Buddhist Monks, Sunglasses & the UK Rightwing Press

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The Metro is a ‘free’ rightwing newspaper distributed throughout London’s public transport system.  It is owned by the same business interests that finance the rightwing Daily Mail – the only British newspaper to have openly supported Adolf Hitler’s racist policies just prior to WWII – and which actually survived criticism to continue its narrow minded and bigoted reporting into the 21st century.  In London the rightwing has to be careful how it packages and conveys its intolerant view of the world, as London is a firmly multicultural city that bubbles with the effervescent power of diversity.  The Metro presents its rightwing message through a continuous diet of ‘right of centre’ misrepresentation that is designed to influence the masses toward supporting intolerance as a political policy.  This paper leads the way for racist reporting, the demonization of the Benefit System and benefit recipients, and the dismantling of the National Health Service. 

The above article entitled ‘Buddhists Behaving Badly’ appeared on page 3 of the Tuesday edition dated the 18.6.13.  Astonishingly, this story takes up around three quarters of a page.  It is not an original, or even a new story, but rather a report lifted from Youtube.  The story evolves around apparently high-ranking Thai Buddhist monks flying in private jets, and wearing designer sunglasses.  It may or may not be a troubling story for Buddhists, but the Metro reporter responsible for the story – Nicole Le Marie – demonstrates no knowledge of either Buddhist or Thai culture.  The story is presented as a glimpse into the odd and exotic world of the ‘other’, where foreign religions – which implicitly must not be taken too seriously – are presented as inherently corrupt and beneath contempt.  The reporter states: “Time to reflect.  The monks sit in the lap of luxury on a jet.”  As if as a means to subconsciously convey the fact that the journalist has no real knowledge of the subject of her report, she bizarrely inserts a photograph of a completely unconnected event what is claimed to be ‘devout’ Tibetan Buddhist monks living in Nepal!  The inherent corruption suggested in the story is contradicted by the fact that the reporter states: “Last year, about 300 out of 61,416 Buddhist monks and novices living Thailand were reprimanded, and in several cases ejected, from monasteries over misconduct.”  If only ‘300’ were reprimanded out of 61, 416, this suggests that only 0.48% of the entire Buddhist monastic population had any need to receive corrective measures.  This means that 99.52% of the Buddhist monastic population of Thailand last year adhered perfectly the vinaya rules with no problem at all.  As for correcting monks and novices (nuns are not mentioned in the article), this is a procedure that has been practiced since the time of the Buddha himself.  Training in the Dharma (a word that does not appear once in the article) is predicated upon the idea that aspirants require correction.  This is a senseless article written by a narrow minded, Eurocentric reporter, who possesses absolutely NO genuine knowledge of the subject at hand.  If the reporter had any knowledge of Buddhism she would know that there are no rules contained in the vinaya about wearing sunglasses, travelling in aeroplanes, or carrying particular types of bags.

The overtly ‘racist’ element of this story is of course the manner and context (or lack of context) within which the monks are presented.  The monks in the picture have committed no violation of the vinaya – but the reporter tries to conflate their actions with those of the tiny minority who have broken the rules regarding sexual conduct and alcohol consumption.  There is no connection between these monks and the other transgressors revealed in official Thailand statistics.  The Metro is trying to demonise these Thai Buddhist monks and it is interesting to consider why this might be the case.  The Western Catholic and Protestant Churches at the moment are involved in an epidemic involving priest and nuns sexually abusing children, abuse that has gone on for decades.  The Church has behaved as if it was outside the law, and has actively protected those guilty of the crime of paedophilia.  It is no secret that the political rightwing fully supports and endorses the Christian Church, and prefers its presence over that of other religions in the West.  It is also common knowledge that Church authorities are often notoriously rightwing in their opinions and political affiliations.  The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, openly collaborated with Nazi Germany regarding the rounding up of Jewish people, etc.  When a story breaks involving a Christian priest, or Christian establishment being involved in child sexual abuse, the Metro invariably down-plays the report and the article is discreetly included in a small space to the edge of the bottom of the page, well away from the line of sight.  In this way they can claim that the story has been reported and that they are not responsible for the reader not noticing it.  Of course, the Metro remains quiet regarding the current state of many Christian monasteries in the UK that have become deliberately orientated toward attracting tourists, with the shops surrounding the grounds selling all kinds of products ranging from alcohol to iconography, and books to CD’s, etc.  The rightwing press continuously manipulates and misrepresents the news in this fashion.  By misrepresenting Buddhism as this article undoubtedly does, Christianity is protected, and foreigners are portrayed as untrustworthy individuals who are not welcome.

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