A nice thing about Saturdays is I can walk a bit later, when it’s actually light, without encountering many cars, save for the odd hunter’s truck with the bed packed full of dogs. This is their day to romp.
Ran into my neighbor Andy and he shared part of my walk, discussing sacred land, iwi kupuna and a historic house in the neighborhood. Conversations with Andy are always far ranging and informative.
I brought up the topic of iwi kupuna — ancient Hawaiian bones — because I attended a talk by Kyle Kajihiro and Terri Kekoolani last night on militarism in Hawaii and the role of the Superferry.
Terri told of becoming active in the issue after encountering boxes filled with human remains at Bishop Museum. Some 2,000 Hawaiian burials were dug up at Mokapu during construction of the Kaneohe Air Base on Oahu, and she’s been involved with efforts to have them returned to their original resting place.
“My ancestors were removed from their gravesites for a military facility,” she said. “This is the impact of militarism on our people.”
Of course, the impacts began in 1893, when U.S. Marines aided sugar planters in the illegal overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy, and the military presence has been expanding ever since.
Now the push is on to beef it up ever more, as I wrote about recently in Honolulu Weekly, especially at Kauai’s PMRF, which launches missiles from Nohili — dunes filled with burials, much like Mokapu.
The U.S. has engaged in similar scenarios of military domination on other tropical islands, like Okinawa and Vieques, in Puerto Rico — resulting in the same land destruction, pollution and cultural impacts we’ve seen in Hawaii.
“Why do people do this?” Terri asked rhetorically.
I’d finger the usual suspects: fear, power, greed.
While we’re on those subjects, I was extremely troubled by the Senate’s 53-40 vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as the new U.S. Attorney General, despite his refusal to classify waterboarding as a form of torture. Even if Congress passes a law against waterboarding, as some Senators suggested, it won’t change the guy’s basic principles and views.
It’s particularly disheartening that six Democrats joined Republicans to get Mukasey approved. What’s the point of regaining control of the Senate if lawmakers jump the political fence to support President Bush?
It’s similar to how our Democrat-controlled Legislature backed Republican Gov. Linda Lingle on the Superferry bail out bill. But at least Hawaii lawmakers can claim their constituents support the Superferry. Have folks been calling their Senators to say they want the military to keep torturing people in military prisons?
Still, Kyle noted, “there’s global resistance to this kind of action happening,” and many communities have found — once people got over their fear — that “non-violent resistance added value to their daily lives,” resulting in greater cooperation and various human service initiatives.
I know I'm not the only one who sees that as a possible positive outcome of Kauai's opposition to the Superferry.
“The struggle itself was the teacher," Kyle said. "They learned new ways of relating to one another and created a microcosm of the kind of world they wanted to live in. I think society is sick when people sit back and just let things happen to them.”
He also discussed the military’s plans to use the Superferry to transport the Stryker brigade, which he said "is aimed at suppressing resistance in Hawaii," and warned Hawaii is “not far from the day when environmental activists and military activists will be branded as terrorists.”
Actually, it seems that day has already come, seeing how anti-terrorism laws and the Homeland Security Act were used to create the new federal “security zone” at Nawiliwili Harbor.
Ultimately, those engaged in civil disobedience need to consider one key question, which was raised at the meeting by my friend, Jim Alalem.
"Are you prepared to die for what you believe in? Because this is all commitment stuff. If you guys going, you gotta go all the way."