July 12, 2001
10:05 AM   Subscribe

Taiwan's ruling party receives some very controversial assistance. 'The commercial opens with a 10-second clip from a Nazi propaganda film, showing Hitler raising his arms and putting his hands on his chest.'

"Hitler was chosen as one of the four leaders because he dared to speak his own mind,'' Juan said. Among former Taiwanese president, Castro & JFK are featured in the commercial. AP notes that Taiwanese lack a deep understanding of the Holocaust and at the same time are suprised to that Mao Tse-Tung is used as a pop symbol in the West... Is this a case that warrants cultural relativism ?
posted by noom (12 comments total)

You might remember an incident from a year or so ago where some Asian company used a caricature of Hitler to advertise their heaters because he represented "somthing strong and iron-willed" (my remark) -- clearly Hitler doesn't have the same cultural resonance for some as it does for Euro-American sensibilities.
posted by briank at 10:34 AM on July 12, 2001

To them Hitler just means Germany. Like Mobsters mean Chicago to everyone else.

Which is scary enough. But I don't think its limited to that. The Taiwan ad has no connection to Germany, they seems to get a positive vibe up on the 'strong will'. He exerted.

Not even beginning to look into the obvious moral outrage that should keep one from using Hitler in regard, even viewing Hitler as a successful general is foolish, considering how although he achieved a few quick victories -- he hampered his generals and constantly botched up operations with his paranoia. His 'iron will' usually led to disasterous moves--such as overcommiting to take Stalingrad when it was obviously a lost cause, and losing a third of his army in the process.
posted by brucec at 11:02 AM on July 12, 2001

Yay skallas for finding the pic.
posted by briank at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2001

So how is this different to using Mao Tse-tung in pop art in the West (a question implicitly raised at the end of the article) (up to 30,000,000 deaths maybe)?

I don't really want to get into detailed body counts and political arguments - just think it's an interesting contrast. I guess I risk being labelled as rabidly anti-semitic if I suggest part of the difference is that those who remember the Chinese dead don't have the political clout of American Jews - although that doesn't imply that Taiwan is in the right.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:25 PM on July 12, 2001

Hmmmm... Second time today I've wondered if Godwin's Rule applies.

Zzzzzzzztt!! Metafilter implodes!
posted by J. R. Hughto at 12:36 PM on July 12, 2001

I've never seen Mao Tse-tung being used as a legitimate icon (or model) of strength for a political party. Maybe I just haven't been around enough? In any case, I think that there's a big difference between having Hitler pop up in a cartoon and using Mao Tse-tung as political rallying point.

posted by gd779 at 12:42 PM on July 12, 2001

AP notes that Taiwanese lack a deep understanding of the Holocaust

And how many Americans are intimately familiar with Japanese war crimes such as the famed "Rape of Nanking" where an estimated 300,000 were brutally murdered and 20,000 raped?

While I am not trying to ignore German atrocities during WWII, I do think it is cultural bigotry to feel that societies that were not involved in the European theater of the war should be as emotionally affected by the imagery of that situation as we occidentals tend to be.
posted by RevGreg at 6:20 PM on July 12, 2001


We still would find it unacceptable in America to show Hirohito speaking in front of the Rising Sun military.
posted by Kevs at 6:27 PM on July 12, 2001

We still would find it unacceptable in America to show Hirohito speaking in front of the Rising Sun military.

What you are still ignoring here is that the Taiwanese (still part of the Nationalist Chinese under Xiang Kai-shek) were never involved in direct conflict with the Germans and, in fact, had very deep ties with the Germans prior to the war. Would you not think that the perception of Hirohito in Finland or Denmark, who heard little and saw less of the Pacific war, would be markedly different than in places like the Phillipeans and Mongolia where people were treated with the utmost brutality by Japanese soldiers?

America fought in both theaters and therefor has stark memories of both leaders - once again, it would cultural bigotry to assume that ALL cultures should share our emotionally charged view of these leaders.
posted by RevGreg at 7:41 PM on July 12, 2001

If Chairman Mao is somehow acceptable and Hitler is beyond the pale, I think it may come down to something I heard Eddie Izzard say again last night. Kill your own people...and, well, the world is sort of okay with that. Mao Tse-tung, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic -- it's sad, but when the atrocities are confined to somebody else's backyard, the rest of us are more than willing to look the other way and forget about it. So Hitler easily can become just another icon wherever his actions were not directly felt; divorced from reality and the horrible truth of history, appropriated but barely understood, Adolf is just another recognizable face in an advertisement.

I do not think it is cultural bigotry, however, to say that this is a bad thing. Even if we agree with Juan Chao-hsiung and say that Hitler simply "dared to speak his own mind," can't we also agree that this was perhaps not the sanest of all minds and that ultimately he was in the wrong? Can't we agree that genocide, wherever it occurs, should not be swept under the carpet and forgotten just because it happened to somebody else? If Taiwan does "lack a deep understanding of the Holocaust," wouldn't we all be better off educating its people of its horrors?
posted by UnReality at 9:43 PM on July 12, 2001

wouldn't we all be better off educating its people of its horrors?

yes. and maybe we should take a minute or two to educate ourselves about the native americans and think of how we use their images for the same reasons. why don't more people get upset when talking about native americans? it's sick.
posted by ggggarret at 12:43 AM on July 13, 2001

I saw a picture of Mao Tse-Tung in an ad for a camera or something in Der Stern once, and I thought "So, what's next? Are they going to use Hitler in ads in China?"
posted by dagnyscott at 6:45 AM on July 13, 2001

« Older Computer Review   |   George W. Bush's Handwriting. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments