“A Buddhist monk can’t be a terrorist because of Buddha’s teachings.”
Logical fallacy at it’s finest. Or rather at it’s worst.
The head monk at a monastery on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar/Burma delivered this line to a roomful of journalists in March when questioned about the TIME magazine cover featuring firebrand monk U Wirathu and the headline “The Face of Buddhist Terror.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”
Wirathu, leader of Burma’s 969 Movement, is infamous for intimidating and inciting violence against Muslims, especially Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s western Rakhine State, as part of a political attempt to promote Buddhist nationalism.
Can we please just call a spade a spade.
Buddhist monks are terrorists if they engage in acts of terrorism. The same can be said for any person of any faith, belief or ideology who uses unauthorized violence to achieve political aims.
The Facebook page “Muslims Are Not Terrorists” has racked up nearly 700,000 likes on the premise that “We are Muslims and our religion is all about Peace/Charity/Brotherhood.”
Yes, the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. But some people who identify as Muslim, Christian, Jewish, XYZ engage in acts of terrorism, making them terrorists.
“But violence goes against my religion,” you say. Too bad.
If your religion lacks formal membership structures, hierarchies and the means to excommunicate individuals, you can’t really pick and choose who gets to represent it. Even with such mechanisms in place, if a member of the community commits a crime and you claim said crime negates that person’s stated beliefs, be prepared for some skeptical eye rolls.
Case in point? An American priest who headed his diocese’s youth group in the 1980s and allegedly abused a child for years.
A lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton N.J., told a court earlier this year:
“you can determine a priest is not on duty when he is molesting a child, for example. … A priest abusing a child is absolutely contrary to the pursuit of his master’s business, to the work of a diocese.”
Cue outraged, disgusted, disbelieving eye rolls.
Buddhists and Muslims can be terrorists despite Buddha and Islam. Priests can be child molester despite Jesus and the Bible. Anyone can do terrible things despite religion.
When a popular Christian metal singer admits to being an atheist after plotting to have his wife killed, Christians shouldn’t be relieved. They should be outraged that anyone, regardless of faith, would stoop so low.
Some religious people are good. Some are not. Some nonreligious people are good. Some are not. Religion does not preclude, negate, justify or explain inhumanity. Let’s all try to remember that and help each other be better people, regardless of faith.