Browsing the archives for the firearms category.

Why We Can’t Reason Together


The headline at Raw Story — Armed vet destroys gun nuts’ argument on mass shooters — is both true and irrelevant. The story is about a military vet who was carrying a concealed weapon — legally, it so happens — on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus Thursday during the shooting. And he says he decided to not intervene because a police SWAT team might have mistaken him for the shooter.

This tells us (a) the campus was not a “gun-free zone,” and (b) an armed populace is not necessarily safer than an unarmed one. But this is irrelevant, because the Right will ignore it.

Regarding the “gun free zone” argument, Shannon Barber writes at Addicting Info:

As we try to get our bearings again after yet another tragic mass shooting at the hands of a madman, as per usual, gun nuts everywhere are screaming “MORE GUNS!” and blaming the Umpqua Community College Campus for being a gun free zone. They blame everything except the real problem: that we need stricter laws regarding who can and cannot purchase firearms.

Well, there’s just one problem with those arguments this time around. The Umpqua campus allows concealed carry, and, according to students and other people affiliated with the school, plenty of people take advantage of it as well. According to John Parker, a student at the school and a veteran of the armed forces, he knows plenty of students who carry on campus; in fact, he was carrying the day of the shooting.

But it won’t matter. I predict the Right will continue to claim that “gun free zones” are especially susceptible to gun violence, and even that all mass shooter incidents have taken place in “gun free zones.” Even those who acknowledge the armed vet story will not let the truth sink in.

I give you Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, who is far from the dumbest or craziest writer on the rightie side of the Web. But he simply refuses to think outside the rightie box. Here is Shaw’s understanding of the pro-gun control side of the issue —

From the liberal, gun grabbing side of the discussion there is one remedy which would – eventually – cut down on mass shootings. It involves eliminating all of the guns on the planet. Owing to the fact that the majority of Americans still value gun rights and view private gun ownership as a positive force in protecting themselves from evil, Democrats are loathe to say the words out loud, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t like to see it happen. Unfortunately, the gun genie is out of the bottle. By removing all guns from existence you would certainly eliminate the threat of mass shootings. Sadly, the transition period would be ugly indeed because the first and easiest guns to confiscate would belong to law abiding owners. Rooting out all of the black market weapons would be a generational effort, leaving the lawful population in the position of being inviting, soft targets for criminals for decades. Then there is the inconvenient fact that guns aren’t only made in America. They are all over the world, and as long as there was a demand in the criminal marketplace the market would find a way to fill it.

In other words, he dismisses gun control arguments by substituting a straw man. Not one of the major gun control advocacy groups is calling for a total ban. He has no idea what the actual gun control arguments are, how effective gun control works in the real world, and no way in hell will he ever be persuaded to look.

As to the rightie side, after the usual demands for more more more guns guns guns, Shaw says,

I’m aware that the left is attempting to make hay out of the fact that there was one “good guy with a gun” on campus on the day of the shooting and he didn’t stop the slaughter. This isn’t even a data point in the discussion. The individual in question – a veteran who was carrying when the shooting took place – could have intervened if he’d chosen, but the fact is that he decided not to. It wasn’t his job to act as security guard and if he decided not to risk his life in a shootout with Mercer I’m not here to second guess him. That doesn’t mean that an armed guard or teacher couldn’t have shut the situation down quickly. And if Mercer had known that a lot more students were armed he might not have shown up at all.

But Mercer had attended classes at Umpqua, so he must have known that the campus was not gun free, and that “plenty of students carry on campus.” And  notice how Shaw brushes aside the veteran’s reason for not stepping in — he wasn’t afraid of a shootout with the perp; he reasoned that he could have been shot by law enforcement who didn’t know who he was.

In fact, armed citizens have been present at a number of mass shootings, and it made no difference.  From an article published after Sandy Hook in 2012:

In fact, there was an armed sheriff’s deputy at Columbine High School the day of the shooting. There was an armed citizen in the Clackamas Mall in Oregon during a shooting earlier this month. There was an armed citizen at the Gabby Giffords shooting — and he almost shot the unarmed hero who tackled shooter Jared Loughner. Virtually every university in the county already has its own police force. Virginia Tech had its own SWAT-like team. As James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s former press secretary cum gun control advocate, often notes, he was shot along with the president, despite the fact that they were surrounded by dozens of heavily armed and well-trained Secret Service agents and police.

The Right will not acknowledge facts, nor will they ever give gun control data and arguments a fair hearing. Never. Their lips will dry up and fall off their faces first.

See also Obama, Guns, and the Politics of Hoplessness and Four Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing.


What’d I Say?


I wrote yesterday that the Interwebs already were concocting a story about Christians being shot in the head in Oregon yesterday, and that we could expect to see persecution complexes on steroids today. Sure enough, today the New York Post is reporting that the gunman of yesterday’s Oregon shooting singled out Christians for execution. This is based on the testimony of two people who are relatives of people they claimed were in the school who may or may not have been witnesses.  But the people repeating this story were not in the school themselves.

Note that people who actually were there are saying the gunman asked people about their religion — he did not specify Christianity — but then shot indiscriminately.

Again, this takes us back to the famous Cassie Bernall story, who allegedly was shot and killed at Columbine because she acknowledged believing in God. Bernall was shot and killed, but more careful investigation revealed that Cassie Bernall didn’t say bleep; it was another young woman who said she believed in God, and that girl survived. Even so, most right-wing Christians still believe the Cassie Bernall story. And some Freepers are blaming President Obama for inciting the killings with his hostility to Christianity.

Barring further corroborating testimony, odds are there was no singling out of Christians for execution; this is a story that emerged from hysteria.

Media outlets pushing the “Christian martyrdom” story are painting the perpetrator, Chris Harper-Mercer, as “hating religion.” But wait … Pam Geller believes the deceased Harper-Mercer was a jihadi. He was asking his victims about their religion so he could killed non-Muslims.  (Steve M has links; I’m not linking to Geller here.) Another right-wing whackjob has confirmed that Harper-Mercer was a jihadi.

On the other hand, several reports say that Harper-Mercer was obsessed with the Irish Republican Army. Yeah, IRA, ISIS, hard to tell the difference.

The portrait of Harper-Mercer emerging on sites like Raw Story and We Hunted the Mammoth is of another Elliot Rodger, the guy full of rage at women. We don’t yet know anything about the victims, however. We do know that Harper-Mercer was white, conservative, and liked to hang out on websites frequented by isolated and badly socialized men who fantasize about sex, death and glory.

Oh, and while pro-unlimited firearm freedom types are outraged that anyone would politicize this tragedy to talk about gun control, they didn’t hesitate to call for looser gun laws that would eliminate so-called “gun free zones.”

However, Umpqua Community College was not a gun-free zone, a little detail I don’t expect to see, ever, on right-wing media.

So what else is not new?


No Surprises Here

firearms, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

By the way, folks, you know that guy who killed two women and wounded several others in a movie theater in Louisiana the other day? He was an anti-feminist, anti-abortion, teabagger neo-Nazi whackjob.

He was opposed to women having a say in anything”: The ugly views of America’s latest mass shooter
Associates say John Russell Houser was an anti-feminist who supported fascist political movements

Portrait of Louisiana Killer: Liked Hitler and Hated Liberals

Lafayette Theater Shooter Fan of David Duke, Neo-Nazis, and Antigovernment Conspiracies

This guy was so far Right that even Jim Hoft couldn’t think of any way to argue he was really a liberal. However, Houser had a history of mental health issues, which righties are using to argue that his political views are irrelevant.

Dear Righties: If having “mental health issues” means political or religious motivations are irrelevant, then Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez can’t be called a terrorist. You can’t use mental health issues to excuse white men and not everybody else.

IMO most of the time in these situations, you’ve got someone with emotional or behavioral problems but who is not psychotic. “Not psychotic” means he was capable of making reasoned decisions and knowing right from wrong. So, it’s a combination of someone who is emotionally or socially distressed and who also has some big, honking opinions. Probably both factors need to be present to create a mass killer. This accounts for most terrorism as well, IMO.

Are Louisiana movie theaters “gun free zones,” by the way? I doubt it.

The bigger picture is how easily this guy got guns. He not only had a history of “mental health issues”; he also had a history of domestic violence (for which law enforcement seems to have given him lots of passes) and other threatening behavior. Steve M has details.


Please Be Careful Out There


I found the first paragraph of this news story to be hilarious, in a twisted sort of way:

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has asked vigilantes to please be careful about which gun owners they choose to attack after a black concealed carry permit holder was wrongly assaulted at a Florida Walmart.

Yes, please be careful about which people you assault. Some people don’t like being assaulted.

According to the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, 62-year-old Clarence Daniels was entering Walmart with his legally concealed firearm to buy coffee creamer on Tuesday when he was spotted by 43-year-old vigilante Michael Foster.

Foster, who is white, had observed Daniels conceal the weapon under his coat before he came into the store. When Daniels crossed the threshold, Foster tackled him and placed him in a chokehold, Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Larry McKinnon explained.

“He’s got a gun!” Foster reportedly exclaimed.

“I have a permit!” Daniels repeatedly shouted back.

After a struggle, the men were separated. Deputies later arrived and Foster was charged with battery.

“Unfortunately he tackled a guy that was a law-abiding citizen,” McKinnon noted. “We understand it’s alarming for people to see other people with guns, but Florida has a large population of concealed weapons permit holders.”

Yes, it’s alarming to see people you don’t know personally walking around with guns, but if you live in a place that allows everyone and his uncle to carry guns, you’re likely to run into strangers with guns. The bad guys don’t have “bad guy” stamped on their foreheads. And they’re both lucky the other guy didn’t fire his gun.


Same Old, Same Old


I didn’t want to spend the first day of the new year crabbing about something. So I waited until the second day of the new year. However, it seems lots of stuff I might crab about today is basically old stuff. For example, the wingnuts are blaming President Obama because Cubans have no civil rights. Apparently they did until late last year. Who knew?

In the last days of the old year we shifted from toddlers blowing away themselves and each other to toddlers killing their mothers. These stories make me sad in ways I can’t even describe.

But the husband of the woman recently shot in the head while shopping at Wal-Mart, by her two-year-old who had found a firearm in her purse, isn’t angry at the NRA. He’s not angry at the manufacturer of the purse that was designed for concealed carry. He’s only angry because some people are politicizing his wife’s death.

But if some of us had done a better job of “politicizing,” his wife might be alive now. Likewise the Oklahoma mother who was killed by her toddler while changing her infant’s diaper.

Apparently the Idaho mother, by all accounts an intelligent person, wouldn’t leave her home without a sidearm. Why? Crime statistics for Blackfoot, Idaho, suggest that her chances of being a victim of violent crime during a daytime trip to a Wal-mart were only slightly larger than being smashed by a falling space station.

And speaking of odds, we actually do not know how often children accidentally shoot someone. And the rate of accidental gun deaths among children is likely higher than officially reported. There is data going way back that keeping a loaded gun at home is a particular danger for children. Doesn’t seem to ever matter, though, does it?


Sometimes Guns Do Kill People, Actually


This story is a genuine tragedy, but it also must be filed under WTF was this guy thinking?

A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun while he stood to her side, trying to guide her. A video of the shooting, which her parents recorded by cellphone, suggests that the girl, in pink shorts and with a braided ponytail, was unable to control the gun’s recoil; the instructor, Charles Vacca, 39, was rushed to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he died Monday night.

The parents turned the cellphone video over to the sheriff’s department, which released it publicly. As they spread online and on television, the images of a small girl losing control of a powerful war weapon during a family vacation created a worldwide spectacle, prompting some commentators to castigate parents who would put a submachine gun in the hands of a child.

The Times has the video, if you want to watch, and the 9-year-old girl is quite small, as one would expect. I assume the weapons instructor could have refused to allow the child to fire an Uzi, although the article said that the parents were knowledgeable about guns. Anyone with any knowledge of firearms ought to have realized that the recoil on an automatic submachine gun would have been too much recoil for a 9-year-old girl to control.

In the video, the girl, whose name has not been released, positioned herself before the target at an outdoor shooting range in this outpost in the Mojave Desert — one leg in front of the other, torso turned to the left, hands clutched around the grip of the Uzi, which appeared compact and light enough for her age and small build. When the girl fired her first shot, a puff of dust rose as the bullet hit the knoll behind the target. Mr. Vacca let out a celebratory “all right,” and then shifted the gun to fully automatic mode. She again pulled the trigger, but could not hold the gun straight as bullets came flying out at a rate of 600 rounds per minute.

A man is dead, and that poor child has to live with that memory.

News flash: 9-year-old girls are not famous for their upper body strength. I remember probably being about 12 and at Girl Scout camp, and being taught to shoot a .22 caliber rifle, which I guess is about as tame as rifles get. Even then we girls were all taught to shoot in a supported prone position so that we we were not trying to bear all the weight of the rifle and control the recoil at the same time. And it wasn’t that hard, but it was a flippin’ .22. And we took turns firing just one round.

The thing is, gun “enthusiasts” are always trying to say they know what they are doing around firearms and we should trust them, but then something like this happens. And then they wonder why we’re so nervous about seeing men with assault weapons standing in line for fast food. Because time and time again we see that at least some of these guys don’t have the sense to put the sock on before the shoe. Seriously.


NRA Sets a Low Bar for “Responsible”


Katherine Hoover, newly married and five months pregnant, died Sunday from a gunshot wound to the head. The fetus died also.  On Saturday Hoover and her husband were visiting a friend who showed them his gun collection. A .22-caliber revolver fired, resulting in Hoover’s death. Police are still investigating, but so far they are saying the shooting appears to be accidental. It’s unlikely any charges will be filed.

Once again, we see that gun deaths are not treated the same way as other deaths. If you kill someone while driving a car negligently, in most states you could be convicted of manslaughter. This is true of Florida, where Hoover lived. In many states, if you leave a small child home alone you could face felony charges even if the child is not physically harmed. But if an adult leaves a loaded firearm somewhere a child might reach it, and a child dies as a result, that’s just an accident. Too bad.

Small children really shouldn’t be left alone, of course. But you may have heard of the recent story about the South Carolina mother who was arrested for allowing her nine-year-old to play in a public park while she was at work at McDonald’s.  By all accounts the child was fine. Last year in South Carolina a three-year-old died in his own bedroom while he and his sister were playing with a pink handgun that looked like a toy. No charges were filed. The shooting was an accident.

Guns may not kill people, but apparently guns can get to places children can reach all by themselves.

And it may very well be that the adult whose negligence was responsible lives with grief and loss for the rest of his or her life. And it may very well be that person will never leave a loaded gun within a child’s reach ever again. But this never seems to deter the next bozo who gets somebody killed.

I agree with Tom Levenson:

The NRA, ammosexuals, and all their enablers in politics and the media tell us that the term “responsible gun owners” has actual meaning.  It doesn’t, as this case demonstrates .  I’ll update this post if it turns out that Mr. DeHayes faces actual consequences for taking another person’s life, but until then, I’m going to vent:

Responsible means that whatever happens with your gun is your fault.  Period.  You accidentally discharge it and no-one gets hurt? How’s this:  big fine, confiscate the weapon involved, lose the right to bear arms for a year for the first incident, forever if you repeat.  Someone gets hurt or dies?  Jail. Civil liability.  Loss of gun rights for life.  That’s responsibility.

But of course, I dream.  That’s not how we roll.  Instead, we’ll just water the tree of liberty with a newlywed, and celebrate life by burying her fetus — and wait (not long) for the next red harvest.

I would add that if the NRA or Open Carry Texas or any other 2nd Amendment absolutist organization actually cared about responsible gun ownership, they’d support holding people responsible for gun negligence. But, of course, they don’t.


Open Carry in DC: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


A federal judge ruled that the ban on citizens carrying handguns in public in the US capital is unconstitutional.

In a 19-page opinion, Judge Frederick Scullin ruled on Saturday that “there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.

I take it that in DC one still can’t openly carry assault weapons to shop at Home Deport or stand in line at family fast-food restaurants, so where’s the fun? But while I don’t want to see anybody shot — seriously, not even Darrell Issa — something in me wishes the beltway politicians did have to mingle with random citizens they don’t know personally who are openly armed with big, scary weapons.

Long range, high caliber weapons. Clearly visible. Carried by strangers who may or may not be sane and who may or may not like you. How does that feel, Mr. Big Shot Politician?

One suspects some of them might rethink their positions on 2nd Amendment issues. Or else they will openly display what weenies they really are by writing some kind of special rule that provides open carry can be banned in D.C. but nowhere else.


Guns Not Always Wanted


Lake of the Ozarks is a big man-made lake smack in the middle of Missouri. The Osage River was dammed up ca. 1930 to create a hydroelectric plant, and the resulting lake stretched across four counties and became a tourist attraction. I haven’t been there in a gazillion years, but when I was a young ‘un for summer vacation my family used to rent a cabin on the lake where there was fishing and swimming and boat riding. Happy memories.

There are also resort hotels with city slicker amenities like swimming pools, golf courses, restaurants, bars, and even some spas. It looks like there’s a fancy-schmancy luxury resort about where I think those old rental cabins used to be. And I’m sure there are still some cheap motels and cabins and plenty of places selling live bait and tackle. So the area draws tourists from all over the Midwest, and tourism is pretty much the whole economy there.

One of the communities depending on that tourism is Lake Ozarks, and Lake Ozarks has a problem with guns. Missouri is a gun-lovin’ state, mostly, and apparently the folks at Lake Ozarks decided that strangers walking around with rifles scared away the tourists.

The Lake Ozark, Missouri Board of Alderman voted last week to ban gun owners from openly carrying firearms, even if they have a concealed carry permit, because they were afraid that armed individuals would chase away tourists. “We’ve had a tough time over the years promoting Lake Ozark as a family area,” Alderman Larry Buschjost explained. “We want you on the Strip with families, everywhere in Lake Ozark with families. We want you to bring your kids down here and let them loose. For the life of me, I don’t understand why I would have to carry any type of gun, concealed or otherwise.”

The ban was initiated by the local police chief, in part due to concerns raised by business owners.


Lake Ozark’s efforts to keep people with guns from scaring tourists and other patrons away from local businesses, however, may be short-lived. The Missouri state legislature recently passed a bill that will allow concealed carry permit holders to openly display their guns, regardless of local ordinances. The bill is currently awaiting Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) signature or veto.

So the people of Lake Ozarks may not get to decide for themselves what’s best for their community, because freedom. I wonder also how that ordinance is going to work in Saint Louis, which is kind of like an actual city, last time I looked. I just hope a bunch of second-amendment yahoos don’t take it upon themselves to vacation in Lake Ozarks and terrorize everyone.


Impulse and Ideology

conservatism, firearms, Religion, Social Issues, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Some guy at MSNBC argues that it makes “little sense” to call Jerad and Amanda Miller, the Las Vegas shooters, “right-wing extremists.”

He said right-wing extremists typically focus their anger on federal authorities, not local law enforcement officers like these.

“They weren’t the ATF, they weren’t the FBI. They couldn’t be seen as the representatives of a repressive government,” Levin told NBC News. “There are some militia group members who believe that the only valid authority is at the county sheriff level. In fact, many right-wing extremists love the police. They feel kinship to local law enforcement.”

So we’re just supposed to ignore the white supremacist literature, the shooters’ attempt to join the crew at the Bundy ranch and the “don’t tread on me” flag.

I wrote in my first post about the Las Vegas shooting that I doubted the shooters were working with the Bundy crew, who have decided only the federal government is evil. But the remarks at MSNBC reflect a basic misunderstanding of the connection between ideology/belief, whether political or religious, and violence.

This is something I spend a lot of time on in My Book, Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World, because I think understanding this connection and how it functions is critical to dealing not only with our ongoing domestic violence problem but also with understanding religious violence around the world.

My thinking on this issue is very much influenced by Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind. Very simply, Haidt makes a strong argument that our moral choices — including the choice to be violent — and our political and religious beliefs are rooted deeply in the subconscious. We are born pre-wired to interface with the world in particular ways, and this pre-wiring disposes us to leaning left or right, say, or determines whether we are likely to be dogmatists or open-minded. And, of course, the way we perceive, interpret and experience ourselves and the world also is very much influenced by cultural and other conditioning.

As we meander through our lives and bump into myriad phenomena, including religious and political beliefs and moral issues, all of this pre-wiring and conditioning and whatnot clanking around in our psyches churns up emotional responses. These include feelings of comfort and discomfort. We naturally want to affirm those things that make us feel good while denouncing the stuff that frightens or disgusts us. We then call on our rational minds to craft a narrative that justifies our feelings. These narratives are merged into our primary narrative, or personal myth, which is the ongoing story we tell ourselves about who we are and what the events in our lives might mean.

Another factor is what Buddhists call “mental formations,” or our states of mind, which can become habitual. This (in part) refers to the way some people tend to easily become defensive and critical, while others in the same situations are understanding and accepting. This also speaks to our basic orientation toward the world and whether we feel integrated with it or estranged from it.

By the time we are adults this wiring/conditioning “stuff” has become extremely complicated, and I doubt any two human beings who ever lived have identical inner stuff. But it’s important to understand that, ultimately, we are drawn to our beliefs and ideologies because of the stuff, not because it appeals to our rational mind. For this reason, what an ideology or political position represents to an individual on a subconscious or even metaphorical level is more critical than intellectual consistency.

This is what the guy on MSNBC doesn’t get. From their own words and actions, it’s obvious that right-wing anti-government rhetoric and the Bundy ranch drama resonated deeply with Jerad and Amanda Miller and represented something enormously significant to them, even if how they understood the “movement” differed in some particulars from most of the rest of the Bundyites.

More crudely, they wanted to kill police because they wanted to kill police, and in their minds the militia anti-government movement gave them permission, and even made killing police a righteous and praiseworthy act. They weren’t being logical, no. But does anyone seriously think the crew in the desert pretending to be at war with the federal government got there because of logic?

This is why the “he did it because of mental illness” excuse for Elliot Rodger didn’t fly for me. Crazy is a continuum, and we’re all on that continuum. None of us are entirely rational. Everyone feels a violent impulse now and then. But except for those who are demonstrably psychotic, we are capable of choosing to not act on those impulses. And Rodger was not psychotic. His writing was ordered and organized, even if the ideas he expressed were outrageous. This means he was rational enough to choose to not do what he did, as were the Millers. They all knew perfectly well they were breaking laws. Had they lived, it’s enormously unlikely they would have gotten off on an insanity plea.

But what Rodger and the Millers had in common was that they had seduced themselves into believing that their impulses were righteous and justified. And this is where public rhetoric and hate-group subcultures really do get people killed. Within the misnamed “men’s rights” subculture, talk of violating and killing women meets with social approval. Women as a class are perceived as evil and dangerous; violence against women is therefore justified, even heroic. Likewise, the right-wing anti-government rhetoric permeating American society can make killing government officials seem justified, even if some are a little hazy about the distinction between state and federal government officials.

I don’t think extremist right-wingers are inherently more prone to violence than extremist left-wingers. But at this moment in American history, the “extremist” Left is the fringe of the fringe, and it is absent from mass media. I’m not even sure it has much in the way of an internet presence. The applicable political spectrum here goes from a liberal/progressive Left that is well within the mainstream of American political traditions to a Right that stretches deeply into the tin-foil-hat section of the Twilight Zone.

And while you can find individuals on the Left expressing violent impulses, on the Right it’s not just individuals; it’s major media personalities and politicians serving in high-level state and federal offices. It’s coming from positions of authority, in other words.

This is why public rhetoric has consequences (see, for example, Paul Waldman, “How much does right-wing rhetoric contribute to right-wing terrorism?“). We’ve been having this conversation since Columbine, and the hate-speakers on the Right simply refuse to acknowledge any responsibility for the ongoing right-wing domestic violence. I have no solution to this impasse. I fear it will have to get worse before it can get better.

But this is why splitting hairs over whether the Millers were truly “right-wing extremists” because they killed local cops instead of federal BLM agents is stupid.

I’m seeing the same misunderstanding among western “Buddhalogists” in academia. There is a faction of western religious studies professors who are combing through Buddhist doctrines to find the “cause” of the Buddhist violence against Muslims in Burma, and some other places. And they are “finding” it by misinterpreting scriptures and even projecting meaning into scriptures that just plain isn’t there; I walked through an example of this in My Book.

The plain fact is that the violence violates everything the Buddha taught. The impulse is not coming from Buddhist teachings, but from racism and jingoism, and it’s being fueled by political expedience. “Buddhism” is not just a religion to the majority in Burma; it’s part of their ethnic and national identity. And a faction of monks has been cranking out rhetoric that justifies violence as “defending Buddhism.” So in spite of what it teaches, Buddhism has become a symbolic permission slip for violence in Burma.

And weirdly, in America, “patriotism” has become a symbolic permission slip for sedition. Looking for logical reasons for this is a fool’s errand.

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