There were people at the FAPA conference who had come from as far away as Texas and California, but since Alysa Chiu unexpectedly had to return to Taiwan, there were just two of us from New York – me and Susan Hsieh, who had just moved from San Francisco. Eileen put Jenny Lee in with us although she’s from California, since neither Susan nor I had any experience speaking to representatives.
Not that any representatives were around – it was summer break for Congress and we only had one appointment with the Foreign Aide in Jerrold Nadler’s office. But Eileen gave us a stack of letters to deliver from constituents of eight other districts, so we dutifully made phone calls in the morning and ended up visiting the offices of ten representatives.
It was actually pretty simple to go and chat up your representative. The whole exercise made me appreciate the level of democracy we really do have. I mean, not only can you go out on the street and demonstrate (well, with a permit), but if you have a bone to pick with your representative, you can actually just pick the phone and make an appointment. Where else in the world do people have this right?
I even spoke at length with a staff member of Nydia Velasquez’s office. Being born-and-bred on Loisaida, I’m familiar with her support for the Puerto Rican community, so I was surprised that she wasn’t part of the Taiwan Caucus. Interestingly, the staff member was a bit confused when I mentioned the One China policy – she thought I was talking about the One Child policy. Jenny thought I was too direct but when we talked about it, we couldn’t come up with an alternative to “abolish the One China policy.” Thinking on it, maybe it’s more politic to say “normalization of U.S.-Taiwan relations.” Or I don’t know, do we really need to beat around the bush like that?
The weekend left me pretty astonished at the level of FAPA’s efforts. They storm congress at least twice a year. They garnered over 150 members in the Taiwan Congressional Caucus. I was left with the conviction that there definitely is covert support for Taiwan in higher offices – after all, how can Americans NOT support democracy and self-determination? I think that if there is demand from the general American public, these representatives will come out of the China closet. And to get the American public out on the street for Taiwan, you have to get them to empathize with the Taiwanese struggle. And the only way to do this is through the arts.
So why don’t we get this darn film made? You can make a tax-deductible contribution here. Or bring some people to the UN for Taiwan Rally in New York City. There’s a whole week of events from September 14 to 22, including music and film. Check it out on their new nifty website www.UN4TW.org.