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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gott mit uns: Taiwan on for Christmas

Note:  I really screwed up when I originally posted this yesterday.  Despite reading the articles and watching the video, I somehow had it in my head that this occurred in Thailand, not Taiwan!  I repeatedly referred to Thailand and Thai culture in the post, even asking rhetorical questions about Thailand's royal family to prove a point: that I'm an idiot, apparently.  An idiot in desperate need of a proof-reader.
 
I did a post a while back about "Hitler branding" in Thailand and India, mentioning "Hitler chic" as a pop cultural phenomenon throughout Asia.  Apparently, a furor has recently erupted in Taiwan over a school parade in which the kids marched carrying swastika placards and wearing black uniforms and swastika armbands.  Although the students chose the theme, the school's principal (or ex-principal; he's resigned) is quick to point out the kids aren't a problem, but that the (lack of) education on the subject is at fault.  A local Jewish leader agrees, and doesn't see the parade as an act of Antisemitism.  Just wildly inappropriate.

As the article states, there are only a thousand or so Jews living in Taiwan, and textbooks there naturally focus more on the Asian war rather than the European theater.  An interesting read; something so sensitive and well-known in the West seems to be something a lot of countries of the world know as much about as, well, most Americans for example, know about Taiwanese history and culture.

From the New York Times.

CNN's photos are pretty eye-popping; those kids' uniforms weren't just cobbled together by mom from old clothes laying about; some time and care went into making those things.  They're quite detailed and very, erm uniform. 

TIME's video shows the high quality of the props such as banners and eagle flag pole tops.  What strikes me is that while researching this stuff -- the banners and regalia are pretty detailed and authentic -- didn't they come across anything about what it all represented, and led to?


That this idea even made it to the voting stage demonstrates the vast cultural gulf between East and West.  We would have once called this a SNAFU, but now it might be what they call a "teaching moment".  One would think that somewhere along the line some adult involved would have said, "Wait a minute here...."  This regalia clearly wasn't clapped together overnight, although the video does mention the theme was chosen in part because it was relatively easy to convert their school uniform into spiffy SS duds!  It also mentions that "some" were unaware of Hitler's atrocities.  So that leaves "some" others with questionable judgment.  But as I've asked in other posts, how many of us know what subject could have the potential to offend the Taiwanese people, a nation of 23.5 million?  How many can even name the current President?  [This is where I originally went full-metal moron by asking how many among us could name Thailand's current king, or if you readers even knew Thailand is a kingdom.  It is.  And Quito is the capital of Ecuador.]

They take their parades seriously, I suppose.  That's a lot of work for a one-off event!  It happened at a Catholic school....maybe they saw some of those "Gott mit uns" belt buckles worn by the Wehrmacht and thought they must have been OK guys.  How can you be wrong with God on your side?



The Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now, too
Have God on their side

Kind of reminds of a book I read long ago called The Wave, a novelization from a film by the same name, loosely based on an actual experiment.  In the book, a school lesson/role play on how people came to embrace Nazism goes dangerously awry as the students actually begin to transform themselves into a movement of facho bully-boys.  From what I remember of my high school experience, this isn't much of a leap....

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