Thursday, 29 September 2011

Humility: Commentary Is Not Command

J.M.Cole has an editorial today urging expats to express their opinions on political affairs in Taiwan with greater humility. Perhaps I was one such expat he had in mind.

It's true that, as I fire-off my typical blogpost responses to the latest inanities and tragedies documented in (and even demonstrated by) the Taipei Times and elsewhere, my frustration sometimes shows in how I express myself.

That being said however, these are my opinions and other people are free to ignore them (and I daresay that is the norm). Three further points:

(1) Whether an abstract discussion* indicates a lack of emotional connection is a contingent truth, not a categorical truth. To merely presume it is true is an error. To put the same point in a less abstract way: just because I do the math, doesn't mean I have a CPU instead of a heart.

(2) Although many (perhaps most?) expats here in Taiwan eventually return to their native countries, that option is not so easy as it sounds for those of us who have been here for many years now and are either married or otherwise have significant emotional investment. Criticism should not be based on presumption.

(3) There is a difference between commentary and command. Command requires delegated authority, commentary does not. To wit:
"On my way home this afternoon I saw a car speed by on Minquan E Road atop which a large People’s Republic of China flag was flying, to the accompaniment of communist propaganda on a loudspeaker... Who am I, as a Canadian, a journalist, to get angry at such acts, and to presume to have the authority to tell Taiwanese that such displays are unacceptable and that something should be done about them?"
You do not have the authority to demand that "something be done about them", Mr Cole (and in my view nothing should be done about them), but the authority you exercise over your own actions is sufficient to voice your disapproval of such things. Whether Taiwanese people listen to you or not, or agree with you or not... is entirely up to them.

*I don't know whether it was I, in my response to a question put by someone who had elsewhere claimed to be a Taipei Times journalist, or the anonymous commenters at Turton's place recently, who provoked that remark, but for what it's worth I should point out that, in my opinion, deterring annexation will depend on political reform first and foremost, with military preparedness by the MOD an emergency measure - the idea of a guerilla campaign in the event of invasion is a distant, highly contingent hypothetical and as things stand, it would almost certainly be crushed within a very short time.


  1. Cole's opinion runs on the sole assumption that we're all going to leave one day.

    Some of us have come to live.

    What the hell are people who migrate to Taiwan supposed to do? Shutup and play the whitey role?

  2. @OzSoapbox:


  3. @Taiwan Person


  4. @Michael Fagan:



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