Sat, Jul 19, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Putting an end to bias against minorities

By Bruce Liao 廖元豪

The Taiwanese people discriminate against minorities. From Chinese and foreign brides to indigenous peoples, you are a target of discrimination and oppression by advantaged groups if you are a disadvantaged minority.

Discrimination is not something unique to Taiwan. But the special characteristic of discrimination here is that the people's discriminatory actions seem to be so frank and self-righteous, as if these actions are perfectly justified. Not only do we not feel wrong about our actions, but we even feel wronged by other people who call us discriminators.

Take our "adorable" Uncle Sam for example. Discrimination is still prevalent in the US to this day. For instance, five-time world champion Michelle Kwan is a US citizen who was born in Torrance, California. After she was beaten by Sarah Hughes, a white newcomer, at last year Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, The Seattle Times surprisingly ran the headline: "American outshines Kwan, Slutskaya in skating surprise." Plus, there are numerous racist and anti-immigrant Web sites or discussion boards on the Internet.

However, these discriminatory cases are considered unjust in the eyes of the public. The Seattle Times issued an apology to Kwan and all Chinese-Americans for its mistake. Racist Web sites only allow discriminators to spread their personal thoughts anonymously and privately.

After former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott made a slip of the tongue and yearned for segregation -- suggesting that the US would have been a better place if a segregationist had won the presidential election in 1948 -- he was immediately forced to resign as Senate majority leader. Even though Lott repeatedly apologized for his mistake, he was unable to hang on to the post.

The situation in the US very different from that in Taiwan, where our politicians, people, or even the government often discriminate against others publicly.

Anti-discrimination has already become a part of American culture. A discriminatory attitude will immediately be condemned by the public. As a result, even a racist needs to pretend to be innocent, claiming "Sorry, I did not mean that."

As well, countless anti-discrimination laws have contributed to an anti-discrimination culture.

Organizations, whether public or private, will be sued if they dare discriminate against ethnic minorities, women, the mentally and physically challenged or AIDS carriers. They may face huge legal fees. To avoid lawsuits, business managers and local governments not only abandon discriminatory measures but also prioritize the employment of a certain percentage of women, ethnic minorities and disabled workers.

As the anti-discrimination laws and culture complement one another, discrimination has been "delegitimized" in the US. This has given oppressed minorities some weapons against discrimination -- public opinion and legal recourse.

The US Supreme Court ruled on June 26 in a landmark decision that gay sex is protected by the Constitution and that Texas sodomy laws that ban gay sex violate the Constitution. It was a clear demonstration of the anti-discrimination culture.

The so-called "maestros" in Taiwan's legal community are mostly unconcerned with anti-discrimination laws. They seem to believe that discrimination does not exist here. This shows that Taiwan's culture of discrimina-tion, just like air, is everywhere while people are unaware of it.

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