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Nonviolence for Newark

Today at the literary magazine Killing the Buddha (where I am also an editor), Nathaniel Page has a rather nonplussed report on last weekend’s Newark Peace Education Summit, apparently intended by Mayor Cory Booker to stem a recent crime wave. It was a star-studded affair, headlined by Mr. Peace himself, the Dalai Lama. Edward Norton was there too, and Russell Simmons, and Deepak Chopra, and Goldie Hawn. But it didn’t seem to be working, at least immediately:

Outside the venue, token locals—lumpens, in Marxist terms—wearing torn do-rags and saggy jeans loped around, glancing into car windows and chewing on chicken bones. In the bathroom of the train station, two men shaved their heads with Bic razors while one insisted to someone on the phone that he owned only one chain and one ring.

Moments before the guard checked my camera, I watched the Dalai Lama exit the Best Western hotel across the street. A cavalcade of black Cadillac Escalades brought him between there and the venue, a distance of seventy yards. They idled in front of the hotel for twenty minutes before he came out. As they sped away, an agent with an AR-15 glared from the window of his vehicle, his eyes wide and darting over each person in the crowd.

The first day of the summit, I went to Deepak Chopra’s seminar, “The Neuroscience of Enlightenment.” Chopra delivered a monologue about Hilbert space, use-dependent synaptic neuroplasticity and Plank-level space-time geometry. He guided his audience through a five-minute meditation, rewiring our brains for enlightenment. That night, somewhere in Newark, someone was shot four times in the leg.

Read the rest at Killing the Buddha.