Sunday, August 06, 2006

On the last train for the trip

On the last train for the trip
At least probably the last train of the trip. I am in the cheap section, a place I am not a fan of, but I have quickly made fans with all of my neighbors, so I think I got their back. Plus after today I feel my methods have been verified as at least somewhat effective.
I got into a huge fight over Taiwan again. This guy's argument was that the US and the UN say there is one China so there is one China and its capital was in Beijing. My point was that in 1971 the US and the UN said that there was one China, and its capital was in Taiwan. So back then, was the capital Taiwan because people said it was?
I asked him, "When your mom was in China in 1971, where did she think the capital of China." He answered that she believed that the capital was in Beijing. Well if the capital was in Beijing, was his mom wrong? The problem was that he was not really listening to me and just saying "yeah" to tough arguments because he wanted to get back to his point (which were all the same old nonsense of saying basically the same thing over and over again).
The big problem is that if he says his mom was right, Beijing was the capital, then of course Taiwan has the right to do the same. He too appealed to history and I quickly said, as always, "Well historically Inner-mongolia was apart of Mongolia and America was apart of the UK, should we give those things back?" I just now memorized how to say Tibet which will make these arguments even more bloody.
And would he invade if he was president? Well duh.
The problem with China is the opinions are way to universal. I have not met one unique opinion on this stupid Taiwan thing, not one! Not even one that hinted at free thought, its really rather depressing. They say the same things about Taiwan, about America, about China, and justify them in about the same ways. Even from professors, and it is really starting to get me down.
I don't think it is a cultural problem, Taiwan's culture is pretty similar (though not as much as Chinese thing), but there opinions are far more ranging and far more nuanced on these things.
One discussion I had at the train station, someone asked me, "How do Taiwanese feel about the mainland?" This was a question that I really liked, most people don't give me the respect of realizing I know WAY more about Taiwan than they do. The fact is most people try to "tell" me the "history" and the "thoughts" of Taiwanese people (yet I can quote actual media sources and percentages when I tell them what Taiwanese people think).
I also thought of a great way of answering his question, I asked him, "How do you feel about Japanese people?" He gave the official Chinese answer (as uniform as Taiwanese opinions and everything else), which is, shall we say, not so kind. I very quickly said, "well, that is how Taiwanese people feel about the mainland."
And its true. There are Chinese people that love Japan. There are Taiwanese that love the mainland. However, by and large, they believe the stupidest things about each other. More to the point, the racism and hate from Taiwan to China is very real sometimes, and the racism and hate from China to Japan is out of control. All because of history, all because of pride. Now pride and history has set up a possible slaughter along the Taiwan strait, all rooted in the same reasons that I can say with confidence "the Taiwanese think of you what you think of Japan." Its ugly, and I was a bit embarrassed to say it, but I was far more embarrassed that it is true.
With Alice I went out of my way to make jokes about how Taiwan is a separate country from China. She laughed and it made her a little uncomfortable, but it was clear she could not really accept what I was saying, and she didn't find it all _that_ funny. But it was good for me, because I needed to get that out.
This is going to drive me crazy, and I am afraid I might make it worse. Learning the word Tibet in Chinese might not be for the best. Even though virtually everyone recommends traveling there. A note, I forgot to mention this, I am confident the government has created this incredible drive to travel to Tibet, everyone has told me I should go to Tibet, its creepy. And they themselves? Never been, but would love to go.
Worse yet, two things I have yet to do, one to worry about, one not to worry about. Not to worry about: I want to see if I can do a day without Chinese here. I want to hear what people say about me if they think I truly don't understand. Second, I need to talk to someone about Falun gong and what they know. However the second is scary, really scary, its like mentioning a thousand Tiananmens. Its hard to get Tianamen info on Chinese internet, its impossible to find Falun gong stuff. Don't worry however, I plan on doing this one person, alone, and when I trust them. But I need to start asking that question.

PTI: I just finished the very good movie Syriana. Its one of those movies that hurts real bad, even with the lingering of truth. The fact that such accusations to the US government are on the table is bad enough. Perhaps I am afraid to know how much of that is true. Perhaps I am no better than the Fox News watcher who believes, who really believes with the faith that he comes to his religion.

Perhaps I believe China. Perhaps I don't see the pain in Tibet. Perhaps I don't know what happens to the Falungong. I look over the faces of the Chinese and I don't see their government. I look over Americans, and I don't see our government. However, when I hear Chinese voices, when I hear their opinions, I hear their government.
The government is not a force, lying across the top of this bus. However it is in the back of their heads. While a different voice sits in the back of my head. A voice that says America fights for the world. A voice that says our success is a product of work, and we deserve it. A voice that sees George Bush as a President, a President I don't like, rather than sees Bush as a flawed man, a man I detest.
How much truth do I write in this blog when I talk politics? About 80 percent, but its that twenty percent that stings. Its that twenty percent that are ideas, that are thoughts. Why? Because I am afraid.
I don't think I am going to be a politician. I don't think so because I don't think I could get elected. Its not a lack of interest, its not a lack of skill, its a belief that America would probably never elect me. I have too many things I am not ashamed of to admit. China, Marijuana, video-games, these things don't get someone elected. This blog alone has enough quotes to keep me out of office, not because I am a bad person, but America is too gutless to elect someone that is anything more of a shadow.
Yet, I studied politics. I believe that the government can do profound good for a nation. I love America. So, I think about office. In the last four years, I have thought about it less and less, but its always there. Every time I talk about politics or Americans I picture little sound bites played back to me on some god awful Fox News program in 2028.
However, I am tired of it. The fact is if I don't get elected for who I am, then I have no interest in office in the first place. So this blog, and its predecessor will be much more political, and I expect a fair bit more hate mail from my dad.
The problem is that the fear comes from "Well what if this opinion changes?" Does that make me a flip-flopper if I change my mind? I used to think that the office of the President meant something inherently. Now I just think that the President is a frat boy who had old money billionaires feed him power from his silver spoon.
His vacations when the "orange alerts" are up are unacceptable. His in-articulation is not a cowboy nuance, its the sign of a moron. He is an egomaniac, and you can see it every time that he says something, and believes something, that his handlers told him to say. This is not a special opinion, I am the last person to write these up in a blog. But for me, its a resignation that I simply don't care about the office of the President, it means nothing without a person worthy of being in there. And you know what? The next president is going to suck too, because this country became stupid and fundamentalistic when we were not looking. My only hope? That people who matter get into the government before rome burns.

PTI: I do get the vanity of that last entry, but I also get the vanity of this entire blog, and this head, and really, that is half of the battle.

PTI: I am in Beijing now, very cool cafe.

1 comment:

Nick (the tricky one) said...

The thing to remember is that Bush will be gone in 3 more years but the people that are lining upt to run are pretty shitty too so I wouldnt expect much to change. Also at some point we will get out of Iraq but that will just lead to a civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites there. Fun times all around there. I actually think the religions hate each other more than they hate the United States. Anyway enjoy the fun when you get back here in a couple of weeks and just realize that in law school you dont really talk about current events except for some in Con Law.