3/15/2007

Racism: Xenophobia and Ethnocentricism Suddenly Out of Control in Taiwan?

Reuters, AP and the Jeruselem Post have all reported on the Taiwanese Nazi Party today, which seems to be based out of National Chengchi University (my university) in Taipei. The mandate of this party is to expel the mongrel children of foreigners and Taiwanese, as they pose a threat to the supposed purity of the Han bloodline in Taiwan. I mentioned this to a professor tonight and he said: "Well at least we're on the map. Go Chengchi." Why some Taiwanese would sympathize with Nazis mystifies me. At the same time, it doesn't surprise me in the least. I'm going to spend the next week on this topic.

Along the same lines, the 449th edition of Pots (Mar. 2 - Mar. 9) published a great article in Chinese called: "Foreign Brides: You are Taiwanese too: Taiwan's Future Moms." The article, which is only in Chinese, makes the following points:

1. Many Taiwanese believe that children of transnational marriages have smaller brains.
2. Many Taiwanese elementary teachers believe No. 1.
3. Many Taiwanese teachers believe these kids are a pain in the ass.
4. "Foreigners" in general are constantly harrassed by government officials (Pots cites the visa hoops we must jump through).
5. There are many stereotypes about "foreigners". They are repeatedly played up in the local media. They include notions that we "stink, have STDs, are over-sexed, are disloyal and know nothing of family values."
6. The article introduces the term "xenophobia", explains what it means and suggests that it is deeply embedded in Taiwanese culture.

The story of the Taiwanese Nazi Party was picked up by all the major Western media outlets today, and it exploded across blogland. But the story was noticeably missing from the local media. It will be interesting to see what's going to happen in the next few days. I wonder if the local media will take this tone: "Look at those crazy 'foreigners' talking about this 'foreign concept called racism here in Taiwan'. Let's interview a couple of them and find out what it's all about! It'll be fun!"

I was talking to a classmate tonight in National Chengchi University. He seemed to think that racism just suddenly appeared on the scene in Taiwan. I think this is not the case. People are just starting to complain about it, finally, and to write about it.

5 comments:

Prince Roy said...

that's a good point about the local media. I did searches at the 中華時報 and 自由日報. I found nothing. Maybe something's come out in the past couple of days? I haven't checked the papers since Friday.

Battlepanda said...

The Chinese Language Apple Daily was the first paper to break this story and it has done a follow up on the international reaction too. The issue have also been covered on cable TV.

I think this story is of more interest to the international media because of the "man bites dog" aspect of Taiwanese nazis. In Taiwan, they're just another tiny group of kooks. I don't really think the story is underreported given the small number of students involved.

However, I don't disagree with you about the background level of unthinking xenophobia in this country, especially against migrants from southeast asia. In fact, the most disgusting stuff on the NSA website related not to Nazism or Jews, but immigrant workers and their children.

Prince Roy said...

battlepanda:

I think you miss the point. From a domestic point of view, what makes the story newsworthy is not how many people are involved. Rather, these people took up nazism because they are disgusted at the level of political discourse in Taiwan, both blue and green.

the irony lost on many is that the very political traditions these yahoos would rebel against, mainly the CKS sympathetic KMT, but even the DDP, have a history of embracing fascism and nazi symbolism.

Patrick Cowsill said...

I agree with Prince Roy: "even the DPP [has] a history of embracing fascism and nazi symbolism."

Ever since stepping into office, President Chen has repeatedly called for a culling of the number of foreign workers (mainly laborers I suppose) in Taiwan. Reports like the following, in a letter to the editor as far back as 2001, are galling:

"We [The Asia-Pacific Mission for Migrant Workers] are concerned by newspaper reports that President Chen Shui Bien of Taiwan has recently asked his Cabinet to study the possibility of stripping migrants working in factories and construction of their right to a minimum wage by expelling them from enjoying the rights stipulated in the Labor Standards Law."

Scapegoating "foreigners" for economic woes, real or perceived, is an extremely odious practice. It is or was what the Fascists/Nazis were all about.

Anonymous said...

The Apple Daily breaks the story? Is there something to be said for Taiwan when some of its most credible, hard-hitting reporting comes from tabloid media sources such as Apple or Next?