Fri, Mar 30, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan's fallen idols don't merit protection

By Andrew Chang 張德謙

On March 21, the Kaohsiung City Government removed the bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) from its culture center in a move that unnerved the pan-blue camp. Pan-blue supporters staged a protest in front of the city hall and some said the government's actions smacked of something from the Cultural Revolution. Now there is talk of a demonstration in Taipei.

Civilization in both the East and the West evolved from religious rule, to the rule of man and then to the rule of law. Under the rule of man, leaders often cultivated saintly images to strengthen their hold on power. When the Republic of China came into being, imperialism was not long dead and the march to democracy had just begun. Chiang's position was weak and he therefore resorted to deification to entrench his dynasty.

Taiwan is now a democratic society and there is no longer any need for obscurantist worship of leaders. One way to put an end to such practices is of course to remove statues of former political leaders.

Furthermore, Chiang, the focus of such deification, is a controversial historical figure, and a foreign author even lists Chiang among the hundred worst dictators in history, comparing him with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and German dictator Adolf Hitler. If Chiang made any contribution to certain peoples' lives or political parties, then these people and parties can commemorate him on their own.

There is no need for the general public to foot the bill for such worship, not to mention the idea of a mass demonstration to protest the matter. Just think how people around the world would respond if Germans began to raise funds to make new statues of Hitler.

Another reason why I support the removal of statues of Chiang is that Chiang claimed to be a Christian. Anyone with the most basic understanding of Christianity should know that, according to the Ten Commandments, God clearly states that, "You shall have no other gods before me" and "You shall not make for yourself an idol." Thus, in my opinion, Chiang would not have been happy to see his statues become the subject of such hype.

The fact is that it is easy to tear down bronze statues, but difficult to tear down a myth deeply rooted in peoples' minds. The only question that remains is whether the people doing the dismantling are seeking to replace one idol with another of their own creation.

Andrew Chang is secretary-general of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan.

Translated by Lin Ya-ti

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