Monday, August 1, 2016

Dartmouth student interviews Wirathu ‘(Myanmar nationalist.’” AKA ‘Burmese bin Laden')

#VQRTrueStory presents @khatrysarah on her encounter with Wirathu (1/5): “Don’t publish the article with any adjective I did not use,” he says. "If you want to use an adjective, use ‘Myanmar nationalist.’” He chuckles. “Don’t use ‘radical’ or ‘brutal.’ ‘Burmese bin Laden.’” // Wirathu, the Myanmar nationalist, sits across from me in a chamber of his monastery in Mandalay, his translator at the end of the desk between us. A monk fills his teacup. Another is stationed to his left with a large camera on a tripod, the lens aimed at me. // I’m in over my head. I didn’t expect to get to speak with him. With a taxi driver as my Burmese negotiator, I awaited him earlier today in this chamber. As he entered, the other monks instructed me to kneel, and from my knees I made my request. He refused me, explaining his distrust—his fear—of American media (TIME Magazine did name him “The Face of Buddhist Terror” in 2013). I promised only what I could: I would hear him out. // Something worked—my youth, my South Asian face, perhaps his own vanity. // A few hours later, I pass my first question to the translator: Why do you love Trump? // At the sound of that name, Wirathu gives an impulsive thumbs up. “He is a nationalist,” he says. “He is not like other people. He can behave toward the Muslims—but he will also protect his country. Most people will not speak the truth about them because the Muslim community is big and powerful. Trump dares to speak the truth.” // “In the past, the United States has been governed alternatively by Republicans and Democrats,” the translator continues. Wirathu folds the four fingers of his right hand down, counting Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama. // “Now begins the Donald Trump age.” // Nuance has been lost in translation, of course, but this tale of Trump the truth-teller against the Muslim media is only the first of many he shares with me. // He answers with stories—simplistic, slippery. He elides “facts” but claims to speak for one truth: that of plain hate in his country toward Islam. His stories may have no need to cohere with reality, but he still gets to shape it. #VQRTrueStory #VQR #SarahKhatry #Extremism #myanmar #burma #wirathu
A photo posted by Virginia Quarterly Review (@vqreview) on