Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Six Blind Women of Gringo Land

Who went to see the Tiger

by Sachi Sri Kantha, March 1, 2010

(with apology to John Godfrey Saxe)

It was six women of Gringo Land to learning much inclined
Who went to see the tiger though all of them were blind
That each by observation might satisfy her mind

The first approached the tiger and happening to fall
Against her broad and sturdy side, at once began to shriek
‘God bless me! But the tiger is very like a slippery pestle!

The second, feeling the canine, cried ‘Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ‘tis mighty clear
This wonder of a tiger is very like a spear!

The third approached the animal, and happening to take
the growling jaw within her hands, thus boldly up and screamed:
‘I see,’ quoth she, ‘the tiger is very likely a terror!’

The fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt about its fur
‘What most this wondrous beast is like is mighty plain’, quoth she:
‘Tis clear enough this tiger is very likely a bear!’

The fifth, who chanced to touch the claw, said: ‘E’en the blindest woman
Can tell what this resembles most; deny the fact who can,
This marvel of a tiger is very like a needle blade!’

The sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail that fell within her scope,
‘I see,’ quoth she, ‘the tiger is very like a rope!’

And so these women of Gringo Land disputed loud and long,
Each in her own opinion exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

I should identify these six blind women from Gringo Land, who went to see the Tiger. Five of the six were from the venerable New York Times. The grandma was Barbara Crossette who was there in the late 1980s. Then, she was followed by Celia Dugger in the late 1990s. Amy Waldman and Somini Sengupta covered the 2000s. Lately Lydia Polgreen has moved in. There was another one, Mia Bloom, who was a pretending terrorism scholar and linguist during the CFA period (2002-2004). None of them could read, write or speak either in Tamil or in Sinhalese. Their coverage about the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was sloppy at best and humor-generating at worst. Their jaunts in Colombo and peripheral cities were chaperoned and filled in by local newsbroker-pundits. Those who served in this category were Neelan Tiruchelvam, Radhika Coomaraswamy, Kethesh Loganathan, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Dayan Jayatilleka and Rajiva Wijesinha. For their service, they would be rewarded with one or two line “quotes” as human right activists or peace counselor or bipartisan commentator. If you have a degree from a university from Gringo Land, (Harvard, George Washington University etc.), then you will be tagged with glee.

I had a chuckle, when I read one of the latest reports by Lydia Polgreen. Read this sentence: “Douglas Devananda, a former Tiger who has become a powerful minister in Mr. Rajapaksa’s government, said it was better to work with those in power to gain something rather than remain on the sidelines achieving little.” [‘Cry for self-rule by Tamils is muffled by reality’, New York Times, Feb.7, 2010]. That the sycophant collaborator Douglas Devananda was a “former Tiger” should be news to all Eelam Tamils! This lady correspondent couldn’t tell a breast from a buttock. Could it be that Lydia Polgreen got mixed up with the names of V. Muralitharan (aka Karuna) and Devananda? Or could it be that it’s a new ruse by President Rajapaksa’s publicity department to upgrade Devananda’s status as “a former Tiger?” There was a time that the New York Times had a solid facts-checking section. Maybe that section has gone with the wind.

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