The kind of complicated world we live in has been made even more complicated by the intensity and access to information; to and from every corner of the world. Owing to the diversity of regions and cultures, it is but natural to have a different perception of different events from different people. To top it all, the media successfully creates a controversy, or ask the intentions of different groups, or create victims or sometimes simply ignore the real events.
One such ‘supposedly controversial event’ took place in Taiwan on 27th December where Taiwanese high school students held Nazi-themed parade; as part of their awareness development towards the major historical events.
It was but natural that such an activity stirred controversy among certain classes /groups of people, globally.
The event came into limelight when Taiwan’s Israeli representative took a strong notice and condemned it, where Taiwanese school’s Nazi costumes with swastika banner, parading behind cardboard tank. The Israeli office called it “deplorable and shocking.”
“Schools should educate for tolerance and understanding among people, and we are deeply disappointed that this took place in Taiwan,” condemned the Israeli officials to the Taiwan high school students Nazi cosplay event.
Apparently, the event was an attempt by school authorities to create empathy and awareness about major historical events and their main characters. But this ‘innocent school activity’ received some serious and harsh lashing from various sectors.
- Reaction from Israeli representative
- Reaction from school authorities
- Reaction from Taiwanese educators
- Handling of the event by media
- a) Reaction from Israeli Representative
The first severe reaction to Nazi-themed parade by high school students in Taiwan was shown by Israeli representative in Taiwan. They condemned it in severe words saying that the schools are supposed to teach empathy towards holocaust and teach history in the universal context rather than glorifying Nazi forces.
- b) Reaction from school authorities
The immediate reaction by the principal of the school came in the form of resignation, as the local educators were outraged at the parade. Cheng Hsiao-ming, the principal, took the full responsibility of the event. In his defense, he did mention that students were given a choice of cultures as theme and they voted in favour of ‘Nazi theme’. Later the school vowed to show movies like ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Life’s Beautiful’ to their students to create an awareness. Even the education ministry apologized and promised to take steps to raise the level of History education in the schools.
- c) Reaction from Taiwanese educators
Educators were equally shocked and angry at Nazi themed parade by high school students in Taiwan. They retaliated by saying that island itself has no history; especially under Chinese rule they have faced authoritarianism and violence by China. The whole curriculum is designed under such outlines, where there is no margin of understanding and knowledge of the world around them. A History professor went so far in saying, “Taiwanese history and civic education is in crisis.” Appreciation for strict military actions has become a norm. such an event shows that the country needs a long time to develop a proper educational system and institutionalization of different departments.
- d) Handling of the event by media
Keeping up with the general trend, media used this news as a chance to expose the inherent flaws in the educational system of Taiwan. Newspapers; both national and international, and social media were full of the photos Taiwanese school’s Nazi costumes. Every minute detail of the parade was presented, from the costumes to the expressions of participants were mentioned. Now the question arises, is it the media’s responsibility to expose the flaws in the system? Yes. National media has the obligation but why international media had given space to this news? Was it for the correction? No. Then why this event became a News?
Implications of Taiwan high school students Nazi cosplay event
This story has many layers of meanings. Most importantly, it was told that students were given choice of different cultures but they preferred to choose Nazis. Does that indicate a flaw in the education system when some of the students were unaware of Hitler’s atrocities and some found it easy to convert their uniform into suitable costumes? At the first place, even in high school, they were not taught the essential threads of universal history and its impact on today’s world. The culture-based themes are celebrated in many institutes around the world. But in this case what kind of message was given to students.
Traditionally media has the role of ‘watchdog’. But in this case, there was more of a sarcastic streak visible in the reporting of the event. One British online paper gave a headline that it is 2016 and how this school is behaving?
In conclusion, it can be said that it sure is sad to see such events happening in progressing regions of the world. But in my opinion, the flaw does not lie in the enactment of the Nazis or the choice of students or even the education system. The fault lies in the global media policies and government systems all around the world. Media – as the so-called-watchdogs are no longer objective or sincere in their reporting. They just need to spice up their pages for the sake of high ratings. And of course, the government systems in the third world or progressing countries is not exemplary for all the obvious reasons.