Kandy Man with long name who fought the Brits.
Key fact: in Sri Lanka heroes were allowed to get fat, another reason to like the place.
You see some pretty sick stuff when you do my job, but I just read something sicker than any Congo cannibal buffet. It’s an article by a posh little limey named Jeremey Brown condemning the Sri Lankan government for being too messy in putting down the LTTE, and demanding that we stop buying the cheap textiles the poor Sinhalese make their living churning out.
What’s sick about this is that the British establishment destroyed the Sinhalese people completely. Completely and purposely, sadistically. Stole their land, humiliated and massacred their government, made it Imperial policy to erase every shred of self-respect the Sinhalese had left. You can talk about the Nazis all day long, but for my money nothing they did was as gross as what you find out when you actually look into the history of British-Sinhalese relations. If you can even call them “relations”; I guess a murder-rape is a relation, sort of.
But nobody knows about it. Weird, huh? Nothing weirds me out more than the total news blackout the Brits have managed to put on all the sick shit they did to brown and black people all over the world. They had a system, and it worked. They’d grab some paradise island in the tropics, use the Royal Navy to wall it off from the rest of the world, and crush the local tribe. If the locals resisted, the Brits would starve them to death, shoot them down, infect them with smallpox or get them addicted to opium–whatever they had to do to gang-rape the locals so bad that they’d lose the will to resist.
And to this day, they don’t catch even a little bit of Hell for it. Everybody thinks the Brits are all cute and harmless. You’re all a bunch of suckers for those suave accents, you suckers! The truth is that compared to the Brits, the Nazis you’re always yammering about were a gang of eighth-grade stoners who ran around spraypainting swastikas on school property. The Nazis lasted one decade; the Brits quietly ran their extermination programs for three hundred years, and to this day they wouldn’t even think of feeling guilty about it. Wouldn’t cross their minds.
That’s what made me want to puke battery acid when I read Mister Jeremy Brown’s sermon on the naughty Sinhalese: this pig Brown has no clue about why Sri Lanka is so fucked up, no hint at all that it’s the result of British Imperial policy. Not “mistakes” or “a few bad apples” or “regrettable excesses” but clear, cold, ruthless British policy.
One of the funniest bits in Brown’s little Anglican sermon to the Sinhalese is when he mentions Arthur C. Clarke, the Brit sci-fi writer who moved to Sri Lanka. The reason that’s funny is that a few years back, when he was too senile and drunk to watch his tongue, Clarke admitted in an interview that the whole reason he moved to Sri Lanka is “for the boys.” As in, he liked to rape little boys, and they were cheap and pretty in the dear old ex-colony. The fucking Brits wouldn’t stop raping the Sinhalese even after their troops were forced off the island.
Jeremy Brown wouldn’t know that, of course. To him, Clarke is a wonderful example of all the wonderful things British people have done for po’ little Sri Lanka:
“Britain has…helped to rebuild Sri Lanka’s tourist industry: Britons accounted for 18.5 per cent of the foreigners who visited the former colony’s famous beaches, wildlife parks, tea plantations and Buddhist temples last year. Only India sends more tourists. Many Britons also own property there, especially around the southern city of Galle, not far from where Arthur C.Clarke, the British science fiction writer who settled in Sri Lanka, used to love to scuba dive. [Is that what they’re callin’ it these days? GB]
So the question facing British shoppers and holidaymakers is this: should they continue to support Sri Lanka’s garment and tourist industries?
Don’t you love that last sentence: “Sadly, the answer must be no.” Anybody who can write a sentence like that without blowing his brains out at the monitor is a hopeless twit anyway, but let’s help Jeremy out a little bit, folks, let’s go back in time and take a quick look at all the wonderful things the Brits did for these rotten, ungrateful Sinhalese.
The pattern you see in the colonizing of Sri Lanka is a real familiar one, if you study the European naval empires: the Portugese, the greatest sailors and explorers, came to Sri Lanka long before the Brits, claimed the place, but couldn’t hold on to it. The Portugese lost the island to the Dutch, those up’n’coming Protestant go-getters, in the mid-1600s. That’s another pattern you see everywhere, the old Papist powers losing out to the Protestants, who were just faster and smarter.
The next stage was also totally by the book: the Brits, the canopy tree if you know what I mean, come along and force the Dutch out. There were times the Brits sort of liked the Dutch; they were Protestant, at least, and blonde/blue-eyed. But business was business, and the Brits realized, by the end of the 1700s, that Sri Lanka was worth taking. Of course they didn’t say that in public; the official reason was that they had to boot the Dutch to guard the island from the nasty radical Frenchies.
That way of stealing islands, making it sound like you had to take them for the greater good–that was classic Brit strategy. They always made it look like they were forced, against their will, to grab this or that colony. I dunno if y’all ever saw a movie called Erik the Viking, but it has a great scene with John Cleese playing this insane bloodthirsty warlord who orders people tortured to death in this tired, disappointed upper-class voice, and then whines, “It’s the stress that gets you”–all put upon and harrassed, like Attila the Hun meets The Office. That’s a perfect image for the way the Brits booted the Dutch out of Ceylon, tsk-tsking while they stole every shed, cannon and bale of tea on the island.
With the Dutch trade rivals gone, the Brits had only one problem left: the damned natives, the Sinhala, or “Kandyans” as they were called back then. That dumb name, “Kandyans,” came from the fact that their main city was Kandy, up in the highlands in the south of the island, the fat part of the teardrop. The Sinhala lived in the highlands for the simple reason that it was a little cooler, not as totally malarial, up there compared to the stinking coastal marshes.
By all accounts, the Sinhala/Kandyans were harmless slackers, who didn’t need or want much from the outside world. All they asked was for people to leave them alone up on their big rocky highlands to do their Buddhist thing. Unfortunately that wasn’t British policy. It irked the redcoats that Kandy still had a king, an army, all this impudent baggage that went with independence. The British decided to break the Sinhalese completely, crush the whole society.
You have to remember that by this time, the early 1800s, the Brits have perfected their techniques in little experiments all over the world. Those Clockwork Orange shrinks were amateurs compared to the Imperial Civil Service. They had dozens of ways of undermining native kingdoms.
British administrators were trained to do a kind of rough, quick sociological sketch of the natives, get a sense of the fault lines and then figure out how to exploit them. The Brits saw fast that the Kandyans were a sluggish bunch of people divided into rigid castes in the classic subcontinent pattern. That made it easy: the Brits made two big castes their official pets and shunned the others, setting up a violent hate between different parts of Sinhalese society. That guaranteed that if the diehard Sinhalese/Kandyan nationalists ever revolted, the teacher’s-pet castes would have a good selfish reason to help massacre them.
Then there was the Kandyan king himself. The Brits weren’t dumb in the way Paul Bremer was dumb, “de-Baathifying” Iraq. They loved corrupt local rulers. Much easier and cheaper to bribe one fat old degenerate on a throne than negotiate with all the commoners. So the Brits started playing with the nervous, dumb-ass Kandyan royals, scaring them with the threat of losing everything and then teasing them with the possibility of the safe, soft life of a Brit puppet.
This was the major leagues of Colonialism. To give you an idea of how important Ceylon/Sri Lanka was back then, try this on: in 1802, when French armies were kicking British and Prussian and Italian and Russian ass all over Europe (weird how nobody remembers that, huh?), the Brits were so terrified they tried to give Napoleon all their colonies except Sri Lanka and Trinidad. Those were the two they needed to keep.
The Kandy Men: no match for the Brit Vampire Lords
And this is where another standard Brit policy came into play–a real smart one that we ought to be imitating: use native auxiliaries, not homeland troops, as much as possible. For all kinds of reasons, but here are the main ones:
1. If you bring in troops from some remote part of the Empire to do your dirty work, it’s those troops, those faces and accents, the locals will remember, and hate, for generations. So you, the sly little pink Brit administrator, can stroll in later and commiserate with the locals as they show you around their burned huts, bayoneted kids, etc., and even say with a straight face, “Oh my, those auxiliaries from wherever, what ruddy heathens, eh? Outrageous, I shall certainly let Whitehall know about these abuses!” Then, of course, you get in your sedan chair, close the curtains and chuckle all the way home to where your little bum-boy is waiting.
2. Nobody back in London counts casualties as long as it’s Malay mercs dying. You can lose a lot of them–and a lot of Malays did die fighting the Sinhala, especially in the total rout of a malaria-sapped Brit/Malay force at the Mahaveli River in 1803–but nobody is going to make a fuss in the Times of London (Mister Jeremy Brown’s paper, as you may recall). If you’re lucky they’ll pop off before payday and you can keep their payroll for that estate in Shropshire.
3. Dropping hot-blooded feisty Malay muslims with guns far from home and making them fight Sinhalese bleeds Malay society as well as Sinhalese. Left in peace, Malays could be trouble–a proud, warlike people. So by sending them to die in Sri Lanka, you’re diverting all that young, angry Malay blood away from SE Asia and using it to bleed Kandy (bleed Kandy–I like that!). Two birds, one bloodsoaked stone.
You see why I get impatient with you gullible suckers yammering about the fucking Nazis? The Nazis were retards, a white-trash tantrum, an eighth-grade chem-class pipe bomb, a quick-fizzle flash in the pan, compared to the Brits, the scariest motherfuckers ever to butt-fuck the planet.
The mercenaries the Brits sent to crush the Kandyans were Malays, muslims from SE Asia who didn’t need a lot of pep talks to slaughter South Asian Buddhists (and steal their chickens). That was life for the Brits back then, at the top of their game: picking up pieces from one part of the world and dropping them where they’d do the most harm, half the world away. “Ah yes, let’s ferry some Malay mercs to Kandy, that should give the bloody idol-worshippers something to think about!”
Destroying Buddhism was a big part of Brit policy. The Buddhist routine, the temples, begging monks, long boring prayers–it was the glue that kept Kandy together. So the Brits decided to destroy it. They even said so, in private memos to each other. They weren’t shy in them days. Here’s the Brit governor in 1807: “Reliance on Buddhism must be destroyed. Make sure all [village] chiefs are Christian.”
Up to 1818, the Brits had a blast messing with doomed Sinhala rebellions, trying out CI recipes like Frankenstein guesting on Rachael Ray. A good time was had by all, except the Sinhalese. They had a very, very bad time, and it was about to get worse.
See, another constant you’ll find in Brit imperial policy is that although they’re very sly and patient, they have a very good sense of when to cut the crap and just wipe out a tribe that’s been annoying them for too long. They were getting sick of the Sinhalese, with all their bickering and intrigues; the redcoats just weren’t enjoying the Col. Kurtz game the way they used to. So boom: the “kill’em all” era begins.
But they did it smart, not like the idiot boastful Nazis y’all love to obsess on. I bet every one on the planet can name the Nazi death camps, but I’d be surprised if more than, say, a half dozen people outside Sri Lanka can name the policy the Brits used to destroy the Sinhala for good.
Anybody? Didn’t think so. See, here’s another little tip for up’n’coming genocidaires out there: always pick the most boring name possible. Those fucking Nazis, with their heavy-metal jewelry and titles! Dopes! You want extermination programs with names that put everybody to sleep.
And that’s why in 1818 Britain brought “the wasteland policy” to Kandy. They could have called it what that Liberian wacko called his campaign: “Operation No Living Thing.” That’s what it meant: Brit-led troops “draining the sea” the Sinhala irregulars swam in by burning every hut, every field, and killing every animal in every village they suspected of harboring “rebels.”
Hey, that’s another key Brit CI techniques: that word “rebels.” Blows me away: how can a Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, fighting for the country his people have owned for a hundred generations, be a “rebel”? And the pipsqueak redcoat officer hunting him down, who was born and raised in fucking London–he’s not the “rebel,” he’s the forces of law and order, the rightful authorities. Quite a racket if you have the sheer, sociopathic nerve to say it with a straight face. (I’m talking to you, Mister Jeremy Brown!)
What does “rebel” mean, anyway? I’ve noticed that in English press it’s a bad word. Here it’s different, because we were the rebels in 1775 and proud of it. But see, people who know the American revolution think that the Brit policy against the Yankees, where (give or take a Banastre Tarlteton or two), the redcoats tried to avoid killing civvies, was normal Imperial policy.
Bullshit. The reason the Brits let us go, didn’t try scorched-earth on us, was that we WERE Brits, as far as they could tell: white protestant English-speaking humans. If you weren’t all of the above, you weren’t human. The only other war where English troops had the same restraint was–take a guess. Right: the English Civil War. In England, they fought clean. But when Cromwell marched up to subdue the Scots, who were Protestant (good) but non-English (bad), a lot of POWs never made it back to the holding pens, and a lot of crofts were torched, and a lot of girls were raped. When he moved from Scotland to Ireland, where the filthy locals were filthy Papist as well as non-English, well, you don’t want to know what happened there.
So in places like Sri Lanka, full of brown heathens, Brit policy had nothing to do with fucking Yorktown. More like Dresden, only lower-tech.
The “Wasteland” policy was smart and mean at the same time–another sure mark of the Brit Imperial Touch. It was designed to deny the “rebels” support in the short term, but in the long term it was pure punishment, taking away the land, livestock and other assets of all the Sinhalese who were even suspected of being “rebel”-lovers.
And it worked. To this day, 200 years later, the Sinhalese castes who backed the rebels are dirt poor, and worse: they’re hated by everybody around them and they even hate themselves. And nobody even remembers who did it to them, poor lab rats. They think it’s their own fault, that there’s something wrong with them.
There’s more, and worse, but to tell the truth, this is making me sick. I’ve tried to tell this story a dozen times and nobody wants to know. You just end up vomiting battery acid all night, and pigs like Mister Jeremy Brown of the Times of London never lose one second of sleep over all those bodies, and all those lies and sheer nastiness. What’s the use? I’ll just fastforward through a couple of highlight shots. Take reprisals. You know, like those bad ol’ Nazis used to do after a “rebel” attack? The Brits were there way before the Nazis. They took revenge for a half-assed Kandyan revolt by killing one out of every hundred Sinhalese. Like, at random. To keep it fair, you know, not play favorites.
And then the nastiest CI weapon of all, the demographic bomb. This was a Brit specialty all over the world (see Fiji for a weirdly similar case). The Brits ran India, so they had total control over millions of obedient Tamil peasants who were starving, desperate, and ready to go anywhere, just pile into the hold of a ship and get out to cut cane or plant rice in some place that may as well have been on the Moon for all they knew.
So along with the massacre/reprisals, the Brits came up with one of their classic two-birds-one-stone plans: to neutralize the Sinhalese, let’s import huge hordes of Tamils from India! They’re cheap and docile and they’ll give the Sinhala something to keep them busy even after we have to leave the island, haw! And meanwhile they’ll drive the price of labor down even further! Brilliant, chaps, absolutely brilliant!
And they did it. Worked so well it’s still working today. And when they were done totally destroying the poor Sinhalese, the Brits did what they do best, better than any other murder gang on the planet: they took that amnesia zapper from Men in Black and zapped everyone in Sri Lanka, then turned it on themselves and were suddenly so innocent, so damn virtuous and clean, that a pig like Mister Jeremy Brown can actually sit down at a computer and boast about all the wonderful times England has raped Sri Lanka, from olden times right down to Arthur C. Clarke buggering every little boy on the island. Heckuva job, Brownie! Satan himself is shaking his head, muttering, “Gotta give it to the fuckin’ limeys, damn it….they got no shame at all, ya gotta admire that. Damn, even I wouldn’t have had the gall to talk like that Jeremy Brown. I’m putting him down for CEO of the Hell Propagandastaffel the minute his liver packs up and he lands down here.”
OK, done. Now you can all pass around that amnesia gun.
Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click the cover, buy the book!
Got something to say to us? Then send us a letter.
Want us to stick around? Donate to The eXiled.
Twitter twerps can follow us at twitter.com/exiledonline