Are Buddhsist Racist

Read my one & only interview in the New Statesman

What is Racism?

 

Race can be defined as:

"A classification system used to categorise humans into distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”

 

Racism can be defined as:

“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

 

When a group of people are labeled according to a certain religious belief or affiliation and their access to public services, jobs, livelihoods and social freedoms are denied or restricted on the basis of this belief or affiliation this is racism.

Casual Sexism

26th Sept 2015

Over the past few days I've been astonished by the media storm surrounding the Dalai Lama's comments about a possible female successor. It's the first time the Dalai Lama has ever faced a worldwide media backlash and his approach to dealing with it shows how unaccustomed he is to public criticism.

The situation is reminiscent of Bill Cosby's fall from grace. He faced accusations of rape that had been widely known in the media and celebrity community for years. For some reason when the accusations were again repeated the media storm gathered and the rest is history.

Bill Cosby was defended by media pundits and celebrities who rallied behind him with all manner of excuses while he remained silent. The Dalai Lama's situation is no different. What's deplorable is the way that people seek to excuse behaviour that should be condemned without hesitation.

The most common excuse for the Dalai Lama's comments are that they were just light-hearted jokes. "He's a funny guy", "it was just a bit of fun", "I'm sure he was just joking", "it's all been taken out of context", ad nauseum.

The Dalai Lama was given the opportunity in the interview to say he was joking, but he refused to take it. Instead he reaffirmed his comments insisting they were true.

The thing that's rocked the Dalai Lama so much is that he's made the same comments repeatedly in interviews with men over the past few years. This time it wasn't brushed off but ignited a media frenzy that he's still in shock over.

If his comments were a light hearted joke then is that what we can expect from religious leaders - jokes at the expense of women? Casual sexism to get a quick laugh?

If so then would it be acceptable for the Pope to joke about racism? How about if Obama made a joke about Jews or the holocaust just for a few cheap laughs?

Which is worse, for the Dalai Lama to have made his comments as a serious statement or as a cheap joke at the expense of gender equality?

For the media it's a little confusing. They've spent decades building up his reputation, using his face to sell millions of magazines, newspapers and fill the air. The Dalai Lama's brand has been used to sell everything from yoga pants to Apple Macs yet once again they're faced with the harsh reality that he doesn't live up to the hype.

While the Pope is currently blazing a trail in the US the Dalai Lama had to sneak in quietly to have a "routine checkup" at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota. The next day he canceled all his scheduled US appearances because of unspecified "health concerns". This translates as, "he's running away from the media and hiding in the hope the story goes away".

The Dalai Lama's health concerns are a rather clumsy attempt by his publicists to stage manage the nosedive his reputation is taking. It's an age old trick - you either have health concerns or you go into rehab, no-one in the media is fooled in the slightest.

The doctors advice/rehab approach is an admission of guilt. It's the PR machine's attempt to buy time and distract from the main story.

You can expect a few more "media advisory" statements to be issued over the coming weeks that will focus solely on the "health problems" but never mention the "sexism problem". You will witness the gradual public recovery of a frail old man that's exhausted by his constant schedule of traveling the world and helping people.

It's no wonder he's exhausted after flying by private jet, being chaffered in a Range Rover, staying in £5,000 a night suites in luxury hotels and having his very own pastry chef. Oddly though, the Dalai Lama didn't look in the least bit tired or ill in his monumentally catastrophic interview with the BBC a few days before this announcement.

You can expect by mid-late October the Dalai Lama will be announcing to the media that he's scheduling new appearances after his "complete rest". The first will be related to women's issues. His PR team will be desperately trying to get a female celebrity to join him in it - Malala's phone will no doubt be ringing off the hook by now.

As he returns to the media circus the narrative will be that it was all just a bit of fun that was blown out of all proportion. He'll be falling over himself to extol the virtues of women and gender equality. Then the media can breathe a collective sigh of relief as they go back to business as usual, promoting the Dalai Lama brand to sell tat once more.

It's all good as long we can all agree that the objectification of women, judging them solely as objects for the gratification of a patriarchal society is all just a bit of harmless fun. Keep laughing as your wives, daughters and friends are made fun of to boost his ego.

Then ask yourself why it's excusable for senior media figures to joke about sexist stereotypes. Would donning black-face for an interview be ok too?

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