Friday, April 13, 2007

Putting Taiwan to the Torch

Putting Taiwan to the Torch
China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 13, 2007

Comment: What is the significance of the incident discussed in the following China Times editorial?

Simply that the fundamentally fascistic nature of the Taiwan independence movement is becoming clearer with each passing day. My characterization of Taiwan independence as a fascist political movement motivated by self-hating anti-Chinese racism is being borne out by developments such as the Grass Mountain arson incident.

The Grass Mountain arson incident can be considered a watershed moment, a turning point, for the worse. With the Grass Mountain arson incident, Taiwan independence movement thuggery has transitioned from verbal expressions of self-hating anti-Chinese racism, to physical expressions of self-hating anti-Chinese racism.

Will the Grass Mountain arson incident be remembered as the precursor to a "ben tu" Taiwanese version of Kristallnacht, the infamous pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria in 1938?

I fear that it will, but hope that it won't.

Does the Grass Mountain arson incident foreshadow a repeat of the tragic 228 Incident of 1947?

I fear that it does, but hope that it doesn't.

TTV News: Accident? Arson?

Arrows point to Evidence of Arson

Putting Taiwan to the Torch

China Times editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
April 13, 2007

Forensic analysis has confirmed that the Yangmingshan Grass Mountain Chateau fire was the result of arson. But so far investigators have no clues as to the identity of the arsonist or his motive, nor do they believe his identity or motive will necessarily come to light in the future. It would seem however, that to ruling and opposition party political figures hoping to make political hay out of the fire, the truth is irrelevant.

Prosecuting a case requires evidence. Because surveillance equipment inside the Grass Mountain Chateau suffered fire damage, this case will not be easy to solve. Facilities dedicated to Chiang Kai-shek in Taoyuan and Ta Hsi have also been the targets of graffiti artists. The recent succession of "Purge Chiang" campaigns, statue-toppling incidents, and other political acts, give one even more reason to suspect that the Grass Mountain Chateau arson was politically motivated. On the other hand, how much we can say is limited by how much evidence we have. Without concrete evidence, speculation is useless, even counterproductive.

But ruling and opposition politicians don't seem to care whether the police investigate or not. They have already arrived at their own conclusions, and are already engaged in verbal warfare. They make either subtle insinuations or engage in broad satire. The Blues accuse the Greens. The Greens lash back at the Blues. Even the fact that Taipei mayor Hao Lung-ping and his father Hao Pei-tsung dined at the Grass Mountain Chateau ten hours before the incident has been cited as reason for suspicion. Never mind the lack of any logical connection.

A fiery conflagration has supplied the ruling and opposition parties with additional ammunition to use against one another. It has allowed them to project their ethnic prejudices onto one another and for them to offer one-sided, arbitrary interpretations. It has allowed them to exploit an arson case about which the truth remains unclear, spinning the incident for maximum political advantage during an intensely fought election, with utter disregard for the lasting suspicion and hostility their behavior will generate.

What is the truth? Perhaps it was politically motivated venting of anger. Perhaps it was some arsonist's momentary impulse. We still don't know, but few people on the island are suprised. Because recently a succession of crude, high-profile political gestures, intended to overthrow past symbols of autocratic rule, have increased social unrest and widened Taiwan's internal divisions.

Following a succession of such acts of "political arson" by the ruling regime, one cannot rule out the possibility that some individuals may have been stirred up enough to resort to extreme measures. With enough agitation, enough manipulation, enough provocation, conflicts will always get out of control. Even the cleverest arsonist cannot guarantee that the fire he sets will not get out of control. Often, for his own gratification, he will ignore the potential disaster he might precipitate. Likewise, when political figures provoke mutual hostility and encourage ethnic divisions, ignoring the consequences of their "political arson," when all sorts of "purge Chiang" campaigns are already proceeding at full speed, when a stray spark becomes a raging firestorm, can they really pretend to be surprised? If one deliberately provokes conflict, conflict is what one will get. Who can guarantee that he will be able to limit the scope of the conflict? The consequences will be borne collectively by 23 million people. Repeated acts of "political arson" have already left Taiwan scarred and on the verge of suffocation.

In the wake of democratic reform, one must of course demand justice. But "transitional justice" ought to be defined as rectifying the mistakes of the past through self-introspection, in order to establish a more civilized, more perfect social order. When we condemn the White Terror and compensate its victims, we need to identify those behaviors which were unjust. But more importantly, we need to ensure that such injustices will not be recur in the future. Let us ensure that such dictatorial behavior never recurs in this land we love, and that posterity is never subjected to such humiliation and fear again.

Taiwan's "transitional justice" is merely willful retaliation that substitutes one tyranny with another, merely "victor's justice" that turns black into white, merely an instrument in the service of political campaigns and power struggles that stop at nothing and ignore all costs. Resorting to the same crude methods as past authoritarians to tear down the symbols of past authoritarian rule not only fails to consider the feelings of other ethnic groups, it provokes ethnic hatred and reaps political benefits from that collective hatred. This kind of "transitional justice" involves no justice, only a transition. The result is a society that has banished rational thought, sanctioned mob rule, and enthroned the arrested logic of "us" vs. "them."

Taiwan's politicians compete to see who can inflict the most grievous wounds on the body politic. No one seems either willing or able to heal those wounds. The ruling regime plays upon the ethnic majority's historical grievances. The opposition exaggerates ethnic minority insecurities. Neither side seems willing to dissuade their comrades from engaging in inappropriate statements or behavior for the sake of Taiwan's long term welfare.

In such a society, no one engages in dialogue, everyone engages in diatribes. No one hears anyone else, everyone hears only himself. No one tolerates dissent, or empathizes with anyone with a different background. We have been incarcerated by those who insist on reopening historical wounds, poisoned by those who prevent the wounds from healing. We look on helplessly as blood gushes from these deliberately inflicted wounds, and as the nation's lifeblood drains away.

The flames from the Grass Mountain Chateau fire, regardless of what the arsonist's motives may have been, have cast a flickering light on the sad state of Taiwan society.

Original Chinese below:

中國時報  2007.04.13
草山行館這把火 燒出台灣多少迷惘與悲哀












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