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Buddhists Have Their Vile Fundamentalists As Well

Secular Americans may roundly criticize the irrationally violent tendencies of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but they tend to have something of a sweet spot for Buddhism. They often regard Buddhism as a relatively rational religion, with a focus on cultivating the clear operation of the mind, and an ethic of nonviolence.

Certainly, Buddhism has some texts that espouse an ethic of clear-minded nonviolence, but then, so do most religions. In practice, however, Buddhism can be as consumed with the irrational violence of fundamentalism as any other religion.

That appears to be the case in Myanmar. Human Rights Watch reports this morning that, in Myanmar, “…Buddhist monks organized and encouraged ethnic Arakanese backed by state security forces to conduct coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population. The tens of thousands of displaced have been denied access to humanitarian aid and been unable to return home.”

Other excerpts from the report:

“The deadly violence that erupted between ethnic Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in early June 2012 in Burma’s Arakan State began as sectarian clashes in four townships. When violence resumed in October, it engulfed nine more townships and became a coordinated campaign to forcibly relocate or remove the state’s Muslims.”

“The October attacks were against Rohingya and Kaman Muslim communities and were organized, incited, and committed by local Arakanese political party operatives, the Buddhist monkhood, and ordinary Arakanese, at times directly supported by state security forces. Rohingya men, women, and children were killed, some were buried in mass graves, and their villages and neighborhoods were razed.”

“Arakanese residents and Buddhist monks have protested against international aid for Rohingya, physically blocked aid deliveries, and threatened aid workers.”

“Violence against Muslims in Burma has spread beyond Arakan State. Between March 20 and 22, mobs of Buddhists, led in some instances by Buddhist monks, attacked Muslims in Meiktila, Mandalay Region, following weeks of incitement through anti-Muslim sermons by members of the Buddhist monkhood.”

Whenever you think of the Dalai Lama, also think of this.

8 comments to Buddhists Have Their Vile Fundamentalists As Well

  • Bill

    Thanks for the balance, Peregrin. Christianity is such an easy target (owing to the outrageous number of bat-sh*t crazy self-professed “Christians” in America) that it sometimes feels to me (something of a Christian, if not a card-carrying one) that we are being singularly picked upon. But, as you point out, any religion…including Buddhism (if you can call Buddhism a religion; I’m never quite sure)…like any secularist organization, can have its share or more than its share of vile, crazy, sub-human adherents. I know some good and true Buddhists who shake their heads sadly at the Myanmar horror, just as I shake my head sadly at all too many ‘Christian’ organizations. Randy Newman’s “That’s Why I Love Mankind” always comes to mind.

  • Dave

    Peregrin, the title of your post means either a) fundamentalists are vile and Buddhists have their share of them or b) Buddhists have fundamentalists, some of which are vile. Is this a fundamental position that you take, or are you open to the possibility that Muslims in the area have armed themselves and are attempting to join what some see as the global nuisance that fundamental Islam is becoming?

    • Dave, I would like to know how those children who were killed by the Buddhist mobs and thrown into mass graves contributed to a “global nuisance”.

      • Dave

        Peregrin, I remember well the reports from Iraq of mass graves, children’s jails, human shredders, rape rooms, and the disappearance of nearly 200,000 Iraqi citizens over the space of ten years. These reports turned out to be quite accurate, and helped to incense our populace enough to give the green light to anything our leaders wanted to do in the region.

        What shall we do with the “reports” from Burma? Shall we condemn the perps because they possess different fundamentals from us? Damn, those fanatics and their Dalai Lama. Is it time to knock heads together? Could one consider Buddhism more of a culture than a religion? Shall we, in our cultural centrism, rise up and condemn that culture for it’s cultural centrism?

        Not trying to seem contentious here Peregrin, or even obnoxious. I often ask these things of myself as well when the reports start coming in. I also think I understand your post as more of giving reason to think little of fundamentalist belief systems and to see the sad results of such belief. I’d like to make the point that we may believe what the Buddhists are doing to be wrong, but our believing is also in the realm of belief. How fundamental is our belief, and why is it superior, are questions we really should answer.

    • Peregrin Wood

      Dave, are you AGAINST the right of people to arm themselves now, or is it an unacceptable nuisance? Confused.

    • Bill

      Dave, it is fundamentalist religion that has become a global nuisance, not fundamentalist Islam. Always has been. The most dangerous people in the world are those who think God is speaking to them and telling them what to do; it matters not which flavor of God they believe is talking to them, crazy is crazy. Mostly we put such people away in institutions and attempt to treat them, for their own good as well as society’s…unless they can prove membership in an organized religious institution, in which case we let them run wild. Westboro Baptist sound familiar?

      • Dave

        Bill, I agree that it was religion that crashed airliners into the WTC and motivates the Westboro Baptists and … well, make a long list here. I don’t think that ragging on fundamentalists of any stripe addresses what’s really going on when individuals or even whole peoples do what we think are crazy things. There seems to be an underlying assumption that anyone not a fundamentalist is somehow a rational well adjusted being who, thinking for themselves, can determine how to treat their fellow beings humanely and with dignity. It just ain’t so. Some can, some can’t. EVERYONE has a fundamental belief system of some kind, whether religious or “secular.”

        Mao did’t know that killing 100 million of his own people was right or wrong, but he believed it to be right based on his fundamental belief system. Those who espouse religious fundamentals have no monopoly on crazy.

        • Dave

          Just thought o’ this, Bill. The 20th Century saw more killing by primarily secular governments, by some estimates, than all the wars in history combined, perhaps 200 million lives. Seems that would make political fundamentalists the most dangerous people in the world.

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