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Author Topic: Most annoying historical myths?  (Read 17885 times)

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Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #100 on: August 29, 2013, 09:05:49 PM »
I wonder, is Sweden's golden age today the era of the Swedish Empire? (That's sort of what I expect it would be, but my knowledge of Scandinavian countries is limited.)

It used to be bandied about a lot as an image of honour and military glory, and of course many of its monuments are still found up and down the country - castles, schools, churches, graves of famous men and the like. It looms fairly large in Swedish art and literature too, if you'd go back a few generations. But it doesn't ever seem to have become the kind of very popular myth like the English country village idea. As an image of the destiny of the country, it was really used in too heavy-handed a way and perhaps by the wrong people: in the end it became a focal point for some among the high aristocracy who were dead set against the coming of democracy, and later for the local Nazis. Not a company that would sell the idea well to future generations.

That being said, King Charles XII and his heroic effort to stop Peter the Great and preserve the Swedish empire is still a totemic figure for all kinds of loopy ultra-nationalists or more honourable military and conservative people. The question whether he was assassinated by his ˇwn side to put an end to the war or shot by a stray Norwegian bullet is still a running piece of debate and mythology, after three centuries.

Then again, the conquest of the part of this country where I live is actually a legacy from those days. Before the mid-17th century, it belonged to Denmark.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 10:35:16 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #101 on: August 29, 2013, 09:16:07 PM »
the conquest of the part of this country where I live is actually a legacy from those days. Before the mid-17th century, it belonged to Denmark.

Danskjńvlar!



(The thing I remember best from that show...)

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #102 on: August 29, 2013, 09:25:35 PM »
*laughs* Oh yes!  "There lies Sweden, hewn in granite. With plutonium we shall bring the Dane to his knees. Oh thank you, ye proud guardian towers!" - and he gazes at the nuclear reactors on the far side of the border straits, which were seen as a poke in the eye by most Danish for having been placed so close to theÝr capital by the country next door.

And then: "Danish scum!"  :D

Offline Vekseid

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #103 on: August 30, 2013, 01:53:58 AM »
Paganism (and/or Gnosticism) was totally inclusive and feminist until [the Catholic Church / modern Christianity] came along and harshed everybody's buzz. This was born partly from feminist thealogy and the Goddess Movement of the late-20th century, which tried to reconstruct paganism as a feminist alternative to the masculinist fundies of the day; and with counterculture fascination with Gnosticism, which because it was Christianity's early also-ran form, eventually overcome by the mainline Church, was thought to have been something the inverse of all the crappy exclusivist, sin- and shame-oriented patriarchal thinking of Christianity. But the old-style pagans of yore, be they European or African or what-have-you, rarely live up to this permissive and liberal image -- Norse paganism was actually more sexist in a great many ways than Christianity. And all the elements that are taken to be a drag about modern Christianity (esp. Catholicism) were present to a far worse degree in Gnosticism: obscurantist theology (Gnosticism would see your Holy Trinity and endless hairsplitting arguments about the natures of the Christ and raise you several ranks of Emanations of the Pleroma with countless associated Aeons), baked-in anti-Semitism (Christianity was calling the Jews Christ-killers from early on, but Gnosticism taught that the Hebrew God of the Old Testament was actively evil and that a new God had come to rescue the world from that God), outrageous sexism (Paul said "keep your women silent in the churches," but the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas promotes the doctrine that women could only enter the Kingdom of Heaven by getting a sex change; no, really), and so on.

Citing the Norse as an example of all European paganism is like citing the Inuit as an example of all Native Americans.

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #104 on: August 30, 2013, 03:41:35 AM »
Citing the Norse as an example of all European paganism is like citing the Inuit as an example of all Native Americans.

I suppose I could list all the possibly applicable forms of paganism, but I preferred the paragraph be under ten thousand words. :) Germanic and Slavic paganism were similar to Norse paganism in terms of gender dynamics AFAIK; one could also mention Hellenic paganism, part of a society whose attitudes to women were a lot closer to modern Saudi Arabia's than is commonly imagined, complete with sequestered wives who were expected to appear in public only with a male escort. Celtic paganism is stereotypically imagined to be feminist... but this is mostly on the strength of the occurence of a handful of prominent female war leaders, in particular Boadicea, which actually doesn't tell one much about the overall sexism or the lot of most common women in a society (outlier aristocratic women occasionally rose to prominence or were compelled to take up military roles in many otherwise forbiddingly sexist societies, often as part of the vicissitudes of dynastic politics).

Offline Tamhansen

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #105 on: August 30, 2013, 04:22:04 AM »
There's tonnes one could do with religious mythology and revisionism. Among them:
[
Paganism (and/or Gnosticism) was totally inclusive and feminist until [the Catholic Church / modern Christianity] came along and harshed everybody's buzz. This was born partly from feminist thealogy and the Goddess Movement of the late-20th century, which tried to reconstruct paganism as a feminist alternative to the masculinist fundies of the day; and with counterculture fascination with Gnosticism, which because it was Christianity's early also-ran form, eventually overcome by the mainline Church, was thought to have been something the inverse of all the crappy exclusivist, sin- and shame-oriented patriarchal thinking of Christianity. But the old-style pagans of yore, be they European or African or what-have-you, rarely live up to this permissive and liberal image -- Norse paganism was actually more sexist in a great many ways than Christianity. And all the elements that are taken to be a drag about modern Christianity (esp. Catholicism) were present to a far worse degree in Gnosticism: obscurantist theology (Gnosticism would see your Holy Trinity and endless hairsplitting arguments about the natures of the Christ and raise you several ranks of Emanations of the Pleroma with countless associated Aeons), baked-in anti-Semitism (Christianity was calling the Jews Christ-killers from early on, but Gnosticism taught that the Hebrew God of the Old Testament was actively evil and that a new God had come to rescue the world from that God), outrageous sexism (Paul said "keep your women silent in the churches," but the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas promotes the doctrine that women could only enter the Kingdom of Heaven by getting a sex change; no, really), and so on.
How was Norse paganism more sexist than the catholics? Vikings had a gender specific afterlife, yes. But neither was considered worse than the other. Nor did the religion mark one sex as being inherently sinful and worth less than the other.  Also paganism covers more than just our braided friends from the north. Many pagan religions actually had gender roles, but did not place the role of the man above the role of the woman.


Early Islam converted people by the sword, and this is what "jihad" means. Actually, the early Arab Caliphates made a point of not doing mass-conversions: aside from the fact that the Quran actually explicitly enjoins religious tolerance (something rather glossed over by modern-day "political Islam" and even moreso by the counterpart Islamophobes in the West), there was a tiny layer of Arabs over a large mass of subject peoples who would have been seriously pissed by any such attempt... and were much more useful paying poll taxes, anyway. Mass top-down conversions were actually much more characteristic of European Christianity.
I'll bet you I could find a few million Bedouins, Coptic Christians and Mithrans who would disagree with you, if they hadn't been killed for not being a slave to Allah. Were the early muslims worse than the early Christians? I doubt it, but they were just as bad. And the fact that after a few hundred years of religious fervor, they figured out it was more profitable to let the infidels live, does not take away that they had conquered for faith before that. 
[bold]
Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), until they pay the jizya [tribute] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29).[/bold]

Buddhism is universally tolerant, peaceful and laid-back. Most people are familiar with the avuncular, pluralistic, sanitized and superficially Western-friendly image of the Dalai Lama, with decades of received pop-culture myth about pacifist Tibetan lamaseries and upstanding Shaolin monks, with the Buddhism of Richard Gere and the Hollywood celebrity. These images are why modern Islamophobia often poses Buddhism as the peaceful "other" of the supposedly uniquely violent religion. But these images have obscured a far more complicated history and reality of Buddhism, which has as long-standing a relationship with war and violence as any Western religious tradition does and developed its own sometimes disturbing workarounds for its core commandment of compassion (such as the notion of "compassionate killing") as noted here.

I don't even know where to start on this one. Let's skip over the fact you're using a propagandistic site as evidence, and get down to the core. Were there violent Buddhists, yes. One just has to look at Myanmar today or Cambodja in the seventies. The difference here is that these people were violent in spite of their belief system not because of it. These people don't go around blowing people up because their god commands them to. They're doing it out of fear and ignorance. Or in the case of the killing fields it was because of their human leader telling them to.

The difference you, like so many are forgetting to make is that some people have a religion and do crazy things, while others do crazy things because their religion commands them to.

Example: A headline from the UK.
Muslim man throws acid in face of woman that turned him down.

This guy was Islamic, and the nationalistic press played the religion card quite strongly. This however has no merit, as it wasn't religiously motivated. There's no verse in the Quran that says: And the prophet, may he have the peace and blessing of Allah, said: If you're stood up on a date throw acid in the woman's face.

It does say however: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem.

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #106 on: August 30, 2013, 11:10:32 AM »
How was Norse paganism more sexist than the catholics?

Quote from: A History of Private Life, Vol. 1, pp. 530 - 533 -- discussing early canon law, penitentials and the clash between pagan and Christian mores
A master who raped his slave was obliged to make amends . . . by manumitting the woman. Many masters must have gnashed their teeth over this affront to what they considered their right. Even harder to accept was the punishment for faide, murder for vengeance . . . [particularly] in the case of the murder of a woman by her husband. . . Wife-murder [was declared] the most serious kind of murder. Three penitentials condemned the murder of a lord or a father or "of one's wife, who is a part of oneself." . . .

The ecclesiastical atuhorities began to take an interest in cases concerning abductions and rapes committed by youths seeking to circumvent parental opposition to marriage, in order to determine whether the parties had consented, on the ground that "mutual consent makes marriage." In northern Gaul a curious custom known as the stefang, or walk between stakes, appeared.  If a family complained that a daughter had been abducted and raped, the girl was obliged to stand between two stakes; behind one stake stood her own family, behind the other the family of her abductor. She had to decide which to choose. If chose her own family, the compensation for abduction and rape had to be paid. If chose her abductor's family, her marriage was officially celebrated. Thus, in order to validate the mutual consent of the two parties, given in private, that consent had to be made public. A woman's private life thus became fully autonomous, a first step toward a certain equality.

The above is a description of the encounter between ecclesiastical law and pagan custom in the Germanic world -- whose pagan traditions were closely related to the Norse -- in Late Antiquity, the 8th and 9th centuries CE. Note that this is not the picture one would expect to encounter if the Church were intoducing patriarchy to a kind of proto-feminist idyll, as is commonly imagined to have been the case. Similar accounts of the encounter between pagan and Christian mores can be had from across Europe as Christianity expands. [I do realize the above isn't a specifically Norse example, so I can dig some of those up for you later if you like, I'm just working with the books I have to hand at the moment.]

The Church of course was not progressive either as we understand the term, and sometimes it introduced new problems. (Note the mention of wife-murder above; in context, it becomes a problem because the Church has forbidden polygamy, leading to the popularity of 'Carolingian divorce' by the sword. The picture isn't favourable to the Church completely across the board either; the Church in the setting described above also has more regressive attitudes toward lesbianism than the pagans had, the latter not caring much about relationships between women because they didn't affect a woman's "purity" in the childbearing sweepstakes.) Nevertheless it often was more specifically and programmatically concerned with the state of women than many forms of paganism were, and more equitable towards women than pagan custom was and than it is often given credit for.

Paganism did take many forms. There was a European pagan tradition more progressive than the average: it was Roman paganism, which informed much of the growth and custom of the early Church and very probably explains some of the dynamics seen above.

Quote
I'll bet you I could find a few million Bedouins, Coptic Christians and Mithrans who would disagree with you, if they hadn't been killed for not being a slave to Allah. Were the early muslims worse than the early Christians? I doubt it, but they were just as bad.

I'm not concerned with who was "bad" or "not bad." War and conquest always involves killing and not-nice things (although note than an actually honest discussion of Muslim history does involve giving up the apparent need Islamophobes have for framing them as the constant aggressor in all circumstances). The simple fact of the matter is that the "conversion by the sword" myth is false, due to the dynamic of early Arab states and the traditions of the Qur'an. (Yes, that includes the Redemption Surah; note that the quote you provide is describing war, but is not describing conversion-by-the-sword. Note that the Coptic Christians are in fact still around, despite not being "slaves to Allah." So are the Zoroastrians. The "Mithrans" were assimilated by Christianity long before Islam came on the scene.) I would also note that the debunking of the myth has nothing to do with portraying Muslims as virtuous and Christians as villainous; note that mass-conversions in Europe had arguably the salutary effect of subjecting the monarchs involved to more restrictions on their rights WRT their subjects, a trade-off they made for an increase in prestige and closer ties with a growing Christendom.

And speaking of annoying historical myths, let's not have a game of out-of-context quote-mongering from the Qur'an, please. Both life and my patience are too short. You can find an extremely comprehensive collection of articles on the question of Islam and violence -- from people who actually understand the context of Qur'anic verses -- here. (If you don't like the fact that that site is actually written by Muslims, I'm not asking you to take all their contentions of faith at face value, since I wouldn't do that either. It's just that I'm willing to give them credit for knowing their own tradition better than I do, or you do, and to be worth learning from. The garden-variety Islamophobe of course arrogantly dismisses such a proposition... but I'm sure you won't.)

Quote
I don't even know where to start on this one.

You can probably start by actually reading the link you are responding to, which furnishes specific examples of religious motivation for Buddhist violence, and taking it from there. In this way, if you still disagree, you might be able to find some objections that are relevant to the argument being made; and you'll at least also note that the article makes very clear that it is not trying to promote "Buddhaphobia" either, it is simply filling out the picture of real-life Buddhist practice and philosophy regarding violence.

EDIT: Actually, I have a better idea. I'm going to include the relevant text here, and let people click through here if they want to follow the references.

As regards the direct scriptural Buddhist resources regulating and delineating violence, the relevant passage is here:

"Discussion of Buddhist Warfare"
Stereotypes notwithstanding, the Buddhist tradition is no stranger to violence.  This little known story is retold by Professors Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer in the book Buddhist Warfare.  Jerryson writes:

    Violence is found in all religious traditions, and Buddhism is no exception.  This may surprise those who think of Buddhism as a religion based solely on peace.  Indeed, one of the principal reasons for producing this book was to address such a misconception.  Within the various Buddhist traditions (which Trevor Ling describes as “Buddhisms”), there is a long history of violence.  Since the inception of Buddhist traditions 2,500 years ago, there have been numerous individual and structural cases of prolonged Buddhist violence. [1]

Prof. Jerryson writes in Monks With Guns: Discovering Buddhist Violence of armed Buddhist monks in Thailand.  He notes that the West’s romantic view of Buddhism

    shield(s) an extensive and historical dimension to Buddhist traditions: violence. Armed Buddhist monks in Thailand are not an exception to the rule; they are contemporary examples of a long historical precedence. For centuries monks have been at the helm, or armed in the ranks, of wars. How could this be the case? But more importantly, why did I (and many others) hold the belief that Buddhism=Peace (and that other religions, such as Islam, are more prone to violence)?

He then answers his own question:

    Buddhist Propaganda

    It was then that I realized that I was a consumer of a very successful form of propaganda. Since the early 1900s, Buddhist monastic intellectuals such as Walpola Rahula, D. T. Suzuki, and Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have labored to raise Western awareness of their cultures and traditions. In doing so, they presented specific aspects of their Buddhist traditions while leaving out others.

It should be clear that such “propaganda” need not necessarily be construed as something sinister.  Proponents of other religions–including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–will, for obvious reasons, often give a positive spin to their faith traditions.  Many Buddhists believe their history to be relatively peaceful, because they view their religion to be so.  This is no different than Muslims claiming that Islam is “the religion of peace”.

The difference is that the politics of the War on Terror have caused the religion of Islam to be put under heavy scrutiny.  Therefore, there is great incentive to refute Muslim “propaganda”, an incentive which simply does not exist for Buddhist “propaganda”.  The enemy, after all, is Muslim, not Buddhist.  Thus, Buddhism flies under the radar, and Buddhist “advertising” is taken at face-value.

Buddhism’s relative inconspicuousness shields it from the harshest blows of public criticism.  Case in point: the Bible and the Quran are well-known and easily accessible to the public.  Finding the violent verses in them is just a click away on the internet.  Meanwhile, Buddhist scriptural sources are more obscure, at least to the average Westerner.  Most people don’t even know what scriptures Buddhists follow, let alone what is contained within them.

As a consequence, many modern-day Buddhists believe that their scriptural sources are in fact devoid of violence, that this is a problem only of the Bible or the Quran.  But, Prof. Stephen Jenkins points out that this is just not the case.  In fact, ”Buddhist kings had conceptual resources [in the religious texts] at their disposal that supported warfare, torture, and harsh punishments.” [2]

For example, the Nirvana Sutra, a canonical Buddhist text, narrates a story about one of Buddha’s past lives: in it, he kills some Hindus (Brahmins) because they insulted the Buddhist sutras (scriptures):

    The Buddha…said…”When I recall the past, I remember that I was the king of a great state…My name was Senyo, and I loved and venerated the Mahayana sutras…When I heard the Brahmins slandering the vaipulya sutras, I put them to death on the spot.  Good men, as a result of that action, I never thereafter fell into hell.  O good man! When we accept and defend the Mahayana sutras, we possess innumerable virtues.” [3]

Porf. Paul Demieville writes:

    We are told that the first reason [to put the Brahmins to death] was out of pity [for them], to help the Brahmans avoid the punishment they had accrued by committing evil deeds while continuously slandering Buddhism. [4]

Here we arrive at a disturbing theme found in Buddhist thought: “compassionate killing”.  Killing is normally forbidden because it is done with evil intent (hatred, vengeance, etc.), but if it is done with “compassion”, it becomes something permissible, even praiseworthy.

The Buddhist does the unbeliever a favor by killing him, “an act of charity”:

    In the Zen sect in Japan, they interpreted the argument for taking another’s life as “attempting to bring the other’s Buddha nature to life” (Buddha nature exists in virtually every living being), “by putting an end to the passions that lead astray…”

    They make killing an act of charity. [5]

This is of course a disturbing belief to most of us.  As Prof. Bernard Faure puts it: “‘Killing with compassion’…remains a dubious oxymoron.” [6] One is reminded of the odd Christian belief that a Christian soldier can love his enemies even as he kills them.  Of what relevance is such “love”?

Jenkins writes:

    If he does so with compassionate intentions, a king may make great merit through warfare, so warfare becomes auspicious. The same argument was made earlier in relation to torture, and the sutra now proceeds to make commonsense analogies to doctors and to parents who compassionately inflict pain in order to discipline and heal without intending harm. [7]

He goes on:

    General conceptions of a basic Buddhist ethics broadly conceived as unqualified pacifism are problematic.  Compassionate violence is at the very heart of the sensibility of this sutra.  Buddhist kings had sophisticated and practical conceptual resources to support the use of force…The only killing compatible with Buddhist ethics is killing with compassion.  Moreover, if a king makes war or tortures with compassionate intentions, even those acts can result in the accumulation of vast karmic merit. [8]

There was a second reason to kill the infidels: to defend the Buddhist faith.  Prof. Demieville writes:

    The Buddha’s second reason for putting them to death was to defend Buddhism itself. [9]

Faure notes:

    Another oft-invoked argument to justify killing is the claim that, when the the dharma [i.e. the Buddhist religion] is threatened, it is necessary to ruthlessly fight against the forces of evil…promoting the need for violence in order to preserve cosmic balance… [10]

What about the first precept of Buddhism, which forbids murder?  Demieville writes:

    In another passage, this same sutra (scripture) declares that there is no reason to observe the five precepts [the first of which is the taking of life], or even to practice good behavior, if protecting the Real Law is in question.  In other words, one needed to take up the knife and the sword, the bow and the arrow, the spear and the lance [to defend the faith].  ”The one that observes the five precepts is not a follower of the [Mahayana]!  Do not observe the five precepts–if it concerns protecting the Real Law…” [11]

The Nirvana Sutra reads:

    The [true] follower of the Mahayana is not the one who observes the five precepts, but the one who uses the sword, bow, arrow, and battle ax to protect the monks who uphold the precepts and who are pure. [12]

The dye is cast for defense in the name of religion.  Elsewhere in the Nirvana Sutra, we are told of a king who goes to war in defense of rightly-guided monks:

    To protect Dharma [Buddha's teachings], he came to the defense of the monks, warring against the evil-doers so that the monks did not suffer.  The king sustained wounds all over his body.  The monks praised the king: “Well done, well done, O King!  You are a person who protects the Wonderful Dharma.  In the future, you will become the indispensable tool of Dharma.” [13]

This king too was Buddha in a past life; Buddha declared:

    When the time comes that the Wonderful Dharma is about to die out, one should act like this and protect the Dharma.  I was the king…The one who defends the Wonderful Dharma receives immeasurable recompense…

    Monks, nuns, male and female believers of Buddha, should exert great effort to protect the Wonderful Dharma.  The reward for protecting the Wonderful Dharma is extremely great and immeasurable.  O good man, because of this, those believers who protect Dharma should take the sword and staff and protect the monks who guard Dharma…

    Even if a person does not observe the five precepts, if he protects the Wonderful Dharma, he will be referred to as one of the Mahayana. A person who upholds the Wonderful Dharma should take the sword and staff and guard monks. [14]

Demeiville notes:

    Along these lines, the Buddha sings the praises of a king named Yeou-to, who went to war to defend the bhiksu (monks). [15]

The general idea is that “[h]eresy must be prevented and evil crushed in utero.” [16]

As for the Brahmins whom Buddha killed, they were in any case icchantika, those who neither believe in Buddha or Buddhism–historically, the Buddhist equivalent of infidel.  Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra:

    If any man, woman, Shramana, or Brahmin says that there is no such thing as The Way [i.e. Buddhism], Enlightenment, or Nirvana, know that such a person is an icchantika.  Such a person is one of [the demon] Mara’s kindred [Mara = the Lord of Death].  Such a person is not of the world… [17]

An icchantika is “sinful…[because] he does not act in accordance with the Bhuddas’ injunctions.” [18]  ”Because the icchantika lacks the root of good,” he “falls into hell.” [19] In fact, “it is not possible…for the icchantika not to go to hell.” [20] The icchantika is “the lowest” and “has to live for an eon in hell.” [21]

Putting to death unbelievers carries no sin or bad karmic result.  Demieville writes:

    Regardless, these Brahmans were predestined to infernal damnation (icchantika); it was not a sin to put them to death in order to preserve the Real Law. [22]

There are in fact three grades of murder, in increasing order of seriousness, but killing infidels is not one of them.  The Nirvana Sutra reads:

    The Buddha and Bodhisattva see three categories of killing, which are
    those of the grades 1) low, 2) medium, and 3) high.  Low applies to the class of insects and all kinds of animals…The medium grade of killing concerns killing humans [who have not reached Nirvana]…The highest grade of killing concerns killing one’s father, mother, an arhat, pratyekabudda, or a Bodhisattva [three ranks of Enlightenment]…

    A person who kills an icchantika does not suffer from the karmic returns due to the killings of the three kinds above.  O good man, all those Brahmins are of the class of the icchantika.  Killing them does not cause one to go to hell. [23]

The Buddha says in the Nirvana Sutra that icchantika’s status is lower than that of the ants:

    [T]he icchantikas are cut off from the root of good…Because of this, one may well kill an ant and earn sin for doing harm, but there is no sin for killing an icchantika.” [24]

In addition to issues of faith and unbelief, the Buddhist tradition offered sophistic justifications for killing and war:

    [H]ow can one kill another person when…all is emptiness?  The man who kills with full knowledge of the facts kills no one because he realizes that all is but illusion, himself as well as the other person.  He can kill, because he does not actually kill anyone.  One cannot kill emptiness, nor destroy the wind. [25]

Furthermore, killing is sinful because of the evil it creates inside the killer’s mind.  But, a true yoga master can train his mind to be “empty” even while he kills.  If the killer has “vacuity” of thought, then the murder “did not undermine the essential purity of his mind” and then there is nothing wrong with it. [26] In other words, killing can be excused if it is done by the right person, especially a “dharma-protecting king”.

The Buddhist canonical and post-canonical texts not only provide the religious justifications for war and killing, but provide examples of meritorious holy figures who engaged in it, examples for all Buddhists:

    Celestial bodhisattvas, divinized embodiments of the power of enlightened compassion, support campaigns of conquest to spread the influence of Buddhism, and kings vested with the dharma commit mass violence against Jains and Hindus. [27]

In these textual sources, we see dharma-inspired Buddhist kings who “have a disturbing tendency for mass violence against non-Buddhists.” [28]

Buddhist Warfare provides many other examples of the theological justifications for waging war and killing, but these shall suffice us for now: they provide the religious basis for Buddhist holy war: (1) Killing those who slander Buddhism as a necessity; (2) Anyone who rejects Buddhism is by default slandering it; (3) Killing infidels carries no sin; (4) In fact, it is not really killing at all.

These are not merely theoretical justifications found buried in religious texts.  Instead, these beliefs were acted upon historically, and continue to be so in the contemporary age.

And the disclaimer in the Buddhist Warfare book that is repeated here is worth being aware of in general:

"Disclaimer from Prof. Michael Jerryson and amplification by Danios"
Disclaimer:

Prof. Michael Jerryson issues the following disclaimer:

    Our intention is not to argue that Buddhists are angry, violent people—but rather that Buddhists are people, and thus share the same human spectrum of emotions, which includes the penchant for violence.

I could not agree more with Jerryson here.  My intent here is not to demonize Buddhism, but rather, to underscore the reality that all religious traditions, not just Islam, have had their fair share of violence.  This includes Buddhism.

It’s certainly something uncomfortable for me criticizing a religious tradition in this way, but it seems necessary to dispel the enduring myth that Islam holds a monopoly on violence.

I would also like to take this opportunity to distance myself from those who are using the violence in Burma to further Buddhaphobia.  Such claim that “people are ignoring what is happening to Muslims in Burma”, which is certainly true, but we all know that if the shoe were on the other foot–if it were Muslims in Burma oppressing Buddhists–then many of these Muslims would be the silent ones, or even be justifying such oppression (as I have seen many Buddhists doing now).

What is it other than rancid hypocrisy when some Pakistanis are up in arms about Muslims in Burma, but absolutely silent about the oppression of religious minorities in their own country?

How easily these people are able to transfer the same hatred against Islam that is directed toward them on a daily basis to Buddhism!

What I have learned about religions is the following:

#1: Adherents of a religion will cry foul when their coreligionists are the victims of oppression, but will remain silent or even justify such oppression when their coreligionists are the perpetrators of such oppression.  This includes Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus–as well as Muslims.

To this, I recall the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.”  The people asked him: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how we should help him if he is an oppressor?”  Muhammad replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.”

#2: The corollary to #1 is that religious groups will cry foul when they are oppressed by another religious group, but as soon as they themselves come to power, the very next minute they set to the task of oppressing the religious other.  Yesterday, the Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Nazis; today, they ethnically cleanse the Palestinians.  It is such a seamless transition–it happens with such mechanistic automatism and absolute obliviousness–that it is something quite amazing to witness.

#3: Following from #2, it becomes obvious that humans oppress when they are given the opportunity to do so.  It is not their religious creed that matters so much but rather whether they have opportunity or not.

#4: No major world religion is vastly different from the other when it comes to its propensity to inspire violence.

#5: Instead of using religious violence to demonize particular faiths–instead of using it as a battle ax to split open heads–we should hold in our hearts a continuous candlelight vigil to end inter-religious violence–holding hands with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus–and start seeing each other as fellow human beings.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 02:54:11 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #107 on: August 30, 2013, 12:22:11 PM »
I don't even know where to start on this one. Let's skip over the fact you're using a propagandistic site as evidence, and get down to the core. Were there violent Buddhists, yes. One just has to look at Myanmar today or Cambodja in the seventies. The difference here is that these people were violent in spite of their belief system not because of it. These people don't go around blowing people up because their god commands them to. They're doing it out of fear and ignorance. Or in the case of the killing fields it was because of their human leader telling them to.

When Buddhists kill it is through fear, ignorance or because human leaders have told them to.  When Muslims do it is because Islam commands them to.  Am I understanding you right?  Because that seems to imply that the various wars of conquest undertaken by the Caliphate would have happened even if the Caliph hadn't ordered them?  Or are we saying that Muslims go to war because of fear, ignorance, commands of human leaders AND religion while Buddhists just have the first three.  The first formulation screams of special pleading, the second ignores the billions of Muslims throughout history who didn't go to war.  Did their religion not command it?  Or are they just bad Muslims?  If the latter, why is it you and not Muslims who gets to decide what makes a good Muslim?

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #108 on: August 31, 2013, 05:39:51 PM »
A Viking would have identified with his local shire rather than with anything called Sweden or Denmark (Iceland is a bit special, but then it wasn't even a kingdom at the time, it was a republic with minimal central power, sort of like the United States around 1800).

You forgot about Norway! *indignation.*

I thought of another myth today, that I suppose you can call historical. It certainly relates to the history of armed conflict. And that's the notion of the superiority of Japanese longswords. Or, rather, that's a prominent part of it. But, really, it relates to any sort of glorifying of any sword - or any weapon more broadly speaking.

I understand that most people probably don't visit the sorts of sites where people argue over whether European swords are better than Japanese ones or not, but I occasionally do. And the debates can get quite boring when they completely ignore the simple fact that weapons - and armor, and tactics - evolve over time, to serve a particular purpose, at a specific time - and place. If you're ignoring these, the debate is basically pointless.

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #109 on: August 31, 2013, 06:11:18 PM »
You forgot about Norway! *indignation.*



Sorry about that one! I was just offering examples, if the intention had been to name every single country with a major Viking population around the 10th century I'd have had to include Russia and the Faroe islands too. *offers an embrace to the brother nation*

According to legend, the native Slavs of northwest Russia sent a message to the Baltic vikings "Our land is grand and rich, but there is no order here. Prithee, come and rule over us!"   :D Rurik the Viking (a Swede, according to most historians) and his men took pity upon them and founded the first real dynasty in Russia, his son moved the kingship to Kyiv and the family actually lasted on various thrones all the way to Ivan the Terrible, seven centuries later.

Offline Skynet

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #110 on: August 31, 2013, 09:56:08 PM »
This myth I've mostly seen in right-wing circles, but there is a pernicious myth circulating that Martin Luther King Jr. was a political conservative in the vein of modern Republicans.

This couldn't be further from the truth.  He was very anti-war, opposing Vietnam; his Poor People's Campaign argued for an "economic bill of rights" for low-income citizens and the government to take action against poverty; many liberal groups at the time supported civil rights, where conservatives (in both the Democratic and Republican Parties) supported segregation.

Not to mention that a lot of modern Republican leader's values stand in opposition to peace, love, and tolerance.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 10:41:33 PM by Skynet »

Offline Hemingway

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #111 on: September 01, 2013, 05:57:10 AM »
In the same vein as the Martin Luther King Jr. one: The often-repeated story that the USA was founded as a christian nation. I'd say that one actually ranks quite high in my list of "most annoying", as it's something you often come across in religious debates, and often used to justify heinous views.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #112 on: September 01, 2013, 06:19:58 AM »
In the same vein as the Martin Luther King Jr. one: The often-repeated story that the USA was founded as a christian nation. I'd say that one actually ranks quite high in my list of "most annoying", as it's something you often come across in religious debates, and often used to justify heinous views.

But American history starts at Plymouth Rock in 1620, doesn't it...?   ::)

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #113 on: September 01, 2013, 10:36:25 AM »
Honestly, we could probably completely fill this thread just by staying on the category of "coopting famous history figures for your political agenda". For me, it's "Hitler was an atheist!".

Offline mia h

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #114 on: September 01, 2013, 12:11:49 PM »
Well there is the poor maligned King Canute, who was thought to be an arrogant fool who told the sea to turn back and failed.

The truth is a little different. Canute courtiers where a bunch of arse kissers and lick spittles who told Canute he could do anything including hold back the sea. Being a very pious King, Canute 'knew' that making seas part was something that only God was capable of. So, to prove to his courtiers that they were bloody clueless he got his feet wet as the tide did what tides do.

Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #115 on: September 01, 2013, 12:42:27 PM »
Honestly, we could probably completely fill this thread just by staying on the category of "coopting famous history figures for your political agenda". For me, it's "Hitler was an atheist!".

Hitler could have a category of his own. He and/or the Nazis generally are also representative of -- at last count -- vegetarians, fans of organic food, BDSM freaks, advocates of euthanasia (even voluntary), advocates of the ban on capital punishment, advocates of "social justice" (according to Glenn Beck this one makes you a Nazi and Communist simultaneously), environmentalism (really), the anti-tobacco lobby, IBM,  Hugo Boss, the true and cankered soul of Christianity...

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #116 on: September 01, 2013, 12:50:39 PM »
Cyrano reminded me of one:

The myth that communism and democracy are opposites.  One is an economic system, the other is a system of government.

Offline Skynet

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #117 on: September 01, 2013, 12:52:36 PM »
That reminds me, I believe that the idealized Communist society is one which incorporates direct democracy.

Offline mia h

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #118 on: September 01, 2013, 04:47:26 PM »
The myth that communism and democracy are opposites.  One is an economic system, the other is a system of government.

Both are systems of government,  I think you might conflating communism & planned economies

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #119 on: September 01, 2013, 05:20:04 PM »
Both are systems of government,  I think you might conflating communism & planned economies
Um. I think you might be conflating communism with something else entirely. What exactly is the singular governmental structure implied by common ownership of goods and means of production?

Offline mia h

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #120 on: September 01, 2013, 05:43:03 PM »
Um. I think you might be conflating communism with something else entirely. What exactly is the singular governmental structure implied by common ownership of goods and means of production?

That's like saying democray implies a unicameral chamber and use of proportional representation system to decide national governments

There is no implication of an singular governmental in a communist state, in fact in communist states control should be as decentralized as possible if they to maintain the Marxist ideals but theory and practice are two separate things; If everyone owns the means of production then what is produced isn't decided by one person or even a group of people it's decided by everyone.


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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #121 on: September 01, 2013, 05:50:58 PM »
That's like saying democray implies a unicameral chamber and use of proportional representation system to decide national governments

There is no implication of an singular governmental in a communist state, in fact in communist states control should be as decentralized as possible if they to maintain the Marxist ideals but theory and practice are two separate things; If everyone owns the means of production then what is produced isn't decided by one person or even a group of people it's decided by everyone.
Okay, go broad-strokes, then. Democracy implies by the nature of the very word that the ruling parties will be chosen by the citizenry as a whole. This may be executed via different methods, but this singular trait must be present - if it is not, you do not have democracy. What does communism imply, and why?
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 05:52:06 PM by Ephiral »

Offline mia h

Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #122 on: September 02, 2013, 02:33:51 AM »
It implies that there should be a moneyless, classless society where everything is owned equally by everybody. And why? Because that was Marx.'s ideal of a utopian society. The fact that nobody has worked out to put this into practice and that every attempt to create a communist state has ended up with dictatorship says more about human nature than communist ideals.  And while it's never been truely put into practice the closest thing to a commumist state people might be familiar with is Star Trek, no money, no class, everyone is free to better themselves how they see fit.

But to go back to Oniya's orginal misconception that commumism is an econmic system, does that mean that the US was a communist state between 1940 & 1945?

Democracy implies by the nature of the very word that the ruling parties will be chosen by the citizenry as a whole.
But in most communist states the citizenry as a whole do get to choose thier representatives, admittedly those choices are limited by the state party. But is that really that different from western democracies when the parties choose who the public get vote for? Especially when the differences between the parties are so small you're going to be eating the same dog food no matter who's elected, it'll just come in a different colored bowl

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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #123 on: September 02, 2013, 07:12:32 PM »
It implies that there should be a moneyless, classless society where everything is owned equally by everybody. And why? Because that was Marx.'s ideal of a utopian society. The fact that nobody has worked out to put this into practice and that every attempt to create a communist state has ended up with dictatorship says more about human nature than communist ideals.  And while it's never been truely put into practice the closest thing to a commumist state people might be familiar with is Star Trek, no money, no class, everyone is free to better themselves how they see fit.

But to go back to Oniya's orginal misconception that commumism is an econmic system, does that mean that the US was a communist state between 1940 & 1945?
But in most communist states the citizenry as a whole do get to choose thier representatives, admittedly those choices are limited by the state party. But is that really that different from western democracies when the parties choose who the public get vote for? Especially when the differences between the parties are so small you're going to be eating the same dog food no matter who's elected, it'll just come in a different colored bowl

Ummmmm.... The reason this might be a misconception on your part is because communism is at it's base, Marx's ideals alone, an economic system that stands in stark contrast of Capitalism. This is because communism needs another form of government and can not stand on it's own. A government system can stand on it's own without a specific version of economy. The US could hypothetically have a Communist Economy where we did a share all economy. However, it could still be run using the same Government. Barring the human element of course.

Most of the Communist states are run using a Dictatorship model of Government, because a Communist GOVERNMENT would not have a head. It would be an ideal Democracy (following Marxist Ideals). Communist states have been Dictatorships using Communist economic structures.

Or, as my girlfriend just pointed out, ALL economic systems are systems of government because it's gotten to the point where governments have to adopt an economic system as an "official" way of dealing with things. Like the US: Throw money at it until it goes away! idea of running things for the most part (Which is Capitalism at it's finest people.)

But I think this is all something for a different thread. :D

And back on topic:

Ummmm.... Witches being burned at the stake in Salem when they were actually usually hanged. (Except one being crushed by heavy stones.)


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Re: Most annoying historical myths?
« Reply #124 on: September 02, 2013, 08:06:26 PM »
And back on topic:

Ummmm.... Witches being burned at the stake in Salem when they were actually usually hanged. (Except one being crushed by heavy stones.)

'More weight.'