Monday, June 20, 2005

May Chin Attacks II

Our friends at Zmagazine have an article on the earliest conflict between the aborigines and Japanese, the Mudan incident, proving that Zmag can be perfectly reasonable and informative as long as the subject doesn't involve the U.S. Mudan is located in Pingtung County, on the road cutting east from Che Cheng, and is near and dear to my heart. It's one of my favorite places to cruise on the scooter, and you can pull up in Shi Men, the main village, around dinner time in the summer and play volleyball with some of the friendliest people you will ever meet until the sun goes down. I have lots of friends there, as well as a former girlfriend.

She used to tell me about her grandfather. He was a chief, and one of the fiercest of the fighters against the Japanese. As the Japanese gradually got the upper hand, he was forced to take refuge up in the mountains with even less domesticated Paiwans. As a result, although their chiefs usually do not hunt, the grandfather became that rare anomaly – a chief who was well-versed in all aspects of survival in the mountains. After some years, he was allowed to come down into the village, and even was drafted into the Japanese army. For the rest of his life, she said, he would periodically get the itch and disappear into the mountains for weeks, living the old way, hunting by day, sleeping in trees at night. Later- an image that makes me think of Ike McCaslin in Faulkner's story "The Bear" - when he got old, he would just go and sleep in the tree outside their house - among the last custodians of a consciousness that was attenuating and disappearing forever. In a strange twist suggesting that there were complicated feelings unhinted at by someone like May Chin, my friend said that in his old age he used have a drink or two, dress up in his old Japanese uniform and march up and down the street, with the kids of the village trailing merrily behind him trying to march in time.

An editorial in the Taipei Times, which for some reason can't be gotten online, made some excellent points:

“May Chin's visit to Japan is controversial in Taiwan because everyone knows she is simply a pro-unification politician who often hides beneath the cloak of her Aboriginal status. Since May Chin's father is a Mainlander, it's not surprising that she never fails to echo the pan-blue camp's political arguments, but she does this as though she is representing the Aboriginal community….The absurdity of the situation is that many Aborigines are unaware that their ethnic identity is in danger of being usurped. For example, the Paiwan and Rukai tribes in Pingtung take the hundred-pace snake as their totem. The offspring of Mainlander veterans often opt for Aboriginal status, but when they return home for tribal festivals, the hundred-pace snake has been replaced with the Chinese dragon in their ceremonial regalia. This makes us think of Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan's recent remark that Shanghai women should marry foreigners to help spread Chinese culture around the world. That Chinese are able to advocate interracial marriage as a tool of cultural conquest is really quite frightening.”

In America, when Big Business wants to push through legislation favorable to themselves, they know they really can't lobby for the legislation on those terms, since Big Business has some image problems. The solution to the problem is so-called "white hat" lobbyists –fronting the lobbying effort with groups that are more palatable. Small business owners paraded in to testify on behalf of legislation that primarily benefits large businesses are a common form of"white hat"lobbyist. The drama queen in May Chin, of course, finds irresistable the colorful costumes and opportunity to invoke the perennial cry of victimhood. Opportunities to dress up and give speeches through a bullhorn, tears running down face, voice cracking with indignation, are not to be passed up. Transparently, this classic"white hat" imagery is being put in the service of the political residue of one of the nastiest martial law regimes of the post-war era.

I want a divorce. But that Parminder Nagra - the one in“Bend It Like Beckham"? Do I hear wedding bells? In a second, dude, a millisecond. Let it not be said of me that I'm afraid of commitment to women I have never met.