Some mavericks do have it badly. They trash the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but hanker after green cards and visits to Disneyland all the same. They use iPads and iPods, but Steve Jobs is not the apple of their eye. Google may be the god of this age, but the devil is in the detail because the world’s best-known and most widely used Internet search engine is American in origin. (And America is anathema these days.)
W-W-Well, the Internet itself is American in origin – and so that well-coiffeured politico is probably singing “there G-oes my everything” webside: Wikipedia, YouTube, Yahoo. The Greeks had a word for this syndrome. They called it wearing a mask. We recognize it as hypocrisy pure and simple, though our hypocrites are rarely simple and almost never pure. Don’t stop purchasing our newspaper just because we pointed it out, Mr. Masquerader.
The same politico who’s pronounced a personal ban on Uncle Sam now was once anti-everything Indian, too – from Indian sarees and Ravi Shastri, through Bajaj tuk-tuks to Bollywood film stars. Of course the IPKF was in the land then, and behaving as if the north of Sri Lanka was India’s 25th state at the time, so some of the rest of the country also saw it his way for a while. Then, because one’s nature will out sooner than later, our poster boy for import substitution and boosting the domestic economy by eating bathala instead of Bombay onions (soon renamed ‘big’ or B-onions) botched his copybook by accepting the apparently un-turn-down-able offer of a luxury vehicle imported from – wait for it – yes, you guessed it: India with a capital Y. (Why? I don’t why!)
There was another occasion, in 2005 – the quincentennial of our first colonizer’s arrival – when our proud and independent patriot put his foot in it again. Dressed in a ‘kalisama’ and a ‘kamisaya’, he loudly decried everything foreign and alien to the pristine purity of his native land… not minding in the process that his dress, his coiffeur, his cellphone, his everything essentially, smacked of Western-imperialist marketplace imperatives and neo-colonial consumerism. Mind you, no one thought to take the poor deluded man aside and explain to him the panoply of benefits the Portuguese brought with them…
In similar vein, other unenlightened protestors pointed to the Portuguese modus operandi in their 150 or so years of influence in the Maritime Provinces of Ceilao (as they called it); and suggested that their rule was brutal, oppressive, and rapacious.
They were right. But this is the typical uncritical view of the “Good News in one hand and guns in the other” colonists that many nationalists even today have. While it is a chink in our psyche that unscrupulous propagandists exploit, it must be remembered by more balanced historians that Western Europeans of the 16th and first half of the 17th Century had a seminal influence on the island.
Language, religion, politics; mores and manners, customs, rituals, and traditions; art and architecture; dance, drama, dress; not to mention a welcome change to diet… and some names which the locals of today think of as their own – all of this is a legacy that prevails to this day, albeit widely un-acknowledged by those who still enjoy its fruits.
We may have got a bit side-tracked. But so has our idealistic naysayer who trashes Google while we giggle at his inanity. In the same way that the nationalists disregard the most impressive maritime power of an age gone by (Portugal), we ignore the world’s sole superpower today (the US) at our peril – especially when it asks us to keep our word to ourselves and the world as far as lessons learned from war and peace go. Make no mistake about the Americans being hypocrites of the first water in the Machiavellian cut and thrust of international politics and enlightened self-interest. But let’s not throw their baby-boomer blessings and benefits out with the muddied bathwater.
Google good, Guantanamo bad. Patriotism of pro-Jewish lobby good, Patriot missiles sold to Israel bad. Resolution on Sri Lanka possibly a good thing in our national interest, resolution against the president and the military complex probably a bad reading of the statement by those with more love for chauvinistic country-oriented chest-thumping than common sense. See how it works?
As much as America loads the dice in its favour and those nations that guarantee it privileged access to valuable markets, they may have a point. But politicos who sing for their supper can’t see it – or won’t. What really worries me, though, is the growing number of citizens who should know better but couldn’t care less… it is in their best interests to remain blind to foreign stick because of the carrot presently being offered to them and likeminded bandwagon-jumpers by a paternalistic and patrimonial state. It has me at my wit’s end.