Buddhist Leaders Call on Myanmar to Expel Muslims

From the New York Times:

After a ritual prayer atoning for past sins, Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk with a rock-star following in Myanmar, sat before an overflowing crowd of thousands of devotees and launched into a rant against what he called “the enemy” — the country’s Muslim minority.

“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu said, referring to Muslims.

There is much more in the piece, including this:

[…] images of rampaging Burmese Buddhists carrying swords and the vituperative sermons of monks like Ashin Wirathu have underlined the rise of extreme Buddhism in Myanmar — and revealed a darker side of the country’s greater freedoms after decades of military rule. Buddhist lynch mobs have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes.

Ashin Wirathu denies any role in the riots. But his critics say that at the very least his anti-Muslim preaching is helping to inspire the violence.

What began last year on the fringes of Burmese society has grown into a nationwide movement whose agenda now includes boycotts of Muslim-made goods. Its message is spreading through regular sermons across the country that draw thousands of people and through widely distributed DVDs of those talks. Buddhist monasteries associated with the movement are also opening community centers and a Sunday school program for 60,000 Buddhist children nationwide.

This bad news is, of course, contradictory to everything Dr Delacroix and other imperialists have written on the subject of religious extremism. Imperialists in this century like to pretend that Islam has suddenly appeared to take the place of communism as the preeminent threat to peace and prosperity in the world. They point to violence, poverty and state-sponsored oppression as examples of Islam’s inherent incompatibility with the liberal world order.

This is all anecdotal evidence. There is nothing inherently violent about Islam. All religions are equally authoritarian at their core.

I pull two things from this piece: 1) it reaffirms my commitment to secular government and 2) it reconfirms my skepticism of democracy. These two things go hand-in-hand, of course.

A government that decides to adhere to one religion is necessarily going to oppress those it does not sponsor. This is easy enough for our Western readers to understand, but it is an argument that does not have nearly enough clout in the non-Western world (you could perhaps exclude China from this list, and India has essentially been Westernized; New Delhi even has its own condescending policy towards its indigenous minorities).

The democratic aspect, too, should be familiar to Western readers. Democracy needs restraints, and lots of them. The reasons for this are practically infinite, but suffice it to say here going to war in the name of democracy is a foolish, morally horrendous thing to do. The fact that imperialists today often shroud their lust for power in terms of democracy speaks volumes about the immoral nature of their worldview. (h/t Eugene Volokh)

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