The Michael Coren Show on CTS network last night featured a second debate on Sri Lanka. Well, perhaps not so much of a “debate” as two sides stating their position with absolutely no concession that the other had any validity whatsoever. There really was no sense of “engaging in argument.” Each side rejected the other’s points 100 per cent with nary a hint of concession.
Listening to Coren’s four guests—two for the Tamils and two for the Sinhalese majority—one quickly concluded that the Tamil secessionist movement may have been defeated militarily on the ground in Sri Lanka, but the struggle for an independent homeland for ethnic Tamils is far from over. They exhibited little respect for each other. Oh, they were civil enough, but, for example, only once did a guest refer to one of his opponents by name. Throughout the show Coren’s guests used “him” and “her” when referring to their opponents.
A number of other troubling elements emerges during the hour. To start with, these were supposed to be four Canadians discussing a foreign nation. To be sure they had strong links to the country, but they have resided in Canada for some time, or so I understood. Yet the discussion lacked a Canadian context and there was no emotional distance between the guests and their subject. These four may as well have been arguing with each other on Sri Lankan television.
This distresses me, for frankly, while I do not want to see people in other countries treated poorly, I don’t want their problems imported to our shores. Tamils who choose to live in Canada have got to learn to accept that we are not responsible for what is happening in Sri Lanka. Surely we have enough problems of our own. We do not need to take up their cause.
Yes, Canada must be engaged in areas of the world in which we have national interests or where there are issues of national security. But we have neither the manpower or financial resources to address every injustice perceived by every immigrant group.
Back to the Michael Coren Show. When I think of debates, I think of winners and losers. Based on the two Sri Lanka episodes Coren has hosted, I’d judge the Sinhalese supporters to be more credible. The Tamil supporters seem to distort history and exaggerate their claims, especially when they make claims of genocide. Simply put, they are not persuasive.
As I have written here before, there is no evidence of the Sri Lanka government practicing genocide against the Tamils. Consider that in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, over the course of approximately 100 days, more than 500,000 people were killed, with estimates suggesting a death toll between 800,000 and 1,000,000—perhaps as high as high as 20% of the total Rwanda population.
The recent civil war in Sri Lanka claimed more than 100,000 lives. This from an estimated Tamil population of over 3.5 million. This was a tragic, disastrous civil war with atrocities on both sides, but decidedly not genocide.
If Michael Coren dedicates a third hour to Sri Lanka, I hope he provides guests who have more emotional distance from the subject so we hear a more objective discussion of all sides of the issues and especially of Canada’s interests, if any, there.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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