While Taiwan still has a long way to go regarding cultural sensitivity and respecting differences, an incident last week involving discrimination against Aborigines was malicious and should not be condoned. It is even sadder to see that the offenders are students at Fu Jen Catholic University (FJU), one of the top private schools in the nation, and that not only did their hateful words not receive any mainstream media coverage, but most of them remain unapologetic.
Aboriginal members of the Fu Jen Lumah Association were practicing singing outside due to a lack of space. Their late-night practice bothered some students in dorms who were trying to sleep. On Tuesday last week, discriminatory remarks began being posted on the Dcard online forum.
“The monkey chorus should get the hell out of FJU... I am so angry that I want to hit them with wild boar meat,” one person wrote. “We should open a channel of communication with them, otherwise how can we open up the mountains and pacify the savages?” another wrote, referring to the Qing Dynasty’s forced subjugation and assimilation policy for Aborigines. Countless others joined the fray, mainly slamming bonus points that Aborigines receive in university entrance exams, which some students seem to be bitter about.
To see young university students behaving like this is just sad. Discriminatory incidents in Taiwan often stem from a lack of cultural sensitivity, but this was straight up hate speech.
Not only is the original post still online, but the person who wrote it is unapologetic, saying that she was just expressing her long-simmering frustrations after being unable to get the students to stop singing at night. She said that she would say similar things to any ethnic group in Taiwan. That is not okay either. There are countless non-discriminatory ways to express anger if a person needs to blow off steam. Her excuses are just condoning racism.
Alarmingly, most of those responding online supported her, saying that it was the Aboriginal students who were in the wrong first and those opposed to the discriminatory remarks do not understand how much the other students had been affected by the noise. “Can we not blame Aborigines for their behavior anymore? Why are we getting attacked for pointing out that something is wrong?” one person wrote.
This completely misses the point. How were these young people not taught about social etiquette, let alone basic human decency?
The association posted an apology on Dcard for causing annoyance and promised that there would be no more disturbances. However, it also protested the racist remarks, saying that they were out of line and unrelated to the situation.
This led to another backlash, with many students slamming the post and remaining defiant about what they had said. They insisted that they should not be blamed for their behavior by someone who was in the wrong first.
Despite the constant emphasis on Taiwan’s progressiveness and diversity, it seems that many young people are bitter about having to be respectful to minorities who are now empowered to speak up.
How can Taiwan become an inclusive, multicultural society if people are not willing to listen and respect others? What has gone wrong?
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