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No! To Nugegoda as a Nuremberg?


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The crowd is large. The scenery is packed with stormtroopers. The energy of the rally is tangible. In the street, banners defy the breeze. On stage, speakers define the new world order. On closer inspection, it appears to be the old order of things thinly disguised as a change for the better. 

In Nuremberg, under the National Socialist (Nazi) regime of the 1920s and ’30s, the aspiration was to usher in a Third Reich (the first two being the German states as the crucible of the Holy Roman Empire and a unified Germany under Bismarck). In Nugegoda, under pseudo-Nazis of a not-so-different dispensation, the ambition remains the same. To define national socialism as the need of the hour, to defy the powers that be, to employ demagoguery to devastating effect on a democratic republic. Nuremberg raised a clenched fist in the face of the peaceable Weimar Republic. Nugegoda cocks a snoop at the Wickremesinghe Regime.

Both Nuremberg and Nugegoda served or serve subversive purposes. One strove to create a near hysterical fervour for the National Socialist cause, fostering anti-republican feelings against an administration the Nazis saw as cowardly, slavish towards Germany’s conquerors, enslaved by a craven desire for peace within her borders. The other struggles to concoct a historical feeling for an ultra-nationalist ethos, forging anti-democratic sentiments that favour a former regime which presents the powers that be as compromised, strategically selling the family silver to foreigners, effete. 

 



Nuremberg

Nuremberg and its ultranationalist ethos led to the putsches that brought a megalomaniac to power in Nazi Germany and held Western Europe first and then the world at large in thrall from 1933-45. Nugegoda and its latent Nazism, inflammatory rhetoric, and volatile ideas convinced of self-righteousness, poises a good and gentle nation on the brink of a war of more than words spoken in the heat of an evening’s protest meeting.385

Nuremberg was once about more than just goose-stepping Hitler-saluters high on Wagner, Nietzsche, and uniformed übermenschen panting for a very precise dispensation of power. It massaged Nordic symbols such as the SS runes and manipulated geometric emblems such as the Aryan Swastika to fuel the Teutonic imagination of a world that was, and could be once again, Germany’s. The devil had the best tunes, best lines, best uniforms. The devil’s bible had ugly and evil things to say about those upon whom the Norse Gods of Asgard and Valhalla had not bestowed their favour. The devil’s henchmen’s theologies led along a hard, cruel, violent path to Auschwitz, a Berlin bunker, an apocalypse for six million Jews, holocaustic ends for countless other social and sexual undesirables: gays, gypsies, the old, the sick, the weak…



Nugegoda

Nugegoda is similarly about more than just glib-tongued Hambantota-supporters high on Wimal, Namal, and sundry supermen wearing their panties on the outside for show to impress a gullible crowd. Time and again, the mass rallies at a major junction have mismanaged public time and money and massacred traffic to spew their venom and vitriol in a public space granted them by the Government’s grace. 

True, these devils too seem to have the better beats, the better speeches, the better intentions. True to Nazi form, their scriptures have hard things to hurl at those for whom there is no grace in their holy writ. True to their character, these devils’ henchmen’s pulpit-pounding invokes hell-fire on an “effeminate government” and isolation in outer darkness for others who would betray their “effervescent gallantry”. Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth await any and all who opt for the route governance has taken and support the alternative to autocracy that our erstwhile crazies once offered.



Nostalgia

Which, admittedly, we took them up on for a while. War ‘victories’ and triumphalistic propaganda which sprout the gospel of growth, development, and prosperity – with a will to power – are always popular. Until the attempts of the victors to become tinkerers with the people’s constitutional rights to life and liberty jeopardised their autocratisation project. However, the preachers at these rallies appear to be in denial about the rejection of the people who don’t attend their “Nugegoda as Nuremberg” protests. History’s memory is short. Hungry people – hungry for power, perks, positions, privileges, posterity’s smile – have a penchant to get nostalgic and grow maudlin about the way things used to be under Mahinda & Co. in the post-2009 years. 

These historical amnesiacs would have us believe that the return of the king is a consummation devoutly to be wished. They highlight the painful shortcomings of the present coalition – bless their cotton socks – in ways that are hurtful to more than their targets, but the target audiences themselves who stand to gain more than pain from a Rajapaksa return to power in any form. 

The pity of the matter is that the pulse of the people portends a rise in rhetorical temperatures at future such rallies, and the vim vigour and vitality of some short-sighted protestors can serve as rabble-rousers to a sleeping national conscience. An irony in all of this is that at a time when Government needs well-intentioned critical engagement with its plans, programs, policies – or flops, flubs, failures, and fiascos – it is the bad and the ugly rather than the good or noble who are stepping up to the mic. 

A holocaust is awaiting the green light at the next junction if the series of such rallies grows from suburban disruption to national movement. Which is why government, good folks with the gift of foresight, and all citizens fair and true must step forward to put their foot down with a firm hand… to say “No!” to Nugegoda as our incipient Nuremberg.



Never again

The victors have a way of writing history that makes it memorable. Helpful to remember for those who are on the right (winning) side… Hurtful to those who would seek to disrupt the status quo of a hard-won peace. The meaning that Nuremberg had for a generation of Germans was critiqued and transformed into something of significance for the people of Europe and a watching world when the post-war trials of the Nazi regime were conducted at the most appropriate venue. Judgment at Nuremberg may have been a show trial critiqued by observers incensed by the managed spectacle put on by the triumphant allies. But it sent out a clear strong right signal that justice, though slow, would be done by the war-dead and the war-wounded and the war-abused. 

Government in Sri Lanka needs to bring judgment to Nugegoda post haste in similar vein. One suspects that the affronted hotheads in the UNP for certain and perhaps among the naïve in the rest of coalition desire that justice of some sort be done. That arrests be made, criminal cases against the corrupt be expedited, big-name offenders from the previous regime be brought to book and made an example of, to deter such rallies from gaining normalisation momentum as acceptable dissent. Hope in such an otherwise natural course of action may be slim. Although it is hamstrung by its present dalliance with a party that is politically, characteristically, and temperamentally worlds and worldviews apart from it, the UNP will probably act – or not – out of a sense of self-preservation. So chances are Nugegoda will continue to be – and be allowed to be (to the chagrin of motorists and consternation of residents) – the locus of such politically volatile circuses; for the inflammatory rhetoric of Wimal, Welgama, & Co., will provide Mahinda’s machine with the gravitas the UNP hopes will rein in Sirisena.


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