THOSE MILITANT, UH, BUDDHISTS
You may be aware of the recent upsurge in violence in Sri Lanka, the island nation south of India that was known as Ceylon when I lived in India in the 1950s. It's a continuation of a struggle that is more than two decades old, but what is new -- and fascinating -- is the hardline role being played there by some Buddhist monks. This recent report from the Christian Science Monitor is a good summation, but you might want to be alert for daily developments in this sad but fast-changing story.
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ISLAMOPHOBIA HAS ITS SUPPORTERS
In a recent column, I made the point that the enemy of America is not Islam. Rather, what we must defend against are the murderous fanatics who call themselves Islamists -- those who twist Islam to justify their desire to have their radical ideology govern the world.
I recently came across a Web site that openly declares its hatred for all of Islam, one that says on this page that "We stand for Islam's demise as an enemy of America unabashedly." The group calls itself the Society of Americans for National Existence, or SANE.
The site is filled with fear-mongering to such an extent that it precludes rational discussion of legitimate criticism of Muslim leadership. The SANE voices seem so strident and irrational that I cannot imagine how one could talk with such people in a reasonable way. Yes, there are people who are willing to overlook the threat that the violent Islamists truly do pose. But the SANE approach simply cuts off sanity.
I suppose one could deconstruct that "Islam's demise" sentence to penetrate its lack of clarity. Does "unabashedly" modify "stand"? Does SANE oppose Islam only when it's "an enemy of America"? (As if the whole of a multifacted worldwide religion could be an enemy of America, which includes millions of Muslims.) Or does it want Islam destroyed no matter what? The sentence leaves open many interpretations.
So today look around the SANE site and see if you can count the various classical approaches to propaganda found there.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.