Monday, June 20, 2005

May Chin Attacks I

The Japanese treated aborigines as subhumans, the lawmaker said. "We were victims," she pointed out, "how could we tolerate the victims being honored together with their persecutors?"

I once had a non-salacious proposition for a close female friend, back in college days: "Okay, there's an angel, see, comes down from heaven and has a proposition for you: You can go down to Wrigley Field on a Sunday and have the entire three hours of the game to wander through the crowd – tens of thousands of handsome strangers sweating and cheering –and you're told by the angel that at the end of those three hours you can choose any one person from the crowd who will magically be made to fall in love with you and be willing to marry you on the spot. The only catch is, you must choose someone- a stranger whom you've only observed briefly - and you must get married to that person. Would you take the angel up on it?” She immediately said "No way", whereas I was, like, "DUDE, bring on the angel!”She then said, a bit too wearily, "Yeah, I know. I think most guys would say that. It's a fundamental gender difference.”I think of that conversation when I see aboriginal legislator and former actress May Chin (高金素美) in the news again. This is a woman of whom I can honestly say that, upon seeing her in "The Wedding Banquet", I would have been ready to make a life-long commitment then and there. All I can say is that every day's news brings home to me what a fool I would have been. And still, I have to say, at a convention of fools, she'd be the one that turned my head and made me nudge my buddies -“Damn, did you see that,bud? That was one good-lookin' fool!”

To generalize about the political inclinations of Aborigines on the island is tricky business, but it's probably not inaccurate to say that while there are plenty of exceptions, Aboriginals do seem to tend toward the pan-Blue KMT camp. As far as I can figure, this seems to be on account of the "the enemy of enemy is my friend" school of politics. The Japanese encountered resistance from both Aboriginals and Hokkenese on arrival in 1895, and dealt with both communities with the efficiency and ruthlessness characteristic of the Japanese government of the time. But Taiwanese seem to have learned to work – sometimes uneasily – with the occupiers, while the Aboriginals maintained a largely rejectionist posture.

When the KMT came along in the late forties, many Taiwanese had feelings of nostalgia for the Japanese reinforced as they realized that the Mainlanders were a rough and untutored bunch from a society that was at a distinctly lower stage of development than Taiwan. The 2-28 incident and the White Terror alienated Taiwanese further. Mainland soldiers often found it difficult to find Taiwanese brides, and a large number of them seem to have taken Aboriginals for wives (including May Chin's father). Perhaps the Aborigines thought that they could play the role minorities in so many colonized countries have played - the field bosses lording it over an oppressed native population. It didn't turn out that way for them. The loyalty the Aboriginals have shown to the KMT over decades of martial law has mostly gone unreciprocated. It doesn't seem to have improved their economic situation at all, for whatever reason, while the Taiwanese landed quite nimbly on their feet.