Are They Stupid and Ignorant, or merely Dishonest?
June 16, 2006
In case you thought the rampant hysteria in last Friday’s Taipei Times editorial, “Taiwan, Banana Republic of China?” was an exception, think again.
“Ma’s brazen attack on Taiwan’s democracy,” by frequent Taipei Times contributor Cao Chang-qing, brims over with the same hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm.
Telling a simple truth requires only understatement, solemnity, and civility. That’s because the truth pretty much speaks for itself.
Telling a lie, on the other hand, requires hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm. That’s because a lie needs all the help it can get.
When a writer resorts to hyperbole, parody, and sarcasm, it means he knows he is telling a lie, but hopes to make the lie more convincing by enbellishing it as much help as possible. It means he hopes that at least some listeners will believe the lie merely because he has turned the volume control knob all the way up to high.
Read Cao’s editorial yourself, and ask yourself which political camp is telling a simple truth, and which political camp is telling a convoluted lie.
Is it the Pan Blues, who are saying simply that a corrupt political leader ought to be replaced?
Or is it the Pan Greens, who are attempting to spin the replacement of an incorrigibly corrupt official — a no brainer if there ever was one — as a choice between “native Taiwanese” and “mainlander pigs,” between “Taiwanese” and “Chinese,” between “democratic Taiwan” and “Communist China.”
Anyone without a deeper understanding of the political situation in Taiwan would be excused for thinking that President Chen Shui-bian must have violated a slew of laws to cause the pan-blue camp to call for his blood and launch a formal motion for his recall. Even Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou said, mouth dripping with venom, that unless Chen steps down, the people will rise up and topple him, giving him a nasty death. “Topple” and “die a nasty death” are phrases implying violence and coups d’etat that make us think of China’s Cultural Revolution, a time when the air was filled with shouts of “topple” and people were driven to “nasty deaths” on a daily basis.
Comment: After regaling us with the above purple prose lead in, Cao Chang-qing then makes two assertions, both unadulterated nonsense, legally, logically, and historically.
First, Cao asserts that because the Pan Blue camp’s recall motion does not require proof that Chen is guilty of criminal wrongdoing, that constitutes proof that Chen is innocent of criminal wrongdoing.
Cao: When Ma gave his reasons for supporting the recall motion, he inadvertently told us the truth. He said that the motion to recall Chen was a “political action” and that “a violation of the law is not necessary” to support such a move. In the midst of the barrage of pan-blue accusations against Chen, this was tantamount to telling the world that Chen had not violated the law and that he was not involved in the corruption scandals; that these accusations, in effect, were political fabrications without any foundation in fact. That is the only reason why Ma, a former minister of justice with a law degree, said that “a violation of the law is not necessary,” since that washes Chen clean of all criminal suspicions.
Comment: Chen Shui-bian, his immediate family, his in laws, his cronies, and his fellow ruling DPP officials, have engaged in every form of corruption known to man, including patronage, bribery, extortion, influence peddling, fraud, embezzlement, and nepotism.
Taiwan independence apologists have demanded that those outraged by prima facie evidence of ruling DPP corruption must first prove corruption by means of the criminal justice system, and if they can’t, they must shut up.
But as anyone familiar with the grim reality of Taiwan’s “democracy” knows, ruling DPP malfeasance includes the hijacking of the criminal justice system, or at least its upper echelons. Put simply, the ruling DPP owns the criminal justice system.
Lower echelon public prosecutors and criminal investigators are at best, coerced into passively sitting on their hands and biting their tongues, or at worst, actively persecuting whistleblowers who are exposing ruling DPP corruption.
To ask victims of ruling DPP corruption to rely on the ruling DPP’s criminal justice system to protect them from ruling DPP victimization, is to ask chickens to rely on the fox to guard the henhouse.
Secondly, Cao asserts that because the Pan Blue camp’s recall motion cites Chen’s unfitness as a political leader, and does not require proof that Chen is guilty of criminal wrongdoing, therefore the Pan Blue camp does not respect “democracy.”
Cao: This statement is a shameless attack on Taiwan’s democracy. In Western democracies, there is no way to recall a head of state based on political actions … If it were possible to recall the head of state in two-party or multi-party systems for their political actions, political views and policy differences would turn democracy into a farce where parties would take turns recalling each other’s head of state — a preposterous, unimaginable situation. Such a preposterous and unimaginable situation is currently being played out in Taiwan. The biggest opposition party has held a demonstration to incite the public, and its chairman has even said that “a violation of the law is not necessary” to recall the president, his political actions are enough.
Comment: What precisely does Cao find so “preposterous” and “unimaginable” about recalling an elected official on political, rather than criiminal grounds?
An elected official is, theoretically speaking, a public servant. When a public servant is elected, he is hired. When a public servant is recalled, he is fired.
If electing someone on political grounds is the people’s inalienable right, as self-styled “champions of democracy” so shrilly insist, then why isn’t unelecting someone on political grounds, i.e., recalling them, also their inalienable right?
Proof of criminal wrongdoing is not necessary to fire an elected official, nor should it be. It is enough that his employer, i.e., the people, the taxpayers, the voters, are unhappy with his job performance.
As California voters know perfectly well, in the fall of 2003, sitting Democratic Governor Gray Davis was recalled and replaced with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, on political rather than criminal grounds, with no apology needed.
As Wikipedia explains:
Backers of the recall effort cited Gray Davis’s alleged “lack of leadership” combined with California’s weakened and hurt economy. According to the circulated petition [Governor Davis’s actions were a] “gross mismanagement of California Finances by overspending taxpayers’ money, threatening public safety by cutting funds to local governments, failing to account for the exorbitant cost of the energy , and failing in general to deal with the state’s major problems until they get to the crisis stage.”
No proof of criminal wrongdoing on the part of Davis was necessary to initiate the recall, nor was any offered. Davis was recalled purely on the basis that in the subjective opinion of California voters, he wasn’t doing a satisfactory job.
Are Cao and his fellow Taiwan independence apologists truly unable to deduce for themselves what procedures are or are not reasonable under constitutionalism and the rule of law?
Are Cao and his fellow Taiwan independence apologists truly unaware of what the prevailing norms are within “advanced democracies?”
Two possibilities present themselves.
One, Cao and his fellow Taiwan independence apologists know the nonsense they have spouted about the Pan Blue sponsored recall effort is untrue, in which case they are merely dishonest.
Two, Cao and his fellow Taiwan independence apologists actually think the nonsense they have spouted about the Pan Blue sponsored recall effort is true, in which case they are both stupid and ignorant.