Avoid ethnic cleansing
It has been said that, from the Chinese point of view, the collective original sin of the Taiwanese started with their refusal to harbor hatred toward Japanese and their continued audacity to long for a country of their own.
This ethnic loathing was reinforced by a deranged sense of allocating shame that has been unique to the Chinese ruling culture for eons. The stigma centered on the fact that the Qing Dynasty considered Taiwan a forsaken island and its dwellers uncultured low-lifes fit only to be cast away as part of a compensation package after it lost a war to Japan more than a century ago.
This utter contempt for Taiwanese was in full display during the 228 Incident and stayed there for the nearly four decades of the ensuing White Terror. Even during the last 20 years of democratization, it was never far beneath the surface.
It reared its ugly head again in the way President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and company handled the latest uproar involving Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英), a Ma administration staffer stationed in Canada.
Racism associated with fringe groups can disrupt social order. But when the same poison inhabits those who possess the means to act unilaterally, the outcome can be far worse.
The Western world failed to foresee how Adolf Hitler’s call for purifying the German race could lead to the Holocaust. But, not dissimilar to Kuo, Hitler started with only words.
Given that Kuo has now admitted writing derogatory articles within that pro-China and anti-Taiwanese framework for years, it’s therefore not just an unguarded outburst. Rather, it’s a deep-seated mindset, perhaps pervasive in widening Chinese circles.
That, however, would be the extent of any discourse were it not for what Ma and his administration did and didn’t do after the case came to light.
While shunning the opportunity to thoroughly and immediately denounce what the articles signify when they first appeared, as nearly every government in the civilized world would, the Ma administration dished out a disciplinary ruling short of a slap on the wrist.
Meanwhile, Ma administration officials quickly fell in line and formed a single voice rationalizing Kuo’s behavior in terms of freedom of speech.
Although the articles advocated genocide of Taiwanese, the Ma government appeared inexplicably at the ready to shelter Kuo.
Not necessarily more plausible, but equally cynical, is the supposition that Ma is courting this controversy as a ruse to relieve pressure on his economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).
The ECFA is the highway to de facto unification. If unification happens, Taiwanese will become a vulnerable minority. Kuo advocated genocide; what would China advocate?
Taiwanese must channel all their anger toward Ma, use the current racism issue as motivation and shut down the ECFA.
What’s at stake after all could be the survival of the entire Taiwanese race.
Los Angeles, California
What about the homework?
While I completely agree with Stephen Krashen and Warren Ediger (Letters, March 19, page 8), I feel that the underlying problem was not addressed in either of their letters.
Having taught in Taiwan for almost six years, I have witnessed first-hand the ridiculous amount of homework assigned to students. The majority of junior high and senior high students spend so much time at school or doing homework that they have no time to read anything. Those that attend bushibans are in an even worse situation. I wonder when they sleep, never mind relax.
They are never given the opportunity to discover the pleasure of reading because they spend every waking moment in front of books studying and doing homework. By the time they get to high school, it is almost impossible to get them to read for pleasure. If it isn’t homework, they don’t have time to do it.
School administrators and parents should read author and lecturer Alfie Kohn’s work about the usefulness of homework. They will be very surprised. There is no point in having special writing and conversation classes. It is not going to fix anything. If you want to write well, read more. If you want to speak better, watch more TV. Homework isn’t going to get you anywhere.
If your students are paying attention in class then there is no need to assign more homework than 10 minutes per hour in class. Any more than that and you are just making your students negative.
If this is going to be fixed, then read more and watch more TV as opposed to spending more time in class and doing more homework.
Yonghe, Taipei County
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