Apr 10 2005

Fuck The Patriarchy

DengkhimLast week NPR reported that another American kid has been killed in what is referred to by the Pentagon (but no one else) as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (freedom, used as a euphemism for death, is the Bush administration’s poetic license at its most perverse). This kid, Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim, was apparently the first Tibetan-American war casualty. He’d enlisted in the Marines, not to go shoot motherfuckers, but to save up money for college. He was 19. NPR reported that he was a devout Buddhist.

[Incidentally, when war departments bandy freedom rhetoric, it is always code for “KILL! KILL!” For instance, when Chairman Mao’s fancifully named People’s Liberation Army invaded the aforementioned Tibet in 1949, the Dalai Lama was forced to sign an “Agreement For The Peaceful Liberation Of Tibet.” The PLA then dispersed into the Tibetan countryside to dish out liberation in the form of mass rape and murder. Chinese occupation of Tibet, as is common knowledge among all politically correct Americans, continues to this day. Millions have been killed.]

Anyway, I was surprised by this Buddhist revelation, because you never hear about Buddhists in wars. If Buddhists ever go around chanting “Buddha loves America best! Let’s go kick some Iraqi ass! Boo-ya!” it would be news to me.

In fact, for the past two and a half millennia, it’s the patriarchal Judeo-Muslo-Christian warrior cults who have started all the wars. By “all” I mean every single one. Buddhists, conversely, have started zero wars. Zip.

The Buddha’s views on the subject, it turns out, were pretty firm: there is no justice in war.

Tibetan_resistance_2[It apparently takes the pathologically butch American military to turn Tibetan Buddhists into killing machines. In the early 60’s the CIA operated a top-secret training camp in Colorado specifically for that purpose, ostensibly to aid in the Tibetan resistance effort against the Chinese. In reality commiephobe American fucktards had decided that the US should be using Tibet’s own “deeply unhygienic tribesmen” to create a “running sore for the Reds.” (Nixon eventually hung the Tibetans out to dry, quelle surprise). Brainwashing a 19-year-old refugee boy would have been pie compared to that.]

What chaps the Twisty hide about this dead Buddhist soldier story is the insidious way it reinforces the tired old tool-of-the-patriarchy, as-seen-on-TV narrative of glorious war and heroism. The subtext is “See? Even a peace-loving Buddhist was inspired to make the ultimate sacrifice for the war!” Pious young Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim had been intending, the report claimed, to take his newly-acquired war skills home to Tibet and fight for its liberation. In other words, he wanted to go home and kill Chinese, and who can’t get behind that?

Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim died for nothing, and it’s terribly sad. His posthumous heroification–i.e. the process of imbuing him with a sort of superhuman glory that only war can confer (and that war can confer only on a man)–is an absolutely essential step in the justification of any war. Thanks, NPR!

Look, I know it’s been since junior high, but doesn’t anybody remember Slaughterhouse Five? Is Afghanistan just a tiptoe through the tulips, Abu Ghraib mere infotainment? What will it take to convince people that war and its phony heroes and vulgar impulses degrade the entire species?

I guess it’ll take a lot, because without war, patriarchy’s got bupkis.


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  1. Prentiss Riddle

    Hmm. I’m not sure who started it, but from what I’ve heard of Sri Lanka’s civil war the Buddhist (Sinhalese) side hasn’t exactly lived up the peace-loving label. And I’ve never been clear about the relationship between Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan, but Buddhism didn’t exactly prevent Imperial Japan from starting wars.

    Sorry, I seem to be quibbling with you about religion today — I don’t mean to keep singing the same note.

  2. Twisty

    Oh crap, you’re quite right! If I’d been paying better attention, the paragraph would have read “…. for the past two and a half millennia, the patriarchal Judeo-Muslo-Christian warrior cults have started all the religious wars. Buddhists, conversely, have started none.”

    I’m not a Buddhist scholar, and have no information on the number of non-religious wars started by Buddhists through the ages, but the Buddha definitely frowns on the warrior mentality, viz. aggression for personal gain, etc. Of course, a potential loophole emerges when he also pronounces “he who deserves punishment must be punished.” Why can’t these old subcontinental spiritual leader farts just say what they mean?

    In any event, even if the peacenik Buddhist exists only as a romantic American conceit, it can still be used by mainstream media to prop up our cultural myths.

    By the way, feel free to sing the same note all you like. I certainly do.

  3. Anonymous

    I am not sure Tenzin Dengkhim would agree with your analysis. It was the Tibetans (not the CIA) who actually started the armed resistance against the Chinese. It was only after the armed resistance failed that the Dalai Lama took up the nonviolent approach.

    I think you probably made up the bit about Tenzin saving money up for college, according to the interviews I have read, Tenzin joined the military in the hopes of eventually serving as a soldier in an army to liberate Tibet. It seems to me that Tenzin joined the US military because he believed in freedom for all people: Iraqi, Tibetan, whoever. I think you should be careful about reducing his motives to merely “making money for college.” He was a refugee, one million of his people have been killed by Chinese policies. I think it is horrible that you twist his motivations into something so base.

    The fact is that many Tibetans like Tenzin believe in freedom more than they believe in nonviolence…that is why Tenzin joined the military. I don’t agree with his decision, but I understand why he made it.

    Stop being so damn paternalistic and speaking for people who have no voice!

  4. It is now 2006 and I have decided to read your blog from the beginning. So you may never read this but… here goes:

    “Yesterday, U.S. Central Command issued a news release announcing lightning raids in the remote towns of Ain Lalin and Quara Tapa “to isolate and capture noncompliant forces.” The name of the mission: Operation Ivy Lightning. Or, if you prefer the acronym: OIL. ”

    I have been hearing this rumor that the stuff in Iraq was originally “Operation Iraqi Liberation”. As far as I can tell this is what they were referring to.

    For the full explanation go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A51517-2003Aug12

  5. It seems to me that Tenzin joined the US military because he believed in freedom for all people: Iraqi, Tibetan, whoever.

    Of course women aren’t considered people, so it’s not women’s freedom we’re talking about here. No boy wants to free women. So my message to the boys is, it really doesn’t matter much to me which one of you boys win. You all treat women like shit.

  6. I think all religions, including Buddhism, have a glaring flaw, which is anti-materialism. As in, let’s not pay attention to stuff here because we’ll all be chilling with god if we plays our cards right. What they had in Tibet was a feudalistic theocracy. I was surprised you portrayed any religion in such a favorable light.

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