As Jerome Keating (Letters, June 14, page 8) fails entirely to address the issues raised in my op-ed (“Democracy is no mere commodity,” June 8, page 8) and instead chose to dedicate his entire letter to attacking my person and credibility as a journalist (as well as that of the Taipei Times), I find it difficult to provide an intelligent response. Suffice it to say that Keating seems unaware of the long tradition of journalists who act both as news reporters and op-ed writers.
It is a well-established fact (though one that evidently escapes Keating) that op-eds represent the views of the author and not those of the publications that run them. Aside from bordering on the libelous, Keating’s allegation that I am abusing my position to get my private articles into the paper conveniently omits the fact that the same newspaper has published several of his op-eds over the years. It also insults readers’ intelligence by assuming that they cannot tell the difference between an op-ed and an unsigned editorial.
My piece is evidently not, as Keating claims, an attempt to “justify [President] Ma [Ying-jeou’s] emphasizing Taiwan’s Chineseness,” but rather an effort to look beyond the facile attacks on the Ma administration — attacks of the type that Keating and others have repeatedly launched in the past. And the decision to write it stems not, as he alleges, from my conjuring a “straw man” or a “soap box” — old favorites of Keating whenever he disagrees with someone — but from actual discussions with real people. In other words, by doing what reporters get paid to do.
As to why I did not discuss Singapore, the answer is very simple: I was not writing about Singapore.
Keating has every right to disagree with my interpretation of President Ma’s remarks on democracy in Taiwan. Op-eds are by their very nature exploratory and therefore often raise as many questions as they answer. Ideally, they can serve as vehicles to encourage debate on complex subjects, such as the one I explore in my article. Sadly, after reading Keating’s tirade several times, I fail to see one iota of argument or anything of pith that could enlighten readers — and me — on the subject.
J. Michael Cole
You see what you want to see
This is a response to Aaron Andrews’ letter (Letters, June 12, page 8). I must say that I could not agree more. Approach does determine response. Also, politely expressing one’s opinion just might achieve the desired results. Verbally assaulting anyone gets you nowhere fast, and just might get you hurt.
In my 60-plus years, I have spent more than half that time in countries other than the US. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully different one country is from another, physically and culturally. Do I expect or demand that which I have known in the US? Absolutely not. Celebrating and immersing yourself in the differences is what life is all about.
For me, coming back to Taiwan and our neighborhood in Taichung is a “coming home” of sorts. It is where we want to be and a place we thoroughly enjoy. Our neighbors and the shopkeepers are the best.
When we look for fault, we will find it. The problem being, it is usually in ourselves.