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Buddhism and Islam: please note disclaimers

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — on monk Wirathu, also the trickiness of images-with-quotes on social media ]
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SPEC Wirathu

The quote from Wirathu (upper panel, above) is a direct quote from a NYT interview with him:

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

The image was posted on a FaceBook page which is either his or named for him, but appears to have been taken from a National Geographic contest. The photographer’s note reads:

At the annual Ananda Harvest Festival in Bagan, Myanmar, thousands of monks from all over Myanmar came to receive alms. While walking around the vast temple grounds, I chanced upon this boy monk who was playing with his toy gun. Even though it was only a toy gun, I found this image a disturbing juxtaposition of the peace that Buddhism embodies and the violence that guns symbolise.

So the gun is a toy gun, and the monk a boy monk, not Wirathu.

FWIW, I searched for “wirathu hoax” and didn’t find this image listed, but did find a hoax photo attributed to a Wirathu FB page: Fake image being circulated by monk Wirathu to incite anti-Muslim violence in Burma (Warning: Graphic Content).

Figuring out what’s genuine, what’s propaganda. and what’s fake or a hoax is getting harder and harder these days, and we need more and more skeptical spectacles when taking in both texts and images.

The text from the Parajika (lower panel, above) is genuine.

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Edited to add:

Lion’s Roard, the Buddhist site, had a great piece which intro’d me to the Wirathu quote with image, Facebook using Buddhist tools to fight hate speech in Burma. Extract:

As Burma is emerging from fifty years of military dictatorship, its citizens are thronging to social media, particularly Facebook, and anti-Muslim extremists are too. Facebook is addressing the problem of Buddhist anti-Muslim activists promoting violence on Facebook with a new set of features.

When Facebook users flag content they “don’t like,” a box pops up asking “Why don’t you want to see this?” The user can select options like “it’s annoying” or “it promotes violence.” In Burma, Facebook now also includes the options “it’s a rumor or has false information,” and “it disturbs social harmony.” According to readwrite.com, the second option was chosen specifically for its resonance with Buddhist precepts.

“We wouldn’t normally use this language in the U.S.,” Said Kelly Winters, whose Facebook’s title is “Product Manager for Compassion.” Facebook employs language that resonates with the local market, which, in Burma’s case, is largely Buddhist-influenced.

Déjà or not? Netanyahu in DC

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

[by Charles Cameron — this is all way off to the side of my pay-grade — can I say that? ]
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A DoubleQuote: upper panel, Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic; lower panel, Adam Silverman at Sic Semper Tyrannis:

SPEC DQ Netanyahu Begin

Silverman then quotes President Reagan, from his memoir, An American Life, p 415:

I don’t like having representatives of a foreign country – any foreign country – trying to interfere in what I regarded as our domestic political process and the setting of our foreign policy.

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Sources:

  • A Partial Accounting of the Damage Netanyahu Is Doing to Israel, upper panel
  • This Has Sort of Happened Before: Mr. Netanyahu’s Meshugana Mystery Tour, lower panel
  • Definitely my “Best Book” of 2014

    Monday, February 23rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — I’m posting this not just to recommend Brown’s book, but also to make a significant excerpt from it readily available on the net ]
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    Misquoting Muhammad cover

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    One book I received this year has given me a greater depth of understanding than any other by a wide margin. That book is Professor Jonathan AC Brown‘s book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy.

    Brown is a Muslim, a professor at Georgetown, and author of Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. His book Misquoting Muhammad — not his choice of title, btw — lays open the varieties of interpretive possibility in dealing with the Qur’an and ahadith with comprehensive scholarship and clarity. In light of the upsurge in interest in Islamic and Islamist religious teachings occasioned by Graeme Wood‘s recent Atlantic article, I asked Prof. Brown’s permission to reproduce here the section of his book dealing with abrogation and the rules of war.

    Here then, with his permission, is an extract from Misquoting Muhammad. I hope it will prove of use both here and to others beyond the circle of Zenpundit readers. Spread the word!

    The whole book is worth reading, the whole of this extract is worth reading — but the section within the extract that I particularly recommend is the passage which begins with “Abrogation brought into sharp contrast” (p.100) and ends with “but were those who died not also my servants?” (p. 103).

    **

    By way of a bonus, here’s a related DoubleQuote:

    SPEC DQ hadith & midrash

    Midrash Source:

  • Rabbi David Levi, JTS Torah Commentary
  • Cologne and Thiruvananthapuram, no contest

    Friday, February 20th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — more from my endless fascination with the varieties of religious behavior ]
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    SPEC DQ billions no contest

    Take the news of the diocese of Cologne‘s $3.8bn fortune by itself, and it’s a shock. Compare it with Sri Padmanabha temple in Thiruvananthapuram’s estimated $22bn trove, and it suddenly seems a much less staggering amount.

    **

    A couple of interesting points from the two articles in question. In Cologne:

    Some 2.4 billion euros were invested in stocks, funds and company holdings. A further 646 million euros were held in tangible assets, mostly property. Cash reserves and outstanding loans amounted to about 287 million euros. [ .. ]

    Pope Francis has stressed the need for the church to show humility and emphasize its work for the poor.

    The Cologne archdiocese published its accounts on Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, the period of reflection and repentance leading up to Easter week.

    and in Thiruvananthapuram:

    The loot includes about 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) of gold coins – some dating back 400 years – ropes of gold, sacks of diamonds, and a gold statue of the Hindu god Vishnu studded with precious gems, as well as an 18-foot solid gold ornament weighing 35 kilograms (77 pounds) and rare silver and brass platters.

    So far the find is worth nearly double India’s 2011-2012 education budget ($11.61 billion) – and there’s still another vault to be unlocked. The 16th century Sri Padmanabha temple, in the capital of the southern coastal state of Kerala, is now considered to be the richest of India’s temples.

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    Sources:

  • US News, Cologne
  • Christian Science Monitor, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Sunday surprise: sending the body to a watery grave

    Monday, February 16th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — I suppose this could be seen as my version of “kids these days just have no clue..” ]
    .

    Since I mistakenly posted this week’s intended Sunday surprise, Afterlife this side of everlasting, on Saturday, I’m continuing my depthful exploration of the burial practices of warlords, gangsters and the like with this post.

    SPEC DQ Kagemusha Magic City

    When the daimyo Takeda Shingen dies in Kurosawa‘s great movie, Kagemusha, his followers are obliged to keep his death a secret for three years, to ensure clan Takeda’s continuing security. Their daimyo has, however, also instructed them that he wishes to be buried in full armor in Lake Suwa, and his corpse is therefore placed in a large urn covered in rich cloth, and taken out by boat into the mist that hovers over the lake (upper image, above).. the boat then returning to shore minus its precious cargo. The explanation is given that a offering of sake has been made to the god of the lake, and the kagemusha or daimyo’s double continues the pretence that his lord is still alive…

    In the TV series Magic City, by contrast, the body of a minor gangster is first cut in pieces, then stuffed in an empty and rusty oil barrel which is welded shut, then dumped unceremoniously at sea (lower image); the oil drum is then shot repeatedly so it will sink, and left to do so — no offering to the gods, no requiem, and no luck, as the corpse and its barrel later turn up inauspiciously somewhere along Miami Beach.

    **

    If we are to endure mobsters and warlords, need I say how much I would prefer them to work within the classical Japanese esthetic?


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