05 May 2017

Suu Kyi: An Inspirational Let-Down

Aung San Suu Kyi inspired a generation of human rights activists through her long struggle with the ruling junta of Myanmar/Burma. Suffering years of house arrest, all but abandoning her family for the sake of the cause, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1991 and seemed in recent years to be finally vindicated. Freed from arrest she now sits in a position of political power.

And yet it's clear she cares very little for the suffering of Burma's various minority groups. The Rohingya Muslims, sometimes referred to as the most hated people in the world are suffering under the heavy and often brutal hand of the military junta. Suu Kyi always insisted that she respected and even venerated the army. This may go back to the legacy of her father Aung San. A controversial figure to be sure. Originally an opposition fighter against the British, he allied with the Japanese and was instrumental in their takeover of Burma during the war. Later he 'flipped' and went back to the British and fought against Japan.
When he was assassinated in 1947 not a few believed then (and now) that the British had a hand it. They used him but also feared him and wanted him out of the way.
Suu Kyi has played the role of patriotic daughter with a martyr father. It's quite possible her motivations have been misunderstood. It would seem her nationalism certainly outweighs any commitments she might have to the universality of human rights.
The liberation of Suu Kyi seemed to open a door for Burma and allow it to begin a process of escaping its pariah status. And yet the Rohingya affair (pardon the euphemism) is driving Burma back into the shadows and Suu Kyi is now part of the regime.
What's disturbing to me is that if the junta grows frustrated with the West or if sanctions are reintroduced... then what will happen?
A turn against minorities could get quite ugly. The Christian population is largely found within the various minority groups. Sadly the Karen, a group with a large Christian population continues be involved in an armed struggle with Yangon/Rangoon. Many have forgotten that for decades they were supported by US arms and Washington's old regional proxy... Thailand.
This story is far from over but one thing is clear... Suu Kyi, like not a few other Nobel Peace Prize winners has turned out to be something less than a noble champion for human rights. Not only is she refusing to do anything about the persecution of the Rohingya, she's clearly denying that anything is even happening. She has become a mouthpiece, echoing the position of the regime.


  1. Regarding your experience with Verizon (as described on your other blog); as you are no doubt aware, sales representatives, whether in person or over the phone, are under a great deal of pressure from their managers to meet sales quotas or they risk wage cuts, demotions or even outright dismissal.

    While I sympathize with your experience, this is something you should keep in mind whenever a telemarketer calls you. Whenever I get a phone call from someone soliciting something, I always decline but do so in the politest way possible. I wouldn't wish the job these people have on my worst enemy, especially those who are based in a call center in some god-forsaken country like Bangladesh where they work 12 or more hours per day earning only commission.

    Of course, with regard to Verizon, why they persist with telemarketing when they should know by now that it's universally hated is beyond me. I guess they still manage to find people who fall for it. Of course, they'll never admit that any difficulties they have selling their product is likely because it sucks, but that's for another discussion.

  2. Some thoughts on your last post on Rome, Reformation, and Classical Liberalism:

    Sociology of the Reformation: I think the Weberian theory about the worldly asceticism of Calvinism is going away. The Reformation was important, but I'd argue that it is only romantic attachment or two-dimensional Revanchist Papists that still ascribe the growth of the modern state to the Reformation. Rather, if you pay attention to developments, it was the Wars of Religion that set the stage for the "modern". The Reformation was a major fault-line, but still remained within the Humanist traditions of the Enlightenment and the prophetic, biblicist and mystical streams that ran through the Middle Ages. As you and I both know very well, the Vaudois, the Cathars, and many others, were crises that afflicted France, the German lands, and the Italian territories. The Wars of Religion (30 years war on the Continent, Dutch Independence, English Civil Wars) really set the stage where the expectation of a Protestant mirror image of Rome was recognized as a failure, yet nations refused to return to Rome. Of course, one way that this was solved was the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, where Louis XIV broke Huguenot political power within 24 hours, driving bitter Protestants underground until the stirrings of the Revolution. Anyway, when people say it was Nominalism or Occam or the Reformation that formed the Modern world, this is not fully accurate and puts a teleological outworking that one saw in Protestant dogmatics in the 19th century. Luther does not lead to Schliermacher, Troeltsch, Schweizer, and Bultmann; Calvin does not lead to Puritan mercantilism, Adam Smith laize-faire Capitalism and the rise of the Bourgeois.

    Nicaea and Philosophy: I don't think it's fair to say that Nicaea was a capitulation to working philosophy into theology. I think you simplify the uses of philosophy too much here. There are subtleties that one can notice how someone like Gregory Nazianzus uses philosophy and how Origen or Augustine uses it. I like Palamas' image of philosophy as snake venom, which is both poisonous and can be turned into a cure for poison.


    1. Social Polity & Pilgrimage: Being pilgrims certainly places a wedge between us and the age we live in. There's a detachment that allows the Christian to not be overwhelmed or wedded to this age, and to be otherwise is to gravitate into a sacralist error. Like our shared hero Chelcicky, we can offer social critiques of the dominant order and a distinctly Christian prophetic challenge to its claims of the Absolute. However, negativity and critique must have some temporal direction. Chelcicky did not want the Feudal order to be confused for Christian, knew the Devil ruled as a prince of this age/world, but there is a sense where he offered local alternatives. It's not enough to merely recognize the current order as demonic, I don't think it's enough to leave the peasants in shackles. This does not means an ideological sweeping alternative, but as you recognize all over the place, there are temporal arrangements that are better than others, in contingent, passing, and limited ways. There's a place for Christians to benefit even his non-Christian neighbor through a more a just temporal arrangement, even if it is never secured through the mythos of the sacred, which will always threatened to engulf it. I'd be wont to condemn a Roger Williams or William Penn for their role in colonial governance, and I'd almost be tempted to say that they gave glory to God in the way they tried to do this. Even though it would take a long time to discuss and elaborate the nuances of how to consider him, I can appreciate the dictatorship of Cromwell for this reason. In someways, perhaps contrary to his intention, his regicide deprived the government of England of its mythos. To say that the king was as a god on Earth was revealed to be a lie and a blasphemy. I'm not trying to argue that Cromwell was good or just, but, especially when it came to the realm of religion, political theology, and the sacred, Cromwell's general toleration and demythologizing the English crown was probably a just sentence, even if Cromwell himself was a tyrant and wicked. I smile as he almost single-handedly broke the Presbyterian attempt to "Calvinize" the English sacral Church-State. Anyway, I think there should be a space to speak more constructively, perhaps even more so as the Christo-Americanist civil cult is slipping, working for a more just arrangement, even as it comes with the critical goal of offering critiques of all attempts to sacralize.


    2. The last post about Chelcicky and Keller was a solid response to the questions of my last comment. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but thank you.