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Mar 24, 2009

Saying "yes" to Racism?

After Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英) admitted yesterday that he was writing under the name Fan Lan-chin (范蘭欽)...

The online articles referred to Taiwanese as taibazi (台巴子), or “Taiwanese rednecks” and wokou (倭寇), or “Japanese pirates.” They also said that “the imposition of martial law had been a benevolent act of the then government” and that “[China] should spend many years suppressing [people in Taiwan] instead of granting any political freedom [to them] once it has taken Taiwan by force.”
Tthe KMT fell over itself to keep the Kuo incident from spilling over into next weekend's legislative election. And somebody went too far.

I must admit I don't hear these particular slurs, and I know my share of waishengren (though I doubt I could really call anyone at all gaoji 高級). There are still racist attitudes within older groups of Taiwanese society I've seen -- for example, a taxi driver in Taipei the other day told me that the aboriginal people "didn't want to improve their race" and were mostly working construction instead of management because they all drank to the point of passing out on the side of the road. "Not all of them do that," my taxi driver noted, "and they're not the only ones -- homeless people do that sometimes too."

Young people are not free of these attitudes, but they're better.

But wildy, KMT legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) thought the best way to respond to Kuo's racist statements was to respond in kind. So Lo decided to call Kuo a "waisheng dog" (外省狗). That comment prompted a protest by what I imagine were mostly older waishengren in Washington. And BCC (of Taiwan) worries about the potential for renewed racial tension and increasingly widespread use of racial epitaphs.

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