Yes, his four-pronged message of “sustainable agriculture, cultural revival, kapu on ice and ka wai ola (life-giving water)” does indeed sound great. But though I scoured his website, I found no plans, only platitudes. I'm sure most of us would agree that restoring heiau and fishponds, protecting water sources, boosting local food production and especially creating a farm-type setting for drug rehab are great ideas.
But as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details, and I've yet to see any details on how all those lofty ideals will actually be implemented. Well, aside from his “vision” for agriculture, as articulated in Flux Hawaii:
His personal farming dreams start with circulatory livestock farming—plots of land being grazed by cattle, rotating to chickens who fertilize the land with their feces, to organic farming the nutrient-rich soil area until it’s time to bring the cattle back.
Just don't try it near Poipu…. Gee, maybe Hawaii Dairy Farms could take him on as a consultant, make all that bad PR go away.
Still, it's not just the empty campaign promises that concern me. That's typical among politicians, including many who are regularly re-elected. No, what worries me are his other words, the ones where he departs from his carefully crafted script and reveals who he really is, and worse, how little he really knows.
For example, this piece on ESPN.com:
"There is a bacteria on the reef in Hanalei Bay that doesn't exist anywhere in the world," explains Barca, a former ASP Tour competitor who grew up surfing Hanalei alongside Andy and Bruce Irons. "It's killing the reef. There are a lot of big chemical companies -- such as Dow and Monsanto, among others -- that test in the hills and fields around Kauai, and what we're seeing on the reef at Hanalei, it's no coincidence."
No coincidence? Does anyone in their right mind really believe the chem companies are impacting the reef in Hanalei, which is on the opposite side of the island? And btw, Dustin, Monsanto hasn't been on Kauai for a few years now.
Then there was this weekend's Instagram post, where he's running past Hanapepe Valley, but identifies it as Waimea Canyon. But hey, we'll cut him some slack since he's a North Shore boy. And he's not gonna get the westside vote, anyway. Not while he's riling workers with a video that derides the seed companies as “lazy man's farming," though he's never actually had his ass out in a field all day.
But it was the article in Flux that really raised eyebrows, and I'm not just talking about the part where he dropped out of school in tenth grade (did he ever finish?) and has spent his adult life fighting and surfing. Has he ever had a regular job, the office-kine, like where you show up every day at the Round Building and put in a solid 10 to 15 hours? Is he even working now?
No, it was this comment:
“I’m not a religious person, but I feel like I’m on a mission from God.”
Hooboy. Giant red flag.
Followed by this:
Even from an early age, Barca was angry and quick to throw a punch. He fought so much that his surf sponsorships were revoked. “I’m the sorest loser—I don’t see myself losing this fight. No way.”
And therein you see the true essence of the “leadership” behind the anti-GMO movement on Kauai. It's got all the religious fervor, sanctimony and single-minded group think of an evangelical sect wrapped in the angry, reactionary violence of a sore-loser mob quick to throw a punch.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that everyone who supports pesticide regulations or has concerns about GMOs, as I do myself, is like that. I'm saying that's the true tenor and tone of the movement's leadership, as Dustin — and Councilman Gary Hooser, with his "lil fistees" call to action — so vividly portray.
That's the ugliness that repelled me from the get-go, and that I've been railing against ever since.
And it's not just Dustin and Gary. We see it also in groups like Kauai Rising, which sent out a hit email — with the subject line “Community Alert” no less — denouncing Allan Parachini as a chem company shill because he dared to publish a commentary outlining the many flaws of that asinine charter amendment and speak against it at last week's Council meeting.
Blogger Andy Parx — the “voice” of the anti-GMO movement who tellingly self-declares as “rabid" — quickly piled on, trying to cast aspersions on Allan because he previously suffered from depression. Never mind that Andy is himself disabled. Because empathy and compassion have no place in this movement.
The goal is to simply smear and silence anyone who dares to express an opinion contrary to group think, so that no one speaks up anymore. As in Twilight Zone's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street."
All the while coating the slime in syrup, like the “Please keep on shining” and “blessings” that Kauai Rising's Michael Shooltz used to close his hit piece.
But no, we're not a divided island, it's all aloha here, the movement is couched in peace and love and Dustin and Gary are gonna save us from the big bad chem companies — while racking up ego-feeding national press clippings for themselves.
More GMO-corn syrup-sweetened Kool-aid anyone?