An elderly Buddhist monk was assaulted in Oregon by a man who apparently thought he was a Muslim.
Kozen Sampson wears plain brown robes and keeps his hair cropped as his Buddhist faith dictates. He had parked on a side road near Hood River to walk his dog.
“I pulled over, someone ran up and yelled. I turned around, they kicked the door, hit me in the side of the face and knocked my head into the frame of the car,” Sampson told KATU. “I do remember [him yelling] an F bomb [about] Muslims, and that was it.”
Remarkably, Sampson bears no ill will towards his attacker. “I was thinking, ‘That poor man.’” he said. “Can you imagine living your life in fear and anger? Can you imagine wanting to do something that you had to hurt somebody [sic]?”
The violent racist is still at large, as Sampson was unable to describe him to police, saying that “I lost part of my memory for about 15 minutes.”
Hate crimes against Muslims have spiked since Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric took root following the San Bernardino and Paris attacks. Despite the suffering and fear that Muslim Americans currently live with, Trump has refused to alter his language.
“I am happy it happened to me and not to a Muslim,” Sampson said to Hood River News. “My biggest concern is for how anyone has to live with the fear and the distrust and the possibility of an assault.”
Hood River residents are currently planning a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with Sampson, and to help spread his Buddhist message of “peace and tolerance.”
“We have a country trying to find its tone,” Sampson told Hood River News. “There are some politicians who have people riled up as they seek to build their power base. They are not seeing everyone as a part of the human family. We need to find a kinder way to approach our differences and look at the rest of life.”