I got my We Will Not Be Silent T-shirt in the mail today. For background information, check out my previous post about the controversy behind this shirt. Here's a picture of me modeling it with pride, standing up for civil liberties and democratic principles:
Taiwanation is a wristband campaign by the Young Professional Group of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs that is trying to raise public awareness for the struggle for Taiwan's de jure independence.
Cynics may say that the wristband thing is a bit played out, and I guess in some ways, it is, but no more or less played out than political T-shirts. However, I think political discourse of all kinds is important.
The issue of "Taiwan Independence" is controversial, even within Taiwanese society. I am what is known in Taiwanese slang as an o-a-hanji, a "taro-sweet potato." The descendants of Chinese mainlanders who fled to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War are "taros" and the so-called "Taiwanese", the descendants of settlers from China over 400 years ago who intermarried with various aboriginal tribes are "sweet potatoes." As a product of a mixed Mainlander/Taiwanese marriage, I am "taro-sweet potato."
For me, the issue of Taiwanese de jure independence is not a matter of ethnicity. Many Taiwanese of recent mainland Chinese descent and many ethnic "Taiwanese" as well feel a kind of sentimental attachment to China and Chinese culture and ethnic identity. This is not surprising considering that until recently, the government and the media in Taiwan perpetuated a policy of cultural suppression and Chinese Nationalist myth-making that legitimized the the KMT's rule. In any case, I am opposed to any sort of excessive or obsessive nationalistic or ethnic pride. It is just plain tacky and more often than not, it is racist.
Chinese ethnic identity is a totally different thing from Chinese national identity. There are plenty of people of Chinese descent around the world who are not Chinese citizens. Singapore is majority ethnic Chinese, but you don't see the PRC making a claim of sovereignty there, do you? And many Taiwanese are over 400 years removed from their "roots" on the Chinese mainland anyway. That is longer than many white Americans' ancestors have been in the US, but nobody would claim that the US should still be part of England. In fact, historically, Taiwan has NEVER been part of the People's Republic of China. The original inhabitants are the various aboriginal tribes. Later, settlers came from mainland China, not as colonists or conquerers, but as economic refugees from hardship on the mainland. Taiwan was then colonized briefly by the Dutch and the Spanish. Then the Qing Dynasty of China took it over. Then they lost it to the Japanese who stayed for 50 years. After WWII, it was "liberated" by the Republic of China, which remains the governing system on the island today. No PRC in that timeline anywhere.
The issue of Taiwanese independence is about changing the law to reflect what is a de facto reality. Taiwan is a nation, which it's own democratically elected government, it's own culture, it's own defined borders, it's own currency, and all the other trappings of a nation-state that set it apart from the People's Republic of China.
Alright, enough of my rant, I can talk about this for ages, check out the website to find out more.
Another website for the Taiwanation campaign here.
The QUICKTIME REPORT 22/10/06 – SEE GLOBALLY!
Watch it here:
The story begins at around 7 minutes into the 11 minute video.
The Quicktime Report is a production of Gregory Kable.
Here is the original text that I released on the IndyMedia Newswire:
New Campaign Urges the US to Dialogue with Iran
By Lee-Sean Huang
Global IMC 18/10/06
The Res Publica launches a new campaign asking Netizens around the world to urge the US government to begin open, direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program.
The Ceasefire Campaign began when 300,000 individuals from over 150 countries came together to demand a ceasefire in Lebanon. The campaign is a project of Res Publica, a global civic advocacy group and registered charitable organization based in New York City.
The latest campaign, "Talk to Iran," was launched today (October 18, 2006), with the sending out of an email alert to the Ceasefire Campaign email list and the unveiling of a revamped website.
The new campaign is asking online citizens from around the world to urge the US government to enter open and direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program, a week after the alleged detonation of nuclear device by North Korea demonstrated that policies of isolation and threats of regime change will not prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
Over 8000 people have already participated in the first day of the campaign by sending a customizable message the White House asking for dialogue.
To find out more and to participate in the campaign, please visit the link:
On Wednesday, I volunteered to pass out fliers outside of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Union Square to promote Amy and David Goodman's reading and book-signing of their new book, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back. Amy Goodman is an award-winning journalist and anchor of Democracy Now!, a defiant bastion of independent journalism.
Amy and David's talk about the injustice and needless suffering of innocent people in the so-called "War on Terrorism" moved me to tears. Now, as I read the book, I am finding my anger – my anger towards the government and the media for their propaganda campaign to suppress democracy and the truth in this country and around the world. Amy and David's talk and book have really motivated me and reminded me why I am an activist.
Both the book and the news program are worth checking out. Get informed, get angry, and take action.