Saturday, August 12, 2006

Polly Toynbee and the Parallel Universe

Of all the havoc that was unleashed by the 7/7 attacks in London, one thing - well alright, quite a lot of things, but one thing in particular in the aftermath, has stuck in my mind. In the slew of columns and think pieces published trying to make sense of why such nice young boys would eviscerate themselves and 52 others (because its all Tony BLIARs fault, of course), Polly Toynbee published a ‘pox on all your houses’ diatribe against religion as, right, the main cause of all this.,,1534014,00.html
In The Name of God, dt. 22nd July 2005
“There have been sects of killer Christians and indeed the whole of Christendom has been at times bent on wiping out heathens. Jewish zealots in their settlements crazily claim legal rights to land from the Old Testament. Some African Pentecostal churches harbour sects of torturing exorcism and child abuse. Muslims have a very long tradition of jihadist slaughter. Sikhs rose up to stop a play that exposed deformities of abuse within their temples. Buddhism too has its sinister wing.”

I know about Muslim, Christian and Jewish Fundamentalists. I know about Sikh and Hindu fundamentalists (the RSS: runners up only to the Nation Of Islam for the prize of Most Ridiculous Uniform for An Extremist Group). But Buddhists? This strikes me as carefully included to avoid accusations of favouritism by Toynbee. You have to include every religion in a homily like this or else you get complaints.

I searched for this on Google after reading her article. At the time, the only reference I could find was an Eddie Izzard joke: What would a Buddhist extremist look like? Really calm. But Polly Toynbee included this in her article as one of the menacing forces of religious belief threatening humane progressive civilisation. Sinister wing of Buddhism. It therefore MUST exist in some form or other. But where?

More recent Google expeditions reveal more details. Linked is an article by one Denis Drew claiming that - if - America had armed China and colluded with it in China’s annexation of Tibet, that we should, by now, be facing an onslaught from Buddhist fundamentalists, enraged at the Superpower’s meddlings (he’s talking about Palestinians): Denis Drew

An admirable theory. Except America has been as near as silent on the occupation of Tibet as possible, as has most of the world, and, frankly, Buddhists patently HAVEN’T risen up en masse to wreak revenge on a complicit world. Further searches. ‘Buddhist Fundamentalist’ now has more entries thanks to the broken ceasefire in Sri Lanka.

Sourcewatch provide a handy rundown of fundies:
“….. Today, the inflexibility of Buddhist priests in Sri Lanka prevents reconciliation between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and the minority Tamils who have stooped to vicious terrorism as a violent means to achieve their goal of an independent homeland.”

It goes on to note that Jains and Zoroastrians don’t really have much of a fundamentalist threat.


But then, maybe I shouldn’t be saying that so flippantly. Maybe we’ve been asking the wrong questions all this time. Perhaps if detonating oneself is such a normal reaction to oppression we should be asking why others aren’t resorting to this.

I’m watching the anniversary of the 7/7 attacks and the coverage of the memorial services. On BBC2 they are repeating an edition of Horizon dealing with Parallel Universe(s). I conclude that Polly Toynbee must have access to a Parallel Universe where Buddhist extremism poses the greatest threat to life in the west.

On ITN, in front of the Kings Cross Memorial, is a spokesman for the Muslim orgnisation MPACUK, who says that (again) whilst its all awful about the bombs these things are (again) inevitable because of Iraq. And Afghanistan, and Palestine. The self-righteous bitchslap again. I wonder why on Earth a Muslim organisation should be invoking the concept of Karma.