Towards a peaceful and inclusive European Union
Posted on November 3rd, 2022

Malinda Seneviratne

A good hearted woman, Barbara Undershaft, devotes all energies to help the poor as a major in the Salvation Army. She sees Andrew, her millionaire father, an arms dealer, as someone who needs to be saved. At one point though, she is forced to accept a large contribution from the errant father to continue her work. In this story scripted by the playwright George Bernard Shaw, the woman who has to reexamine her moral assumptions started off with good intentions. Shaw, through her, brings to the fore the tensions between religion, wealth and power. It’s a story. Let’s have a couple more.

A rich wife-beater offers financial and other assistance to a women’s organization that runs a shelter for battered women. In fact it is he who sets it all up. The women, administrators and victims, know his history. They happily accept the cash, invite him for their events and celebrate him in this and other ways. 

A rich drug lord sets up and funds a rehab facility for drug addicts. The administrators and the addicts know who he is and what he does. They don’t mind.

In both cases, there’s no room for examining moral assumptions for there are none. People know. No remorse.  

Now let’s consider a racist with a genocidal history and a warmonger and thief to boot offering financial and other assistance to a group of people who, let’s say, claim to be against racism and dedicated to supporting inclusivity. The beneficiaries cannot really be forgiven for being ignorant. They ought to know. What of their moral assumptions, then?  

How could a country or a collective of nations with a long yesterday of genocide and plunder and a very-much-alive present of slavery, warring, warmongering, racism, subjugation of other lands and peoples, exploitation and plunder within these countries and elsewhere as well, have any moral authority to talk of peace or inclusivity? How could anyone with any moral sense accept without question any help from such entities?

No, this is not a story. Neither is it the script of a well-informed and politically conscious playwright intent on using theatre as a site for transformational activism. This is the European Union. This is the European Union in Sri Lanka. And this is about Sri Lankans who dare not question or else are disingenuous themselves.

Now if anyone perceives injustice of any kind and resolves to address it, applause is warranted, provided of course that selectivity, tall claims and their exaggeration, suppression of truth etc., aren’t part of the story. If the corrector plays end-justifies-the-means, such a person’s morality calls for scrutiny.

The European Union. What a creature it is! Colonialism. Slavery. Persecution. Genocide. Outright plunder. All that and more. The European Union today is made of countries where racial discrimination and harassment is not only commonplace but becoming worse by the day. The European Union supports Nazis in Ukraine. The European Union supports, funds, arms and trains death-machines run by monarchies, military juntas and dictators all over the world. Racism, xenophobia, homo/transphobia are rampant in the European Union.  And it’s not just extremists indulging in the odd attack we are talking about. It’s structure. It’s systemic. It is evident in institutions, law enforcement and the overall criminal justice system. And mind you, the European Union admits that nine in ten hate crimes and hate-motivated attacks in the region are not even reported and therefore not sanctioned.

And yet, the European Union thinks fit to conduct tuition classes in Sri Lanka to Sri Lankans about racism and exclusionary politics. And yet Sri Lankans, individuals and collectives, who benefit from the magnanimity of the European Union utter not one word about the irony of it all.  

The European Union believes that Sri Lanka is a country that needs peace and inclusivity. Sure, why not? Sri Lanka is not paradise after all and there’s always room for improvement. However, if inclusivity is, say, about one race having one vote or one faith having one vote, that’s dodgy. If inclusivity and peace are about insisting that all Sri Lankans inhabit some European version of Sri Lankan reality, that’s dodgy too.

If it is about forcing the entire population to enact or abide by legislation based on wild claims made by terrorists, that’s also dodgy. If peace is about a system and situation that enables the continuous exploitation of a people by a particular class or the ceding of national interests to strategic designs of the USA and the EU, that’s warlike and should be read as such. If beneficiaries of this love, understanding and magnanimity of the European Union want to talk peace and inclusivity without questioning the credentials of the European Union on these matters, then they are either super-naive or absolute pawns of European and North American designs for Sri Lanka, the region and the world.

It is beautiful to be romantic about peace and inclusion. It is even necessary to be idealistic about such things. However if politics stops there, it is irresponsible and, as history has shown, even pernicious.

Let’s flip it. Let us hope the do-gooders who are wide-eyed about the European Union shed myopia and start a fund, poor though they may be, to support groups that work tirelessly to bring about peace and inclusivity in the  member states of the European Union. Let’s hope those who represent the European Union stop navel-gazing and political clowning and offer free tuition classes to anyone interested about the past and present of those countries, especially with regard to peace (or rather war) and inclusivity (or rather exclusionist realities).

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