Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Teacher's race irrelevant

Juliane Hagen's letter regarding foreign English instructors (Letters, Nov. 17, page 8) only serves to exacerbate existing racial stereotypes and misplace blame. Surely some English teachers would not qualify for similar teaching positions back in their home countries.

However, the onus of responsibility for selecting qualified instructors falls on local employers and the parents of English students, not the instructors themselves. Parents should be actively involved in their children's education. They should inquire about the credentials of a school's instructors, local and foreign, before enrolling their children there.

As for the "black sheep" that Juliane portrays as a majority, let her not forget that every person is responsible for his or her own actions. Taiwan has its fair share of local and foreign sexual predators, narcotics traffickers and furtive businessmen.

Indecorous behavior should be dealt with as what it is, in a way that is indifferent to the offender's race. As a male Caucasian fluent in Mandarin, I often see and hear racist remarks from both sides. Yes, I've overheard other Caucasian males discussing the ever gullible Taiwanese fille du jour.

I've also encountered equally venomous words from Taiwanese who were speaking within earshot of me, under the mistaken impression I didn't understand. Each time, I remind myself that these are the words of an individual, for the minute we vindicate our assumptions about a particular group solely on the basis of their skin color is the minute we become what we claim the other to be: a racist.

It may be easier to blame a group, but it is wrong to do so. Instead of categorizing and chastising male Caucasians, perhaps it would behoove Juliane to confront the person who unnecessarily made her "feel bad" about the behavior of those who bear no relation to her beyond the color of their skin.

The original issue was regarding the caliber of English instructors. Please don't let it degenerate into something else.

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