LAT: ‘Antipathy toward the Muslim minority is rooted in racial differences and spiked with fears of Islamist terrorism.’

Isn’t that all you need to know? Racial differences and fears of terrorism sound like a rational reason for outsiders to hate a group.

The path to a happy life is to be of service to others. The path to a happy life for minorities is to be of service to the majority. If your presence isn’t enhancing the well-being of the majority, then why would the majority want you around? I think most minorities fail this test. Israel, for example, is not enhanced by its two million Arab minority. I don’t think most American whites would regard blacks, illegals and Muslims as enhancing America’s well-being.

Los Angeles Times:

“Buddha loves all people and teaches us to try to resolve suffering, but we have a duty to protect our country at the same time,” he said at his simple monastery outside the northern city of Mandalay.

Life means war aka conflicts of interest. Resolving suffering for all peoples is a noble value, but a more important value is protecting your own country. If this isn’t your primary value, then you won’t have a country for long.

The basis of politics is the friend-enemy distinction. For most non-Muslims, Muslims are the enemy.

As Maj. Kong noted: “Anti-Semitism is as natural to Western civilization as anti-Christianity is to Jewish civilization, Islamic civilization and Japanese civilization.”

As one Jewish professor noted: “American Jews want to maintain a distinct identity and on the other hand want to be fully integrated into broader society and don’t want the distinctiveness to come at a price.”

The antipathy toward the small Muslim minority — in a country that is 90% Buddhist — is a virulent brew of ethnic, economic and religious nationalism promulgated for decades by the military, and spread easily via social media across a population with some of the lowest education levels in Southeast Asia.

Nationalism does not require promotion. It is the most natural human impulse in the modern age when it comes to politics. Nationalism means recognizing the friend-enemy distinction. All victimologies contain a nationalism and all nationalisms contain the capacity for genocide. Why would Myanmar want a 10% Muslim population? What do the Muslims add to Myanmar aside from division and terror?

It is built fundamentally on racial differences: The Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, are physically and culturally more similar to the peoples of Bangladesh and India than to Myanmar’s ethnic Bamar majority. Scholars say they descend from Arab and Persian traders who arrived in what is now western Myanmar more than 1,000 years ago.

Those differences have driven a deep wedge through this country of 50 million. Of all the monks, student activists, ethnic guerrillas and other dissidents who once opposed the army’s abuses, almost none have spoken up for the country’s most beleaguered people.

It is normal, natural and healthy to have negative feelings towards people who are different. It is up to minorities to prove that they belong. The moral onus is not on the majority to accept minorities. All things being equal, division equals weakness and cohesion equals strength. The more united a country, the stronger.

For years, Myanmar’s army has rallied Buddhists by claiming a Muslim plot to overtake the country. It rewrote the country’s arcane citizenship laws to exclude the Rohingya, and routinely ignored hardline monks who spewed hatred toward Muslims.

The propaganda was seemingly confirmed after a small insurgent group — the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA — rose up last year and began attacking Myanmar security forces. Now monks such as Myawady Sayadaw freely reconcile Buddha’s nonviolent teachings with a military offensive that some call a possible genocide.

It sounds like the Myanmar majority are acting in their self-interest. Most people, even when they have a tradition of benevolent rhetoric, tend to act in their own self-interest. There’s plenty of benevolent rhetoric in Judaism, but when Jews needed to establish and protect the Jewish state, they killed when they needed to (and sometimes when they may not have needed to).

There was little outcry in October after one of the country’s most influential monks, Sitagu Sayadaw, gave a speech at a military base in which he appeared to justify ethnic cleansing.

If it is in a group’s self-interest to practice ethnic cleansing, then they’d have to be cucked not to cleanse.

When the army took power in 1962, it began pushing the narrative that the Rohingya had been brought into Myanmar illegally by British colonial rulers, who used laborers from present-day India and Bangladesh to build roads and infrastructure. The generals created an educational system that inculcated bigotry in generations of schoolchildren.

Children don’t need to be inculcated with bigotry to prefer their own kind to strangers. It is normal, natural and healthy.

“Over 50 or 60 years, the army provided fertile ground for hate, and putting that into the mind of a third- or fourth-grader brings you the results we are seeing today,” he said.

Hate doesn’t need to be inculcated. It is part of the human condition. We tend to hate those who are different from us. That said, hatred does not automatically lead to genocide. Rather, genocide results from extreme conflicts of interests.

Even as the Myanmar government and Bangladesh pursue a plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees starting in January, the state-supported climate of hate makes it all but impossible to imagine that many could return.

I’ve yet to read an article on the Rohingya that even tries to make the case that they are an asset to a non-Muslim country. Nobody even tries to make that argument.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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