Monday, November 20, 2017 09:34:02 PM

Response to Izeth Hussain on Racism

By Devanesan Nesiah - Fri Sep 09, 5:52 am

Featured image courtesy Al Jazeera

Until recently, I have seldom had occasion to disagree with Izeth Hussain. However, while there is much that I agree with in the contents of his article published in The Island on September 6th, 2016, titled “Democracy, Not Devolution, the only solution for the ethnic problems”, I totally reject his statement,

“It has not been understood that the Tamils are also an intensely racist people, very probably much more so than the Sinhalese”.

No community or ethnic group is inherently racist. They may develop and exhibit racist beliefs if they suffer or are led to engage in severe discrimination or oppression over an extended period. This would explain the Sinhalese-Tamil racism that developed in the 1950s, the Tamil-Muslim racism that developed much later, and the current Sinhalese-Muslim racism. None of these are permanent, although reviving the memory of real or imagined past atrocities or exploitation, as well as tendentious interpretations of history and religious texts could be used by the social, political and religious leaders to reinvigorate any dormant racism.

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