Fri, Sep 20, 2019 - Page 8 News List

No room for prejudice, ignorance

By Pasu’epoiconx

In any ethnic group, there will always be those who are worse off, but who work hard to overcome adversity. For some it is easy going, while others encounter difficulties; some cultivate their moral character and are careful with what they do and say, while others are confident and active, ignoring minor details; some are worn out with work, while others are born with a silver spoon in their mouth; some die young, others live to a ripe old age; some are rich, others poor. This is life.

However, reliance on a single outlook means to jump to conclusions, criticize and even discriminate against other groups: This is prejudice and bigotry.

An example of this ignorant and vulgar prejudice took place at a meeting of the Taitung County Council on Sept. 3, when a Han Chinese councilor said things like: “Aborigines live shorter lives because they like to drink” and “Taiwanese do not owe” them anything.

Some words are neutral, but the moment they contain a reference, stereotypes and implied attacks come to mind.

Words and expressions such as “like to sing, dance and drink,” “athletic,” “passionate,” “laidback” and “optimistic” are not perceived as malicious attacks when directed at a Han Chinese, but rather expressions of affirmation.

However, when they refer to an Aborigine, they become prejudicial and imply a fondness for playing around, naivete, not knowing one’s place, laziness, not thinking things through, drinking to excess, and so on.

The statement that “Aborigines live shorter lives because they like to drink” raises several questions: Does drinking really result in a shorter lifespan? Are Aborigines more fond of drinking than Han people? Do Aborigines live shorter lives because they drink?

I suspect that an expert would not be able to quickly provide definitive evidence in response to these questions.

The life expectancy of Aborigines is shorter than the national average. Experts believe that this is the result of major practical differences in livelihood, income, living environment — including work and relationships — medical resources and transportation facilities.

The statement by the Han Chinese councilor that “Taiwanese do not owe” Aborigines is the result of a major historical mistake.

The word “Taiwan” derives from the name of a Sirayan Taioan community in what is today Tainan’s Anping District (安平). In Chinese, that was rendered “Taiyuan” (臺員) and “Taiwowan” (臺窩灣) among others, and gradually developed into “Taiwan.” This is evidence that the Minnan, who arrived from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou in China’s Fujian Province, were not “Taiwanese.”

When their descendants call themselves “Taiwanese,” they are using a stolen name. The same is true about Hoklo, today called “Taiwanese,” but which in fact is not Taiwanese, but Minnan. Neither of these uses are supported by historical facts.

There is also the question of whether the groups who pass themselves off as “Taiwanese” owe Aborigines something. One sentence in Lien Heng’s (連橫) The General History of Taiwan (台灣通史) answers it all: “Taiwan was originally the land of the indigenous population.”

According to studies conducted across several disciplines, such as archeology, linguistics and anthropology, Aborigines and all who would become Austronesian migrated to Taiwan more than 6,000 years ago and even the plains Aborigines arrived 1,000 years ago.

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