The Indians can choose to have babies like rats to keep their people serving the Western masters in the name of democracy. However, if the Indians are threat to the Asia’s dominant then the smart Asians will break India into pieces.

    • policyminded

      dear Antony Peter,

      Im sorry you had such a terrible experience in Sri Lanka. I am a Sinhala person speaking perfect sinhala, and the last time I went to Sigiriya they asked me for my National ID or passport too.

      This is usually when the ticket people can sense you are from a foreign country. They try to charge you the foreigner price.

      The thing is I think its fair enough. If you’re not a regular tax payer here and you can afford to pay why not pay a couple of bucks to maintain some of these places? and if you live here then you would know that no one goes anywhere without their ID.

      About you not getting replies to job applications, there are 20-30,000 unemployed graduates, most of them Sinhala, What does that mean? Some of Sri Lanka’s most successful businessman are tamil.

      There are lots of things wrong in this country but not everything is about race or racism

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    I don’t think the Etisalat graphic is racist — not unless you consider the national flag, the Kandy Lions, the Lions Club etc all to be racist. The lion is a symbol of Sri Lanka as a nation. There’s nothing racist about that, and I say that as a non-Sinhalese.

    While there is a lot of racism in SL it is important to be realistic in our criticisms if we are not to polarize opinion and appear as silly as those protesting that Dodge ‘farmer’ commercial as racist.

    • Liberal_Dev

      Hi David

      According to the Official Web Portal of Government of Sri Lanka, the lion, in the national flag, indeed represents the Sinhalese race.

      “The lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race.”

      Referece: http://www.gov.lk/gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&lang=en

      Thank You

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Dear Liberal Dev,

        I didn’t say the lion didn’t represent the Sinhalese. My point is that it doesn’t represent only the Sinhalese, and is therefore not racist.

        Thank you

        Commonsensical Dave

        • Dev

          Liberal_dev has very CLEARLY shown that the lion represents the Sinhala people as the website is the SL govt own !!!!

          All other arguments are spurious at best, it may represent something else for people like Blacker and Off_the _cuff but it represents the Sinhala people as far the its original meaning goes.
          Remember, Singha in Sanscrit is Lion and Sinhala people call themselves the “lion people”
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinha

          So stop making accusations against GV and other lame excuses —admit it, racism is institutionalized in the country !!
          A visit to the police station in WELLAWATTE proves my point further (if any was needed that is)

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “Liberal_dev has very CLEARLY shown that the lion represents the Sinhala people as the website is the SL govt own !!!!”

            Since the GoSL doesn’t represent only the Sinhalese people, what is the logic in your comment? And do you always talk about yourself in the third person?

            “All other arguments are spurious at best, it may represent something else for people like Blacker and Off_the _cuff but it represents the Sinhala people as far the its original meaning goes.”

            How can it represent something else for me if you say the lion doesn’t even represent me at all? Can you make up your mind please?

            “Remember, Singha in Sanscrit is Lion and Sinhala people call themselves the “lion people”
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinha

            So Native Americans are actually from India, because Columbus called them Red Indians? Wow, Liberal Dev, your leaps of logic are most liberal.

            “So stop making accusations against GV and other lame excuses —admit it, racism is institutionalized in the country !!”

            Where have I denied it? What I am questioning is the hypothesis that the use of the lion graphic has racist motives.

            “A visit to the police station in WELLAWATTE proves my point further (if any was needed that is)”

            I’m sure, but we don’t really have time for your private life, thanks. Can we just stick to the issue of the lion symbol please?

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Do you also believe that Singapore — from Singa Pura, or City of the Lion — is also a Sinhalese country? I look forward to more of your liberal leaps, Dev :D

          • Dev

            Liberal_dev and me are not the same people FYI !

            As for making liberal leaps, I still remember the leaps you made in explaining Prabakaran’s death, I look forward to your story regarding his son’s death too

          • Off the Cuff

            Dev, Liberal_Dev, Rational_dev, Burning_Issue etc,

            No Prefix Dev underwriting Liberal_Dev says “Liberal_dev has very CLEARLY shown that the lion represents the Sinhala people as the website is the SL govt own !!!!”

            The subject under discussion is not the Sri Lankan flag but the UAE owned and managed Etisalat Telephone company that is accused of racism. The Liberal and the Non Liberal Dev are both attempting to find a similarity between Etisalat’s stylised Logo of a Lion and the symbolic meaning of the Lion in the Sri Lankan Flag. GBPB quoting the Wiki (02/15/2013 • 10:50 pm) gives a detailed discription of the Sri Lankan flag and states that the Lion and the colour maroon symbolises the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.

            What these opportunistic Racists dont want to acknowledge is that outside the Sri Lankan Flag’s frame work, the Lion Logo and the Colour maroon can mean anything, even the King of England, since that would take the wind out of their Racist sails.

            BTW, though irrelevant to the Etisalat Lion, you have brought out Wellawatte as an example of Racism. Let’s have a look at how Wellawatte (Colombo 6) got transformed to a Tamil majority area within the Sinhalese majority South.

            Mr Sebastian Rasalingam, Toronto, Canada says.
            Although most Tamils could readily get a housing loan from the “Bank of Ceylon” run by Mr. Loganathan, especially at the Wellawatta branch, I found that I could not even open an account even with a government pay cheque. However, although I was an outcaste among the Tamils, I found that my Sinhalese mates invited me to have tea with them – a strange experience for a man who was always spoken to by Tamils in the curt “inga va” Tamil. (http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/06/sinhalization-of-north-and-tamilzation.html)

            The above is first hand evidence from a Tamil, who has suffered degrading treatment from other Tamils, in the 1950s, when the Bank of Ceylon led by a Racist Tamil, has been helping Tamils to buy property in Wellawatte, with easy access to loans from the premier State Bank. This is a very good example of the Racist Tamil Bureocracy that dominated Govt institutions even after indipendance (a fact strenuously denied by Tamils).

            If you can counter the arguments already posted on this webpage, then please do so.

            Dev, why are you avoiding David’s question “Do you also believe that Singapore — from Singa Pura, or City of the Lion — is also a Sinhalese country?”
            Are you stumped by it?

            Burning Issue,

            You have outdone yourself this time.

            you wrote “The MR regime is the embodiment of all the ills of the country. It is not only fostering Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism, but also actively promoting it. The Sri Lankan flag is the focal point of such activities; hence, it is being perceived that it is the symbol of the hegemony.”

            Congratulations in proving your ability to engage in rational debate. I am awaiting your explanation to David’s question with interest. Is displaying the SL Flag racist?

            Here is another question for you.
            Is the use of the maroon colour racist, due to its symbolism in the SL flag?

          • Dev

            I am not stumped by anyone and especially by the likes of David.

            Singapore only makes my point further valid, the national emblem of that state is a lion too.

            I was making the point “Sinha” in the Sinhala is from the same origin (Sanskrit) and the lion in the flag represents them.
            Again, stop arguing with me and take a look at the NATIONAL website of the government of Sri Lanka (gov.lk), it clearly states the lion represents the Sinhala people, it does not say it represents the people of Sri Lanka (if it did then you are right and GV/myself are wrong) or the government of SL but the Sinhala people !!!!

            http://www.gov.lk/gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&lang=en

            Making convoluted arguments may work with some but not most people, reminds me of the wonderful arguments you made/make regarding the evidence of war crimes as well.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Well, whichever Dev you are, there’s nothing convoluted in my arguments. Perhaps it is your confusion that makes it so. The lion, the central graphic of the SL flag, cannot be deemed to be racist simply because the GoSL declares it to represent something, or because it’s Sanskrit origin is shared by the Sinhalese ethnic group. In the latter case, the fact that Singapore is also represented by the lion, and has taken its Sanskrit origins into their own ethno-national identity, proves that the lion doesn’t represent ONLY the Sinhalese. I’m sorry if this all too convoluted for you, but maybe you should have a quiet cup of Ceylon Tea (if you don’t mind the racist lion in the logo) and think things through. Don’t blame me if I can’t dumb down an argument for you.

            But I will try.

            For a symbol to be deemed racist, you must show that it is a symbol mostly identified with a certain race. You have been unable to do that.

          • Off the Cuff

            Dev,

            Of course you are Definitely stumped.

            You are stumped to connect the Etisalat’s Right facing stylised Lion head (minus the body) with the Left facing full bodied Lion holding a Sword in it’s right paw.

            Since you have been making a futile attempt to do so by quoting the SL govt website let’s examine what it states.

            Quote
            The National Flag of Sri Lanka represents the country and her heritage as rallying device that integrates the minorities with the majority race. Sri Lanka National Flag is an improvisation of the civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasingha. The civil standard had a passant royal lion with a sword in it’s right fore paw at the center, and a bo-leaf on each of the four corners on a plain border.

            When Sri Lanka gained her independence from Great Britain on February 04, 1948, it was the lion flag of the last king of Sri Lanka was hoisted once again.

            The first Prime Minister of independent Sri Lanka, D.S.Senanayake, appointed a committee to advice the government on the design of a new national flag. The design approved by the committee in February 1950 retained the symbol of the lion with the sword and the bo-leaves from the civil standard of the last king of Sri Lanka, with the inclusion of two verticle stripes green and orange in color. the significance of each symbol of the national flag is as follows:

            The lion in the flag represents the Sinhala race.
            The sword of the lion represents the sovereignty of the country.
            Unquote

            The Last King of Sri Lanka was not a Sinhalese by Birth. His name at birth was Kannasamy Nayaka. He was a Tamil Speaking Nayak born in Madurai (Madras) in what is the Modern day Tamil Nadu. He was a Buddhist. It is his Flag, depicting a LEFT FACING Lion, with a Sword in the Right Fore Paw that is used in the Sri Lankan Flag. He has also used four Bo Leaves that has a Buddhist religious symbolism.

            This was the flag that flew in the Kandyan Kingdom till King Rajasingha was deposed in 1815. This was the flag that was raised at independence in 1948 representing ALL Citizens of Sri Lanka until it was replaced by the current National Flag with the added orange and green Vertical stripes. Hence for TWO years after Independence and many years before the Kandyan Treaty in 1815, the LONE Lion with a Sword represented the Sri Lankan Polity (Tamil. Muslim, Sinhalese, Burgher, Malay, Kafir, Veddah etc).

            The Sinhalese accepting a Non Sinhalese Tamil Speaker from Tamil Nadu to rule them is Racist? The Tamils accepting the Civil standard of a Tamil speaker sans any symbolic reference to Tamils is Racist (it was the Lion and Not the Bull)? The Moors, Burghers, Malays and Kafirs accepting the Lone Lion was Racist? Why were there no riots then?

            You are talking about Racism when degrading treatment of Fellow Humans was an INGRAINED character of the Tamil ruling class of Jaffna. In fact attempts were made by them to have the status quo written into the Law of the Land. Luckily for the Tamil majority they were unsuccessful.

            I sincerely hope that you will not attempt to deny what follows.

            In 1847, Arumuga Navalar, a Tamil Nationalist, left the Jaffna Central College where he was a teacher because a ‘low caste’ Tamil student from the Nalavar caste was admitted to the school by the Principal, Peter Percival.

            Riots occurred in 1871 with Tamils fighting Tamils. Caste clashes erupted between Vellalar, dhoby caste and barber caste in Maviththapuram. The root cause of the riot was alleged that dhoby caste people refused to wash the clothes of barber caste people. Vellalar caste people were blamed for the violence. This is the first known caste/race related riot in the island.

            1923 Tamil Tamil cast riots.
            1929 Tamil Tamil riots due to equal seating in schools.
            1931 Tamil Tamil riots due to the use of drummers by low cast people at a funeral procession.

            The MAJORITY of Tamils could not even travel by Public Bus in the North, till the govt stepped in to outlaw this inhumanity perpetrated on the ordinary Tamils by the Tamil ruling (Land owning) class by enacting the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act (1957).

            The first Tamil Sinhala riots occurred in 1939 when G. G. Ponnambalam (a Tamil Leader) incited the Sinhalese by using derogatory terms at a public meeting in Navalapitiya.

            That is not the picture you gave the world.
            Though late, the truth is coming out now.

            Unfortunately for your puerile argument the Lion in the Flag is not the Lion Head in the Etisalat web site. It is also not the Lion in the Court of Arms used by the British Royalty from time to time. It is also not the Lion used by MGM the film company. It is also not the Lion used by the Peugeot car company. It is also not the Lion used by the Detroit Lions. It is also not the Lion used by the Brisbane Lions. It is also not the Lion used by Singapore. There are thousands of such Lions in the world at large.

            Closer to home it is not the Lion used by the Lions Club nor is it identical with the Lion logo of Sri Lanka cricket or the Sri Lanka Tea industry though it is similar to both.

            Originally the mistake was made by the writer of the GV article. Then the RACISTS pounced on it with glee and tried to go to town with it. The GV writer, to His/Her credit, realised the error and fell silent (not one word written in defence) But the Racists, blinded by Racism are not as intelligent as the GV writer and continue to make fools of themselves.

            There are many Lions used as a Logo in Sri Lanka and overseas but the Racists blinded by Racism cannot see any.

            You say “Making convoluted arguments may work with some but not most people, reminds me of the wonderful arguments you made/make regarding the evidence of war crimes as well”

            My my, you do have an Ego issue. GroundViews policy does not allow me to reply to your puerile attempt at drawing a Red Herring over the current debate. But if you are hinting about the CH4 Fabrications bank rolled by your group and supported by Gordon Wiese and Philip Alston you will have a hard time proving it given that the ONLY hospital under LTTE control did not have a SINGLE LTTE injured or dead within it’s premises while a war was raging outside. Secondly, both experts that were called in by Philip Alston had been found to be perjurers (Liars) and Charlatans (quacks without expert knowledge) by US and Candian courts!

            You can refresh your memory of my arguments here http://groundviews.org/2013/02/07/alistair-burt-archive-of-twitter-interview-on-sri-lanka/#comment-50751

  • policyminded

    Well put “If the majority of readers and the Police spokesman himself cannot fill this out, then why flippantly suggest that Tamils find it any easier to fill it out in Sinhalese?” I completely agree with this.

    But the point about Etiselat lion being racist is ridiculous.

    You can chose to consider it racist if you are so pedantic, then so is celebrating Christmas in England where there are many other races, Thanks giving in America where there are Native Americans and many other races of people.

    The lion is a symbol of Sri Lanka not of the Sinhala people, the celebration of an important part of our history is not necessarily an attempt to exclude those who don’t share the same history.

    The dutch fort in Galle, the Madhu shrine in Mannar, Nallur kovil in Jaffna are a part of our common history, just as the lion is. They are not symbols or history that belong to one particular group or community. Its a choice whether you want to make it your heritage or not, it’s not something any other person can chose to disinherit you from.

    • Burning_Issue

      Technically I agree with the point about the lion. That said, I would like to point out that In England, the St. Gorgeous flag has been highjacked by the far-right movements thus projected a perceived view that all who fly the flag could be racists. Similarly, the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists have highjacked the lion as their symbol repression of the Other. This is the point.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        I see no such hijacking of the lion symbol. What has indeed been hijacked is Buddhism and the Buddha. Let us not make the mistake of distancing ourselves from the lion and leaving it by default in the hands of racists, as has been done with the English flag. The same goes for Buddhism; right thinking (no pun intended!) Buddhists should take back Buddhism from the xenophobes.

        • Burning_Issue

          We can agree to disagree on this; however, the reality projects a view that the lion symbol is synonymous with Sinhala chauvinism and the MR regime is fostering it; hence, one cannot blame the Other resenting it. You may be a non-Sinhala, a Half-Sinhala, or a Quarter-Sinhala but you miserably fail to see from the Other angle!

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear Burning Issue,

            The MR regime and the Sinhalese are two different things. Don’t rub your dislike of the regime on a 70% population.

            You say “the reality projects a view that the lion symbol is synonymous with Sinhala chauvinism”

            The Lion symbol is also synonymous with Ceylon Tea amongst many others.

            You say “hence one cannot blame the Other resenting it”

            Is the use of the Lion in packaging Tea intended to rub the nose of the other in the ground?

            Did the Jaffna Tamil think of the Indian Tamil as the Other?

            Sebastian Rasalingam grew up in Jaffna. After WW2 he moved to Mannar and later to Hatton where he married an Estate Indian Tamil Lady and thence to Colombo. He now lives in Canada. This is what he writes on DBS Jayaraj.com

            The poor Tamils worked in the properties and homes of the upper-caste Tamils. We could not go in buses or attend school. Our very presence was ‘polluting’. When the buses were nationalized by SWRD, the CTB allowed anyone to travel in them. THAT angered the Tamil leaders. It was the Church that grudgingly opened doors very slightly to the oppressed Tamils by allowing them to learn English and read the Bible. In my young days I sat on the class-room floor or carried a low stool from class to class, as only the high castes could sit on chairs. The teachers treated me and another child like me as excreta and punished us for daring to be there. But, I thought that was the law – each had his station in life.

            When I moved to Hatton and later to Colombo, I found a very different world. It was a transforming experience for me and my wife to find that our workmates, mostly Sinhalese would actually sit with us and share a cup of tea. We found that we could go to night school and study without being threatened, beaten up, or go and borrow books, and do things that would bring swift retribution ‘back in the North’; our dwellings would have been torched and our women raped with impunity.

            You see, the Jaffna High Cast Tamils who ruled the North are not saints. They were the cause of the FIRST Sinhala Tamil riots in 1939.

            Writing in Transcurrents he says

            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!

            This Racist crap is providing ammunition to the real racists to polarise Sri Lankan Polity. Why are we doing that? To get even with the MR regime? I think that is short sighted.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Burning Issue, who are you to dictate what this “Other” viewpoint must be? Are you contending that your view is the only Other view? I am neither Sinhalese nor Buddhist (and I’d appreciate you not trying to speculate on this matter) and my view is therefore one of the many Other views, just as yours is one. Tough shit if my view view doesn’t synch with yours, but that’s life. Get used to it.

            MR & Co may or may not be fostering chauvinism, but it is you (and the author of this article) that has connected that chauvinism with the symbol of the lion. If you wish to prove this point, do show us evidence of the lion being used as a symbol (aside from the national flag) by chauvinistic organisations. You will in fact find that what is usually prevalent is Buddhist symbolism.

          • Burning_Issue

            David,

            “Burning Issue, who are you to dictate what this “Other” viewpoint must be? Are you contending that your view is the only Other view?”

            I am sorry if I had touched a raw nerve here!

            May I ask; who are you to say the lion on the flag does not represent the Sinhala exclusively? If you, as a Non-Buddhist and a non-Sinhala, can dictate a point of view on this subject; I as a Tamil, can also dictate a point of view. Who are you to question that? Is this the MR mentality that has been rubbed on you? I do not need to be a Tamil to express this concern; I am sure the author of the article is a Sinhala.

            “If you wish to prove this point, do show us evidence of the lion being used as a symbol (aside from the national flag) by chauvinistic organisations. You will in fact find that what is usually prevalent is Buddhist symbolism.”

            Keep you hair on David. I talked about the perception that the Lion is a symbol of the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism and I stand by it with conviction. The MR regime is the embodiment of all the ills of the country. It is not only fostering Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism, but also actively promoting it. The Sri Lankan flag is the focal point of such activities; hence, it is being perceived that it is the symbol of the hegemony. If you do not see this basic understanding of the minority sensitivities you have no chance of undersigning anything of minority grievances.

            I pointed out the issue with St George’s flag and it’s predicament with the far rights in the UK. Many British politicians have openly made reference to it; this is why more prominence is given to the union flag so the non-English would feel at home including those from Scotland, Wales and Ireland let alone the rest.

            No one had said that the Sinhala Chauvinists have literally highjacked the Lion; all has been said was that it is the perception that has been created by mindless activities.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “I am sorry if I had touched a raw nerve here!” “Keep you hair on David.”

            Dear Burning Issue, please don’t demean yourself further by attempting to muddy the water and attribute an emotional or personal slant to my comments to you. I have addressed your comment, and not your state of mind. I’d thank you to do the same.

            “May I ask; who are you to say the lion on the flag does not represent the Sinhala exclusively?”

            If you cannot substantiate what you have claimed, I have the right to question the claim. You might as well ask me who I am to say the moon isn’t made of cheese.

            “If you, as a Non-Buddhist and a non-Sinhala, can dictate a point of view on this subject; I as a Tamil, can also dictate a point of view. Who are you to question that?”

            I am not dictating anything. I am questioning your claim. You are questioning my right to question. Do think this argument through, Burning Issue, so that we can avoid the usual embarrassment we have seen many times on these pages.

            “Is this the MR mentality that has been rubbed on you?”

            As I said, don’t cripple your arguments with personal attacks and ad hominem speculation. It only makes you look lame.

            “I do not need to be a Tamil to express this concern; I am sure the author of the article is a Sinhala.”

            I am not interested in your ethnicity nor that of the author, and I’m surprised and offended that you are introducing a racial element to our discussion.

            “I talked about the perception that the Lion is a symbol of the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism and I stand by it with conviction.”

            Good for you. We will have to accept that this is a perception you are unable to substantiate, but by which you stubbornly feel you must stick. It would have been admirable if you could have substantiated it and lifted it beyond the realm of opportunistic rhetoric.

            “The MR regime is the embodiment of all the ills of the country. It is not only fostering Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism, but also actively promoting it.”

            What has that to do with the lion symbol?

            “The Sri Lankan flag is the focal point of such activities; hence, it is being perceived that it is the symbol of the hegemony.”

            Can you substantiate this, I ask again, and probably in vain. And as an aside, do you therefore, given the above claim, feel that Etisalat would have been equally racist to have used the SL flag and not just the lion? Do you feel that the display of the SL flag itself is racist too?

            “If you do not see this basic understanding of the minority sensitivities you have no chance of undersigning anything of minority grievances.”

            Given that I am indeed member of a minority, one of the smallest in SL, I scoff at your suggestion that I do not understand minority sentiments. However, that understanding doesn’t prevent me from recognising opportunistic rhetoric.

            “I pointed out the issue with St George’s flag and it’s predicament with the far rights in the UK. Many British politicians have openly made reference to it; this is why more prominence is given to the union flag so the non-English would feel at home including those from Scotland, Wales and Ireland let alone the rest.”

            In a politically united kingdom such as Britain, the display of the English flag outside of sports, can be comparable to the display of southern state flags in the US. It cannot be compared to a national flag. The United Kingdom has continued to consider England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to be separate nations in sport, and this has fostered a regional allegiance both to a geography, an ethnicity, and a flag that is exclusive of outsiders. The SL flag has no such exclusivist symbolism except to those who wish — for various reasons — to voluntarily distance themselves from it. This is why I said that we must not abandon the flag and its symbolism to the extremist right. The latter see Buddhism as the true sign of being both Sri Lankan and Sinhalese, and do not even accord that definition to the Christian Sinhalese. In that light, your claim that the SL flag is a racist symbol has no soundness.

            “No one had said that the Sinhala Chauvinists have literally highjacked the Lion; all has been said was that it is the perception that has been created by mindless activities.”

            No, I didn’t think that the extremists had literally stolen the flag and were holding it hostage, but thanks for clarifying that. The perception you mention is being created by people like you and the author of this blog post, not the extremists. You are in fact doing their job for them by removing a symbol that might have been a rallying point for all Sri Lankans, and instead handed it over to the extremists as a gift. Congratulations.

          • Burning_Issue

            “Dear Burning Issue, please don’t demean yourself further by attempting to muddy the water and attribute an emotional or personal slant to my comments to you. I have addressed your comment, and not your state of mind. I’d thank you to do the same.”

            Every action has a reaction. You asked: “Burning Issue, who are you to dictate what this “Other” viewpoint must be?”

            So I responded along the same vain.

            You further said: “Are you contending that your view is the only Other view?”

            Instead of dealing with the substance of the article you were absolutely dismissive in your responses. You attribute no credence at all to the concern that the minorities in Sri Lanka are being made to feel as second class citizens with the Lion flag as the symbol of oppression. It is understandable that with the surge of patriotism, during war years and months, that would have alienated the minorities. It would have been difficult for the state to prevent that. Now about 4 years have elapsed since the end of the war. There is no end to the tide of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism that is being urged on and abated by the state machinery. Put yourself into a Tamil or a Muslim position within the North and East who have no proficiency in the Sinhala language. In their eyes, they are being oppressed by the state that waves the Lion flag at every opportunity! Yes, I would feel utterly uncomfortable holding the Sri Lankan flag; it is because my impulse is that it does not accommodate me in any shape or form.

            It is not good enough to just say that the Lion flag represents all in Sri Lanka; given the history and the protracted bloody war along the lines of ethnicity, the state should manifestly demonstrate that the flag represents all with deeds. How this can be achieved I do not know owing to the composition of the flag. Just read the extract below:

            http://www.home.roadrunner.com/~nickgier/slrvcol.htm

            “The flag of Sri Lankan contains two stripes, green embracing the Muslims and orange integrating the Hindus, thus validating their Sinhalese identity in the Country of the Lion (=Sinhala). Buddhist nationalists have removed these colored strips from their flag, so the sword in the lion?s hand must now appear much more menacing to Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, the Hindus comprising 12 percent of the population with Muslims and Christians claiming 8 percent each.”

            The author is equating the Lion to the Sinhala Buddhist; this coupled with the prominence of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism, it is very much conceivable for one to conclude that the Lion does not represent all in Sri Lanka. There is substance to this claim and it requires serious attention; it is not good enough to dismiss it just like that.

            “As I said, don’t cripple your arguments with personal attacks and ad hominem speculation. It only makes you look lame.”

            I never intended anything to be personal; I am not emotional either.

            “I am not interested in your ethnicity nor that of the author, and I’m surprised and offended that you are introducing a racial element to our discussion.”

            Interesting! Consider what you said at the beginning:

            “I don’t think the Etisalat graphic is racist — not unless you consider the national flag, the Kandy Lions, the Lions Club etc all to be racist. The lion is a symbol of Sri Lanka as a nation. There’s nothing racist about that, and I say that as a non-Sinhalese.”

            You finished it with saying that “I say that as a non-Sinhalese”

            So you did not use ethnicity to make you point, right. One rule for you and another for me haa!

            “No, I didn’t think that the extremists had literally stolen the flag and were holding it hostage, but thanks for clarifying that. The perception you mention is being created by people like you and the author of this blog post, not the extremists. You are in fact doing their job for them by removing a symbol that might have been a rallying point for all Sri Lankans, and instead handed it over to the extremists as a gift. Congratulations.”

            Though I belong to the minority Tamil community, I do not possess extreme views; I believe in compromises and live in harmony with other communities. I never supported separatism but that does not mean I do not pay attention to the security of the Tamils and other minorities including the community you belong. Sri Lanka went through colossal ethnic based war that has polorised the communities to the core. You can do two things:

            1. Impose the majority will on the minorities and create a hegemonic Sri Lankan identity.
            2. Accommodate the minorities to the mainstream by finding ways to alleviate their concerns.

            What has been happening is the first option; many activities are foot in the quest of subjugating the minorities; I say it again, by doing this and flying the Sri Lankan flag at every opportunity, it is seen as the embodiment of the subjugation. If this not clear to you, I do not know what will.

            The Sinhala Buddhist Extremists have dealt with the Tamil Separatism; now they have moved on to their next target, the Muslims. Once they finish with the Muslims, they will start on the Christians, then your turn will come; where would this leave you I do not know!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “Every action has a reaction. You asked: “Burning Issue, who are you to dictate what this “Other” viewpoint must be?”

            Oh dear. looks like any attempt at rational debate has been abandoned. Let me use short words that you’ll understand:

            Article says lion racist.
            I ask how this can be so.
            You then say that I do not have the understanding to ask this question.
            I then ask you who you are to make such a claim.
            You then ask me what right I have to question you.

            A claim has been made by the author of this piece (and by you). I am questioning that claim. So rather than asking me what right I have to question, you should substantiate your claim.

            Have you understood now? Can we get on with the discussion you have childishly sidetracked? Thank you.

            “Instead of dealing with the substance of the article you were absolutely dismissive in your responses. You attribute no credence at all to the concern that the minorities in Sri Lanka are being made to feel as second class citizens with the Lion flag as the symbol of oppression.”

            I am dismissive because you and the author of this blogpost have no substantiation for that claim. You have started off with a dodgy premise and arrived at a false conclusion. It is only those who have removed themselves from the flag that need see it as oppressive. That said, oppression by the state has nothing to do with Etisalat’s use of a symbol, and the author deeming that use racist. It is YOU who has concluded that the lion is exclusivist. I am asking for evidence of that claim. Instead of providing it, you’re questioning my right to question your unsubstantiated claim.

            “It is understandable that with the surge of patriotism, during war years and months, that would have alienated the minorities.”

            Why should minorities feel alienated by patriotism, unless they consider themselves not to be Sri Lankan? I am a member of a minority and feel very much a Sri Lankan and represented by my nation’s flag.

            “There is no end to the tide of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism that is being urged on and abated by the state machinery. Put yourself into a Tamil or a Muslim position within the North and East who have no proficiency in the Sinhala language. In their eyes, they are being oppressed by the state that waves the Lion flag at every opportunity!”

            Then it is time that they changed their view. The flag doesn’t oppress, nor does the lion. If minorities wave the flag right back at their so-called oppressors, it will remove that perception. It is the very abandonment of the flag by SOME people within ONE minority that is the problem, and that problem is political, not ethnic.

            Yes, I would feel utterly uncomfortable holding the Sri Lankan flag; it is because my impulse is that it does not accommodate me in any shape or form.”

            That is your distancing yourself from the flag, and not an exclusion of you from representation by the flag.

            “It is not good enough to just say that the Lion flag represents all in Sri Lanka; given the history and the protracted bloody war along the lines of ethnicity, the state should manifestly demonstrate that the flag represents all with deeds.”

            The state’s failure has nothing to do with the racial overtones you attribute to the flag. The flag represents not the state but the people of Sri Lanka. The administrators of state are a part of those people.

            “How this can be achieved I do not know owing to the composition of the flag.”

            So we can now get to the crux of the matter, which is that you simply think the composition of the flag to be racist, regardless of the government’s actions.

            “The flag of Sri Lankan contains two stripes, green embracing the Muslims and orange integrating the Hindus, thus validating their Sinhalese identity in the Country of the Lion (=Sinhala). Buddhist nationalists have removed these colored strips from their flag, so the sword in the lion?s hand must now appear much more menacing to Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, the Hindus comprising 12 percent of the population with Muslims and Christians claiming 8 percent each.””

            I ask yet again (and again in vain, I suspect) for you to give us examples of this fictitious flag being used by Buddhist extremists. I have never heard of it or seen it. On every occasion it is Buddhist symbolism that is used. If you cannot substantiate this claim, kindly drop it, or I will be forced to use more blunt language than the word “fictitious”.

            “The author is equating the Lion to the Sinhala Buddhist; this coupled with the prominence of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism, it is very much conceivable for one to conclude that the Lion does not represent all in Sri Lanka. There is substance to this claim and it requires serious attention; it is not good enough to dismiss it just like that.”

            Yes, you can conclude that if you base it on a false premise. That’s my point.

            “I never intended anything to be personal; I am not emotional either.”

            Given, that you speculated on my emotional state, I take it as a personal comment. What other intention did you have in that speculation?

            Interesting! Consider what you said at the beginning: You finished it with saying that “I say that as a non-Sinhalese”” So you did not use ethnicity to make you point, right. One rule for you and another for me haa!”

            Of course I did. Because I am substantiating my point. What were you trying to substantiate with your speculation on my ethnicity, and that of the author, and hinting at your own? It isn’t two rules; it is one; that of relevance to the point.

            “Though I belong to the minority Tamil community, I do not possess extreme views; I believe in compromises and live in harmony with other communities. I never supported separatism but that does not mean I do not pay attention to the security of the Tamils and other minorities including the community you belong. Sri Lanka went through colossal ethnic based war that has polorised the communities to the core. You can do two things:
            1. Impose the majority will on the minorities and create a hegemonic Sri Lankan identity.
            2. Accommodate the minorities to the mainstream by finding ways to alleviate their concerns.”

            All that is well and good, but how does that concern your claim that the lion and the SL flag are racist symbols?

            “What has been happening is the first option; many activities are foot in the quest of subjugating the minorities; I say it again, by doing this and flying the Sri Lankan flag at every opportunity, it is seen as the embodiment of the subjugation. If this not clear to you, I do not know what will.”

            Again, your conclusion on the flag isn’t factual. It is the distancing of themselves from the flag by the minorities that is the problem. The Buddhist extremists are NOT waving the SL flag. Whenever I point this out, you shift the goalposts and try to vaguely bring in the war.

            “The Sinhala Buddhist Extremists have dealt with the Tamil Separatism;”

            It wasn’t the Sinhala Buddhist extremists who dealt with Tamil separatism. It was the state and the armed forces that did so. So as long as you base your arguments on premises that are in fact outright lies, you will arrive at false conclusions.

            “now they have moved on to their next target, the Muslims. Once they finish with the Muslims, they will start on the Christians, then your turn will come; where would this leave you I do not know!”

            Thank you for your touching concern for my well being, but can we stick to the topic? Now, can you substantiate your claim that the lion and the national flag is being used by Buddhist extremists?

          • Burning_Issue

            “Oh dear. looks like any attempt at rational debate has been abandoned. Let me use short words that you’ll understand:”

            Sorry David; your first attempt in reply to my post on 02/15/2013 • 3:21 pm; you were absolutely dismissive; no attempt whatsoever was made for a rational discussion!

            “Article says lion racist.?I ask how this can be so.?You then say that I do not have the understanding to ask this question.?I then ask you who you are to make such a claim.?You then ask me what right I have to question you.”

            The article in fact states:

            “When Etisalat dreams of a Sri Lanka where everyone is connected, it’s clearly thinking only of the Sinhalese. Why else would the company’s website feature, so prominently, a Lion to depict ‘everyone’ in Sri Lanka?”

            It did not say the “Lion racist”; it merely echoed the impression that has been created by chauvinists and the government that the Lion is the symbol of the Sinhala people. As has been pointed out by others on this forum; the government website also confirms this. You may think that the Lion represents all Sri Lankans; I understand this; I have no problems with your view. My beef with you is about you have a closed mind and not prepared to recognize that there is in fact a strong perceived view that Sinhala People = Lion. This is why the flag has a composition with aspects representing various communities.

            The Flag was accepted by all the communities in 1951; very little has changed since in terms of its composition. All Sri Lankans embraced it. I, as a young boy, was waving the flag when Mrs Banda visited Jaffna in the mid 60s. However, since the emergence of the state sponsored Buddhist chauvinism, things have changed. If one does not recognize this and make corrective actions, the situation will exacerbate. I pointed out that, I find it uncomfortable to hold the Sri Lankan flag in the same vain, as I would be reluctant to hold aloft the Union/English flag as I feel I do not belong. This is my position.

            “Then it is time that they changed their view. The flag doesn’t oppress, nor does the lion. If minorities wave the flag right back at their so-called oppressors, it will remove that perception. It is the very abandonment of the flag by SOME people within ONE minority that is the problem, and that problem is political, not ethnic.”

            You have a point here David. This will not happen without the state takes an impartial stand representing the nation than just the Sinhala Buddhists. Many things afoot to sinhalise the North and East and you expect the Tamils to wave the Lion flag at the settlers! You are not affected; it will be very easy for you to say what you say. You speak two languages, English and Sinhala; there is no wonder that you feel very much a Sri Lankan!

            “The state’s failure has nothing to do with the racial overtones you attribute to the flag. The flag represents not the state but the people of Sri Lanka. The administrators of state are a part of those people.”

            It is not as simple as that. You heard about the Loyalists in Northern Ireland and Union flag. If everything as simple as you describe, the world will be at peace! There will be no ethnic wars! The state has everything to do with how it’s peoples feel about interact with each other. The state’s failures have alienated minorities; the LLRC recommendations have been made to mitigate this situation.

            I do not want to write any further on this mater!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “Sorry David; your first attempt in reply to my post on 02/15/2013 • 3:21 pm; you were absolutely dismissive; no attempt whatsoever was made for a rational discussion!”

            I have explained my dismissiveness. If you want a rational discussion, let’s begin with a rational premise. At least the author of this post hasn’t attempted to defend that premise.

            It did not say the “Lion racist”; it merely echoed the impression that has been created by chauvinists and the government that the Lion is the symbol of the Sinhala people.”

            If you continue on to the second para below the one you have quoted, you will read, “In popular media, corporate marketing and government output, there are numerous other examples of a racism so deeply internalised and ingrained in Sri Lanka that even when flagged, it is dismissed as unimportant or at best, of marginal and passing interest,” therein that Etisalat is racist for using a symbol tat represents a single ethnicity, implying that representation of a single ethnicity is therefore racist; ie the lion is a racist symbol. If you believe that the lion isn’t a racist symbol and the use of it isn’t racist, we can leave it there.

            The fact that you are arguing about what we are in fact arguing about implies that you have no further argument on the subject and are saving face by splitting hairs.

            “The Flag was accepted by all the communities in 1951; very little has changed since in terms of its composition. All Sri Lankans embraced it. I, as a young boy, was waving the flag when Mrs Banda visited Jaffna in the mid 60s. However, since the emergence of the state sponsored Buddhist chauvinism, things have changed. If one does not recognize this and make corrective actions, the situation will exacerbate. I pointed out that, I find it uncomfortable to hold the Sri Lankan flag in the same vain, as I would be reluctant to hold aloft the Union/English flag as I feel I do not belong. This is my position.”

            You are more than welcome to have a position and maintain it. However, don’t attempt to attribute your perceptions and positions to that of a commercial company such as Etisalat, or indeed myself. Just because you have distanced yourself from the flag and attributed to it certain qualities does not mean that other minorities feel the same, or that that is in fact reality.

            “You have a point here David. This will not happen without the state takes an impartial stand representing the nation than just the Sinhala Buddhists.”

            I don’t think the state represents just the Sinhalese Buddhists. But it does represent them (as it must), as well as other ethnicities. Perhaps it tolerates the Buddhist paranoia more than it should, but that is politics.

            “Many things afoot to sinhalise the North and East and you expect the Tamils to wave the Lion flag at the settlers! You are not affected; it will be very easy for you to say what you say. You speak two languages, English and Sinhala; there is no wonder that you feel very much a Sri Lankan!”

            I speak Sinhalese fluently because I grew up in a Sinhalese majority area. I doubt I would have felt less or more Sri Lankan had I grown up in a Tamil majority area. Just ask the Muslims who live in Colombo, or Kandy, or Batticaloa, where they feel more Sri Lankan ;)

            As for Sinhalising the NE, that’s inevitable when you lose a war. If you don’t want defeat or victory, you negotiate. When you go to war, you take your chances. What do you think would have happened to the minority Sinhalese and Muslim areas in Tamil Eelam is it had been established by military victory?

            “It is not as simple as that. You heard about the Loyalists in Northern Ireland and Union flag. If everything as simple as you describe, the world will be at peace! There will be no ethnic wars! The state has everything to do with how it’s peoples feel about interact with each other. The state’s failures have alienated minorities; the LLRC recommendations have been made to mitigate this situation.”

            Nothing is ever simple, and I never said it was. However, it is not the state that determines how the people feel, but vice versa in this matter, although the state can exacerbate the situation when it should be calming it down.

            “I do not want to write any further on this mater!”

            As you wish.

          • Burning_Issue

            I know I have said that I will not write anymore on this subject but cannot resist pointing out the contradictions on your post!

            You said:

            “I don’t think the state represents just the Sinhalese Buddhists. But it does represent them (as it must), as well as other ethnicities. Perhaps it tolerates the Buddhist paranoia more than it should, but that is politics.”

            This is what I would expect a responsible government to do. We will not have this discussion right now if GOSL were to represent all the communities would we?

            You further said:

            “As for Sinhalising the NE, that’s inevitable when you lose a war. If you don’t want defeat or victory, you negotiate. When you go to war, you take your chances. What do you think would have happened to the minority Sinhalese and Muslim areas in Tamil Eelam is it had been established by military victory?”

            So, GOSL (MR regime) does not represent all communities does it? What does colonisation programs with exclusively with Sinhala mean?

            Do you believe that an elected government of Sri Lanka that has international obligations that is comparable to the terrorist branded LTTE? Of course the LTTE was a monolithic organisation seeking to establish a monolithic state for the Tamils. This is why I did not support it; you did not support it. Then how can I support a regime that is hegemonic with its activities. How can one build harmony preventing conducive environment for a form of reconciliation? Do you support a form of subjugation of the minorities?

            You fought with the Sri Lankan army to restore what? You said that the Sri Lankan government represents all communities and then you blatantly justifying sinhalisation of NE on the strength of winning the war! So, you inadvertently confirm that the war was about Sinhala Vs Tamil and the GOSL is on par with LTTE in representing relevant communities!

            Your belligerent and impenitent show is very disappointing indeed.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “This is what I would expect a responsible government to do. We will not have this discussion right now if GOSL were to represent all the communities would we?”

            I’m sure we would, since it isn’t the GoSL that we are discussing but the supposed racist motives of Etisalat.

            You further said:

            So, GOSL (MR regime) does not represent all communities does it? What does colonisation programs with exclusively with Sinhala mean?”

            Colonising the NE (if that is happening) is nothing to do with selective representation. It is to prevent a possible future separation via plebiscite. It is also to prevent popular support for any future ethnic-based revolt.

            “Do you believe that an elected government of Sri Lanka that has international obligations that is comparable to the terrorist branded LTTE?”

            It depends on the context. Sometimes it is comparable, sometimes it is not. During the CFA, the international institutions to which we hold obligations did in fact see the two sides in parity. You can’t have your cake and also eat it when convenient.

            “Of course the LTTE was a monolithic organisation seeking to establish a monolithic state for the Tamils. This is why I did not support it; you did not support it. Then how can I support a regime that is hegemonic with its activities.”

            No one demands that you support or oppose anything. You are free to do either. But if you believe that all support means support in all things, or that opposition means opposition in all things, you are being short sighted.

            “How can one build harmony preventing conducive environment for a form of reconciliation?”

            I do know that calling someone racist on a daily basis will not do it.

            “Do you support a form of subjugation of the minorities?”

            No, I do not. Nor do I support support minority politics or ethnic politics.

            “You fought with the Sri Lankan army to restore what?”

            Personally, my motives were not political, or even moralistic, so it’s not really relevant here.

            “You said that the Sri Lankan government represents all communities and then you blatantly justifying sinhalisation of NE on the strength of winning the war!”

            I didn’t justify it; I understand the thinking, though. I also pointed out that you can’t take up weapons against someone offering you the hand of friendship and then expect to be treated to tea and biscuits after you get your arse kicked. It’s not a cricket match. There’s a real price to be paid in opting for war.

            “So, you inadvertently confirm that the war was about Sinhala Vs Tamil and the GOSL is on par with LTTE in representing relevant communities!”

            Since I didn’t say the GoSL is representing one community, no, I’m not confirming anything like that. In fact, I would disagree on that point.

            “Your belligerent and impenitent show is very disappointing indeed.”

            I hope you can hear my heart breaking in sympathy with your disappointment.

      • policyminded

        So the Sinhala budhists have hijacked the Lion, does that mean they now own it. Its choice. You can give it to them and disown it or you can fight for it, reclaim it. Why just hand it over to them?

        I think this Lion thing is a perfect analogy of how a lot of Tamils in this country have decided to disown sri lanka or feel like they don’t belong because a bunch of racist want them out. If the blacks in America and South Africa decided to do the same, where would they be?

  • georgethebushpig

    The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia and this is exactly how it was taught to me in school from grade 1 onwards:

    “The flag of Sri Lanka, also called the Lion Flag, consists of a gold lion, holding a kastane sword in its right fore paw, in front of a dark red background with four golden bo leaves, one in each corner. Around the background is a yellow border, and to its left are 2 vertical stripes of equal size in green and saffron, with the saffron stripe closest to the lion.

    The lion represents the Sinhalese ethnicity and the bravery of the Sri Lankan nation while the four Bo leaves represent Mett?, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha. The orange stripe represents the Sri Lankan Tamils, the green stripe represents Sri Lankan Moors, and the maroon background represents the majority of Sinhalese, like the lion, this is the color used in early flags of Sri Lanka by kings.”

    In the current post-war political context the lion cannot be viewed as anything but racist as it attempts to distinguish the Sinhalese from other ethinic groups.

    • policyminded

      I’m not sure if my memory is failing me, but from what I remember from my primary school days the Red represented, Green the moors, orange the Tamils and the lion represented the three peoples under one rule (the three legs of lion one sword).

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Dear George, please try reading what you have quoted again. You have failed to comprehend it the first time.

        • georgethebushpig

          Dear David,

          I would appreciate your kind guidance in helping me comprehend the following: “The lion represents the Sinhalese ethnicity..” and “…the maroon background represents the majority of Sinhalese, like the lion,…”.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Dear George,

            Context usually help comprehension. Please reread the quotation in the context of your claim that the lion is a racist symbol. Nothing in the quoted passage indicates that. The lion is the central graphic symbol of the national flag. There is nothing racist about that. You could very well delete the entire quotation and simply post your last two-line paragraph and it would make no difference to your claim. Since therefore, your quote is irrelevant to your claim, I suggested you reread what you have quoted.

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear GBPB,

            “The lion represents the Sinhalese ethnicity..” and “…the maroon background represents the majority of Sinhalese, like the lion,…”. you ask.

            That is the discription of the symbolism in the Sri Lankan Flag.
            Does that exclude any other symbolism of the Lion or the colour Maroon?

            Next, you would be arguing, that using the colour Maroon would also be Racist!

            The more you argue, the more you expose the frivolity with which, you and the author at Groundviews (who by the way, has not responded to criticism) have tried to give a Racial twist to the stylised Lion used on the Etisalat website.

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear David,

            You stated in your original post that “The lion is a symbol of Sri Lanka as a nation”. As a means to correct what I believe is an erroneous assumption I pointed out that it didn’t correspond with what I was taught in school and provided an excerpt from Wikipedia that explained what exactly the constituent parts of the Sri Lanakan flag represent.

            So instead of explaining why you believe the lion singularly can represents Sri Lanka as a nation, you meander.

            Here’s a question that I think might help sharpen focus on what is being presented in this article: would it be equally acceptable if any one of the other constituent symbols were used singularly to respresent Sri Lanka as a nation?

            Regards
            GTBP

            p.s. OTC, The symbolic meaning of the lion in the Sri Lankan flag is a reference to the bestiality that produced the Sinhalese race. If Kalinga’s daughter had mated with a marauding rabbit, then we would have a sword in the hand of a furry rabbit. This is simply to point out that a symbol is symbolic only when used in a specific context.

            If the zoo was to use a lion for its advertising I wouldn’t think twice about it. But when you use the lion in the context of “dreaming of Sri Lanka where everyone is connected” and throw in “freedom packages”, it is clearly a reference to a post-war context. Then again I might need to check with the great comprehender whether my comprehension is correct.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “You stated in your original post that “The lion is a symbol of Sri Lanka as a nation”. As a means to correct what I believe is an erroneous assumption I pointed out that it didn’t correspond with what I was taught in school and provided an excerpt from Wikipedia that explained what exactly the constituent parts of the Sri Lanakan flag represent.”

            George, you seem unable to grasp the notion that something that is one thing, need not ONLY be that one thing. I don’t disagree that the lion represents the Sinhalese in the flag. But you seem to believe that that representation means that the lion cannot represent anyone or anything else but the Sinhalese. That is why I urged you to reread that passage in the context of the discussion.

            “So instead of explaining why you believe the lion singularly can represents Sri Lanka as a nation, you meander.”

            I have already explained it. If you find any part of that explanation to meander off the subject, so point it out and I’ll try and clarify.

            “Here’s a question that I think might help sharpen focus on what is being presented in this article: would it be equally acceptable if any one of the other constituent symbols were used singularly to respresent Sri Lanka as a nation?”

            I think it will be quite acceptable. However, would you have understood what a bo leaf or an orange stripe meant in the context of a commercial advertisement if had been used on its own? Graphic communications requires one to use recognizable symbols. To shelve that commonsensical understanding and attribute some sort of racist characteristic to it is laughably absurd.

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear David,

            You wrote “Context usually help comprehension”, and then proceeded to bring in an argument about the aesthetics of marketing rather than looking at the messaging accompanying the lion in the advertisement!

            The point of the article was not to discuss whether the lion per se is a racist graphic or not, but juxtaposed against the messaging it does become so. Context, context, context!

            When I drink Lion lager I’m not consuming a racist beverage; it’s just a damm good beer. But if they resorted to showing sweaty troops at Nandikadal drinking lion lager on the beach just after planting the Sri Lankan flag, I would argue that they are playing the race card.

            Regards
            GTBP

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear GTBP,

            You say “The symbolic meaning of the lion in the Sri Lankan flag is a reference to the bestiality that produced the Sinhalese race. If Kalinga’s daughter had mated with a marauding rabbit, then we would have a sword in the hand of a furry rabbit.”

            Yes of course GTBPig, only a fool would deny the existence of bestiality in the world. But in this day of scientific knowledge, only a fool would think that a sperm of an animal could fertilise a human ovum and vice versa. If that were possible then Human Pig cross breeds as well as Horse, Donkey, Dog crossbred with humans would be living today. Pig being one of the compatible organ donors to humans (please see ref 1) we should see at least one Human Pig around. Have you met any?

            Chimps and Bonobos are our closest living relatives, sharing around 99% of our DNA (Ref 2). You may succeed in producing a human chimp if you try but non have been produced yet.

            Similarly, only a fool would think a being with the head of an Elephant and the torso of a Human exists just because a statue of that likeness is worshipped by millions. I don’t know about you, but I am not that fool.

            You say “This is simply to point out that a symbol is symbolic only when used in a specific context.”

            It is sad to see that your wisdom has racial limits.

            You say “If the zoo was to use a lion for its advertising I wouldn’t think twice about it. But when you use the lion in the context of “dreaming of Sri Lanka where everyone is connected” and throw in “freedom packages”, it is clearly a reference to a post-war context.

            As I have already explained to Dev, in my post of 02/21/2013 • 3:56 pm the LEFT facing Lion with a sword in the right fore paw has represented Sri Lankan Polity irrespective of race, even in the 17th century, as it was the Royal Standard of the last king of the Kandyan Kingdom who was a Tamil speaker.

            Now the word Freedom is also racist?

            You are not referring to a govt business but to a private business owned by Foreigners. As I tried to explain to you before, the most lucrative sector in Telecoms is the International Telecoms business. That sector is dominated by Tamils talking to other Tamils. Etisalat has extended coverage to the North after the war’s end where non existed before (LTTE used Satellite phones).

            You say “Then again I might need to check with the great comprehender whether my comprehension is correct.”

            That would be a wise thing to do under the circumstances but not the wisest.

            If you can believe that Etisalat invested colossal sums on infrastructure to extend their service to the North, where non existed before 2009 and then commit Hara Kiri by advertising to the Tamils that they were a racist company biased against them, then you should seek immediate medical help instead of a hapless great comprehendor!

            Best Regards
            OTC
            .
            ——————-

            Reference 1.
            “Pig organs are well suited for transplantation; they are approximately the same size as human organs and have similar plumbing, which makes reconnecting blood vessels much easier. Also, the size of pig litters tends to be large and pigs reproduce quickly, raising the prospect of a large supply of “spare” organs.” (Source National Geographic)

            Reference 2.

            An international team of researchers has sequenced the genome of the bonobo for the first time, confirming that it shares the same percentage of its DNA with us as chimps do. The team also found some small but tantalizing differences in the genomes of the three species—differences that may explain how bonobos and chimpanzees don’t look or act like us even though we share about 99% of our DNA. (ScienceMag.org)

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear OTC,

            May no harm come to you; may you be well. You are a national treasure.

            GTBP

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “You wrote “Context usually help comprehension”, and then proceeded to bring in an argument about the aesthetics of marketing rather than looking at the messaging accompanying the lion in the advertisement!”

            Context does help comprehension. I didn’t say anything about aesthetics; do have another shot at what I wrote before making foolish comments. You asked me whether other elements of the SL flag would be acceptable (to me, I assume) in that ad instead of the lion. I pointed that it was acceptable, but would be unlikely to communicate anything understandable. Now which part of this are you confused about?

            “The point of the article was not to discuss whether the lion per se is a racist graphic or not, but juxtaposed against the messaging it does become so. Context, context, context!”

            Thank you, Captain Obvious. We got it the first time.

            “When I drink Lion lager I’m not consuming a racist beverage; it’s just a damm good beer. But if they resorted to showing sweaty troops at Nandikadal drinking lion lager on the beach just after planting the Sri Lankan flag, I would argue that they are playing the race card.”

            You would be wrong then, as you are wrong now.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            And George, do you also find the use of the lion on this page calling for unity and a stand against racism to be also racist?

            https://www.facebook.com/LankaUnited

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear George,

            Thank you for your kind thoughts.
            They are warmly reciprocated.
            May you be blessed with wisdom in addition

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear David,

            So it’s the celebration of deliberate obtuseness week I gather.

            “You asked me whether other elements of the SL flag would be acceptable (to me, I assume) in that ad instead of the lion. I pointed that it was acceptable, but would be unlikely to communicate anything understandable”.

            If any other element of the flag was used it would be understood for what it is. Are you telling me that had it been the bo leaf we wouldn’t have understood it as representing Buddhists?

            Regards
            GTBP

          • georgethebushpig

            David,

            I see you are unable to remember your own words of wisdom on context and comprehension? No, I don’t think the use of the lion in Sri Lanka United as being racist. Insensitive and naive, yes.

            It’s like the Dutch white man who says, “What is all this about racism. I just don’t get it. Why can’t we get beyond skin colour? After all no matter where you are from, if you are cut deep enough, you’ll see that we are all white inside!”

            Regards
            GTBP

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “So it’s the celebration of deliberate obtuseness week I gather.”,/em>

            Speak for yourself.

            “If any other element of the flag was used it would be understood for what it is. Are you telling me that had it been the bo leaf we wouldn’t have understood it as representing Buddhists?”

            It would have been understood to represent Buddhists, but it wouldn’t necessarily have been connected to the national flag, since the bo leaf isn’t the dominating graphic feature of the flag. When the lion is used — be it by Etisalat in that ad, as the Ceylon Tea logo, or by Sri Lanka Unite — it is understood to be a simplified graphic representation of the SL flag, and that is the intention. It is your premise that the lion is racist that attributes a racist element to Etisalat’s motives. When one begins with a faulty premise in order to arrive at a pre-decided conclusion is when one runs into problems.

            “I see you are unable to remember your own words of wisdom on context and comprehension? No, I don’t think the use of the lion in Sri Lanka United as being racist. Insensitive and naive, yes.”

            I have forgotten nothing; but neither am I telepathic to understand the context you have in your head. If Etisalat is talking about freedom and SLU is talking about unity, how is one racist and one simply naive and insensitive — particularly since the latter uses the lion more or less intact from the flag?

            “It’s like the Dutch white man who says, “What is all this about racism. I just don’t get it. Why can’t we get beyond skin colour? After all no matter where you are from, if you are cut deep enough, you’ll see that we are all white inside!””

            Is there some relevance to this anecdote, or does it simply make you feel better to be vague?

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear David,

            If you agree that the constituent elements of the flag have representative meaning and you claim that the Lion – which you acknowledge represents the Sinhalese – also represents all Sri Lankans, then you are conflating the meaning and symbols of the flag. The use of the Lion as a logo representing Sri Lanka is either a deliberate or inadvertant conflation of race with nation.

            In the case of Etisalat, it is either pandering to the Sinhalese for eliciting more business or a reflexive conflation of race and nation. In the case of Sri Lanka United it appears that they are well meaning but more than a little thick given the post-colonial history of Sri Lanka.

            Not wanting to be assimilated is a legitimate position for any minority to hold (hence the joke about the Dutch man). In this regard, most non-Sinhalese that I know wouldn’t want to be represented by the Lion and I can understand why.

            Regards
            GTBP

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “If you agree that the constituent elements of the flag have representative meaning and you claim that the Lion – which you acknowledge represents the Sinhalese – also represents all Sri Lankans, then you are conflating the meaning and symbols of the flag. The use of the Lion as a logo representing Sri Lanka is either a deliberate or inadvertant conflation of race with nation.”

            Oh. Dear.

            George, days ago, I patiently explained to you that just because something represented one thing it didn’t mean that it represented only that one thing. Have you still not understood that. Let’s dumb it down for you then.

            Lion in the SL flag = Sinhalese (though there was a well written explanation on this site that it actually represents the Buddha)
            Bo leaf in the SL flag = Buddhism
            Orange stripe = Hindus/Tamils
            Green stripe = Muslims

            And so on.

            BUT (before you hit the keyboard),

            Lion outside the SL flag = Sri Lanka/SL flag

            The other components of the flag, such as the bo leaf and the coloured stripes are not symbolically strong enough elements WITHIN the flag to actually represent the flag or the country when used in isolation. Do you get it now? It isn’t complicated if you take a moment to think it through.

            “In the case of Etisalat, it is either pandering to the Sinhalese for eliciting more business or a reflexive conflation of race and nation. In the case of Sri Lanka United it appears that they are well meaning but more than a little thick given the post-colonial history of Sri Lanka.”

            See my previous comment. Take that along side the fact that Etisalat is concentrating on the data market rather than voice to gain share, and that they are actively targeting the NE, makes your accusation absurd from a motive point of view as well.

            “Not wanting to be assimilated is a legitimate position for any minority to hold (hence the joke about the Dutch man). In this regard, most non-Sinhalese that I know wouldn’t want to be represented by the Lion and I can understand why.”

            Most minorities I know see no problem with it. So we’ll have to leave anecdotal theories out of this, I’m afraid.

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear David,

            “Lion outside the SL flag = Sri Lanka/SL flag” – I’m still waiting patiently for a more robust explanation other than it is the Ceylon tea logo, central graphic in the flag and that you are not Sinhalese but identify with the lion. I’m waiting to see what alchemy transforms Sinhalese lion in flag to all encompassing lion outside flag?

            There are people who identify themselves as being minorities who are writing on this subject saying that they are not comfortable with the lion being used to represent them (this is not anecdotal… there’s a whole bloody history behind it). Your position is one of an assimilated minority and I’m glad to see you are comfortable with that. To others the very idea of assimilation is anathema. So let’s be a little circumspect when advocating the lion outside flag = Sri Lanka dumb equation.

            Regards
            GTBP

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “I’m still waiting patiently for a more robust explanation other than it is the Ceylon tea logo, central graphic in the flag and that you are not Sinhalese but identify with the lion. I’m waiting to see what alchemy transforms Sinhalese lion in flag to all encompassing lion outside flag?”

            I have already explained it to you, but since you didn’t seem to get it, I had to dumb it down for you. Now, you say it is insufficient. Methinks you just don’t want to open your eyes and read the reality. Here’s a clue: do you understand how symbolism works? Do you accept that certain outstanding elements within a whole can come to represent a whole and not simply the narrow representation it was originally meant to? If you can answer yes to that, we can move forward, if not we’ll have to jog in place for a bit ’til you catch up.

            “There are people who identify themselves as being minorities who are writing on this subject saying that they are not comfortable with the lion being used to represent them (this is not anecdotal… there’s a whole bloody history behind it).”

            That is their problem to deal with it. Not everything can be adjusted to sort out everyones touchiness. Since you like inane jokes, here’s one equal to your Dutch story: Ali G to traffic cop pulling him over for running a red light: “Is it ‘cos I is Black?”

            “Your position is one of an assimilated minority and I’m glad to see you are comfortable with that. To others the very idea of assimilation is anathema.”

            Again, that is their own choice. You cannot exclude yourself and then whine that you are not being included.

            “So let’s be a little circumspect when advocating the lion outside flag = Sri Lanka dumb equation.”

            It was dumbed down for your benefit since more involved explanations or on graphic representation and symbolism seemed to confuse you.

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear GTBP,

            “If you agree that the constituent elements of the flag have representative meaning and you claim that the Lion – which you acknowledge represents the Sinhalese – also represents all Sri Lankans, then you are conflating the meaning and symbols of the flag”

            It represents the Sinhalese but not only the Sinhalese. It also represented the population in the Kandyan Kingdom extending up to Elephant Pass in the North (that included Tamils). It included the whole of the present Eastern Province and the Kande Uda Pas Rata (five countries in the hills). The Lion in the flag was the Royal Standard of a Tamil Speaking Non Sinhalese king from Madras in Tamil Nadu, who ruled that Kingdom. Are you having selective amnesia of history?

            “The use of the Lion as a logo representing Sri Lanka is either a deliberate or inadvertant conflation of race with nation”

            That conflation resides in the psyche of racists.

            “In the case of Etisalat, it is either pandering to the Sinhalese for eliciting more business or a reflexive conflation of race and nation”

            It is idiocy to talk about a business that you seem to have no knowledge of. As I tried to explain to you before, the lucrative sector is the International traffic, which is dominated by Tamils talking to Tamils. With around a million Tamils living overseas paying about 9 US cts a minute to talk to Tamil relatives (and friends) living in Sri Lanka, any Telecom business should be run by imbeciles to do anything to lose that business.

            If you can prove to the Tamils that Etisalat is racist and biased against Tamils you could put Etisalat out of business by convincing like minded Tamils to boycott Etisalat. Apparently this is not happening and the majority of Tamils don’t seem to share in your Racism.

            “In the case of Sri Lanka United it appears that they are well meaning but more than a little thick given the post-colonial history of Sri Lanka”

            The National Director of SLU is a Tamil and was an IDP and KNEW more about the horrors of war than most. He states,

            “I spent the first 18 years of my life, since the day I was born, in a war torn environment, repeatedly displaced and leading the life of an IDP, without proper clothing, food, shelter, healthcare or a proper education, living in the worst places within the worst environments. Though these were bitter experiences, it did have some benefit. As a result of my experience, I was able to understand the pain and suffering of the people living in poverty and I became sensitive to their needs and felt an urge to help them and it also sowed the seeds for a lifelong commitment in service of such people. As a result, after my A/Levels in 2004 I had the opportunity to aid my people in the North and the East who were in great distress as a result of the conflict. Till 2011 I was able to reach out to thousands of people by going from village to village and to IDP Camps and serving the people and alleviating their pain, until the time they were resettled. I consider this to be one of the greatest privileges of my life. Today my goal is that no one should endure a childhood of despair such mine. People should not suffer without their basic needs being met; they should have the capacity to fulfil for their social, economic and political needs through just means, and to this end I will work.”

            It is quite thick indeed to accuse the SLU of being thick.

            “Not wanting to be assimilated is a legitimate position for any minority to hold (hence the joke about the Dutch man). In this regard,…”

            (In Singapore) Even though it was one of the four official languages and the putative “mother tongue” of the Indian community, Tamil was used less often and literacy in Tamil was reported to be declining. (US Country studies)

            Are the Tamils getting ASSIMILATED in Singapore’s despite the National Status of Tamil?
            Will the Tamils in Canada, US, France, UK, Germany etc without the benefit of a National status for their language get ASSIMILATED in to western culture when they are unable to recist it in Singapore?

            “….most non-Sinhalese that I know wouldn’t want to be represented by the Lion and I can understand why”

            Birds of a feather flock together!
            Wonder which flag the million of SL Tamils outside Lanka rally under and which flag the swore alliance to, when they applied for citizenship. Definitely it was not the Bull or the Tiger! Expediency subverting principles?

        • georgethebushpig

          Dear David,

          “Here’s a clue: do you understand how symbolism works? Do you accept that certain outstanding elements within a whole can come to represent a whole and not simply the narrow representation it was originally meant to?”

          I concur that graphic representation is about taking an element from a composite to represent the whole. For that element to be able to represent the whole however, it must by definition be “representative”. If that element is totemic for one group of people, then by definition, it excludes itself from representing anyone else.

          I have yet to come across another flag that segregates its population by race. So unlike the Lebanese Cedar or the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Sri Lankan flag doesn’t have a neutral graphical element that can be pulled out to represent the whole. The only way you can represent the whole is by using the whole. So your graphic representation argument is a non sequitur.

          “Again, that is their own choice. You cannot exclude yourself and then whine that you are not being included.”

          It would be good if you were to check out the meaning of the word “pluralism” and then get back to me on this.

          In the mean time I’ll be having a beer while you jog your intellect; sure seems a little flabby from my vantage point.

          Regards
          GTBP

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “I concur that graphic representation is about taking an element from a composite to represent the whole. For that element to be able to represent the whole however, it must by definition be “representative”. If that element is totemic for one group of people, then by definition, it excludes itself from representing anyone else.”

            Come, come. You’re comparing apples and oranges. When I describe graphic representation or graphic symbolism it is solely in the realm of graphics and communication, not ethnicity or politics. To confuse the two is stupid. The representation I speak of is in the graphic layout of the flag, in which the strongest and most recognizable feature is the lion. No other feature of the flag is as strong or capable of being recognized in isolation. The representation of ethnicity is secondary. If you were to see the flag simply as a graphic, what single element in it would be suitable as a symbolic representation? Obviously, the lion.

            So that’s settled, isn’t it?

            Whether the lion is politically correct to be used as that graphic representation is a separate argument, and that is the one you must make. Nevertheless, even if you are able to make that argument convincingly, all you achieve is to show the SL flag to be racist, not Etisalat’s motives in using an element of the flag, since the opinion that the SL flag is racist isn’t a commonly accepted one.

            “I have yet to come across another flag that segregates its population by race.”

            So you believe representation to be synonymous with segregation? :D Do you believe that to have one’s ethnic group represented on the national flag is to have it segregated? Then clearly you must believe that the British Union Jack (which you seem to have missed in your broad search for flags that segregate) segregates the English and Scottish ethnicities rather than represents them. What an enlightening discussion this is.

            “So unlike the Lebanese Cedar or the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Sri Lankan flag doesn’t have a neutral graphical element that can be pulled out to represent the whole.”

            Neutrality isn’t necessary in graphic symbolism since the neutrality you speak of has nothing to do with graphics, but rather to do with a political and ethnic theory which we are yet to establish. Anyone looking at the SL flag as a graphic layout will have no trouble in identifying the lion as the strongest graphic element. If you prefer to insist that the bo leaf or orange stripe is a stronger graphic element, you need your eyes tested. Your reasoning isn’t based on said elements as graphics, but on their political/ethnic symbolism, and that latter symbolism not motivating Etisalat’s communication, would be irrelevant in their ad. The only way for your theory to make sense is for you to take it for granted that Etisalat is racist, and then set out to prove that theory. If you look at it with an open mind, you cannot attribute such a motivation to Etisalat’s use of the lion.

            “The only way you can represent the whole is by using the whole. So your graphic representation argument is a non sequitur.”

            We have already established that this is puerile nonsense.

            “It would be good if you were to check out the meaning of the word “pluralism” and then get back to me on this.”

            It would be better if you just make your point. Haven’t we wasted enough time already in humouring you?

            “In the mean time I’ll be having a beer while you jog your intellect; sure seems a little flabby from my vantage point.”

            Given the flabbiness of your argument and the cloudiness of your vision, I’d advise you to reassess the vantage of your point. Might be a good idea to cut down on the beers too. Clearly your “intellect” is suffering for it.

          • georgethebushpig

            Dear David,

            “Come, come. You’re comparing apples and oranges. When I describe graphic representation or graphic symbolism it is solely in the realm of graphics and communication, not ethnicity or politics. To confuse the two is stupid.”

            Ugh? After doing a whole parangiya Kotte giya wage we are back to the aesthetic argument! Listen, I don’t have time to play silly buggers with you so read my previous comment above and let’s bring this to a close shall we?

            http://groundviews.org/2013/02/14/a-simple-experiment-to-highlight-ingrained-racism-in-sri-lanka/#comment-51081

            Regards
            GTBP

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “Ugh? After doing a whole parangiya Kotte giya wage we are back to the aesthetic argument! Listen, I don’t have time to play silly buggers with you so read my previous comment above and let’s bring this to a close shall we?”

            Look, I suggested earlier that you actually rev up your levels of intellect if you want to participate in a discussion on abstract concepts. If you’re not prepared to do that, it’s sort of childish to stamp your foot and throw a tantrum when it all gets a bit beyond you.

            I have tried describing it to you, technically; I have tried using small words; short of drawing you a cartoon in crayons, I can’t make it any simpler. Clearly you haven’t a clue about graphic symbolism and keep confusing it with the ethnic symbolism in your head. One is objective, the other is subjective. Combine that with your inability to understand the difference between segregation and representation makes me quite skeptical about whether you even understand what this debate is about. So yeah, that’s good advice: stop playing silly buggers and wait ’til you grow up to get into this sort of debate. Either that, or put aside your thesaurus, pick up a dictionary, and read through the article and the comments thread all over again.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Groundviews and Readers,

    The police spokesman was obviously a mutt trying to cover a mistake. They should have had it in both languages either separately or in the one and the same document. But I think GV is going overboard with the stylised Lion symbol on the Etisalat website.

    How did GV miss the much more prominent use of the Lion in the Sri Lanka Tea industry?

    David Blacker has put it in perspective when he says “The lion is a symbol of Sri Lanka as a nation. There’s nothing racist about that, and I say that as a non-Sinhalese.”

    He is absolutely right. I don’t see how the use of a national symbols can be racist.

    We were ruled for 160+ years in a language that only an insignificant number of citizens understood. That is racism. Were the Dutch and Portuguese bilingual? Before that we had Sinhala Kings and Tamil Kings. Were they bilingual? Apparently if monolingualism is the yardstick by which racism is measured, then this country would have been racist all along.

    How is it in India?
    Twenty three languages are constitutionally recognized but the Central Government uses only Hindi and English. Is it Racist not to use the 23 languages simultaneously in official documents?

    What about the USA?
    There are 24 languages spoken.
    28 states out of 50 has made English the only official language
    Not a SINGLE state recognize a Native American language.

    What about UK?
    Officially recognised
    English, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Lowland Scots, Cornish, Irish,
    Arabic, Punjabi, Bengali, Saraiki, Urdu, Sylheti, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, French, Southwestern Caribbean Creole, Malayalam, Tamil, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Polish, Russian, French, German, Spanish

    How do these countries measure up with the Monolingual yardstick?

    • georgethebushpig

      Dear OTC,

      If Etisalt wants to “dream of a Sri Lanka where everyone is connected” then the logical symbol would be a national symbol such as the Sri Lankan flag (personally I would have gone with 2 kids with tin cans and a string). When they pull the lion out of the national flag to represent Sri Lanka, then they are equating Sri Lanka with the Sinhalese.

      When Nanda Malini sang “kodiya suddha ge wunath sinhaya appe [even though the flag is the white mans the lion is ours], lanuwa suddha ge wunath kodi gaha ap ge [the rope might be the white mans but the flag pole is ours]“, as I’ve heard her explain it, she didn’t use sinhaya (lion) in reference to the Sinhalese but to all Sri Lankans. Unfortunately, the days when the lion represented more than just the Sinhalese are long over.

      Maybe we need to start thinking of a new flag to denote inclusiveness rather than exclusivity; one that doesn’t disaggregate but one that unifies. I propose the string hopper smartly juxtaposed on a green banana leaf background.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear GBPB,

        Thank you for bringing up Nanda Malini’s song and interpreting it.

        As you point out very correctly, the Lion in that song represented the Sri Lankan, not any specific race. It is the same with the Lion emblem printed on every pack of Ceylon Tea.

        Etisalat is a business establishment driven by a business sense. The parent company of Etisalat Lanka is the National Carrier in the UAE. They are here to make money, period.

        It bought the Telecoms License from a failing Lankan company whose history is a string of failures and name changes. Telecoms is a HighTech business that requires large investments. It takes several years to reach a break even. Etisalat has made considerable investments to expand its reach within Sri Lanka. Anyone familiar with the Telecoms industry would know how much it costs to obtain a Telecoms License from the TRC. They would also know that the most lucrative arm of Telecoms business is the International Telecoms traffic between Lanka and the world. This is dominated by Tamils overseas talking to Tamils in Sri Lanka and vice versa. A point that even GV has lost to take note of, in her zeal to make a case.

        You say “If Etisalt wants to “dream of a Sri Lanka where everyone is connected” then the logical symbol would be a national symbol such as the Sri Lankan flag (personally I would have gone with 2 kids with tin cans and a string). When they pull the lion out of the national flag to represent Sri Lanka, then they are equating Sri Lanka with the Sinhalese”

        You are writing about a company managed by a Middle East parent.
        Accusing it of being partisan and racist and wilfully advertising to alienate the most lucrative sector of its business is not very intelligent. This syndrome of making a mountain out of every molehill in furtherance of a pet personal view is not conducive to reconciliation. You would end up throwing the baby with the bath water.

  • Arc Angel

    Didn’t read past the first para, cos it takes a racist to assume the lion represents only Sinhalese, and not all who inhabit the Lion island.

  • Happy Heathen

    What a specious argument!

    Perhaps the Musaeus College is being run by Nazis as they have Swastika as their college crest.

    This is the other extreme of Vimal Weerawamsa’s international conspiracy!

    What’s next? Etisalat a subsidiary of Bodu Bala Sena?

  • SkyViews

    For a moment, I checked my calendar to see if it is April 1st. I thought this is some sort of April Fool’s joke on Groundviews.
    Constitution may say “Lion Represents Sinhalese Raise”, but it’s a well-established fact that all Sri Lankans alike, take the Lion as a symbol of Sri Lankan nationalism (rather than the symbol of Sinhalese racism). At least the handful of Muslims whom I associate with believe in that, and they never questioned the “lion” in the flag to be “racist”.
    This country has gone through lots of racist sh***. It’s funny how Groundsviews(Ok, I will call you in your brand name but I know who you are). Don’t bring this type of pity arguments. (I wanted to add “you m****” to the end of that sentence, but hell yes… this is a moderated forum).
    According to your argument, very soon Muslims will wave only the green stripe on the national flag at crcket matches while Tamils will wave the orange stripe.
    About the “Ayubowan” greeting. Greeting in local language is a tradition adapted by many customer service call centers around the world. You go to Hawai, they greet you Aloha.. you go to India, they greet you Namaste. The idea is to bring in the ‘cultural uniqueness’ in the market.
    As long as you see at these things with your personal political agendas in forefront, you will continue to see these things as wrong. Soon, you will want the size of the lion reduced on the national flag. Ah… may be we should add a couple of lines to the national anthem in Veddha language!
    I hope now you got the attention you were seeking. Good luck in your mission of arousing racism among Sri Lankans… Because, your survival is only possible if there are issues in this country. If there are no issues, go and create some!
    {Note: A screen shot of this comment being awaiting moderation on your site will be taken}

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    I hope you guys can see the difference between this nonsensical article and an actual racist action such as mobitel’s BBS ringtone.