- reaffirmed the Buddhist identity, treating Christians and non-Sinhalas as alien outsiders. ... [He] identified non-Sinhala[s] ... for attack: the Muslims, Borah merchants and especially the Tamils, whom he referred to as 'hadi demalu', filthy Tamils ... [All this laid bare] the dark underside of Buddhism without the mitigating humanism of the Buddhist conscience. ... [M]onks are equally vulnerable. Many condone violence against Tamils and some would openly say that the solution to the ethnic problem is to kill Tamils.
This was a country visitors even 30 or 40 years ago described as "peaceful", "paradise", "harmonious" and the like. But decades of Dharmapala's kind of "nationalism", repeated by so many others, has turned paradise into a bloody mess. Today, Sri Lanka is wracked by an unending civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority that has killed tens of thousands. It is home to arguably the world's most committed, brutal, deadly terrorists -- the LTTE.
Just days ago, Sri Lankan authorities evicted hundreds of Tamils from Colombo. According to the police, this was a "security precaution ... only those who had no valid reason to stay in the capital were evicted." (one news report).
Some outrage later, the evicted Tamils are "trickling back." But even so, the mind boggles. "No valid reason to stay"? Since when do citizens of an openly democratic country need to show a "valid reason to stay" anywhere in their country? Of course, a Lankan newspaper also editorializes that these people evicted are "Tamils of no fixed abode, vagrants and ne'er do wells."
Which, of course, reminds me of those words Dharmapala used: "hadi demalu."
There should be lessons from Sri Lanka for at least two large neighbours it has to the north. I'm not sure the neighbours will take them.
But I am reminded of what the Roman philosopher Lucretius said in the first century BC: Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
That's Latin. It means, approximately: "So much is the evil that religion drives men to."