China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 17, 2015
Executive Summary: We once took pride in the fact that people on Taiwan no longer exclude outsiders, and no longer discriminate against powerless minorities. In recent years however, the Internet has gradually taken over mainstream global culture. People have become increasingly hysterical and populist. A pluralistic and inclusive society no longer seems to be the social norm.
Full Text Below:
We once took pride in the fact that people on Taiwan no longer exclude outsiders, and no longer discriminate against powerless minorities. In recent years however, the Internet has gradually taken over mainstream global culture. People have become increasingly hysterical and populist. A pluralistic and inclusive society no longer seems to be the social norm.
Recently a Facebook group with 250,000 members posted photos of an apparent school exam. One of the exam questions was, "Which of these five invasive alien species
pose a threat to Taiwan's ecology?”. The answers included "Mainland tourists", right alongside "channeled applesnails", "African snails", and four other plants and animals. The answer “Mainland tourists” received many “likes”. In May this year, five girls from a junior high in the Jianshi district of Hsinchu County were murdered by a suspected rapist. Many news organizations emphasized the Aboriginal background of the suspect. They even identified his tribe and birthplace. The public considers this normal and does not object. Clearly race prejudice and racial discrimination are increasingly prevalent in Taiwan society.
Toward the end of the recent the French parliamentary elections, the extreme right wing National Front led during the first round of voting. But all of its candidates lost during the run off election. Many international media organizations described the vote as “unexpected”. After all, France has been doubly impacted, first by ISIS terrorist attacks, and then by waves of Muslim refugees. This has handed French right-wing and ultra-right wing forces the necessary pretext. Yet the French system and French public eventually made a level-headed decision. They refused to allow extreme right wing forces to determine the future of France.
In response to the French terror attacks, US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump publicly called for a total ban on Muslim immigration into the United States, until the seriousness of the problem can be determined. In the past, only extreme right-wing groups expressed such views. Now they emerge from the mouth of a politician who could become his party's presidential candidate. The latest polls show support for Trump exceeding 40%, a new high. But Trump's remarks have also been widely denounced. The White House said Trump was no longer qualified to be president. American society has apparently not lost its head over fear of terror attacks.
Fear of ISIS terror attacks has created a breeding ground for extremist rhetoric, widespread discrimination, and even exclusionary policies. In in mature democracies, such views were once held by less than 1% of the population. Now they have become mainstream public opinion. As threat levels increase, extremism and demands for exclusionary policies may spread. This is not merely a test of democracy. It is also a test of human civilization.
Taiwan is under no threat of attack from Muslims. It need not face the issue of how to peacefully coexist with Islam. But Taiwan does face demands for exclusionary policies, and discrimination against defenseless minorities. In particular, the “normalization” of political prejudice and conscious discrimination against Mainland tourists, Mainland spouses, Mainland students, and indigenous peoples is deeply worrisome.
Many European and American backpackers visit Taiwan. They often enjoy their stay so much they are reluctant to return home. Many short-term exchange students from the Mainland leave with positive impressions of Taiwan. Mainland authors have even gushed that "Taiwan's most beautiful tourist attraction is its people!" To some degree such images are consistent with Taiwan as a place friendly to foreigners.
On the other hand, offhand remarks often inadvertently include xenophobic, even racist rhetoric. Many politicians and news organizations dance to these tunes.
Flip through the annals of past election campaigns. Many of us still remember the 2008 presidential election. DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh proudly trumpeted "reconciliation and coexistence". But during campaign rallies in southern Taiwan, he repeatedly declared that "Workers on Taiwan will be unable to find work, women on Taiwan will be unable to find husbands, and children on Taiwan will be shipped off to Heilongjiang as child labor.". The campaign repeatedly purchased print ads accusing Mainland visitors of urinating or defecating in public parks. The campaign produed deceptive TV spots, using photographs of 800,000 workers stranded at Guangzhou train stations on Chinese New Year due to snowstorms. The spots implied that was how Taiwan would look if Mainland workers “invaded” Taiwan. It is hard to imagine the presidential candidate of a mainstream political party expressing such bigoted views. Fortunately voters refused to dance to his tune. Otherwise the consequences would be difficult to imagine.
Such exclusionary, even racially discriminatory policies have yet to become mainstream. But neither have they vanished. They continue to have an effect. Over the past few years, unprecedented progress has been made in cross-Strait relations. Nevertheless many green camp politicians persist in parroting such rhetoric. They do their utmost to deny Mainland and foreign spouses equal rights. They erect barriers to prevent Mainland students from receiving health benefits. These involve more than mere discrimination. They involve universal human rights. Yet the political party that promulgates these views looks as if it will win the election. This suggests that proposals even more discriminatory will become policy.
We have no desire to be alarmist. We merely wish to emphasize that an inclusive Taiwan culture tolerant of diversity is not manna from heaven. It requires long term effort. To destroy such an inclusive culture completely, and transform it into a xenophobic hermit kingdom is also difficult. This will test the wisdom of the Taiwan public.
貼出一張疑似學校考卷的照片，考題要求舉出「5種對台灣生態造成 危害的外來入侵種」，照片中答題者竟然將「大陸客」與「福壽螺」 、「非洲大蝸牛」等4種動植物並列，獲得許多按讚鼓勵。今年5月 間新竹尖石鄉一國中女生遭5嫌性侵殺害， 多家媒體不約而同強調凶嫌的原住民背景，甚至標示族群與出生地， 社會卻習以為常，並未出現檢討聲浪， 在在顯露台灣社會偏見與歧視風氣日盛。
在首輪投票中處於領先地位，第二輪投票中卻全軍覆沒， 許多國際媒體都以「意外」形容投票結果，畢竟在IS恐怖攻擊與穆 斯林難民的雙重衝擊上，法國本是最有可能右傾的， 極右勢力也確實營造很大的聲浪， 但法國的制度與人心終究還是做了冷靜的抉擇， 沒讓排他的極右勢力主導法國的前途。
應暫時「全面禁止」穆斯林入境美國， 直到搞清楚問題到底有多嚴重為止。 這種極端言論過去都來自極右派團體， 如今卻出於一位有可能成為政黨總統候選人的政客之口。 儘管最新民調顯示川普支持率衝破4成，創下前所未有的新高點， 但川普的言論已遭到各方嚴厲譴責， 白宮也表示他已失去成為總統的資格， 顯然美國並未因恐攻威脅而失去社會理性。
甚至排他性的主張，過往在許多成熟民主國家都占不到1成， 如今在許多地區已開始擠進主流民意， 未來隨著威脅程度的提高與時間的遞延， 極端排他言論不是不可能蔓延開來。這不僅是民主國家的考驗， 甚至是整個人類文明的考驗。
也無需面對如何與伊斯蘭和平共處的課題， 但台灣社會同樣面臨排斥外來人、歧視弱勢族群激進化的問題。 尤其因政治歧見而刻意歧視陸客、陸配與陸生， 及對原住民習以為常的歧視實令人憂心。
不少短期交換陸生對台灣留下很好的印象，大陸作家甚至有「 台灣最美的風景是人」的讚嘆，這種意象大體都符合事實， 某種程度上台灣確實是一個對外來人士友善的國度。
民進黨候選人謝長廷一面高倡「和解共生」口號， 一面在南部競選造勢之際，不斷強力釋出「查甫找嘸工， 查某找嘸尪，找囝仔去黑龍江！」的耳語， 在報上大幅刊登大陸人在公園隨地便溺的平面廣告， 在電視上刻意切割大陸廣州80萬民工春節因雪災滯留車站的畫面， 製成電視競選象徵大陸勞工將大舉入侵台灣， 這些近乎可怕的歧視語言， 很難想像是出自一個主流政黨競選總統人士的主張， 幸好當年的選民，並沒有隨著這些論述起舞， 否則後果真的很難以想像。
但是並沒有消失，而且還一直在發揮作用。過去幾年， 即便兩岸關係都已經取得空前的進展， 綠營的不少政客依舊在複製這種論述， 如極力抵制大陸配偶與外籍配偶平權，使勁阻擋陸生納入健保等， 這中間所涉及的已經不只是歧視問題， 甚至是觸及普世價值的人權議題了， 如今代表這種聲音的政黨很可能將贏得大選， 預示更多歧視性的主張將會成為政策！