Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Ah, the sounds of crackling guns as another political dissident is laid to rest. Takes one back, doesn't it? But rest assured that if it happens all over again, it won't be Nazis pulling the trigger.

Gunblast from the past

Dear Johnny,

Thank you for your piece on March 24 ("Respect my authorit...arianism," page 8). Let me add a couple of my observations from the late 1940s to the dialogue.

Now back in Taipei after four decades in the US, I often walk along the riverside park trail to get away from the noisy city.

Although they give me temporary respite, the walks also bring back bad memories from the past.

One is gunshots from the "execution field" on the riverbank. They used to put fear into the locals over what could happen to them.

The other is the sight of mainland soldiers throwing hand grenades into the river to catch fish. I wonder how many of those idiots are still alive praising their almighty Peanut.

Karl Chang

Johnny replies: You're obviously referring to the execution ground at Machangding (馬場町) on the northern bank of the Hsintien River, near where it becomes the Tamsui River.

Readers who have not been down there might be interested to know that it is home to an understated memorial to those who died. I remember cycling past the site a few years ago and stumbling across a tent where family members of the victims were holding a vigil of sorts.

It's a strangely beautiful place for an area steeped in so much blood. I can't admit to seeing any unexploded grenades, however.

Would-be Nazis and GIO data

Dear Johnny,

A friend of mine is on a mailing list that's been discussing the Nazi group issue in Taiwan. Some have criticized the media for writing about this small group (why should three stupid kids with a Web site attract so much attention; the media needs to focus on civic groups that are trying to heal Taiwan's sick, divided society, etc).

A Taiwanese member of the forum also posted this interesting anecdote: "The movie Cabaret was shown in Taipei cinemas soon after its 1972 American debut. I hastened to see it but was terribly disappointed. It wasn't until I saw it again in the US that I realized that the Taiwan censors had edited out all references to the Nazis, without which the film is incomprehensible."

A friend of mine who has been here a long time says he remembers seeing that famous John Wayne movie True Grit in Taiwan around 1970.

When he saw it again, he realized the Chinese actor who played a menial servant in the movie had been edited out of the Taiwanese version.

It would be interesting if somebody could research what the censorship guidelines were in those days and compile them for your readers.

Chiayi Chuck

Johnny replies: I find it hard to believe that those wannabe neo-Nazis will have much of an impact. Who would their targets be in any orgy of violence -- Jews? They wouldn't be able to tell a Jew from a Rastafarian.

If "racial purity" is their thing, then they're going to have a hard time of explaining what to do with a "Chinese culture" that has always boasted of absorbing, not exterminating, other "races."

As for the censorship data, I wish any interested party the best of luck. And luck will be necessary, because getting data out of the Government Information Office is like extracting a splinter from a bad head wound: extremely painful and meaningless in the long run.

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