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Buddhism mixed with politics

September 27, 2007

Re "The Buddhism bomb," Opinion, Sept. 25

David I. Steinberg's article brought back so much emotion to me as a Vietnamese who grew up in the 1960s. Especially stirring is his statement, "The two most volatile elements in Burmese society, from the government's perspective, are the monks and students."

If the Burmese officials possess any historical knowledge, they should reflect on the summer of 1963, when the South Vietnamese police ransacked hundreds of Buddhist pagodas and closed universities and high schools to counter a national protest against dictatorship. And the consequence of these foolish measures was the downfall of Ngo Dinh Diem's regime only months later.

The symbolic and peaceful form of resistance executed effectively by the Buddhist monks makes one wonder: What if the religious factions in the Middle East conflicts chose to apply it to resolve their perennial differences? An immediate and predictable result would be fewer deaths and less destruction than we're witnessing right now from Jerusalem to Baghdad.

Chi Huu Do

Garden Grove

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Re "Buddhist monks test Myanmar's junta," Sept. 23

It is not right to use Buddhism as a tool of politics in Myanmar or elsewhere, as it is not right to use Christianity as a tool of politics.

Desmond Chiong

San Marino

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