Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Musings: On the Dark Side

I understand why good people have gotten involved in the anti-GMO/pesticide movement in Hawaii — they're genuinely (though perhaps misguidedly) concerned about human and environmental health.

What I don't understand is why those good people haven't said anything about the ugly dark side of their movement: the ongoing death threats against folks who express a different opinion, the intimidation, the lies, the dissemination of distasteful social media memes like this:
In the case of Alicia Maluafiti — former executive director of the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association — even her worthy volunteer work on behalf of stray dogs and cats was viciously targeted by anti-GMO extremists like Nomi “Babes” Carmona.

I've not seen even one public statement censuring these abhorrent tactics, not one instance of anyone distancing themselves from the nasties.

So one can only assume those out-front either condone such behavior, or they don't have the strength and/or courage to stand up against it. Either way, it doesn't speak well for the moral fiber, the character of the movement. Which is why I personally find it so repellant.

Now, thanks to the Center for Food Safety video “we are the movement,” we can attach names and faces to the “red shirts” — identify those in our community who overtly or tacitly approve of bullying, the stifling of dissent by any means, the promulgation of misinformation.

Sadly, some of these people identify themselves as educators, parents, health practitioners, politicians — folks one would expect to set a good example in their community.

In the video, I hear people who should know better repeating the same lies: we have very little information about what our families are exposed to; we don't know what they're spraying or when; the seed companies are unwilling to observe even modest buffers — none of which is true on Kauai.

And though the CFS website tells of how “residents organized to pass Ordinance 960,” it fails to mention the ordinance was struck down by the courts. Instead, it falsely claims: "The chemical companies responded by suing the county rather than telling the community what they are doing." In fact, all the companies are disclosing restricted use pesticides on the state website, and some are doing direct disclosure to those living near their fields.

Take a look at the video and see who you recognize — aside from Councilman Tim Bynum, Malia Chun (Councilman Mason Chock's sister) and Elif Beall, who is married to Matt Beall  of the sleazy Hawaii Life Real Estate company.

Which brings us to the subject of financial backing. I haven't seen any of those involved in the movement publicly express concerns about their funders: Hawaii-based upscale Realtors and mainland-based oil and manufacturing heirs.

Besides the inherent hypocrisy, they don't seem to realize that the fundamental law of ecology also applies to funding sources: there is no free lunch. As with the money that backs politicians, at some point these funders will exact their due from the movement.

We know what the Realtors want: more land to develop, more sales. But with Center for Food Safety, a mainland-based group that has inserted itself quite forcefully into Hawaii elections, do we really know what their true agenda might be? Other than political power?

CFS has launched a political action fund that describes itself as “a non-partisan, not-for-profit, non-candidate committee.” But one look at the flyer for the Oct 25 “Rock Da Vote” event on Kauai makes it quite clear that they are indeed backing specific candidates.
First, there's Councilman Tim Bynum, who actually appeared on the CFS video. Then there's Councilman Gary Hooser, whose Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) is co-sponsoring the event. The HAPA board also includes many of those appearing in the video. So even while they're claiming "tens of thousands" have joined the movement, they're recycling all the same people.

Yes, Tim and Gary are closely aligned with CFS, whose very own website states: "Join our more than 500,000 members across the country saying no to industrial agriculture." And they wonder why they're pegged as anti-ag….

Another sponsor is Ohana O Kauai, the group led by mayoral candidate Dustin Barca. And one of the bands includes the son of Council Candidate Felicia Cowden.

So I think we know who CFS wants to "rock da vote" for: da "red shirt" candidates. 

The CFS video states:

Our demands are simple. We want to maintain our biodiversity. We want to have good jobs that are healthy and safe. We want to know what these chemical companies are growing and spraying near our homes, schools, and hospitals. We want a food system that feeds local people.

The demands may be simple, but their implementation and delivery is not, especially when you have some of these very same folks opposing local milk production by Hawaii Dairy Farms and both Tim and Gary pushing to remove 24,000 acres from the agricultural dedication.

It serves no one to minimize the challenges inherent in these demands, or to pretend they  will be automatically achieved with the demise of the seed companies.

I have no soft spot for the chem/seed companies, who brought much of this uproar upon themselves by walling themselves off and refusing to respond to questions about their industry and 10-year-old concerns about dust.

But neither do I have a soft spot for the anti-movement, which has seriously polarized communities across the state, offered no viable solutions for achieving its own demands and engaged in despicable tactics that undermine every tenant of aloha.

To regain some semblance of civility, address concerns with the seed/chem companies and find meaningful solutions to the many problems that face the Islands, voters need to start by rejecting politicians who have aligned themselves with the totalitarian “red shirt” movement. We aren't going to get anywhere with those extremists at the helm.

And then people need to stand up to the “red shirts” — just as they would a schoolyard bully — and say “hey, that shit don't fly.” Because if we don't nip it in the bud now, those jackboot strategies will continue to dominate the political arena in Hawaii, making civic engagement unpalatable and untenable for all but the die-hard ideologues.

It's election season, people. Use your power wisely.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nomi Carmona is most certainly NOT a “Babe”. A perfect example of her myriad of falsehoods.

Lorie said...

Ooop's you did it again! Nailed it....

Now let's stand up to the Red shirts with Aloha and Respect but lets Unite before its to late....

Anonymous said...

It is an old axiom Joan that silence equals assent. I too would agree that there are some good, well meaning people who are concerned about health and family. But their cause has been hijacked by manipulative, self-serving individuals whose weapons are lies and intimidation. Where is the admonition from inside the camp? You have laid bare some hard truths for both sides of the fence to assimilate; certainly some bitter pills to swallow. But the only way out of this morass is to pull up our collective bootstraps and bring back common courtesy and respect. Hopefully, this is the death knell for some political carrers. Bravo for your bravery Joan; and damn the torpedos!!

Anonymous said...

This is why demonization has become an important part of modern activism. Once you establish that "the end justifies the means," your means will not be challenged!
Pete Antonson

Chuck Lasker said...

Last year when I was getting threats of violence and murder, sending them to Chief Perry for the records, I asked Tim Bynum and Gary Hooser to speak out against these tactics. Gary immediately blocked me on Facebook, and Tim said that nobody was doing it, despite the screen shots I showed him. Tim didn't block me, but he unfriended me so I can't make comments on his post.

Gary is clearly using this issue, using Kauai's gullible, to get himself into the national activist money machine. Tim thinks he's along for the ride, but he's going to get nothing out of it except a ruined reputation on Kauai. Of course he has $290,000 of Kauai taxpayer money to fall back on, so maybe he doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

it started on Kauai and nobody said anything then same thing happened on Big Island and now Maui. is this the new normal?

Anonymous said...

I am certain that you have not been witness to every incident or exchange that one might consider "ugly". I have personally discouraged ugly behavior on numerous occasions from people you would call "red shirts" and on very open pages that you could easily see. The only "threats" I ever saw were from a CA stay at home Mom who wanted to see the fields burn. none of the threats have ever been published so how would we know what to condemn? It is all heresay and bloggers like Joni Rose instigated conflict. I have witnessed some very ugly behavior by Charlie Iona who falsley accused activists of steeling his signs when it was a soldier with PTSD. I saw some very ugly testimony from Arthur Brun and Samuel Fu that is part of the public record. Should we hold all the chemical company employees responsible for their words and actions during the 2491 hearings? I don't. I think that most of the employees are good hardworking people who just want a job and probably have some major concerns about how their job could affect their family's health. Bottom line most of the people who support these moderate buffers and disclosure would never wear a red shirt and you have probably never heard of them. The 500 foot buffers requested have not been provided. The house I live in is only 550 feet from Syngenta. They will not provide pre-notification of pesticide spraying to their neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Lasker you called an entire group of people who support 2491 "terrorists" just for showing up to the County Council. Are you really surprised that people did not envelop you with love? Really!?

Joan Conrow said...

2:39 -- If you personally took a public stand against the ugly tactics, why are you now posting Anonymously? Why not stand up with your name and say that kind of behavior is wrong? Instead you actually defend it by taking the customary refuge of children -- He did it too! She started it!

Anonymous said...

The people in this anti GMO movement are addicted to the drama, fear, and self righteousness of pointing out all the evils of the gmo industry. It doesn't matter whether it's true or not because they are completely stuck in a mindset. Most of these people are not bad people but they are completely stuck and fanatically attatched to an idea. Gary Hooser on the other haNd knows better and takes advantage of the fanatical misinformed types. Ugh this is all so boring but so necessary to keep writing about since it just keeps getting weirder and weirder. It felt so good to not vote for Gary and after watching Malia Chun on the video link it reminded me not to vote Mason too. Mahalo Joan!

Anonymous said...

Divide the island? I don't think so, why can't people have different values, morals and opinions and state them. Like i tell my family, let's debate our differences---isn't this what is happening? So some ugly stuff have been said and done---but it has been done by both sides! Look at people's facebook and their comments---the people who work (white collar workers) for the seed companies have really bad stuff coming from them. This blog also have a lot of bad things being said about the antis--it's going both ways! In fact, i believe that some of the pro gmo responses on this blog are very mean spirited. This is an uprising, people haven't burned buildings, turn cars over, break windows---but they are marching, voicing their opinions, values---isn't all of this the American way--there will be more to come! And, why get involved in Maui's issues?!

Anonymous said...

All is lost on this island, whether pro-GMO or No-GMO, if we allow the Council to target specific groups either via taxes or regulatory scrutiny.
If the Council was passing laws against and making public allegations about another type of business, like say, errrrr, real estate. Matt Beal, John Ferry, Bali Hai and Hawaii Life would be singing another tune. These true Kauaians would be screaming bloody murder.
If ever there was a business that deserves scrutiny it is those realtors. Countless Ag (wink wink) estates have been sold, countless suggestions from these rich realtors to their clients about building illegal dwelling units etc....helping clients fudge a bit in mortgage applications, manipulating the property so the appraisers do not get the whole picture...and on and on....This business is rife with lies, deceit, illegal doings and hypocrisy....why don't former realtor/Developer Gary Hooser, Former Ag CPR owner, illegal landlord Tim Bynum, JoAnn Yukimura who developed Kalihiwai into CPRs take a peek-a-boo into realtors.....how many illegal TVRs, shoreline encroachments, public access blockades have the Realtors been involved in, advised on or personally did??
The list is long, the players are few...and now Bali Hai lists a house on Hawaiian graves and Hawaii Life pushes it....wanna rent a room? rice cooker included.

Anonymous said...

@4:18
No we're not debating the issue and it's gone way beyond mean spirited. Why get involved in Maui's issue? Because the same groups are working there -- CFS, Hawaii SEED, HAPA etc. !!! It's like a cancer spreading across the Islands.

Anonymous said...

"I have no soft spot for the chem/seed companies, who brought much of this uproar upon themselves by walling themselves off and refusing to respond to questions about their industry and 10-year-old concerns about dust."

God I wish you were on the other side, helping.

Joan Conrow said...

If you read that far it should be clear why I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Let's get real. There's so many bigger things to worry about. Ebola for one, and it's possible presence here, the recent investigation into pollution in Mahaleapu, the traffic we deal with every morning, the invasive guinea grass that's taking over our roadsides, our trash and how are we going to pay for it, our huge insurance bills, property taxes, sky rocketing utilities, a possible bankrupt County and it goes on and on. Can't we stop fighting and bickering about the bio-tech industry. If they're harming our health, they will be caught. The more dangerous issue is our ability to handle the stress of living.

Anonymous said...

@8:21 a possible presence of Ebola on Kauai? Please tell me more... First I've heard of this. Sounds kinda wacko but I wouldn't know. The rest of your comment seemed reasonable esp the guinnea grass. That stuff is taking over, ugly and dangerous . ...So about that Ebola?... Please, Go on....

Dawson said...

Can't we stop fighting and bickering about the bio-tech industry.

Not as long as local politicians and politician-wannabes use it as a ploy to drum up support for themselves and distract voters from the real issues affecting the island.

Anonymous said...

Ebola? Oh boy anything to distract voters from the antis bad behavior right before the election.

Edward Coll said...

Joan said 2:39 -- "If you personally took a public stand against the ugly tactics, why are you now posting Anonymously? Why not stand up with your name and say that kind of behavior is wrong? Instead you actually defend it by taking the customary refuge of children -- He did it too! She started it! "

You know you can disallow anon comments or screen/delete any anon comments that you deem inappropriate. After all it is your blog and your choice.

Joan said, “I have no soft spot for the chem/seed companies, who brought much of this uproar upon themselves by walling themselves off and refusing to respond to questions about their industry and 10-year-old concerns about dust.”

You say you have no soft soft spot for the chem/seed companies yet the bulk of your criticism is aimed at the anti-movement. Where is the balance? You decry “the promulgation of misinformation” by the anti-movement and do a great job pointing such misinformation out but fail to point out the misinformation of the chem/seed companies. Likewise you analyze funding sources and amounts the anti-movement spends but not the spending and lobbying of the chem/seed companies. No mention of the historical relationship between HICA and UH-CTAHR, the projects and research members of HICA fund at CTAHR or how such funding might influence what is researched, or how much HICA pays Becker Communications to churn out propaganda, or how much Jon Entine and Karl Haro von Mogel were paid and by whom. You also stress “voluntary disclosure” as if the fox guarding the hen house has ever been good for the chickens. No mention of how the FDA has been a captive agency since 1977 and has failed to regulate the use of antibiotics on feed animals perhaps resulting in antibiotic resistance in humans (BTW Glyphosate is an antibiotic see the Monsanto Patent here http://www.google.com/patents/US20040077608)

While it is valid to criticize the uncivil, stumbling, bumbling mis-steps of local "activists" and their "leaders" how about looking into the misdeeds of corporate and government actors as well. You seem to be always aiming at David and giving Goliath a free pass.

Joan Conrow said...

Ed, my point was not that I objected to an anonymous comment, or to its content, but that I found it curious someone who claimed to have stood up to the tactics was now hiding behind anonymity.

As for the second half of your comment, I'll address it in a separate post.

Anonymous said...

When the anti side achieves what the chem corp wants, we need to question.

Anonymous said...

Ed Coll- If you think the Government is David, you must be eating breakfast with Brian Schatz, da Hoos, Timbo, Chock, JoAnn and the other "Davids"
The Government is trying to put down Ag as if Ag was a rabid dog.
Now David (IE Gov) in the form of JoAnn wants to raise the main tax most people pay by well over 25 percent. Gov is out of control.
Time for the Council to get back to basics.

Anonymous said...

Ed Coll, you ask for services to your liking but what have you ever done that was constructive and not just criticisms? Just asking ?

wesai mike said...

anonymous at 2:39 you talk about discouraging the red shirts from any bad behavior and you call out Charlie Iona for falsely accusing a soldier with PTSD that was front and center with you anti's and had a big sign in his yard and calling Arthur Brun and Samuel Fu for giving ugly testimony you guys told lies and tried to take away their livelihood with false claims and just another one of your lies that you live 550 feet from Syngenta unless you live on the beach or at the rubbish dump you are LYING like gary and tim

Anonymous said...

@ 8:10 you must not be from Kekaha so I will save you the drive - check out google maps and Kekaha road. There are quite a few residences that close to Syngenta. SMH the things people will say without even looking at a map.

I am anonymous because it should be about the message, not the messenger and Joan has a history of making it more about the messenger to try to be polite.

Dawson said...

While it is valid to criticize the uncivil, stumbling, bumbling mis-steps of local "activists" and their "leaders" how about looking into the misdeeds of corporate and government actors as well. You seem to be always aiming at David and giving Goliath a free pass.

Sorry, Ed, your logic is bogus. You're essentially arguing that any position Joan takes on an issue is invalid unless she gives equal consideration to other issues. There's a long Latin name for your logical fallacy, but I prefer simply to call it what it is: "bullshit."

Joan Conrow said...

8:65 -- Oh, don't blame me for being such a chicken shit. If you actually had stood up, you would do it again. You're lying, and that's why I'm calling you on it and why Wesai Mike called you on it, too.

wesai mike said...

8:56 i am from kekaha and again Syngenta has no fields close to kekaha road it is pioneer you anti's lie so much you start to believe it and run with it "google that" and don't blame joan for staying anonymous

Anonymous said...

and as far as naomi babes cardona according to who she is a babe any dancer in a strip club looks good after 10 beers

Joan Conrow said...

Thank you for clarifying that, wesai mike.

The reason Pioneer isn't providing disclosure is because it is being sued. So 8:56, if you're unhappy about not being notified, go talk to the plaintiffs in the dust suit.

Anonymous said...

If its Pioneer and not Sygenta along Kekaha Road that is marginally good news, since they use "only" 17% of the Restricted Use pesticide reported and Syngenta uses 53%. Syngenta borders WCMS and is on Mana side of Kekaha. How much acreage does Pioneer have in between?

Anonymous said...

Ebola...Watch news and read the newspapers. This topic is now being discussed Statewide. The good news is, like Joan has previously written, "folks are far more likely to die of almost anything but Ebola". Just need to remember how we dealt with the SARS scare and HIV...same thing with how to deal with Ebola. Be wary about cleanliness.

Anonymous said...

For those bringing up Naomi, she is a joke.

Ashley Lukens, her Center for Food Safety, and their millions of dollars from the mainland is the real political threat to tear the islands apart.