Critical Commentary- Monks Gone Bad

Posted on May 10, 2013 by


The main objective of the Monks Gone Bad article was to inform everyone about the negative change in Buddhist monks. The instability politically and economically of Myanmar is having an affect on the religion and is a breeding ground for sectarianism. Also it goes on about the Buddhist vs. Muslims war that is creating violence. The Buddhist monks were accused of crimes of instigating some burnings, beatings and killings in the city of Meikhtila, a city in central Myanmar with no prior history of sectarian violence. Buddhists were the main religion covered along with Muslims. The non-violent monks doing these unspeakable crimes show the changes and how they are letting refuges into their monasteries for food and shelter. The refuges have no choice but to embrace the religion or else they die. Rather then the monks focusing their time and energy on meditation they are practicing astrology to attract donations. Monks can even be seen using cars, cell phones, and even gambling.

The article was written by Swe Win, she is a freelance journalist based in Yangon. Grew up in a conservative Buddhist family, which is suitable because she can provide valuable insight on the situation at hand. In the article she seems to be against the political politicians who are running the country. Thinking that nothing is wrong with the Buddhist religion itself, but the problem was politicians that were flouting it. She was in self-imposed exile at the time studying journalism at the University of Hong Kong when gathering some of this information.

My first impressions of the article just by looking at the headline and first paragraph gave me a confused feeling. Monks gone bad isn’t a popular phrase, whenever I hear monk peaceful and elegant people come to mind. They define the situation as being urgent and a problem that needs fixing with the Buddhist people. It gives a pretty negative impression on monks in general and how they are acting in such violent ways. Win blames a majority of the problems on unstable government and their inability to take care of the controversy. A photograph is used in the article but it has little implications on the article itself because it is just a picture of three monks walking in the street.

Phases that are used repeatedly are the negative impressions of monks and the instability is shredding apart the country. The writer does qualify her observations because she does detective work and finds Buddhist monks who have had prior events of violence. One proudly told her that he had defended Buddhism by torching Muslims’ properties. Violence and crimes are also repeated throughout the article when describing the Buddhist vs. Muslim problem. The tone when describing Buddhism is harmful because of the corruption inside of the religion in the monks themselves and how they don’t focus on finding their path to spirituality. The sources and information used are reliable because most of it comes from her. You can easily differentiate between fact and opinions because when she is speaking about the monks that are committing crimes that don’t mean all monks have become corrupt. She does somewhat forget to talk about the monks that are still striving for spirituality. Because she is the main source most of it is providing the reader with facts to let them form an opinion about the subject.
The point of view that is being promoted is negative of the monks. The monks are being accused of all of these violent crimes and the change that is occurring. The good guys are reporting because she describes her self as a self-imposed exile conservative Buddhist and the disappoint she finds in the monks creating this controversy. The general attitude toward religion the coverage brings up is that it is in a vulnerable state. The normal world is affecting the practices of the Buddhist religion. Instead of being the non-violent people they believe they are protecting the religion by being violent. I believe there may be some political restraints on the article because we don’t get that much specific information what the government is doing to stir up such a mess or what they are trying to do to fix the problem. The coverage is highly prominent. The New York Times is a greatly respected news paper and the print has links that can be accessed if you would like to read more about the acts of violence that were committed. These links include the killings, 969 movements, and the clashes against the Rohingyas that can help you better understand her argument.

April 17, 2013, 7:49 am
Monks Gone Bad
New York Times

Posted in: Buddhism