Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's News Watch: Hey babe, wanna see my identity?

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

Even for a sexist old fart like me, there are some things about my beloved country’s political discourses that just go too far. Things that make your thinning hair stand on end. That make you want to find a blunt object and bang your pockmarked head on it.

One of these things is a phenomenon plaguing this nation’s commentariat that I have barely been able to face up to, even in my most introspective and quiescent moments. For more than a year now I have been agonizing over whether I should be party to an expose of this place’s lack of creative thinking, penetrating insight and original metaphors that could lead educated people to commit such an appalling rhetorical crime.

I refer to — oh, how this hurts — political pundits likening cross-strait relations and domestic identity issues to dysfunctional relationships between men and women.

I can hear you rushing for the bathroom already. Please be patient; I’ll be out in two shakes.

All this comes to mind as I see images of a Taiwanese delegation bearing tribute in Beijing and eliminating the last barrier between Taiwan and the Red Tourist Peril of China. There’s handshakes and stiff smiles and obsequiousness and dissembling and faux comraderie and all the rest of it. No one trusts anyone, across the Strait or even on the same team.

It’s Detente for Dummies. It’s Rapprochement for the Risible. It’s Glad-handing for the Gullible. It’s Compromise for the Credulous.

So when everyone comes home and brags about how the Taiwan Strait is so much safer than before, I’ll be finding a Japanese-era bomb shelter to hide in to avoid the slew of husband-wife-mistress-lover-cuckold-abuse references that are bound to follow.

But before I head underground, let me share some examples of this pestilence with you. To be fair to this newspaper’s competitors (yes, I try to be fair, despite all the provocations), I’ve sourced all examples from our own pages over the years.

One of the Taipei Times’ editorialists way back in 2000 exhausted the opportunities the metaphor had to offer in criticizing the take of that old reptile, Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew (李光耀) of Singapore, on the China-Taiwan relationship:

“Lets use a marital breakup as a comparison metaphor: A couple splits up. The woman builds a new life for herself. Her husband sits and broods, turning into an aggressive psychopathic stalker with a fixation on getting back his ‘lost’ wife. Come home on my terms, he shouts waving a gun around and frightening the neighbors as he does so, or suffer the consequences” (“Holes in Lee’s cross-strait theory,” Sept. 23, 2000, page 8).

Unfortunately, the appeal of China as metaphor for sicko hubbie has prevailed. Seven years later, we have this by Jerome Keating:

“For example, take the analogy of a woman who lives in an abusive marriage or relationship. The woman knows she is not happy. She wants out. What she really wants is a divorce and to be her own boss. Yet her culture may not allow divorce or have a term for it.

“Perhaps divorced women are chauvinistically discriminated against in her culture; perhaps that option has no precedent. Perhaps her relatives or others pressure her to stay.

“The woman rebels against her marriage and eventually, after years of resistance, comes to the realization that what she had been seeking all along was to control her own destiny and be independent. Eventually she finds a way and the language to express it” (“The process of Taiwanese identity,” June 26, 2007, page 8).

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top