The Fifth Column

4th August 1996

The Gold Medal for terrorism

"Thaaththa" Bindu Udagedara asked, "why did they explode bombs in Atlanta?"

"Whoever did it", said Percy Udagedara, Bindu's father, "we could have taught them a lesson or two about exploding bombs and killing people...."

"Why do you say that?"

"Why, only two people died and only a hundred were injured," Percy said.

"I think we should have at least won the Gold Medal for terrorism...."

"But all that will be a thing of the past, thaaththa...." Bindu said.


"Why, the General with the walking stick says the terrorists will be wiped out in one year...."

"Ah, what a pity" Percy observed.

"Why, thaaththa?"

"Why, it is only now that these Americans are getting to appreciate terrorism. All these years, when bombs were exploding and killing hundreds here, they would just call it the work of "rebels" and say something like "urging both sides in the conflict to reach a settlement without resorting to violence...."

"And now?" Bindu asked.

"Now", Percy said, "a bomb has killed two people in America and the whole world must unite against those 'terrorists' who are responsible...."

"But thaaththa" Bindu said, "I think so much attention was devoted to the Atlanta bomb blast, because it was the hundredth birthday party of the Olympics...."

"Then", Percy argued, "the Dehiwela bomb blast was the thirteenth anniversary of Black July in 1983...."

"Oh", said Bindu, frightened, "then we have another anniversary ahead of us...."

"What's that?"

"Why, thaaththa," Bindu pointed out, "August marks the second anniversary of this government assuming office...."

"Ah", Percy said, "the government which promised to end the war, reduce the cost-of-living, give bread at three-fifty, lift the emergency,.... allow a free press, and abolish the Executive Presidency...."

"Yes" Bindu said, "but the same government which is still fighting the war; has allowed the cost-of-living to rise; is selling bread at six, is continuing the emergency and the press censorship, and carries on with the Executive Presidency...."

"And that" Percy said, "is the hallmark of a successful government...."

"Why do you say that, thaaththa?" Bindu wanted to know.

"Why Bindu" Percy said, "a successful government is one which makes impossible promises and then, years later, convincingly explains why it can't keep those promises...."

Bindu was not sure whether everybody would agree with that.

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