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Sunday, September 03, 2006

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Violent slogans

I work part-time at the National Library across the street from the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, so I caught a glimpse Friday of the anti-Chen rally (one of them) getting underway. There weren't too many people yet, but there were some giant speakers in front of the memorial hall. One thing that caught my eye was a slogan that said:

"良心革命,全民起義"
(Conscience Revolution, All the people rise up)

I don't know about you, but these words strike me as accessive. No, not excessive--Dangerous! Too me, the words "revolution" and "uprising" point to violent activity. By using these words, even when modifying them with "conscience," one is alluding to all of the different revolutions that occurred throughout the 20th century, and before. Were any of them peaceful?

I see such a slogan as an icon of the violence that breathes beneath the surface, and sometimes on live television, of the anti-Chen movement. I know there are people who have legitimate anger at the president, who feel like he let them down. But, that is not what the anti-Chen movement is about. It is the attempt by powerful forces to use the popular rhetoric of past revolutions to mobilze their people to nullify the results of democracy.

I was talking to someone who works at DPP headquarters and he laughed it off. He said these words like "revolution" have a vaguer meaning in Chinese, at least in Taiwan, and what they really meant was "reform." He didn't see anything dangerous about the protest.

Now, I see a new slogan on the television screen: "Suspend the president! Investigate wrongdoing." I thought that is what prosecutors are doing, and so far, they haven't found anything. So, you suspend the president before you find any evidence. I see.

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