Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Musings: "Haoleized"

I received an email today from Karen Chun of Maui. It was written in response to a student from New York City, who is helping her professor research the Hawaii Superferry fiasco and was curious why Maui and Kauai folks reacted differently.

Karen’s response intrigued me because it’s been so often alleged that it was just haoles who staged the protests at Nawiliwili Harbor. Yet Karen writes that Maui moved to challenge the ferry legally, rather than through civil disobedience, partly because the island has become so "haoleized.”

She also offers her perspective on the troubles facing Maui — a place that has long stood as an example of what folks don’t want Kauai to become:

We have let tens of thousands of people live in gated enclaves where they have no contact with local people. It is an ex-pat type of existence for them.

Even the Maui County Hawaii Canoe Association (MCHCA) has become a "sports" organization and abandoned its roots to the Hawaiian culture. Their attitude is so bad that, not only was my canoe the only canoe on the water [when the ferry docked at Maui], but MCHCA is now SPONSORED by Hawaii Superferry! In a very short-sighted, money-motivated view, they lack the ability to extrapolate forward and understand that adding another boat to the harbor will eventually result in the two canoe hale being kicked out.

So even though Irene [Bowie of Maui Tomorrow] and I were successful in organizing a large number of people to come out, only a few of them were passionate enough to do civil disobedience. Thus we made the decision to stay legal.

When laws become a tool for corporations to over-ride public interest, that leaves us no choice but to commit civil disobedience. Given the way HSF and Gov Lingle twisted the legal system to their own ends, I believe Maui has had their eyes opened to the need for civil disobedience if something like this comes up in the future.

But whether the huge presence of foreign and mainland people who have brought their mainland ways here will prevent us from assembling an effective number of people is a question still up in the air.

There is a pervasive sense that we are powerless...even some kupuna have sold out and formed an organization (Na Kupuna O Maui) made up of members who receive money, land leases, and perks from our biggest visitor accommodation developer, Everett Dowling, in order to co-opt the Hawaiian voice. So we have the example of our elders selling out to the exploitation of Maui for money and favors (sound familiar?) Enough of the majority of our county council members are corrupt enough to go along with Dowling.

My husband, who was active in taking back Kaho'olawe, is discouraged by the overwhelming presence of newcomers whose ways are contrary to the Hawaiian value of malama`aina.

Seems like it used to be that folks would come over here, love the land, love the culture and assimilate. But now, they retain their old ways that overwhelm the more gentle and accommodating Hawaiian culture. And I am not just talking about the U.S. and Canada but also Mexico, Europe and the Philippines. They have quite different cultures that put an emphasis on individuality, competition, pushiness, and the acquisition of money and ever more and more possessions. They consider the land and sea to be a possession to be used (up) instead of a trust to be cared for.

So the tendency - especially now that we are older - is to try to make small corners of our lives as good as possible and retreat from the rest of the island.

I still get out there and testify and rabble rouse but I do it only because I want to go to my grave knowing that I did everything I could -- even though it is very discouraging to see people (including many on our County Council) motivated not by what is best and right but by bribes, self-interest and greed.

Right now, we are not taking direct action because every day of operation HSF loses more money and EVENTUALLY they will tire of their charade and go be military contractors.

The lesson that Kaua'i should learn from this is to:

1. Stay strong on your stand against gated communities
2. Avoid second home vacation subdivisions
3. Avoid importing labor from other countries
4. Have the county government put local interests first
5. Treasure your Kingdom members who are courageous enough to back everyone up when action is needed.
6. Treasure yourselves for being courageous enough to act. Turns out you folks chose the more effective way.

18 comments:

Katy Rose said...

I don't necessarily agree with the statement about avoiding importing labor from other countries because I'm really worried about racist attacks on desperate people from the Global South who've been displaced by the very haole-style greed Karen so accurately calls out - but the rest of the letter was amazing!

Anonymous said...

Iʻm really interested in this part of Karen Chunʻs letter: "My husband, who was active in taking back Kaho'olawe,.."

If she could respond to this please because Kahoolawe has not been taken back from the state.

Joan said...

She means taking Kahoolawe back from the Navy, which was using it for bombing practice.

Karen Chun said...

Correct. He was part of the hui that went to Kaho'olawe to stop the bombing. He was the canoe steersman.

Anonymous said...

mahalo joan and karen for the insight and perspective. i look forward to michelle's interview tomorrow on KKCR(4-530 pm w/ jonathon jay and dave gerow).
interesting that a new york university professor is doing a thesis that involves the islands, the superferry and different ways to protest accordingly.
malama pono,....jimmy t

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Maui other than traffic?

Kona is right behind. We look forward to more mainland ammenities. It's "HaoleWood" for us!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Kauai can join Niihau as the last vestiges of "old hawaii".

"HawaiiLand", so to speak.

Works for me. Just let the BI develop and get the HSF.

Anonymous said...

jimmy t said: "michelle's interview tomorrow on KKCR(4-530 pm w/ jonathon jay and dave gerow).
interesting that a new york university professor is doing a thesis"

Jimmy, Michelle actually wrote that she is doing the thesis and her professor is doing an 'article.' Her story didn't quite make sense, but I will be listening to the radio show tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

wow biased much? nice!!

but pls explain again what is wrong with a gate? what is the public policy argument against it?

and im curious to hear more about how people were "stopped" from protesting or whatever in the fashion they wanted to on maui by....? by certain maui population demographics?

the people in the "global south" (south of texas and south of europe, for example) move north to get jobs, plain and simple

also, as any even remotely alert observer of immigrants knows: 1st generation immigrants (from mex, europe, canada, nigeria, where ever) are, on average, very motivated and hard working people. they tend to make good citizens wherever they land (and good americans fyi) and can often be more successful than the locals, which some resent

Anonymous said...

> but pls explain again what is wrong with a gate? <

Is that a rhetorical question, or do you truly want to know?

And if it was explained, is there really any chance that you'd listen, much less understand?

John Tyler said...

Dear Karen, what a beautiful letter.

Joan, I point out once again, that allowing "annonymous" posters many times supports people's more judmental potshots being published because one hides behind an "annonymous" veil. I am all for if you feel strongly enough to comment publically, stand behind your words at least to put your name on it.

I encourage your blog to go to the format of allowing only signed comments posted for that reason.

Peace,
JT

Anonymous said...

"also, as any even remotely alert observer of immigrants knows: 1st generation immigrants (from mex, europe, canada, nigeria, where ever) are, on average, very motivated and hard working people. they tend to make good citizens wherever they land (and good americans fyi) and can often be more successful than the locals, which some resent"
alert observers also note that these same motivated and hard working individuals are the most likely to be exploited by industry and are preyed upon by those with less than ideal morals, ethics and such. it should be noted that many of these same individuals have a strong desire to return home but their off spring do not share that same connection and desire to return to their parents place of birth. no judgment there; opportunity to work and provide for families is a strong driver in migrating and risking the present for a better future.

Anonymous said...

If a community develops from a rural lifestyle into a corporate urban hole of Jamba Juice and Starbucks, then of course the cookie-cutter mold will force the landscape to turn from plantation style into some stupid idea of modern city chic.
These individuals are interested in the essence of Kaua'i and move here thinking they can capture it yet they are actually killing it.
I have spent time on Maui, in addition to growing up on Kaua'i. The 35 years have been an enlightening discovery that money and power are limiting the existence of the entire human race.
For those individuals, like Sarah Palin, who do not believe that climate change is caused by humans - look at the simple inventory of our surrounding reefs, oceans, the flow of our rivers, the death of native species and the horrible fact that although they are many ways to improve our Earth and continue to live - some people would rather save $.05 per stock share and buy a $5,000.00 Louis Vuitton purse than bring positive affect to the Earth and its environment.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "anonymity" of your posters, I would like to thank you and urge you to continue to allow it. Perhaps until after Obama repeals the Patriot Act and the internet service I pay for is protected under the Amendments of the Constitution.
For instance, it is very dangerous for me to comment that:
I believe, through studying and educating myself on the issue, that cannabis prohibition is one of the biggest crimes against American citizens.
Love, Anonymous

Anonymous said...

"Is that a rhetorical question, or do you truly want to know?

And if it was explained, is there really any chance that you'd listen, much less understand?"

-- the query was legit, i was/am interested in the position(s) offered against them...so sure i would listen. pls make it good tho

to January 8, 2009 12:15 PM, nice points, esp towards the end

as to "anonymous" complaints, i cant think of any historical figures who ever made any good points under a pen name and/or anonymously...

Anonymous said...

"Iʻm really interested in this part of Karen Chunʻs letter: "My husband, who was active in taking back Kaho'olawe,.."

Mahalo for response.

Anonymous said...

With regard to the following comment by Anonymous, Jan. 8, 1:02 p.m.: "as to "anonymous" complaints, i cant think of any historical figures who ever made any good points under a pen name and/or anonymously..."

Except, of course, those sneaky underhanded rabble-rousers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, who published the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym "Publius."

Someone who knows the real story! said...

Hysterically funny.....the "invasion of the haoles" story just confirms the hypocrisy of the anti-Superferry crowd. They are happy to have literally millions of tourists "invade" Hawaii every year, but a few thousand who stay over many years is not acceptable. This same hypocrisy is apparent when you consider that the anti-Superferry crowd was largely silent and invisible when NCL came to the islands and when the new massive YB car carrier hit the islands a short time ago.

The sad part about the whole chapter is that the Superferry after one year of service has proven its fundamental claim, that it is dedicated to serving all Hawaiians.....can the opponents of Superferry make the same claim?