Buddhist violence--or violence committed by Buddhists, more properly speaking--is a strained concept for us, to put it mildly. I can easily imagine being assaulted by an infuriated Christian or by a hysterically outraged jihadist, by a Zionist even, at a pinch--but by a Buddhist? What would you have to say to get him mad? Deny transmigration?
I confess that I rather like the idea of an ax-wielding Buddhist thug. It would prove, at least, that stereotypes are stereotypes. Ever since America switched on to Zen, that exceedingly odd variant of Buddhism propagated by the tireless and slightly loopy Japanese writer D. T. Suzuki, among others, we have thought of Buddhism as being inseparable from an exemplary nonviolence.
In some senses, the question is self-answering. If I had entitled this column "Are Baptists Violent?" I would receive 20,000 incoherently enraged rebuttals threatening to enslave my children and rearrange my anatomy within 10 minutes. But Buddhists, if they disagree with you, are more likely to write in with respect, manners and a sense of humor. Rage is not their thing.
The full essay is available here.