50 million people in Myanmar can now get Facebook, and they're spreading a trumpian ethnic cleansing movement

If you drop the last two words (like I did above), I think it’s more accurate. The Internet amplifies things, both good and bad.

Personally, I think that has most to do with the timescale. Because it’s so immediate, it encourages reactions over actions, and when people are being reactive, you tend to just get more of whatever they are.

Welcome to Boing Boing. I agree - except it’s a discussion, not an argument.

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Are you disappointed in Boing Boing and Cory?


This is what cracks me up a little about American conceptions of Buddhism. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a Buddhist, that’s your business and I don’t assume you know nothing about it-- which is a common charge against (particularly) white Buddhists. But Americans at large seem to think that Buddhism is inoculating against violence, when the reality is that it’s like any other set of beliefs in practice- but because of its minority status and popular sympathy towards Tibet we have a particular image of Buddhism that doesn’t accord with how it works in the real world.

Not a lot of people know what happened in Sri Lanka just this century, with ethnic Tamils (primarily Hindu) being herded into concentration camps following the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Meanwhile the jubilation among some sectors of Sri Lankan society used distinctly religious language. You effectively had people saying “praise Buddha and pass the ammunition!” A Christian Sri Lankan friend of mine in high school always talked about discrimination faced by Muslim, Christian, and Hindu minorities there.

The point here isn’t that Buddhism=Bad, but I get so sick of glib ideas about religious exceptionalism as it applies to [insert your least favorite religion here] and the go-to is always, “You don’t see Buddhists downloading cars!”


Cool, you think Buddhists are humans. Check.

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The minority opinion seems to be that other people are maybe not normal humans because they have a brain disease called [specific religion], and Buddhists are just the inexplicable counter-example Americans unaccountably love to pull out.

Wait… did I not say that??? I forgot to attach a file to my latest email too, I must be slipping.


I dunno. I’m a Buddhist but so is most of China, Japan, Korea, etc historically. That said, I think you’d be challenged to find a war or crusade fought in he name of Buddhism before this last few decades or so. He religion doesn’t lend itself easily to that but it also doesn’t change people from being people much of the time.

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Why’d you say Burma?

I panicked.

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Nor does any other religion. I’m not certain what you’re seeking to disagree with, but it’s possibly not me.

Because you seem to be implying Buddhism is just as bad as, say, the Abrahamic faiths and, frankly, it isn’t. It isn’t just hippy dippie bullshit to think that. Historically, rulers who became Buddhist (and soldiers) were less likely to engage in war, not more. Christianity and Islam can’t say that.

Did Dr Bronowski tell you that? Apparently he knows everything.

I wouldn’t like that - it’d take the mystery out of life.

This is difficult to analyze one way or another. Buddhism, while a major world religion, doesn’t have nearly the following of Islam or Christianity in terms of numbers. I realize those numbers have been different in the past. But, when Buddhism was more prominent, empires that promoted Buddhism and contributed to its spread engaged in expansionist military campaigns. Fewer Buddhists in conflict overall isn’t necessarily a reflection on philosophical underpinnings. What’s the statistical correlation, and how do we control for other variables contributing to warfare that may not have been entirely religious in nature? I don’t see why this is something that can be taken for granted at all. I admit, I never really thought to do such a search until just now, but a cursory search on Google Scholar revealed two things:

  1. No one has really crunched the numbers here in a broad way that cuts across history.
  2. Of course no one has, because as I was trying to construct meaningful queries, I realized that even defining what constitutes religious violence isn’t a hurdle that has been overcome.

I mean, if people feel that a religion is less violent, or even just as violent as any other (like I do) that’s fine. But it’s no substitute for a rigorous analysis.

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In many countries these days nearly everyone has a cell phone, and while call minutes and data are precious commodities, as mentioned above, facebook time only costs electricity.

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Name a pre-20th century war or conflict fought in the name of Buddhism for the purposes of spreading it overtly.

I can do that for Christianity and Islam…many times over.

All of China has been Buddhist for over 1,000 years. He same goes for Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. There are more Buddhists in earlier times than Christians by a significant margin. Buddhism doesn’t normally have a belief in converting populaces by force. It does it through missionary monks converting elites and then the populace through the elites.

It’s always claimed – possibly falsely – that the porn industry is the first to exploit any new technology.

Now we know that bigotry is the second.

Perverts are early adopters. Bigots are the trailing edge. A few of the perverts weaponize bigots to make money and become the tech elite.

Is this the only possible measure of a relationship between religion and violence? What was the co-religionist murder rate among Bhuddists in 700 AD relative to the murder rate among Muslims or Christians? I’m not saying it was higher or lower, but I can illustrate some of the complexities in trying to analyze what it means for a religion to be “more violent.” Political religious violence in antiquity is deeply tied to the spread of empire. To gain imperial territory and to spread a religion were practically synonymous for many civilizations–though not all. In practical terms Buddhism spread through conversion of elites who continued to use violence, and its spread was connected to the violence intrinsically connected to power. Just like most ancient religions. Of course, many more empires were explicitly Christian or Islamic than Buddhist, and Buddhism didn’t seem to be a significant barrier to violence for those Buddhist empires that did exist. If a religion cannot prevent violence by having more adherents, can it be said to be less violent? Chinese history is hardly one of non-violence.

Meanwhile many of the wars you can cite as being inherently religious had numerous ulterior motives than aren’t always extricable from religious ideas and philosophies for the same reasons it’s possible for a Buddhist like you to condemn concentration camps in Sri Lanka while others justify them in the name of Buddhism. This kind of complexity isn’t unique to the 21st century-- why would it be? What accounts for that exception crossing the 20th century mark? Were previous Buddhists more pure? I doubt it very much.

Many early Islamic conquests were similar to Mongol conquests very early on. Arabs tended to live in pastoral and nomadic communities and empire was managed by delegation with little concern for immediate conversion. The importance of conversion as a mechanic in Islam to create imperial specialization and class-structures is very well studied and is the subject of a great deal of scholarship. Look into how many Muslim elites didn’t like conversion because it diluted their power. It’s some really interesting counter-intuitive stuff. So how do we analyze the violence of subjecting people to class structure while simultaneously discouraging conversion with certain kinds of incentives and concessions? Is that about Islam? Or is that about power? Or is it about both?

There are nuances here, and declarations of war didn’t come on a form with a section titled “Reason:” and a tick box for “Religious conversion.” It was always more complicated than that. For Buddhists and everyone else.



I’m ready for Captain Trips…

It’s a strange strange world. Buddhists are speaking blood libel accusations against Muslims. I wonder if they are saying that Muslims need the blood of Buddhist children to make Lavash…

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