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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Sunday, March 26 2017 @ 06:44 AM JST
   

[FEATURE] The Paradox about Statelessness


Chen Tien-shi's
book about
statelessness
One year ago today, I stumbled on a Japanese book titled Stateless. I instantly gave it a five-star review on my website.

If you look at customer reviews on Amazon Japan's website, you will think I am not alone in being so enthralled by the book. As of today, the Amazon rating has averaged 4.5 stars. But actually I have very little in common with these readers.

A comment posted by a reviewer who gave the book a 3-star rating reads like this: "I found the book very informative but I can't agree to the author's way of thinking because of its tilt toward negativism."
An oldish Japanese woman, who is one of my former colleagues, has once told me the same thing about this book. She said something like Joseph McCarthy would have said sixty years ago: "I find the author's negativism really disgusting. Her family came over to Japan on their own. Nobody brought them here against their will. So, love it, or leave it."

The Amazon reviewer, and Japan's McCarthy alike, have much more in common with many other ignorant and arrogant people in and outside the United Nations than with this blogger; they all have a bug-ridden logic circuit embedded inside their skulls. They constantly mix up things at issue with their take on them. That is basically why they use these words, positive and negative, so lightly.

Because of this confusion, they always distort the arithmetic rule. While, for instance, a negative view of a negative thing makes a plus, my positive view of something they think has a negative value does not always mean I am a negativist.

Take statelessness for example.

Those whose brains are prone to logical confusion take it for granted that any word suffixed with "-less" is a negative thing. But what about the word "flawless" for instance? You say, "I got your point." But hold on, because you don't. If I say, "Your skills in pickpocketing are flawless," how would you respond?

In fact, things are all neutral - neither positive nor negative.

The word stateless simply means that the nationality column of your passport says you have no nationality - no more, no less. It's you that should decide whether or not statelessness is a desirable status to be in.

To me that status is something you have to be proud of. You are mistaken when you label me as a negativist simply because I'm in favor of statelessness which you think is a negative thing.

The same can be said of humanright advocates in and outside the U.N. They keep mixing up subjects with objects. That's why, for instance in 1961, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees drew up the "International Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness" based on the obsolete document called "The Universal Declaration of Humanrights."

If you are stupid enough to insist that the international body founded when the Chinese continent was still under the rule of Chiang Kai-shek has not yet outgrown its raison d'etre, you should give us a specific reason you think statelessness should be reduced, rather than increased. Or at least you should tell us why no more than 19 countries have signed the treaty of 1961 thus far despite the ardent call by the UNHCR in the last half century.

I think it's not only useless but also harmful to cling to the outdated hypocrisy based on the absurd assumption that Pax Americana will last many more years, if not forever.

With the pathological obsession with statelessness as something undesirable, these people are contributing to the proliferation, not the reduction, of stateless population. They claim that they know no borders, but actually they know them more than anyone else does. Besides, they have put up another wall that separates the stateless from the "stateful."

Here, I am talking about a book written by a first-rate scholar who specializes in ethnology and international law, and people's responses to it. It's a different story when it comes to what doers do.

Actually author Chen Tien-shi has another face; she is a dedicated activist.

Besides delving into issues with statelessness and the "Chinese Diaspora", she has also engaged in grassroots activities such as building up a worldwide network for the stateless. So it's quite understandable that she has no guts to tell these individuals, in person, that they should be proud of the plight resulting from their status. Presumably, all she can barely say is: "You shouldn't feel ashamed of the predicament you are going through."

Life is not so simple as you think it is.


If you have difficulty understanding this paradox about statelessness, I think you better not read the great book written by Chen Tien-shi. It's not meant for those self-complacent people who always relativize things and mix up values with ideological rubbish. ·

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