Fri, Jul 29, 2011 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: The ramblings of a crazy man

Norwegian massacre suspect Anders Behring Breivik obviously knows less than he thinks he does about Taiwan, or he wouldn’t hold it up as a model of monoculturalism, a problematic and highly improbable political philosophy to begin with.

In a 1,500-page manifesto that he e-mailed before he allegedly detonated a car bomb in Oslo and gunned down dozens of young people on an idyllic island, Breivik repeatedly referred to Taiwan’s so-called anti-immigration policies as a model for Europe, lumping this nation with Japan and South Korea and praising their adherence to racial purity.

What a farce.

Breivik knows little about the dynamic in Asia. If you were to put a Filipino, a Chinese, a Japanese, an Indonesian, a South Korean and a Thai next to each other, Breivik would likely applaud the group for keeping its racial identity pure.

Breivik, in his hate for anybody not European, not Christian and not white, looked around the world for superficial examples that would support his warped vision of reality. Somehow he lit upon Taiwan, maybe because it does have somewhat stricter immigration policies than some Western countries.

However, these policies do not make this nation a monoculturalist society. In Taiwan at the moment, there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners. The majority of them come from Southeast Asia and China. Tens of thousands of cross-cultural marriages are now providing one of the most reliable sources of newborn babies in a nation that has a plummeting birthrate.

Although foreigners from all over the world — Westerners, Africans, Asians and South Americans — might find it difficult to become Republic of China citizens, they have the right to look for employment, gain residence and eventually gain permanent residency. They are allowed to own property and invest in businesses. Calling Taiwan a country that maintains racial purity is a gross misunderstanding of the facts.

When was Taiwan ever a racially pure nation? Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), in his rambling way — saying Taiwan possessed a “juicy culture” — had a point: Taiwan has absorbed the cultures of many parts of the world. First there were the Aboriginal tribes, then an inflow of Han Chinese, many of whom married Aborigines. The Han were followed by Dutch and Spanish influences, then more waves of Chinese, not all of whom spoke the same language. Taiwan was then colonized by the Japanese, who left many imprints in the culture and society, before the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) brought yet another version of Chinese culture that allowed and encouraged Taiwanese to embrace aspects of US culture.

What Taiwan has been left with is a fairly vibrant culture that is abundantly open and friendly to outsiders, and readily incorporates aspects of foreign cultures. This is far different from the monoculturalist society that Breivik envisioned, and that’s before mentioning the mix of religions found in this nation: animist, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian and Muslim.

Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are safe, comfortable places to live, not because their societies restrict foreign influences, but because their societies have inculcated a good set of morals into their people.

Breivik was looking around for an excuse to justify his murderous rampage and hopes to find modern-day examples of some mythical racist society he believes Nazi Germany could have created. It would be best if he didn’t look to Taiwan, because this place is nothing like what he envisions. In fact, it’s unlikely his ideal for a country exists anywhere on this planet.

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