Sun, Jun 08, 2008 - Page 14 News List

[BOOK REVIEW] Why can’t we all just get along?

Abraham Young’s lightly dramatized dialogue defends Taiwan’s democracy and challenges China to rethink its stance toward the country

By Bradley Winterton  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

The three-cornered dialogue is lightly dramatized, too. Chris goes out for a bite of lunch, while Wang glances into the distance for a moment to consider something the author has said. In fact the whole pamphlet could be very effectively turned into a one-act stage play, in Taiwan especially.

There’s no stopping the diatribe with which the essay ends, though. China’s 1,400 or so missiles aimed at the boys and girls, fathers and mothers of Taiwan are an unforgivable affront. China has never defended this deployment, the author argues, quite simply because it is indeed inexcusable. China, he says, is deeply disturbed by the existence of a democratic Taiwan because it acts, on a daily, ongoing basis, to disprove the argument that a democratic system is inappropriate for a Chinese population, and that such people must be guided and ruled as they have always been by the decisions of a Mandarin class that invariably knows best and whose decisions mustn’t be challenged.

At this point the other two disputants disappear from view. In their place we have images of China and Taiwan from Google Earth, a photo of a Chinese missile that is then duplicated in miniature 1,000 times, and black-and-white pictures of happy Taiwanese, the author’s parents included, both in the 1960s and — either on political rallies or simply having a good time — over the last few years.

This is an admirable book. If ignorance about Taiwan is as extensive in the US as the author claims it is, then the sheer accessibility of this little publication is greatly to its advantage.

The text concludes with two appendices, one a signature-gathering petition the author organized at the time of Taiwan’s pro-peace 500km human chain of 2004, the other a letter of support from US Congress member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, dated only three weeks ago. Readers of this new pamphlet with a personal connection with Taiwan are invited to add their own photos and comments at www.HumanityAtStake.com, with “What’s at Stake” as the subject line.

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