Fed up with the vi­o­lence in pol­i­tics

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

For the past 5 years, I’ve been meet­ing over Thurs­day lunch pe­ri­ods with a group of stu­dents on my cam­pus for dis­cus­sions on cur­rent af­fairs, al­most al­ways fo­cused on Tai­wan. We rely on me­dia re­ports, opin­ion col­umns sim­i­lar to this one, and life ex­pe­ri­ences to share ob­ser­va­tions and views on what­ever pops up in the news.

I write here to­day about an ex­am­ple of re­cent neg­a­tive, quite dis­cour­ag­ing be­hav­ior ac­tu­ally, on the part of two lo­cal lead­ers. I am link­ing their fool­ish­ness with my Thurs­day af­ter­noon cur­rent af­fairs dis­cus­sion group for a rea­son.

Since our group be­gan in 2010, I have lit­er­ally pled with my young friends there to keep an open mind about public ser­vice in the field of pol­i­tics. I have ar­gued that all coun­tries need car­ing and re­spon-

DANIEL J. BAUER

sible lead­ers, Tai­wan in­cluded. (For me, the Repub­lic of China in Tai­wan is of course a coun­try.) When­ever we see ex­am­ples of brave, inspiring lead­er­ship around us, I point that out on Thurs­days, and more than merely hint that our youth should study th­ese role mod­els. Sadly, more of­ten than not, the ex­am­ples of which we speak, how­ever, are far less than inspiring and brave.

A lo­cal news­pa­per ran the fol­low­ing head­line three days ago: “Po­lit­i­cal ri­vals ex­change blows, deny ro­man­tic feud.”

Those of us familiar with me­dia Tai­wan style may gri­mace ever so slightly at such phras­ing. Given the an­tics we’ve of­ten wit­nessed in the leg­is­la­ture on the part of both our ma­jor par­ties, we can­not feign sur­prise. Vi­o­lence of one sort or the other seems more or less a fact of ev­ery day pol­i­tics in Tai­wan. Turns out this par­tic­u­lar am­a­teur boxing match hap­pened in the lit­tle boy’s room at a Taipei ho­tel last month, though, not in the leg­is­la­ture. “Men’s room” would clas­sify as a mis­nomer. Real men don’t sock each other in the face, ver­bally or phys­i­cally, when an­gry. Real men are sup­posed to be ma­ture.

Lo­cal me­dia are won­der­fully nosey about the se­crets of our celebri­ties. So we also are not sur­prised by the un­der­lin­ing of the ro­man­tic an­gle. Peo­ple who are “a some­body” in the Emily Dickinson sense (see 260 “I’m no­body”) sip cof­fee to­gether, and pa­parazzi, like sharks, scent blood. A salty mag­a­zine is re­port­ing the greasy de­tails of the ex­change of fisticuffs this week, and news­pa­pers are meet­ing their solemn duty to spread the news.

One of the gen­tle­men with a pen­chant for vi­o­lent ways is a cur­rent leg­is­la­tor for the DPP. The other is an ex-law­maker for the KMT. De­nials are in mo­tion as for the ro­man­tic thing. They’ve both been linked to an at­trac­tive fe­male who hap­pens to be a mem­ber of the Taipei City Coun­cil. But no, this is not “The Tale of ‘Romeo A’ Against ‘Romeo B’.” Sounds more to me like “Two Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

As long as we find so much ridicu­lous be­hav­ior among our po­lit­i­cal elite, we will con­tinue to find cold feel­ings to­ward pol­i­tics in our most tal­ented young peo­ple.

In tes­ti­mony to the mer­its of gen­der equal­ity, we also dis­cov­ered th­ese re­cent days that males do not hold a mo­nop­oly on fool­ish­ness. The Deputy Leg­isla­tive Speaker who as of this writ­ing is des­tined to be the KMT stan­dard­bearer in the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion leapt into a pond of mud by emo­tional and ver­bal vi­o­lence soon af­ter news ar­rived of the death of the 8-year-old girl named Liu, so hor­ri­bly mur­dered at her school in Beitou.

Can­di­date Hung Hsiu-chu taunted her DPP ri­val, on a po­lit­i­cal tour in the United States at the time, mind you, to speak now in fa­vor of the abo­li­tion of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. “Can you feel no sym­pa­thy for the fam­ily of this lit­tle child?” Hung re­port­edly said.

Am I wrong? I looked, but found no public voice that ex­pressed out­rage at her cruel act of po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunism. I find it sick­en­ing that this ma­nip­u­la­tion of a heartrend­ing tragedy got a free ride. If I missed news of a con­fronta­tion on this in­sen­si­tive act of vi­o­lence, please con­tact me. I will share your in­for­ma­tion here next Sun­day. At least the story of the boys smack­ing each other in the ho­tel bath­room drew me­dia at­ten­tion and, per­haps, a mod­icum of dis­ap­proval. But Ms. Hung got off scot-free. If we hope for a more hu­mane to­mor­row in Tai­wan pol­i­tics, we’ve got to em­bar­rass and dis­ci­pline lead­ers to­day who en­gage in vi­o­lence, whether phys­i­cal, ver­bal, or emo­tional. We’ve got to call them to ac­count. Fa­ther Daniel J. Bauer SVD is a priest and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the English Depart­ment at Fu Jen Catholic Uni­ver­sity.

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