Wednesday, 7 July 2010

"Kenneth McCauley"


I was disgusted with your decision to print Kenneth McCauley's letter, Wednesday 7th July.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, particularly when it is patriotism not to any universal ethical principle but to such arbitrary things as one's place of birth or the colour of one's skin. Such a conceptually primitive patriotism is ethically empty, barely even worthy of contempt.

So this "MC Hot Dog" feels "sick" when he sees Taiwanese girls dating westerners? Well perhaps he ought to be reminded that not only do Taiwanese girls not belong to him, but that neither are they the collective "property" of Taiwan or of that organ which purports to speak on behalf of a coerced population, the government. A woman's choices are her own and a woman's life is her own - who she may or may not choose to date is none of his damn business, for she belongs to herself.

The reverse snobbery of xenophobia is no answer to perceived slights and criticism - and there is much criticism to be offered to Taiwanese people if they are to secure and advance their freedom in the future. The hallmark of western culture and the scientific and technological progress it has offered the world has always been rational criticism; the irrational dismissal of all such criticism is, and has always been, the hallmark of despots, racists and those so sick of mind as to accept either one.

Yours contemptuously,
Michael Fagan.

(Sent: Wednesday 7th July 2010. Published by the Taipei Times Friday 9th July 2010)

Post script: The editorial alteration of "conceptually primitive patriotism" at the end of the first paragraph to "tribalism" was a poor choice since the gist of my letter was to identify McCauley's sentiments as erroneous, hence the value of "conceptually primitive". A greater economy of words could have been achieved by altering "The reverse snobbery of xenophobia" at the beginning of the third paragraph to simply "Xenophobia..."


  1. This is Kenneth McCauley. I am wondering whether your birth country speaks English, not only because of the obnoxious bombast of your style, but because you missed all points. Though, to be fair, the editors do cut out a lot so maybe the meaning wasn't easy to pick up. The point was that Taiwanese should be proud of who they are...that simple!
    Do you get bored and write responses for amusement?
    What does patriotism have to do with the article?? It's about being a proud open society that shakes hands firmly, isn't shy or intimidated by westerners.
    Maybe what you wrote made sense before they edited it, but now its sloppy.

  2. Kenneth,

    I am from England; the post to which you have just commented shows my letter exactly as I composed it and there is a link to the published version in the Taipei Times so you can see the differences for yourself. I even commented on one of the differences in the post script.

    I don't think my letter was sloppy at all - on the contrary I thought it was reasonably well written. However, since I have your attention, allow me to explain...

    You say that Taiwanese people should be proud of who they are - simply because they were born in Taiwan or have Taiwanese parents. My objection to this is that it ignores differences in ethical behaviour and character across different individuals and instead equates bad people with good people and says that they can all be proud of themselves, not because of their achievements or because of how they lead their lives, but simply because they were all born on the same island or because they all have Taiwanese parents.

    Understand: pride is a natural consequence of achievement and so whenever a Taiwanese person achieves something good he rightfully feels proud of himself. But being born is not an achievement.

    Now attend to the subtitle of my blog - do you see that: "Biking the roads from collectivism to individualism.."? It is individuals that can rightfully be judged as ethically good or bad people, not collectives.

    As to being intimidated by westerners - guess what? That is because some Taiwanese people - like you - see westerners through a collectivist lens; western countries have always been far more rich and powerful than Taiwan has, and so they think that western people might therefore be better than them. But remember - western people are individuals too, and it is only as individuals that we are good or bad or deserving of pride.

    It was your comment about "MC Hotdog" feeling "sick" when he sees Taiwanese girls dating foreigners that got me so angry. Taiwanese girls do not belong to you or him for the same reason that all blonde haired English girls do not belong to me. Women are not property.


Comment moderation is now in place, as of April 2012. Rules:

1) Be aware that your right to say what you want is circumscribed by my right of ownership here.

2) Make your comments relevant to the post to which they are attached.

3) Be careful what you presume: always be prepared to evince your point with logic and/or facts.

4) Do not transgress Blogger's rules regarding content, i.e. do not express hatred for other people on account of their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

5) Remember that only the best are prepared to concede, and only the worst are prepared to smear.