Thursday, February 18, 2016

Social media moments as news: "Taiwan Mothers Alliance" protests Sunflower history in history textbooks

The transcript is given on Youtube:
The start of the new academic semester has led to the latest textbook controversy. Parents are upset that new freshman high school civics textbooks include passages about the student-led Sunflower Movement of 2014. Parents argue that illegal activities shouldn’t become part of the curriculum, though civics teachers say the movement is now part of history, and shouldn’t be regarded as controversial. Opening Hanlin Book Publisher’s high school freshman civic textbook, one can read a passage about the student Sunflower Movement. This text has angered the Taiwan Mothers’ Alliance who took to Facebook to protest. The group questions how an act of civil disobedience could become teaching material. However, some civics teachers simply don’t agree. Huang Yi-chung Civics Teacher I think these mothers are making too much of a fuss. The student Sunflower Movement took place in 2014 and was a major protest movement which took place in Taiwan. It’s only natural to discuss major social movements in civics classes. Huang says that civics textbooks need to include current events and the more recent the better. However, students are divided over the issue.High School StudentI think this is actually good subject material because it''s a current event. If the Wild Lily Movement and 228 became part of our curriculum, then why can’t this subject?High School StudentI don’t think it’s suitable because this subject is quite controversial.Of six domestic publishers of civics textbooks, so far only Hanlin and Lungteng have included the student Sunflower Movement in such textbooks.
It's cool that two publishers included the Sunflower movement, crucial to understanding the victories of Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP in 2014 and 2016.

The complaint is on Facebook here. It calls the Sunflowers an "illegal violent protest" although the violence was all police inflicted (oh, and some was offered by gangsters as well, but I guess mothers don't mind gangsters). The group posted again on it here, defending its position against the overwhelming abuse of netizens and complaining that their private information had been made public on the net (which sucks). Apple Daily report.

Many changes occurring as a result of the DPP victories as everyone bends with the new wind. We can expect to see more things like this in textbooks -- they were a huge influence under the Chen Administration as well. Under the Ma Administration, the rise of social media and the intensive use of the traditional PTTs helped expand Taiwan consciousness among the young and counteract Ma's pro-China propaganda offensives, as well as coordinate social movements. Mark Harrison, longtime scholar, has a great piece on the effect of social media, both on the election, and the international media.
From the early 2010s in Taiwan, student activists began deploying these communications tools to create new political practices. They undertook a series of protest movements against the Ma government over media ownership, urban development and cross-Straits relations that culminated in the Sunflower Movement of 2014, when several hundred university students occupied the legislative assembly over democratic oversight of the Cross-Straits Trade in Services Agreement. From inside the legislative chamber, they used social media with such sophistication that they were able to circumvent Taiwan’s traditional news media and create an alternative public sphere across Taiwan and globally.
People who deride Taiwanese for putting food pictures on Facebook are forgetting that Facebook is not where the young go to engage in political talk: that's the function of PTTs.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

"People who deride Taiwanese for putting food pictures on Facebook are forgetting that Facebook is not where the young go to engage in political talk: that's the function of PTTs."

Great comment.

Anonymous said...

What is a PTT?

Scott Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.BarNavi said...

PTT: Internet message board based in Taiwan

Michael, you and Minshih both drop the ball in neglecting to mention that the Mommy Alliance is a KMT front group. Dox or no dox.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, you wasted the time to allow my comment....What is a ptt, but didn't actually answer my question.

林群傑 said...

As a Taiwanese, I think you understand the folk of Taiwan more than I do. In my opinion, PPT becomes the major forum in Taiwan, because it can share the opinion anonymously. Politics is quite sensitive in Taiwan due to two opposed parties. It might trigger someone's nerve when two people believe in two different parties. Thus, talking the politics anonymously makes people more feel at ease.
By the way, there is an old saying which describes the politics of Taiwan, "a small protest in three years, a big overthrow in five years." Protest is normal here.