Sunday, February 26, 2012

Musings: Colonial Mindset

I've been up watching an amazing lightning show since before 4 a.m., and thunder continues to crack, rumble and roll as the rain — nearly five inches in the last 12 hours — keeps on pouring down. I love these displays of nature's might and majesty, though my whining, panting, pacing dogs have a much different view of this storm.

A local friend called me yesterday, upset about some of the views expressed in the comments section of this blog and The Garden Island about the mayor-police chief power deadlock. As he sees it, remarks calling for an FBI investigation and county manager form of government are the racist expressions of the same colonial mindset that had the President appointing the governor while Hawaii was a territory.

“What they're saying is the locals can't rule themselves, so we'd better bring in someone from the mainland to do it,” he said.

Or in other words, some white person, as if haoles and mainlanders are somehow above cronyism, corruption and power struggles. Or more pointedly, as if haoles and mainlanders, through their overthrow of the monarchy and the Big 5's subsequent control of the Islands, didn't themselves set the stage for the kind of government we currently have on Kauai and in Hawaii.

But some folks still seem to think that everything would be fine if only those bad, backward locals re-learned their place and let the more enlightened white mainlanders run things.

You see it in anonymous (of course) comments like this:

First, recall the Mayor and make a rule that his replacment can't be a "local boy."

Or as a frequent commenter to The Garden Island who dubs himself “interesting” noted:

as much as active and long term FBI involvement would be welcome and helpful, fiascoes like this will probably continue until voter demographics change

That prompted the following exchange:

Fred Garvin:

There are more whites than any other racial category on Kauai. How racist of you to suggest that they should leave the island.


...i dont think your reading comp is quite on point. but i might have not been clear. the LAST thing i am suggesting is that transplants leave. on the contrary, more of them would mean less of this kind of nonsense

oh, and if you think lilly white mainland transplants are a majority group, i dunno what to tell ya

Actually, according to the 2010 Census, Caucasians are the majority group on Kauai. It reported the island's ethnic composition as: white persons 33 percent; Asians, 31.3 percent; two or more races 24.9 percent; white persons not hispanic, 30.7 percent; Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 9 percent; and Hispanic or Latino 9.4 percent.

And as for public corruption, a recent study by the University of Illinois determined the dirtiest places in the nation are Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, California and Texas. Got lotsa white people in power in those states, so I'm not sure that changing voter demographics on Kauai will solve anything here.

What I find interesting about “interesting” — who used to post on this blog as “darwin was really smart” — is that he is good friends with Nicky Michaels, the Southern California developer who, as I reported on PIKO, pioneered the scam of transforming modest beach bungalows along Kauai’s North Shore into lavish mini-resorts under building permits ostensibly issued for “unsubstantial improvements.”

This led to other mainland developers and haole Realtors getting into the act.

So yeah, it's more than a little ironic that we have a mainland transplant bitching about the corrupt county government when his good bud was contributing to and taking advantage of that corruption.

As for the FBI, well, a guy told me on Friday that he had called them, but they're not interested, said it wasn't their kuleana. Call your elected officials at the state and federal level, he was advised.

A county manager form of government isn't going to save us, either, as it would simply turn into another political plum.

Whatcha gonna do?

Well, rather than pine for the good old days of unabashed colonialism, or bash locals under cover of anonymity, keep your own act clean, educate yourself about the issues and the structure of government, speak up publicly about injustices and improprieties and get involved in building your community any way you can.


Anonymous said...

My response to "interesting" (posted on th GI website last night) cited the same data from the 2010 census. People tend to believe that their "kind" are more virtuous than the "others", but to paraphrase Greg Allman, no one has a monopoly on assholes. Fred Garvin

Anonymous said...

Voters count, race should not matter.

Mark Jeffers said...

I was watching a documentary last night about Native American response to American expansionism in the late 1700's early 1800's. It was presumed their God given right to overcome the people and their lands in the midwest with false treaties and genocide. Tecumseh a Shawnee Chief fought that expansionism anyway he could always holding peaceful coexistance as his highest value. His vision was "the United Indian States of America" from the Ohio river to Canada, from the Mississippi to the Aleganey. He was treated as a "savage" person until he was killed in battle. His words are worth study.

In my 40 years in these islands I've seen the positive workings of government and the most akamai concerned citizens continually be undermined by "outside" or new commer interests who posses the money and attitude to work their way with the american/colonial form of government we now work within. I believe that most island people would, if properly educated vote for each islands' soverignty in a commonwealth form of administration.
"The Hawaiian States of America" with each island being it's own State, and having its own authority to reject those who would rebuild these islands into their own secure personal playgrounds.

Anonymous said...

Case in point: the prosecutor and the first deputy. One as "local" as you get and the other a mainland haole. Or Maryanne Kusaka and Gary Baldwin.

Anonymous said...

Joan rains on Kauai's corruption and her words arc over the dark clouds. Will the mute be inspired to cast a stone on a pond of deceitful depths. Thy hearts rhythm may skip a beat to the witness a true leader rising from the shadows of darkness. A glimer of peace, a light of hope, a calm after the storm, and finally growth from a dampen soul. What must be a dream can certainly be reality

Anonymous said...

Joan, please review the difference between "majority" and "plurality" and correct your piece. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Most 'island' people are not registered to vote.

Anonymous said...

Let's judge others by the content of their characters and not by their racial or ethnic identities. There are good and bad everywhere.

Elaine Albertson said...

The "local boy" mentality as mentioned in the anonymous comment is not defined by race or color. It is, rather, defined by a mindset that is rooted in entitlement and immunity.

I grew up near a small town in the Midwest that was known as corrupt as they come. The difference I see is that the good people of that small town finally (ca. 1959) got fed up, realized that their future was their own, and took back control in a very contentious election process (people were actually threatened). It didn't solve all their problems, but managing the problems became a lot easier and more productive.

I'm not so sure many of the comments are intentionally racist, or even "colonialist," in nature, although there are those which are obvious. This level of feeling of helplessness and frustration often comes out in unmindful verbage...and those feelings transcend race and culture.

It takes a substantial amount of courage to stand up to power that is (allegedly) corrupt. One day Kaua'i will find its heart again, and come together in a united manner to "clean up the act."

Anonymous said...

Speaking of corruption, exactly how much tax-payer money did Mayor Carvalho and Sue Kanoho spend for their Oscar party in Hollywood cost??

Anonymous said...

The better question, as I'm sure this expedition was 'budgeted' is who is in the entourage? Wife, friends, county employees?

Anonymous said...

sound advice; bee the change....

Anonymous said...

I heard the Mayor made Kauai look good...

Anonymous said...

Please, enough with the "race" already.

As a mainland Haole who was married on Oahu and who owns a home in Princeville, Kauai, I find it very sad that the racial tension in the Hawaiian islands, is dividing its people from their real purpose "to live Aloha" and to protect the island(s), its dying culture and dying history.

I am not so naive to ignore that the same is difficult to do and a result of natural human instincts. I live (full time) in Southern California, and it is currently being overpopulated by illegal aliens, and hispanics are now the majority. The spanish language is heard everywhere and spoken everywhere. I am still not used to walking into a store and being spoken to in Spanish by the store employees, but I have accepted it. I am not upset about it, I cannot fault hispanics for coming to USA, to make more money, for a better place to live and to better their lives, I would do the same. I have empathy for their plight. (Haoles, and others, came to Hawaii for similar reasons to make money, live better lives in a better place).

The history of pure Hawaiians is truly sad, but it is not unusual to any very small minority. In reality the little island nation could only be protected by the seas for just so long before the world found out about them. It could have been any country, China, France, Spain, Denmark, Chile, Vietnam that came and took advantage of the island nation (Colonialsim not race).

I should not be punished for the sins of my grandfathers, especially when many Haoles on Kauai are doing their best to acknowldge and be respectful of the past, as I am.

As to the "local boy" mentality, I do find it silly that in Hawaii there is a very strong sense that being born on Kauai/Hawaii automatically makes you better, more legit, or more respectful of the history and culture. From what I have seen in some cases, (usually younger people)that does not necessarily hold true.

I believe that I have more respect, understanding, and love for the Hawaiian history/culture than some people born on the island and raised there.

I will not let my Haole label and mainlander history be a badge of shame. I will always be a Haole in appearance, but a Hawaiian at heart.

Laugh if you will. If you have hatred for me, then that is due to your own ignorance and ability to accept change and move forward.

Pure Hawaiians are rare and becoming rarer by the year. There will be a point in time, when sadly, they will not exist at all, and it is very likely most Hawaiians will be of mixed white and asian blood (Since they compromise 60% of Kauai).

Whether you like it or not, it will be the Haoles on Kauai and the other Islands carrying the torch of Aloha for the history of Hawaii.

So, excuse my pollyanna approach, can't we all just get along and come together over the one thing we do share, Hawaii?

whether you are Haole or not, born here or not, just RESPECT KAUAI

...oh and since our IP addresses are being "outed" (lol), my name is Jeremy.

Anonymous said...

Crooks and Corruption are Color Blind.

Its a "clan" thing. Our clan is better and smarter than yours...goes back to the caveman era and mentality.

We won't solve our problems divided, but divided is what those in power want us to focus our efforts....instead on them.

smoke and mirrors, deception and way Jose!

Dr. Shibai

Anonymous said...

Yeah nickle and diming kauais citizens while spending over taxed dollars and eating good, it's a everyday thing so what's the difference?
While Kauai food bank loot funds and food; and give needy families spoil, old, rotten food.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance of white men will never understand

Anonymous said...

Que? Hose a and hose b, no comprende senor?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

A complete waste of space, Joan. You're playing into the racist overtones on Kauai - and they do exist. And, to set the record straight, your either fair-skinned or brown-skinned. I don't agree with that distinction but I see it in play and here it in casual conversations most weeks. It is what it is but so many want to bury their head in the sand. Yes, cronyism exists - period. Irrespective of race, color of skin, sexual preference, etc. Stay on topic. We have an out-of-control power battle between two of our more or most important local government positions. Let's get some facts out.

Anonymous said...

The land came first and until we all get that through our white, brown, yellow or red skins then we are all doomed.

The land will be here long after your color wars end.

Anonymous said...

What of the mixed race people? Are they fair skinned or brown skinned? I am looking at my son's third grade class picture and I don't see one kid who is not hapa or mixed. What do I tell my kids, who have ancestors from every racial category? I guess they'll have to hate everyone equally.

Anonymous said...

Hate 'em all equally. Some of them even hate themselves.