I was talking to a friend yesterday who was trying to get back to Kauai from Honolulu Sunday night and was already on the plane, when everything came to a standstill. They sat there for 30 minutes, then disembarked, and learned that all air traffic had been grounded because Obama and his entourage were enroute to Hickham AFB for their own departure. Commercial airliners that were supposed to land had to just keep circling.
By the time the airport started functioning again, interisland flights were all backed up. In the end, after hanging at the airport for several hours, he and his family got bumped and were put up at the Plaza overnight and given free one-way airfare, returning to Kauai Monday morning.
We speculated on how many thousands of people were inconvenienced that evening, and how many thousands of dollars it cost the airlines. Mostly he wondered why it was even necessary, when the Prez was flying out of Hickham, where they’ve got fighter jets that could be scrambled if need be.
Another friend told me that he’d pirated a copy of “Avatar” — one with German subtitles — and thought it was great that Obama and his daughters had gone to watch that film, as it contained messages about imperialism and environmentalism and Native American rights, and maybe some of those themes had sunk in.
Maybe, I said. Then I asked if the movie was violent, and he said there was one part where a village was being attacked and they showed a woman and her children getting blown up by bombs. And I said, do you suppose, when Obama was watching that scene, that he flashed on the thought, wow, that’s what we’re doing to civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and now Yemen? Do you suppose he and his daughters talked about the effects of war and imperialism afterward?
Or were they just caught up in the spectacle of entertainment and the deeper messages, the uncomfortable truths, just slipped on by, like buttered popcorn from greasy fingers?
One message that may never have gotten through to Obama — and apparently not the rest of the world — was the opposition of Hawaiian Nationalists to the revised Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act — aka, the Akaka Bill.
They staged a demonstration near his Kailua vacation home on New Year’s Day, and distributed a press release to news media throughout the U.S. that stated, in part:
The NHGRA, also known as the Akaka Bill, proposes to federally recognize a "Native Hawaiian governing entity" within the framework of U.S. federal policy and law regarding Native Americans that would subject the entity to the plenary power of the U.S. Congress. NHGRA thus seeks to undercut the growing movement in Hawai'i to restore an independent Hawaiian State under international law.
Demonstrators will emphasize the blatant lack of due process mandated by the U.S. Constitution in the genesis of the NHGRA: there have been no public hearings on it held in Hawai'i since the one hearing held back in 2000, when the vast majority of testifiers vehemently opposed the legislation. Opponents of the Bill and proponents of independence will demand immediate hearings in all the islands ahead of further action. As it is, on 12/16/09, the House Committee on Natural Resources voted in support of H.R. 2314, while on 12/17/09 the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs voted in support of a newly amended S.1011. Both versions of the Bill are slated to be considered by the U.S. Congress when it returns from recess later this month.
But despite the large media pool that accompanies Obama everywhere, reporting even such minutiae as what type of clothing his daughters were wearing, I couldn’t find any print coverage of it — not even in the Honolulu dailies.
Apparently it’s preferable to let Hollywood deal with the troubling issue of imperialism than recognize it and address it in your own home town.