Category Archives: 3. Enemies and Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

Three Ways Buddhists Reconcile War

From a Reddit thread asking: “How did Buddhist-majority nations reconcile state violence (wars and so on) with Buddhist precepts of non-violence? Did they bother to do so?” A Redditor who explored this topic for their undergrad responds:

“First, Buddhism, like other religions, is linked to cultural and national identity. Buddhists would fight in protection of their nationstate and what they perceive as the “keepers of the tradition”. They apply a larger-than-life mentality to the warfare. … This war is on behalf of the country, people, religion, region, and motherland. It would be negative karma to shoot one’s neighbor over a land conflict, but the intention here is a good one.

“Second, there are attempts to de-humanize the opponents. This is very similar to Christian and Islamic justification of violence. Opponents are represented as possessed by demons, thereby transforming the violence from a mortal to a sanctified action. …

Third, karmic sacrifice. This is a classic case of multiple interpretations of (somewhat) ambiguous theology. Some individuals are considered such sinful beings, that they will only commit more crimes the longer they live. Killing these individuals can be considered a heroic act, because the killer will sacrifice his own karma in order to prevent the victim from committing more crimes and going to hell.

“Lastly, on a more personal note (hope that’s allowed) there are some understandable misconceptions about Buddhism. (these same misconceptions incited my initial question for the aforementioned paper). Buddhism has many forms. And the majority of those forms has aspects similar to other religions. Please don’t believe that “Buddhism is more a philosophy than a religion”. Many forms of buddhism have gods, demons, heaven, hell, prayer for help, and rituals with magic properties. Therefore, evil and violence toward perceived evil is not at all uncommon among buddhists. If someone tells you that that is not real Buddhism, that would be a theological belief, not a statement supported by scholars.”

Full discussions https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/3eg3w5/how_did_buddhistmajority_nations_reconcile_state/cteugq8

Image from Ali Express.

Torture’s OK Because ‘America Is Awesome’

They totally said that:

“The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome. We’ve closed the book on it, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome.”

The Tea Party, the Debt Ceiling, and White Southern Extremism

“Contradicting the mainstream media narrative that the Tea Party is a new populist movement that formed spontaneously in reaction to government bailouts or the Obama administration, the facts show that the Tea Party in Congress is merely the familiar old neo-Confederate Southern right under a new label. The threat of Southern Tea Party representatives and their sidekicks from the Midwest and elsewhere to destroy America’s credit rating unless the federal government agrees to enact Dixie’s economic agenda of preserving defense spending while slashing entitlements is simply the latest act of aggression by the Solid South. In light of this recent history, it is clear that the origins of the debt ceiling crisis are to be sought, not in generic American conservatism, but in idiosyncratic Southern conservatism. The goal, the methods and the passion of the Tea Party in the House are all characteristic of the radical Southern right. From the earliest years of the American republic, white Southern conservatives when they have lost elections and found themselves in the political minority have sought to extort concession from national majorities by paralyzing or threatening to destroy the United States. As white Southerners, upset with the Democratic Party’s racial and social liberalism, migrated into the post-Goldwater GOP, they brought their Dixiecrat attitudes into the party of Lincoln. The Kemp-Roth tax bill of 1981, which inaugurated the policy of creating permanent deficits by slashing taxes without cutting spending, had its strongest support among Southern and Western members of Congress and the least support in the fiscally conservative Northeast. The debt ceiling crisis is the latest case in which the radical right in the South has held America hostage until its demands are met. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln refused to appease the Southern fanatics. Unfortunately, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress chose not to follow their example and instead gave in. In doing so, they have encouraged the neo-Confederate minority in Congress to find yet another opportunity in the near future to extort concessions from America’s majority by sabotaging America’s government.”

The Tea Party, the debt ceiling, and white Southern extremism – War Room – Salon.com.

Malignant Revolutionary Entity

“These folks aren’t in the business of doing Wall Street’s bidding. They’re in the business of bringing the system down to create their own new order, no different from a Maoist or Leninist revolutionary on the other side of the aisle. It’s a market fundamentalist cult. They are a sizable and growing minority of the Republican caucus, and the ones who don’t toe their line are terrified their heads will be the next to fall before the Tea Party guillotine. Digby wondered earlier whether the Tea Party were more political construct or real grassroots movement. I guess the best answer is that it doesn’t really matter. The Tea Party has always been fear-based mobilization of the ignorant on whatever issue Rove, DeMint, Limbaugh, the Kochs, etc. wanted it to be about. It doesn’t have to be grassroots movement for rank and file Republicans to fear a primary challenge if they step at all out of line. As much as there has been “good cop, bad cop” bipartisanship played over austerity (and there has been), there can be no doubt that the GOP is transforming from a corporatist entity slowly hollowing out America’s middle class, to a truly malignant revolutionary entity. Meanwhile, the pundit class continues to whistle past the graveyard and act as though this is all partisan politics as usual. One would think that David Brooks and George Will would know enough history to realize that when revolution hits, people like them are usually the first ones to be culled, both politically and physically.”

From Hullabaloo.

The GOP Can’t Control the Tea Party

“the gop made the same mistake that some on the left did in their perception of the tea party – they thought it was a top down, cynical manipulation of people, similar to what the gop has accomplished with the evangelical vote – a demographic that could be farmed for votes without having to deliver all that much of anything, whose elected leaders could be taken in hand when they got to washington and taught the real rules of the game … no, it’s a real grassroots movement with real dedicated leaders who actually MEAN it – and they’ve brought our government to a grinding halt – and the gop can’t control them … the republicans are splitting – if they go for a reasonable compromise, they lose the tea party – if they go for the tea party’s line, they lose wall street and much of main street’s business community … obama may have set them up beautifully – but the problem is that now we have an ungovernable country until 2012 and maybe after”

Commenter on MetaFilter

Wielding Power

“The only rational thought is that he’s gotten what he wants. That he wanted to protect the torturers. That he wanted to protect the banksters. That he wanted to solidify and increase the powers of an Imperial Presidency. That he wanted Health Care Reform that amounts to little more than a giveaway to the megacorporations and no public option. That he wanted to put Social Security up on the chopping block.

“None of those are comforting thoughts but they don’t require us to imagine that Obama, a man of demonstrated intelligence, is an moron.

“And I’ll still (pointlessly since I live in Texas) be casting my vote for the lousy, backstabbing, villain in 2012 because even given all that he’s still a better choice than any Republican.

“Though, at this point, I’m pretty sure that’s entirely due to the Supreme Court.

  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will shit all over the Constitution and start a new and obscenely costly foreign war without even pretending to care about separation of powers? Nope, Obama (the Constitutional scholar!) already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will slash social spending to the bone while increasing military spending? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will decide that he has the power to imprison (forever and without even the possibility of charges and trials) any American citizen they declare to be a terrorist? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will decide that they can order the CIA to assassinate American citizens merely on the presidential declaration that those citizens are terrorists? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will attack whistleblowers while ignoring the crimes those whistleblowers report? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will severely restrict abortion via executive order and legislation? Nope, Obama already did that.
  • Am I worried that the next Republican president will offer retroactive immunity to corporations which cooperate with blatantly illegal civil rights abuses? Nope, Obama alread did that.
  • The only thing I can see that differentiates Obama from Romney is who they’ll appoint to the Supreme Court.
  • I can’t be scared with dire threats that if Obama loses we’ll be plunged into war, the economy will be fucked, civil rights will be trampled, and the safety net will be shredded. Obama’s already done all that.

“The single, solitary, only thing I see that makes Obama better than any Republican up to and including Palin, is the Supreme Court.

“And on that basis I’ll vote for him. It will hurt. It will make me depressed and wretched for weeks after. I’ll hate myself for doing it, but I will because the Supreme Court is important.

“But I can’t keep pretending that the problem is that Obama just isn’t good at wielding power. He’s great at wielding power, and everything that has happened since he came into office is exactly what he wanted.

Commenter on MetaFilter

Pro-War Ideology Connected to Being Shielded From the Human Cost of War

“[A new study] suggests that many Americans’ aggressively pro-war ideology may fundamentally rely on their being physically shielded/disconnected from the human cost of war. … The researchers analyzed data from the Jennings-Niemi Political Socialization Study of college-bound high schoolers and subsequent interviews of those same high-schoolers from 1965 onward. In the process, they discovered that men holding low draft lottery numbers (and therefore more at risk of being drafted into combat) “became more anti-war, more liberal, and more Democratic in their voting compared to those whose high numbers protected them from the draft.” Importantly, for these men “lottery number was a stronger influence on their political outlook than their late-childhood party identification.” That influence transcended previous party affiliation and made a permanent impact on their politics into adulthood. Men with vulnerable numbers show evidence of totally rethinking their partisanship in response to the threat of the draft,” the researchers report. “Republicans in the group abandoned their party with unusual frequency, while even Democrats moved toward the independent category with slightly greater frequency than others.””

Why people become chickenhawks, Salon.com