Sunday, May 15, 2011

Go back to playing music, we'll run the country for you.

I have to just say: I really do not understand why, on a gut level, aboriginal groups in Taiwan continue to vote for the KMT. I mean, I get it from a historical perspective: the deep racial and cultural divide, history of mistreatment on the part of Taiwan's earlier Fujianese settlers (and later the Japanese) and and resulting mistrust runs far deeper between the Hoklo people and the aborigines than it does between those who came over in the 1940s and the political party generally identified with them (although you can't interchange the terms "KMT" and "waishengren" as so many people do.

As badly as the KMT treated aborigines (and almost everybody else, for that matter, including many who came over with them), those resentments don't seem to run nearly as deep as three hundred years of being forced off the best land in the country.

And yet, I have trouble understanding why the aborigines' preference for the KMT continues, as it's clear that the KMT has no interest in or empathy toward them and still views them through the lens of some mysterious 'other' (at best) or a cartoonish caricature (at worst).

Take this little gem, in which President Ma says that aborigines should be valued for their abilities in music and sports. My husband, possessed of a cutting wit, said of that: "Oh, like black people?"

(He was being facetious, of course, and said that with the utmost sarcasm).

It really is an offensive thing to say - just as the establishment back home does its best to negate the political power of minorities (a lot of it really sounds like "you have great music and you sure can chuck a basketball, but we know how to run the country. Let us take care of things. You can go back to you hip-hopping music now") this sounds like a blatant caricature, an admission that neither Ma nor the KMT really understand aboriginal affairs or culture, and don't really care to make an attempt to do so. It's like saying "you go back to your villages and tribes and make your music and play your sports - we'll run the country, don't worry".

And now this: KMT official suggests that aborigines should marry their own. Errr...yes, it's important to preserve cultural roots and traditions, but implying that people should only marry within their groups is not the way to do that. It's true that you can't force cultural preservation, but there are better policies with which to encourage it than implying that there should be no interracial/intercultural marriages. To quote the article:

Commenting on the issue, Sediq KMT Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) said he was surprised anyone would still make such a suggestion, as marriage between Aborigines and non-Aborigines helped keep the different ethnicities at peace, adding that trying to stop inter-communal marriages hinted at repression, not progress. [Emphasis mine].

So...why? I can understand that many aborigines feel that the DPP or any of the other parties aren't any better and don't understand much better. I'd argue, however, that the DPP is slowly but surely trying to give up its old schtick in which it only stood for the views of the Hoklo people and attempting to be more inclusive (it's slow going, though, and many people I've talked to still feel they've not made enough of an attempt), and as such deserves more of a chance in aboriginal constituencies...

...because they certainly have not been well-served but certainly have been misunderstood by the KMT.

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