Monday, 24 April 2017

Leave The Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) Statues Alone

Among the news this morning is that a DPP legislator, Pasuya Yao (姚文智), has proposed a bill to remove all statues of Chiang Kai-shek to a mausoleum in Taoyuan county. Two reasons are given for this: first, that symbols of Chiang are reminders of Taiwan's anti-democratic past so should not be on public display, and second, that the decapitation of these statues (and that of the Yoichi Hatta statue at Wushantou reservoir) is the government's fault for not having removed them.

This is disturbing.

First of all, there is a deep stupidity in the decapitation of these statues; the crimes of which Chiang is accused are already deep in the past and cannot be undone. Chiang is a part of Taiwan's history and to seek to eradicate the cultural memory of him is a dangerous mistake, as this memory should serve a reminder of how far Taiwan has come in becoming a modern, liberal country. There is only the future and so the impulse to purge symbols of Taiwan's past portend the arrival of a dangerous sectarianism. I have long thought that the most likely threat to Taiwan is not military assault from China, but the shoots of domestic tyranny growing out of the cultural undergrowth and fertilized by the political system. The best answer for the government is not to acquiesce to the demands of these sectarian pathogens but to keep the statues on public display where they are and use existing laws to punish those who vandalize them. For the people, the best response is probably mockery of those who vandalize these statues.

You're a bit fucking late aren't you?

Second, the vandalism of these statues is obviously not the government's fault, but the fault of the people who actually perpetrated the vandalism. This is just basic common sense and the necessary principle of justice that individuals be accountable for their actions. To blame the government for these acts of vandalism, as Pasuya Yao is doing, is grossly irresponsible as that blame can only mean that individuals have no control over their actions and are subject to unattributed and unexplained social forces, which is the evil gibberish of the Left used to excuse any criminal behaviour they find useful to excuse.

If the motives which led people to decapitate statues are continually indulged by stupid politicians, then we are going to move step by step closer to domestic sectarian conflict. The people who vandalize statues, whether it be a statue of Chiang Kai-shek or of Yoichi Hatta or a statue of any other historical figure, should be publicly ridiculed and punished under existing laws.

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