August 5, 2009

The Surface of Buddhism

Atlasien’s recent blog post touches on superficial perspectives on Islam and Buddhism, and also that pernicious East-West mindset.
Islamic mystique diverged from the pattern somewhere in the 20th century. The value of the white mediator became not so romantic. Racialization of Islam swelled to truly amazing proportions. Today in the United States, the negative stereotypes of Islam I listed above are not just applicable to Muslims; they stretch to Sikhs, Arab Christians, anyone who looks vaguely Middle Eastern. On the other hand, the positive stereotypes of Buddhism do not extend to East Asians! East Asian cultures are still stereotyped as repressive towards women, lovers of hierarchy and haters of individuality, unchanging and ahistorical, superficially clever but not really innovative, etcetera.
Should you read the piece, keep in mind that the audience is “predominantly people of color who are not Buddhists.”

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