Monday, December 8, 2008

Musings: Land Grab

The sky was a smattering of stars, with the Big Dipper’s handle pointing down toward my house, when Koko and I went walking on this dark, cool morning. We ran into farmer Jerry, who alerted us to a fog bank up ahead, and though I never saw it, I felt its cool embrace.

Dawn approached, revealing streaks of cirrus clouds, which it tinted pink, until they were overwhelmed by masses of dark that rolled over Nounou ridge. Down the road a piece, the neighbor’s inflatable turkey-Pilgrim has been replaced by Santa and his sleigh being pulled by a team of two, the other six reindeer apparently MIA, or in this case, left uninflated on the shelves of Wal-mart.

Ah yes, tis the season of the deeply ingrained myth that once a year an omnipotent being will overlook the previous months of bad behavior and grant all the wishes we’ve detailed on a cleverly crafted list.

That seems to be the myth that’s driving Gov. Lingle and her AG, Mark Bennett, in their attempt to convince the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that the State of Hawaii should have control over some 1.2 million acres of land appropriated from the Kingdom of Hawaii following the 1893 illegal overthrow.

In a brief filed Friday,, the state took the stunning new position that Native Hawaiians have no claim to the land at all.

In taking this approach, the state is seeking not only to overturn the Hawaii Supreme Court injunction that bars it from selling the so-called “ceded lands” until Hawaiian land claims are settled, but to ace kanaka maoli out of their land entitlement altogether.

If the high court buys in, it would effectively scuttle the restoration of a sovereign nation, casting Lingle and Bennett in the roles of those who not only conducted a second coup, but extinguished the last flame of hope that keeps many kanaka maoli going.

Wow, that’s a great legacy you’re building, Linda. Seems like just the dirty deed that's needed to firmly cement your standing among the other imperialists in the Grand Ole Party.

Needless to say, the Lingle-Bennett position has a lot of folks justifiably up in arms, as Gordon Pang reported this weekend in The Honolulu Advertiser. The article generated well over 200 readers’ comments and prompted calls for Lingle’s impeachment.

The sentiment of many was summed up in this statement:

It's a pretty immoral position for the governor to take," said Bill Meheula, an attorney representing OHA [Office of Hawaiian Affairs] in the case.

Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, a professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, also nailed it:

"This is against all the agreements that we've had with Gov. Lingle about ceded lands and this is a way to undercut our rights to ceded lands," Kame'eleihiwa said.

The New York Times ran an article yesterday on the demise of Molokai Ranch in the face of community opposition to its development plans. It ended with a line that contained language and sentiment not often expressed in mainland publications:

And beyond matters of fair market value, there is another challenge: achieving this elusive thing called pono.

It is difficult indeed to achieve a state of pono in a place where the power structure has been built upon actions and practices that represent the antithesis of righteousness and balance.

The Lingle-orchestrated land grab offers not a correction, but more of the same.

28 comments:

charley foster said...

Actually, the state's position as argued in its merits brief is not new at all.

Katy Rose said...

Thanks for writing about the "ceded lands" case.

This is yet another battle front.

It is very important for allies of the Native Hawaiians to determine how we stand in effective solidarity with them in the relentless assault against their human right to self-determination.

I think we need to question where and how each of us has benefitted from the disposession of Native lands and independence. From there, we can question our willingness to risk losing those ill-gotten gains by fighting the systemic colonization and capitalist accumulation which gave them to us.

This is not a question of "guilt" but one of obligation and responsibility. None of us has any control over the circumstances of our births, or our family histories of migration. But we do have control over our actions now -and as a result we are faced with complex ethical decisions.

I only hope that we can face them fearlessly as we blaze new trails to collective liberation.

Anonymous said...

I'm not willing to lose anything I own here. I don't consider it "ill-gotten" since I didn't personally get it through such means. Go Lingle!

Katy Rose said...

I'm sorry if it wasn't clear, "Anonymous 9:40 AM", but my message was intended for those who consider themselves allies, so you may ignore it.

We know who we are.

Anonymous said...

Lingle doesn't know it, but she has just handed the kanaka maoli an enormous Christmas present -- and shot her political career in the foot. Her timing couldn't be better for Hawaii and worse for her: while stories of power hungry politicians and greedy corporations flood the news, and as people lose their homes by the millions, the Governor of Paradise is trying to kick Native Hawaiians out of their homelands and onto the street. And if you don't think that's exactly how it'll play in the press, you've been watching too many reruns of "Leave it to Beaver."

Lingle is going to bring the national media on herself like ticks, and they won't let go. They will cast her as the second coming of Sarah Palin -- but instead of shooting animals from helicopters, this Governor dumps impoverished people into the streets while playing power games with developers.

The next year is going to be really interesting, but not in a way that Lingle will like. In her eagerness to climb the power ladder of a group that is more discredited every day (and I don't mean only the Republicans), she has chosen to make her stand on a lake of quicksand.

Sic Temper Roveiius

Joan said...

Hey, I like your take on things, Anon. 10:56 a.m.

Anonymous said...

the Governor of Paradise is trying to kick Native Hawaiians out of their homelands and onto the street. And if you don't think that's exactly how it'll play in the press, you've been watching too many reruns of "Leave it to Beaver."

Why would it play that way in the press? Not only is it not accurate, it doesn't even pass the laugh test. No self respecting journalist is going to be used as a bullhorn for such obvious phony hyperbole. If you're going to get the press to flack for you, you have to be subtler than that. Give them something they won't look foolish repeating.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I like your take on things, Anon. 10:56 a.m.

Thanks, Joan!

Although it has been brought to my attention that it's actually Sic Temper Roveii.

:)

Anonymous said...

Why would it play that way in the press? Not only is it not accurate, it doesn't even pass the laugh test. No self respecting journalist is going to be used as a bullhorn for such obvious phony hyperbole. If you're going to get the press to flack for you, you have to be subtler than that. Give them something they won't look foolish repeating.

You don't understand. The media isn't going to do it to Lingle. The pro-Hawaiian movement isn't going to do it to Lingle. Lingle is going to do it to Lingle. And not locally -- her political self destruction will be acted out on the stage where her political aspirations lie: the mainland.

Anonymous said...

You don't understand. The media isn't going to do it to Lingle. The pro-Hawaiian movement isn't going to do it to Lingle. Lingle is going to do it to Lingle. And not locally -- her political self destruction will be acted out on the stage where her political aspirations lie: the mainland.

That makes even less sense. Without the press parroting blog commenter rants that "the Governor of Paradise is trying to kick Native Hawaiians out of their homelands and onto the street," how is anyone going to get the idea that that's what's happening?

Anonymous said...

> That makes even less sense. Without the press parroting blog commenter rants that "the Governor of Paradise is trying to kick Native Hawaiians out of their homelands and onto the street," how is anyone going to get the idea that that's what's happening? <

Because that's precisely how the story will be perceived on the mainland.

Here's the recipe that Chef Lingle is whipping up as we speak. Remove the local wrangling over legal details, court rulings and who said what to whom for the last hundred years. Add heaping measures of the mainland's love affair with all things Hawaiian, and a double scoop of their (patronizing, if not downright racist) romantic image of Hawaiians. Fold in a pinch of today's toxic imagery of greedy corporations and their (sorry, largely Republican) government enablers. Allow mixture to be beaten to a pulp by a Governor gifted with equal amounts of political ambition and selective hearing loss. Set aside until bubbles of gas form. When everyone asks, "Euww, what's that stench?", pour out equal servings for anyone who supported the Chef -- if by that time anyone is left.

Larry said...

Of course, this Supreme Court may do exactly as Lingle asks... then what?

Anonymous said...

December 8, 2008 2:43 PM is sadly overoptimistic about the extent to which mainlanders care about anything Hawaiian, much less native grievances. Hell, they have their own natives with grievances which they don't care about. Why would they care about Hawaiian natives? Anon sounds more giddy and nonsensical with every new post.

Anonymous said...

> Hell, they have their own natives with grievances which they don't care about. Why would they care about Hawaiian natives? <

The theme of the script Lingle is writing for herself is not about natives. It's not even about Hawaii. It's about a Governor who plays Bush-style economic hardball with vulnerable, powerless people, at a time when the vast majority of people in the nation are feeling vulnerable and powerless -- and are holding their government primarily responsible for putting them there.

It's about the pro-business head of a state that's far too cozy with business, at a time when the vast majority of people in the nation are angered by a federal government that's far too cozy with business.

It's about what happens when a Governor who is self-absorbed, politically ambitious and tone deaf finds herself in an age when thoughtfulness, concern for the common good and proactive listening are essential political skills.

Hell, even Schwarzenegger has been able to hack out a more politically savvy script than that, and he's got muscles between his ears!

Anonymous said...

1) RE "In a brief filed Friday,, the state took the stunning new position that Native Hawaiians have no claim to the land at all."

--i sure hope that is not the case...things will be hard enough for some of the polynesian folks in hawaii in the US sup ct as is...but for the HI st gov to take such an aggressive posture...man, hope there was a good reason for it, b/ if the above in quotes is true, it comes across as pretty mean (among other things)

2) "relentless assault against their human right to self-determination."

--whatever. yawn. what a broken record

3) "Lingle doesn't know it, but she has just handed the kanaka maoli an enormous Christmas present -- and shot her political career in the foot. Her timing couldn't be better for Hawaii and worse for her: while stories of power hungry politicians and greedy corporations flood the news, and as people lose their homes by the millions, the Governor of Paradise is trying to kick Native Hawaiians out of their homelands and onto the street. And if you don't think that's exactly how it'll play in the press, you've been watching too many reruns of "Leave it to Beaver."

--if it does play out that way, the best result from it may be like that grave/building thing on the north shore, a sort of "wake-up call" so that like minded people have cause to come together

4) while the US sup ct may rip up reliance on that apology bill or whatever, it is not a forgone conclusion they wont effectively rule in part against the HI st gov

5) "sadly overoptimistic about the extent to which mainlanders care about anything Hawaiian, much less native grievances"

-- fairly accurate rough take on things i would say. but a good story is a good story, it might pop up in mainland press (new yorker, the nation, etc)

6) "Hell, even Schwarzenegger has been able to hack out a more politically savvy script than that, and he's got muscles between his ears!"

-- haha. nice point. the CA st bio-tech bond issue he wanted do was a pretty darn good idea - conan...actually fairly bright, who would have guessed

Larry said...

Lingle could be asking for trouble. Native Hawaiians are in possession of the ultimate WMD. Taking away the ceded lands could push things over the brink.

Suppose there was picketing in Waikiki, just loud enough to get noticed in the travel press. Our economy is tied to tourism, and tourism here requires that the noise be confined to distant coastlines of Oahu. The only sounds allowed in Waikiki are the 'ukulele and slack key guitar.

This might not be spoken of on Kauai, but every once and awhile someone over here asks, "But supposed Native Hawaiians became unhappy and started to raise hell..?"

It wouldn't take much, I think, to get Lingle to call her legal beagle back to be tied up securely in his yard here in Honolulu.

Whether that would/could happen or not is not something I'm qualified to speculate about, but why would it not be a possibility?

Anonymous said...

If the high court buys in, it would effectively scuttle the restoration of a sovereign nation...the last flame of hope that keeps many kanaka maoli going.

God I hope that happens. I have champagne waiting for such an event. To slam the door (hard) on treasonist, unamerican, little weasels would make my heart so glad; I don't know how I could contain my joy. It would probably spill over to taunting the treasonous, unamerican, self loathing little weasels that share their angst on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I could contain my joy.

For starters, you could put your pants back on.

And wash your hands. That stuff'll gum up your Ctrl keys.

Katy Rose said...

Larry, FYI:

I received the following announcement today for an action:

"Aloha Kakou,
We're calling for a picket from 10 am - 4pm on Friday, Dec. 26, 2009 on Beretania St. Fronting Washington Place and the State Capitol to bring awareness to Lingle's im-moral claim that the state has the right to sell and/or transfer Hawaiian ceded lands. Please join us with your signs, family and friends...We'd like to get a few hundred people out to picket. We're hoping to draw media attention while Obama is here for his vacation..and urge him not to meet with her..
Make your signs over the holiday..bring it down on Dec. 26th to Beretania St. fronting Washington Place and the side of her hale...
Save it for the march and rally on Jan 17th, 2009 through Waikiki to Kapi'olani Park
Protect Hawaiian Lands
Stop Stealing our Land
Shame on Lingle
Shame on Aiona

Mahalo nui loa!
Vicky Takamine"

Anonymous said...

to December 8, 2008 9:09 PM

had it really upset you that much?

just wondering,
December 8, 2008 6:58 PM

Anonymous said...

We're calling for a picket from 10 am - 4pm on Friday, Dec. 26, 2009 on Beretania St. Fronting Washington Place and the State Capitol to bring awareness to Lingle's im-moral claim that the state has the right to sell and/or transfer Hawaiian ceded lands. Please join us with your signs, family and friends..

How polite!!
On the least busiest day of the year you go to an empty house on an empty street to protest.
How about the stadium on the Sheraton Bowl Day with national tv and tons of traffic. The airport would be a good site, the legislature on opening day, or how about a march down Ala Moana Blvd through Waikiki.
Best of luck

Anonymous said...

The funniest post here is about how the mainland will perceive this issue. Once they discover that the proponents actually threaten to remove one of the fifty States, you will see what amounts to a Perfect Storm of opposition.
Dream on, dream on, my little progs. You may know some people who support this, but hundreds of millions will ultimately drive this parochial thinking right into the sea!

Anonymous said...

Anon December 8, 2008 10:24 PM,
You nibble, I hammer.

watchdog said...

Hey Gadfly (aka anon. 9:40am, 9:09pm, and others): Pieds-Noirs, read about them on Wikipedia--happens when every empire loses its grip.

Anonymous said...

"Anon December 8, 2008 10:24 PM,
You nibble, I hammer.

December 9, 2008 9:47 PM"

-- actually a fairly eloquent response. i shoot for accuracy mostly, for the record

Anonymous said...

Watchdog, You do know that Wikipedia, in it's own words, is "...the encyclopedia that anyone can edit." You do know what that means regarding sources do you not? Time to watch your own dog!

watchdog said...

Your logic escapes me and fails you.

Sure, anyone can edit Wikipedia, just like anyone can edit Wikipedia and use references. That article actually has way more than average, some of which I know to be scholarly. Since you've derailed this thread, don't bother replying again unless you can convincinly argue why a majority of those 24 references are not credible.

Sometimes, anyone and everyone is a reference in themselves, for example:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll

Actually, I wouldn't even bother replying, but trolls are useful in their own way...

Anonymous said...

pieds-noirs say what? pls show the tie-in here, thanks

they are cited to promote what position here?