Monday, October 8, 2007

Musings: Unified Commands

It’s always pleasant on my walks to encounter my neighbor Andy and share a few words and smiles. Not everyone can handle cheeriness at the crack of dawn — or any time of day, for that matter.

The other morning I asked Andy, who recently retired from teaching history at KCC, if he could recall other times in Hawaii’s past when the governor formed a “unified command” for any purpose. He could not.

Of course, martial law was imposed after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, but that unified command was run by the military, he noted, and opposed by civilian leaders, who fought to regain control over the Islands.

He also could recall instances of Hawaii’s government using its police powers to support corporate interests, most notably the Hawaii Sugar Planters Assn. and its pre-WWII efforts to repress union organizing.

The territorial governor did send in the National Guard to put down the 1922 Filipino strike at Hanapepe, where six strikers were shot dead. And local governments did allow the HSPA to pick up the tab to hire extra cops to control strikers, and judges to try the cases of those who were arrested.

But those actions were initiated by HSPA, not the government, he said.

It seems that Gov. Lingle, in seeking to enforce her political decisions through the combined forces of county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, is moving into unprecedented, and extremely troubling, territory.

If lawmakers are worried that the Superferry debacle might harm Hawaii’s business climate, open it up to mainland ridicule or confer upon it “backwater” status, they might want to start by reining in the governor and her banana republic-style aspirations to command a personal militia.

Superferry lobbyist John Radcliffe was quoted in the Advertiser yesterday as saying: “most (sic) people in Hawaii want to see these Islands better knitted together into a cohesive sociopolitical whole than want it to be an amalgam of separate parochial outposts.”

I’m not sure which is more ludicrous, the idea that the Islands can, and should, be knitted into a cohesive sociopolitical whole or that the Superferry — one of the most divisive projects in Hawaii’s history — might play a Kamehameha-kine role in such a process.

If any message has been coming through loud and clear from the Neighbor Islands, especially Kauai, it’s that we do have interests that are distinct from the other islands, and certainly from Oahu. That doesn’t mean we’re isolationist, or dislike people who live elsewhere in Hawaii. It’s just that every island in the chain is unique, and on Kauai, at least, we want to maintain that.

The old concept of Kauai as a “separate kingdom” was referenced numerous times in public discussions about the ferry, including by Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura. Quite frankly, a lot of folks here do want the Garden Isle to remain a separate parochial outpost. From our vantage point, a “sociopolitical whole” looks a lot like Oahu continuing to dominate — at the expense of what makes us special and different.

If the Islands are to be knitted together, let’s see it happen under the leadership of a truly independent Hawaiian nation, not Gov. Lingle’s corporate-driven “unified command.”


Anonymous said...

lilian de mello

Anonymous said...

didn't kaumuali'i hear about the cannon and muskets and accede to kamehameha's unification?
Lao Tzo Kam

Jennifer Tyler said...

Beautifully stated, Joan =-)

Anonymous said...

I don't buy it. These are counties of a state in the USA.

There is no "kingdom of hawaii"...there is no "independent republic of kauai"

Unless a patch of land is private property, all else "belongs" to any state resident.

Your rocks are my rocks, etc.

I see no difference between these counties as any other counties surrounding a big city, like the various counties surrounding Chicago.

Just because they're islands doesn't give them special privilages.