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Travel to post Civil War Sri Lanka helps everyone

December 19, 2011

Travel to post Civil War Sri Lanka helps everyone

It is easy to forget that Australia has been very much isolated and protected from the deeply divisive mass radicalizations that Sri Lanka has suffered in the past. Save for a few horrific incidents, like the Bali bombing, the reality of terrorism does not really affect the domestic lives of ordinary Australians. As such the churn of hardcore propaganda can sometimes be mistaken for hard hitting, ground breaking journalism. It is not the fault of the reader that they have been handed splatter images and horror stories dreamed up in the think tanks of terrorist front organizations. It is not the viewers fault that they suffer from emotional overload when confronted with extreme emotional manipulations by people who willingly lie to achieve their ends. Yet it is the fault of the media organizations that mindlessly and uncritically act as the cheer squad for the terrorist fronts and representatives.

Ignorance in itself is not necessarily the fault of the ignorant because people’s lives have so many conflicting priorities. Who really has time to be an expert on every international issue on the planet? It is an impossible task and made harder when filtered through news sources that have their own agendas and world views to peddle. Experts on Sri Lanka, I know many, but experts on Sri Lanka in mainstream news reports are few and far between. As best many appear to regurgitate second hand news stories and activist websites. Media ignorance is harmless until they try to lash out in their ignorance and seek to enforce retribution in the name of justice. Turning to activist and terrorist front organizations to define the terms of justice is like turning to Animal Liberation to define a butcher. Yet this is precisely what is going on when a signed up member of a terrorist organization are given space to write their propaganda on the ABC Drum blog site. Worse still is their blind refusal to ask the hard question: Would they permit a member of Al Qaeda do the same. I deeply suspect that there would be a public outcry if the happened and the writer would be removed. Not so if it is an LTTE member. In place of critical thinking, wilful ignorance wins the day.

As a result Australians are being fed a warped and distorted view of Sri Lanka. A view that is often passed through ideological filters long before it is expressed. The real problem is that few people have been to Sri Lanka to compare the views expressed by our local self appointed experts with reality. Instead the whole island of Sri Lanka is being diagnosed and explained through a bunch of undergraduate style emotional rants. The grievances of the noisy minority are treated as if they cannot be wrong because aggrieved minorities are never wrong. Terrorists are viewed from the lens that anything that opposes George Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ is a good thing. As a result terrorists are white washed victims whilst those who oppose them are obviously oppressive ‘Neocons’. If ‘wilful ignorance’ could be expressed in a single word that word would be, ‘Partisan’. Domestic partisan issues like ‘boat people’, hatred of the Bush era and minority rights are using exaggerated anecdotes about Sri Lanka to make their unconnected cases. It is as if a cat having kittens in Sri Lanka proves that our migrant policies are wrong. The sad fact is that this cherry picking attitude is playing into the hands of terrorist fronts that have little regard for our domestic problems. Instead the terrorist fronts are using our angst to sell their agenda and justify their fundraising activities on our soil. This is precisely the situation that led to the LTTE being able to raise over 300 million dollars a year right under the noses of western governments. This revelation is a sad reflection that points directly to the complacency of our governments to prevent this and by our negligence we are complicit in the terrorist activities.

The blindness to the suffering caused by terrorism is not cured by running a dishonest propaganda campaign in the opposite direction. However there needs to be far more balance and forethought when using so called experts. Signed members of a terrorist organization are not a reliable source of truth. Fundraisers for terrorist organizations are criminals and should be treated with utmost caution. Horror stories from anonymous sources could very well be propaganda cooked up by a terrorist front organization. What effort if any was there to check the sources of these allegations? Or did they just get the sensation headline story out in blind ignorance, hoping to be vindicated later?

The only cure to ignorance in any subject is direct knowledge. My advice for those that seek to know more than the questionable headline or the shock journalism is to travel to Sri Lanka and see for yourself. Away from the glossy government rhetoric and the grungy anti government rhetoric there is much to learn. Why waste time believing charge sheets drawn up by those that have no real knowledge when you can actually go there? Talk to ordinary people and listen to what they have to say. Go to places that just a few years ago were too dangerous to go to. Spend time and look. See whether the war that lasted for over 25 years is over. Then come home and decide how many people in the Australian media actually know what they talking about.

Travel to Sri Lanka and become informed.

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