Hard to be pa­tient in face of Hitler card

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

In the be­gin­ning, the news story re­quires a bit of pa­tience just to keep the de­tails straight. By the time you get to the end of it, how­ever, you may find you’ve plumb run out of pa­tience and are feel­ing not merely un­happy, but an­gry.

That is where I am here. I am more than sim­ply up­set or frus­trated. I am an­gry.

At the same time, I sus­pect that when­ever we run up against what seems to be this un­nat­u­ral and bizarre fas­ci­na­tion in Tai­wan with Adolf Hitler, we’re up against what my col­lege course in an­thro­pol­ogy termed a cul­tural con­flict. Con­flicts such as th­ese may be re­al­i­ties we can­not rid our­selves of, said my pro­fes­sor. The best we can do, he shrugged his shoul­ders, is try to un­der­stand.

I am try­ing to un­der­stand. Yet I also won­der if we can do more than that. I am not sure what.



Speak out, per­haps. Refuse to take this non­sense silently. Say how wrong it is, how silly, how ugly.

I men­tioned Adolf Hitler. That was no typing er­ror. A poster with his pho­to­graph and name — looks to be mighty big, nearly life-sized — ap­peared in our lo­cal news this week. The poster was planted like the cover of a porno­graphic mag­a­zine in the mid­dle of Tainan.

Imag­ine, Adolf Hitler alive and well in Tainan. Hitler on a very large plac­ard, cus­tom-cut in card­board to fit into the front row seat as­signed to the mayor of the city, Hitler in City Coun­cil Cham­bers.

Woe is me, but I hinted above that I might ask for your pa­tience as I re­late the de­tails be­hind this sit­u­a­tion in Tainan. Pa­tience, I am told, is a virtue.

In a nut­shell, Mayor Wil­liam Lai (Lai Ching-te) con­tin­ues to boy­cott City Coun­cil meet­ings in Tainan as an act of protest to the pres­ence of Lee Chuan-chiao of the Kuom­intang (KMT), who gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tors have charged with vote-buy­ing. Back on Nov. 29 when the KMT lost its bloomers in elec­tions all over the coun­try, the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) won 28 of the 57 seats on the Tainan City Coun­cil. The KMT picked up 16. Lo and be­hold, when the dust set­tled af­ter coun­cilors chose their new speaker, the KMT’s Lee emerged with 29 votes, and the DPP’s Lai Hui-mei 26.

So, the beat goes on. Mr. Mayor and a num­ber of his ad­min­is­tra­tors refuse to show up at coun­cil meet­ings, and the busi­ness of the city, al­lo­ca­tions, bud­gets and such, has largely ground to a halt. The mayor says Speaker Lee’s claim to lead­er­ship is il­le­git­i­mate, and he won’t abide by it. The KMT la­bel him a you-know-what.

Now Lee‘s KMT cronies have wheeled in the mam­moth Hitler sign and parked it in the mayor’s seat for meet­ings that are not hap­pen­ing. In pol­i­tics, this is called a photo op­por­tu­nity.

This use of images of Adolf Hitler is nau­se­at­ing. Noth­ing I can imag­ine is more per­son­ally re­pul­sive than any­thing that smacks of hu­mor at the suf­fer­ing Adolf Hitler brought to mil­lions in our world, es­pe­cially to peo­ple of Jewish an­ces­try. The KMT is not wrong all the time, but it is wrong when­ever it uses Hitler in any way to score points in pol­i­tics. I used “when­ever.”

The KMT leader who ran un­suc­cess­fully in two Tai­wan pres­i­den­tial elec­tions ( and in one may­oral con­test in Taipei) some years back, whose ad­mir­ers keep right on prais­ing him for “peace” over­tures be­tween his party and the Com­mu­nists in Bei­jing a decade ago, la­beled his DPP ri­val “a Hitler” not just once, but re­peat­edly. This bait­ing, bul­ly­ing, brain­less be­hav­ior, which was widely re­ported in our me­dia at the time, con­tin­ues with­out a lick of moral aware­ness or apol­ogy there in Tainan. The top brass of the KMT ought to be ashamed of it­self. Play­ing the Hitler card again only ex­ac­er­bates Tai­wan’s piti­ful im­age of in­sen­si­tiv­ity to Jewish peo­ple as re­flected in re­cent years with our Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp theme restau­rants and car­i­ca­tures of Hitler in ad­ver­tise­ments to sell home ap­pli­ances. Those were mind-blow­ing events for peo­ple with even a smidgen of grey mat­ter be­tween the ears and, again, were broad­cast in em­bar­rass­ing re­ports all over the world.

My for­mer stu­dent Elie told me to be pa­tient, and I vowed to try. But in this case, it “sure ain’t easy.” Fa­ther Daniel J. Bauer SVD is a priest and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the English Depart­ment at Fu Jen Catholic Uni­ver­sity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.