What about the mothers?

Yesterday the KMT organized a small anti anti CSSTA event.  The event featured worried mothers asking their children to go home.  The demonstrators also complained that the police were tired.

I rather doubt that many of the participants were actually mothers of protesting students.  Still, it’s amusing to think about the life lessons these “mothers” are teaching their “children.”  For example, “Don’t stand up for your beliefs.” “When something is tiring, you should give up.” “All major national decisions should be decided by what causes the least inconvenience to the police.”  How inspiring!

Today at the big demonstration, I saw a sticker that is probably a more accurate description of how students’ mothers actually feel.  It said, “政府動粗;媽媽生氣了!!Violent Gov’t Angers Mothers.”

22 Responses to “What about the mothers?”

  1. Jenna Cody Says:

    “When your elders are wrong, let them be wrong – in fact, entrust your country’s future to their wrongness.”

    That’s what I feel is behind a lot of older people’s anti-anti-Fu Mao sentiments.

    Between the 3,000 (estimated – last photo I saw was more like 300 but whatever) who showed up for that and the estimated 500,000 who showed up for today’s rally, I think we know what the sentiments of the public are.

    Here’s hoping those in charge listen.

    Ha.

    Haha.

  2. Brido Says:

    “When your youthful passions tell you your elders are wrong, you must be right.”

    We’ll see soon enough whether they’re riding the wave of genuinely popular opinion or whether they’re just better at concentrating bodies through the social media echo-chamber.

    • Jenna Cody Says:

      An easy thing to say if you don’t want to admit that they have a lot of people – seemingly a majority – on their side.

      People rarely show up for protests due to the “social media echo chamber” – if anything the tired “clicktivist” cliche keeps people at home because they think they’ve done enough by “liking” a page for a cause they are lukewarm about.

      To actually show up?

      Bro, you’re deluding yourself. They have a lot of support.

      And if you think they are motivated by youthful passions, you’re condescending to them and not listening.

      Start listening. Perhaps you’ll learn something from these smart young people.

    • Brido Says:

      I’ll take your points in turn, Jenna:

      “An easy thing to say if you don’t want to admit that they have a lot of people – seemingly a majority – on their side.”

      Actually, I didn’t say it – you did. I just changed a few of the words and passed it back to you to see how you liked being on the receiving end. Seems you think it’s “condescending.”

      I disagree that they seem to have a majority on their side. The only time anything like a plebiscite on this matter was held was the 2012 Presidential election when Ma made the success of the ECFA and his intention to pursue the next stage a central plank of his re-election campaign. He won by 6% on a turnout of 74%, despite splitting the Blue vote with the PFP (an extra 2% who can be reliably assumed to be behind the trade-in-services pact). I make that 53-54% of those who cast their votes supporting his stance on Cross-Straits trade and back when I was a lad that was a majority. Until the FFMs can turn out anything like those numbers, I’ll continue to believe that the President of the Republic has a democratic mandate to pursue this pact, given him in free and fair elections. That his man in the LY corpsed under pressure from the DPP changes that not a jot, it just means he needs to pursue it in the proper and constitutional way.

      “People rarely show up for protests due to the “social media echo chamber” – if anything the tired “clicktivist” cliche keeps people at home because they think they’ve done enough by “liking” a page for a cause they are lukewarm about. “

      People turn up for protests for a whole lot of reasons. In my own direct and indirect experience of student politics and youth activism, these range from undying passion and commitment on one side and the other peer-pressure, identity politics, a poor understanding of the issues, a social activity with their pals and just plain old to see and be seen at an exciting event. That’s the nature of the beast.

      I know from my own involvement with Taiwanese friends and acquaintances that attendance is not automatically the same as support and support is not automatically the same as understanding. People are unfriending others on SMs due to differences of opinion and that illustrates the biggest trap for those who’d rely on those media. For the organisers, yes, they’re fantastic means to get your message out there but they’re atrocious for getting truthful feedback as you wind up preaching to the converted. For the recipients, there’s no guarantee that what you’re receiving is accurate or even truthful. My Taiwanese friends cover a spectrum of opinions on the issue but one striking trend is how few of them have actually read it as opposed to read what a lot of other folk have written about it.

      “Bro, you’re deluding yourself. They have a lot of support.”

      Nowhere near 50% of the electorate, though. When they do, they’ll have the right to dictate policy to the elected government, not before.

      “And if you think they are motivated by youthful passions, you’re condescending to them and not listening.”

      What makes you think I haven’t listened? That I disagree with them? I’ll do you the courtesy of assuming that you’re not 12 and can understand that it’s possible to look at exactly the same facts and come to different conclusions.

      I listened to both sides of the argument long enough to realise that I didn’t understand what it was they were talking about. There was simply too much “The pact say…”/”No, it doesn’t…”/”Yes it does…”, so I went and read it myself so I could judge what information and misinformation the respective sides were putting out. I also formed separate opinions on the rights and wrongs of the pact and the rights and wrongs of the opposition to the pact. On here, I’ve expressed myself only on the latter.

      “Start listening. Perhaps you’ll learn something from these smart young people.”

      What I’ve learned from them is that they think ‘democracy’ mean ‘we get our way’ and that they have a unique insight into the wishes of the Taiwanese people that those same people weren’t able to express at the ballot box. For the last word on that subject, I’ll leave it to Nathan.

      https://frozengarlic.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/a-message-to-the-losing-side/

      • Jenna Cody Says:

        Have you looked at the media polls, though? (Sometimes the media does these things right). Did you look at the # of people who showed up in support of the students, compared to the # that showed up to rally against them?

        Seems to me your numbers are still way off. You really don’t want to believe that they have the support they do. I would say the vast majority of people I know do support the students – they are more divided on Fu Mao itself, but that’s not really the issue. The issue is the decision made by Chang Ching-chung which precipitated all of this, and on that, most people agree: it was not acceptable. Every poll shows it.

        Even so, officials already elected should be paying attention to current public opinion. They don’t *have to* follow it, but if they don’t, they end up with protests like the one that happened on Sunday.

        As for the message to the losing side, remember, that’s when due process is followed. In this case, due process was not followed – democracy was ignored. By the KMT. By the Legislative Yuan.

        That’s the whole problem right there, and it doesn’t have very much at all to do with the content of Fu Mao (although I personally don’t support it, that’s a different discussion as far as i’m concerned).

        As for your –

        “What I’ve learned from them is that they think ‘democracy’ mean ‘we get our way'”

        …wait, you’re describing the KMT, right?

      • Jenna Cody Says:

        Basically, as I see it, the LY (Chang Ching-chung, but really the whole body) broke the law. If not the letter of it (that can be debated by legal scholars), then the spirit of it. The KMT reneged on a promise.

        And that violation of due process is what justifies the students’ actions. That alone. They did the right thing on calling the LY out on their breach of the law.

      • joequant2013 Says:

        Also for reference you have the TVBS polls. You have to separate several different issues. Support for Ma. Support for the students. Support for the CSSTA. These are related but quite separate.

        The latest TVBS polls show that the CSSTA is still not supported by the public, but there has been a huge bounce back from a week ago. Most people (60%) are still not clear what is in the CSSTA, but there is an interesting finding when you coorrelate knowledge of the CSSTA with opinions toward the CSSTA. Among the people that claim to understand the CSSTA well, the number of supporters and opponents is roughly even. Among people that don’t understand it, the number of people that oppose it is the same, but you have a huge number of undecided.

        You have huge support for the students, but not necessarily for their goals.

        The actions of the political parties suggests that their internal polls show the same thing. The KMT is conceding everything except for the CSSTA. The DPP is focusing on Ma and government actions toward the students, and they have done everything they can to avoid bashing the CSSTA. It’s worth noting that several major DPP heavyweights have come out (quietly) in favor of CSSTA, and the DPP is trying to walk this tightrope of supporting the students but not opposing the CSSTA. I think the strategy of the KMT is to try to make it impossible to walk the tightrope, which is why they are agreeing to all of the student demands except for the CSSTA.

        The other thing is that it’s clear to everyone that the students want the CSSTA dead. Trying to get them into a situation where they and the DPP can’t argue that there the problem is “procedure” is part of the chess game here.

        One thing that I would be concerned about if I were a DPP strategist is how many students actually will vote.

        One problem in running a democracy is that different sectors view the world differently. Pretty much everyone in finance and high technology thinks that the CSSTA is a good thing and that Taiwan is doomed without it.

        One reason Ma is taking a very hard line on the CSSTA is that he really believes that it is the right thing, and so did most of the people who elected him president.

      • joequant2013 Says:

        Also legislative procedure is now a non-issue. The KMT legislative whip has resigned from the party and the committee approval has been withdrawal. If this was the real issue, then the students have scored a total victory.

        However, one thing about demonstrations is that once you win, you ask for more, and people often bring up issue A because their goal is issue B. It’s pretty obvious, that the students will not be satisfied with any procedure in which the CSSTA actually passes, since they want it dead.

        One thing about legislative chess is that you have to think many moves ahead. Bringing in mothers to ask their kids to come home might look silly now. But imagine one or two months from now in which the KMT has conceded everything (and they have conceded everything except for CSSTA). At that point you want to prevent the students from saying “now that we’ve gotten X, we’ve want 2*X.” At that point “we’ve given you almost everything you wanted, what about going him, your mother wants you, because you’ve won” starts having an impact.

        The other issue is that we’ll see tomorrow what the proposals look like, but if the KMT comes up with reasonable proposals for a cross-strait monitoring mechanism and a constitutional conference, and the students respond by nitpicking, then the will lose some public support. This is important, because I do think that the KMT’s proposals *won’t* satisify the students so they’ll have to figure out what to do.

        The one demand of the students that has to be handled *very* carefully is the demand for a constitutional meeting. It has taken *decades* of work to come up with a constitutional system for Taiwan that won’t start World War III, and it really worries me that people intentionally or unintentionally will open a Pandora’s box. If someone wants to create an advisory committee to propose constitutional amendments that go thorugh the number amendment procedure, that’s fine. If people want to bypass the constitutional amendment procedure, then you are playing with very, very, very dangerous stuff. Look at Thailand…

      • Brido Says:

        “Have you looked at the media polls, though? (Sometimes the media does these things right). Did you look at the # of people who showed up in support of the students, compared to the # that showed up to rally against them?”

        Have you looked at the numbers who turned out in the 2012 election? Or at the numbers of people who could have turned out to support the students but didn’t? Or the times of day these rallies were held in relation to normal working patterns?

        “Seems to me your numbers are still way off. You really don’t want to believe that they have the support they do.”

        My numbers are taken directly from this very blog. 74% turnout, not far short of 55% of whom voted for parties promoting closer economic ties with PRC, the vast majority of those voting for Ma and his explicit platform. Nothing the demonstrators have arranged has resulted in anything like that level of verified support across the entire electorate. At best, they’ve been able to put a crowd into relatively small areas of a small number of cities. It might look a large number in the photos but on the only scale of democratic values that matters – the entire electorate – it’s not even a drop in the ocean. It seems it’s you who really doesn’t want to believe the level of support the students actually have.

        “I would say the vast majority of people I know do support the students – they are more divided on Fu Mao itself, but that’s not really the issue. “

        I would say that the vast majority of people used to support the students when they were protesting a failure to follow due process in the LY – and rightly so. Once the students switched their aim to the complete overthrow of the pact, they ran counter to the democratically-expressed will of the RoC electorate. The same motivation that had people supporting them against the usurpation of due process will erode this support now that the students themselves are trying to do the very same thing.

        “The issue is the decision made by Chang Ching-chung which precipitated all of this, and on that, most people agree: it was not acceptable. Every poll shows it.”

        Yes. So what? ow does that translate into support for their now-stated aims of dictating to the government what it can and can’t do with its electoral mandate?

        “Even so, officials already elected should be paying attention to current public opinion. They don’t *have to* follow it, but if they don’t, they end up with protests like the one that happened on Sunday.”

        They are paying attention. The first concession they made was even before the students got involved – having it debated clause by clause in the Legislature which to my knowledge is not required either by international trade practice, the RoC constitution or any of the existing legislation covering Cross-Straits relations. It was a political tactic on Ma’s part to circumvent allegations of underhandedness (much good it did him) and that his man fluffed his lines when rushed by DPP Legislators doesn’t equate to Ma personally grinning while taking a long, steaming dump on the roots of the Tree of Liberty.

        “As for the message to the losing side, remember, that’s when due process is followed. In this case, due process was not followed – democracy was ignored. By the KMT. By the Legislative Yuan.”

        Democracy was not ignored, not unless you redefine democracy as the scrupulous following of procedure which would entirely undermine the students’ stance as well as the DPP’s standard response to being thwarted in the Legislature. Procedure was undermined and that’s now been redressed. That the students are not happy even now that their causus belli has been removed shows they’ve been telling porkies to the general population about their aim all along.

        “As for your –

        “What I’ve learned from them is that they think ‘democracy’ mean ‘we get our way’”

        …wait, you’re describing the KMT, right?”

        The KMT didn’t have to ‘get’ their way. It was given to them freely and fairly by the electorate in January 2012 with the sort of majority governments in older established democracies can only dream of. Nothing will change that single simple fact, regardless of how impassioned the rhetoric or photogenic the speaker.

  3. omega Says:

    the students are wrong to illegally occupy parliament. i cannot accept the “the cause justify the means” logic. if that is the case, then everyone or group can also attack, occupy and paralyze parliament to promote their great cause and force the government to listen to them. this of course makes no sense.

    • frozengarlic Says:

      I have discussed this topic at length in previous posts.

    • Jenna Cody Says:

      The “illegal” occupation became justifiable, as frozen garlic has posted, the moment the legislature itself besmirched and veered away from democracy.

      Had rule of law and democratic processes been observed, the occupation would have never happened. Had it happened anyway, it would have been deplorable.

      But…sorry. No. The people who ground their heel into democracy were the deplorable legislators.

    • Jenna Cody Says:

      Also notable: is the government not an institution that serves the people, not the other way around? That legislative building belongs to the people, the legislators who work there are only there as representatives – servants – of the people. They are not Taiwan’s commanders, they are not Taiwan’s rulers. They are Taiwan’s servants.

      The moment they stopped serving the people is the moment the people were right to take back what is theirs.

      • omega Says:

        do you think the red protestors should overthrow President Chen by force in 2006 ? Chen was corrupt. it was in the people’s best interests to take back Chen’s power.

        the situations are similar in 2006 and now. both groups of peoples’ causes were justified to some degree for them to take drastic actions to remedy the situation. President Chen had his political legitimacy from the election, likewise for President Ma and the Parliament now. in both cases, the protestors seemingly had the majority of public’s support. but the opinion polls are for reference only. it didn’t matter if the red or black protestors had 1 million in the rallies, they still cannot officially represent the people who didn’t bestow them the power to make decisions on behalf of them, let alone coercing the elected leaders to accept their demands.

        the red protestors restrained themselves and allowed Chen to be dealt with by the law 2 years later. the opportunistic students disregarded the rule of law and rejected the basic principles of democracy by attacking, occupying and paralyzing parliament. the students’ cause may be right but to break the law for the sake of it is wrong. they cannot hold Parliament to ransom this way and coerce the elected President and lawmakers to accept their demands no matter how justified. there have to be other ways which they can make the KMT cabinet or lawmakers to review, suspend or terminate the trade pact.

      • Jenna Cody Says:

        Actually, if the case against Chen was that strong (I was never convinced it really was, although I did feel he was probably corrupt – they all are – just that it could never be proven to the degree the KMT insists it was), the people should have protested more strongly for impeachment, or a law that would make it possible (can a president in Taiwan be impeached?). See my comments on previous posts about street protests being wholly ineffective and, when ignored by elected leaders, somewhat pointless.

        The issue here was not that the officials in the LY were going against public opinion – there is room for that in a healthy democracy, after all, people elected those leaders. Frozen Garlic said it himself (himself? I just realized I have no idea if FG is a man or woman).

        The problem was specifically what Chang Ching-chung did with that microphone – that was the breach of democracy. That was when it became justifiable for the students to occupy the LY – the LY had ceased, itself, to follow due process and the spirit of the law and in that instant, lost its mandate to govern as they’d been elected to. They ceased to be servants of the people.

        Whatever your opinion on Chen (personally – I think yeah, he probably did it. But I was never fully convinced that the evidence was enough to convict him of it, and keeping him in jail now in his present medical condition is tantamount to human rights abuse. The KMT showed nothing but vindictiveness at being challenged about their perception that they have absolute right to rule Taiwan and the people should fall in line), democratic process was followed.

        But in this case, it was not. And the fault lies with the LY legislators.

      • joequant2013 Says:

        I think “White Wolf” came up with the de-facto counterargument. Once you decide who sits in the legislature by who gets to physically occupy the building, then how are students more legitimate than gangsters?

      • omega Says:

        i don’t understand. the students stated they are taking back parliament for the people. but why they refuse to allow other people to enter parliament ? their logic is contradictory,

  4. csempere109 Says:

    “Still, it’s amusing to think about the life lessons these ‘mothers’ are teaching their ‘children.’ For example, ‘Don’t stand up for your beliefs.’”

    That’s basically what my Mom has told me my whole life. “Don’t get involved.” “Keep your head down.” She’s fundamentally pan-green, but regularly criticizes DPP politicians for being troublemakers. Sometimes she says it as if she felt compelled to without actually feeling that way. I can see how a dictatorship would do that to you.

    • Brido Says:

      Possibly, these mothers are teaching their kids an extremely valuable lesson – come up with and stand up for your own beliefs, regardless of what all your friends are doing. Possibly, yours is capable of supporting the policies of the DPP while regarding the personalities as troublemakers. Beliefs aren’t a monolith take-it-or-leave-it.

    • Jenna Cody Says:

      It’s perfectly possible to criticize DPP politicians (physically blocking the podium was really childish, for example, and I could see how that could lead to the criticism of ‘troublemaker’) while being fundamentally pan-green.

      I’m fundamentally pan-green, but I don’t fully support the DPP either (however, I do think that when faced with a bunch of wanna-be dictators who are butthurt that they don’t have absolute power anymore – ie the KMT – a little troublemaking is in order. I appreciate a good bit of civil disobedience, a touch of rogue).

      A better example would be your mother being pan-green, but not voting in referendums the green side supports (like forcing the KMT to return or compensate for illegally expropriated party property – remember how 48% of people voted, but of those 48%, 90-something% voted in favor? If every pan-green or at least not pan-blue person had voted, that measure probably would have passed). Or being pan-green but refusing to speak out even when her own livelihood is threatened by the other side. Refusing to criticize the government for not opening records to everyone who disappeared during the White Terror, even though you think they should.

      That would be ‘don’t stand up for your beliefs’…and I do think a lot of Taiwanese parents try to teach their children that. Only because a few of my students, in their 30s and 40s, have related to me how their parents would say “don’t speak out, don’t make trouble, keep to yourself. You never know when a truck will pull up outside your house…and you’ll be gone.” They remember what happened when the government (well, the KMT) did just that, and tried to teach their kids to keep their heads down.

      These wonderful (yes, I’m biased) young students have rejected that lesson.

      My, how things are changing, and not fast enough!

      • joequant2013 Says:

        Also one relevant thing here is that this isn’t really a pure blue/green issue since several pro-green politicians have come out in favor of the CSSTA to various degrees.

        One thing that I’ve noticed is that the DPP county administrators seem to be more pro-CSSTA than the party central in Taipei. I’m guessing that’s because China-trade oddly enough tends to benefit southern rural Taiwan (agriculture and tourism) and it’s really hard to see how CSSTA will affect employment in the south. Also the universities tend to be clustered around Taipei, so that being seen as strongly pro-student may swing votes in the north, but it’s much less likely to move votes in the south.

        As far as fighting for your beliefs…. The problem is that you will eventually meet people that are just as strong in their beliefs but are fighting for something completely different. One thing that is odd is that I’ve known quite a few “ultra-green” in my life, and I’ve found that they only thing that separates us is that we just happen to have different parents so our passion for politics got directed in different directions.

        One reason that Taiwanese democracy has evolved is that it is becoming clear that there are no final battles. In the early days, when we had the first elections, passions were high, because people really believed that this could be the final election, and if they other side won, they would take everything. Noawdays, you win some and you lose some, and every time KMT has a crushing victory, I’ve felt genuine sympathy for the other side, since I know what it feels like to lose an election and to lose badly, and I’m sure they feel the same.

        One reason I’m scared when people mention “constitutional meeting” is that it’s taken decades to come up with an acceptable constitutional system for Taiwan, and I worried that someone will do something stupid that will just burn all of the painful work that’s been built up over the last few decades. One red line that I hope that both the KMT and DPP stick by is to do nothing that violates or circumvents the ROC constitution.

        The other thing is that sometimes, it’s just time to admit you’ve lost and give up. In the first few days after the student movement started, I was quiet and depressed, because I was looking at the energy of the protests, and I was considering the possibility that I had massively misread Taiwanese public opinion to the point where fighting was useless. If it turned out that Ma really was as out of touch as people said that he was, then maybe we did lose, and we ought to just give up.

        That’s happened before, but it didn’t happen in this case. Part of what was happening the first few days was people trying to figure how strong each side was, and looking at the numbers, it’s not anywhere near hopeless to pass CSSTA.

        One other point. The reason I got into finance was out of political activism. Something that I’ve noticed in these sorts of fights is that in the end the students always lose and the bankers always win. Once I realized that the bankers always seem to win, that made me want to learn about banking.

  5. joequant2013 Says:

    Don’t assume that older people are acting out of fear rather than experience.

    I remember during Tiananmen, I had this screaming argument with my mother that wanted me to be more moderate and not go out and join a sympathy demonstration in the United States. At the time, I thought my mother was something of a coward, and we got into a screaming fight which I still remember.

    It turns out that in her youth, my mother was something of an annoyance to the KMT authorities in Taiwan, and got herself into all sorts of minor trouble. There were other relatives that were more outspoken that got themselves into much bigger trouble. So she wasn’t speaking out of cowardice, but rather experience. During the “white terror”, she and her friends got into trouble for being suspected communists and subversives, and one time my wife asked her “were you in fact communists and subversives” and she smiled and said “when we were young, we were *all* communists and subversives.”

    It turns out that political activists sometimes let passion overwhelm rationality, and once you get involved with them, at some point you start wondering if you are actually making the world better rather than worse, and in any event you figure out that the world is more complicated than you once thought. It takes a decade or two to learn this, and by the end you are older and wiser, by that time you see young people that are doing and acting in the same way that you did when you were 20.

    Being part of a political movement is like falling in love for the first time. There is a purity of vision and belief. Yes, we can change the world. Yes, we do know what we are doing. Over time, you find that people are people, and you get disillusioned and cynical. You can still fall in love, but after you’ve been burned and hurt, it’s never quite the same.

    Once you’ve been burned by the movement, once you’ve seen how things can go wrong, and in some cases horribly wrong, you tend to turn inward, and focus your energies on family and career.

    Part of the reason it’s been a difficult few weeks for me is that there is still this passionate 20 year old inside of me that’s excited about changing the world, and it’s hard not to get swept away. However, I’m not 20 years old, and I’m having this big argument in my head about what is going on, and looking back, so too did my mother when we had that argument.

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