There’s a lot of troubling stuff going on – racism, attacks on Muslim businesses, attacks on churches, presses, political meetings, etc. The main lesson Sinhalese nationalists seem to have learned from the war is that bluster and violence work and the main legacy is a fractured and corrupt formal opposition and a general resignation from many people who’ve resisted and lost. A lot of people are deeply troubled by what is happening re:civil rights in this country, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to do about it.
One direction this conversation often goes is to say, well the opposition sucks and if Ranil left there’d be a chance. Which is true but, given that Ranil has made a dictatorship out of the UNP, not especially helpful. Even if he is sacrificing the party, minority rights, vibrant democracy and the country in general, Ranil Wickremesinghe is not going to let go of power, making him an effective and useful appendage to the government.
Since minorities and the disaffected are effectively disenfranchised by the UNP, there doesn’t seem to be much anyone can do about things that are obviously going wrong. The only thing that gives me a bit of this was reading this, via Andrew Sullivan:
The greatest error of almost all important social movements is to look for and follow the politicians for success. The politicians are often the last people to get it. That was the underlying principle behind the marriage equality movement – we would change hearts and minds on the ground first. Then after 25 years of that, we have a sudden Senate majority for equality. In a couple of months. That pattern can tell you a lot. (The Daily Dish)
The question this idea gives rise to, however, is where are the grassroots moving. If you judge by the Bodu Bala Sena, the grassroots in moving towards racism and division and conflict among communities. However, I tend to think that an organization led by corrupt monks focused on racial identity and anger has less long-term power than rational people trying to live in peace or, say, the actual teachings of the Buddha.
Sri Lanka is a diverse and multi-ethnic population not just as an ideal but as a historical and tangible fact. I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I do think the forces of division will die out and saner voices will come to the fray. I hope.