Saturday, January 17, 2009

Musings: Death of a Nation

Well, it looks like the big blow was a no show, at least on windward Kauai.

“We’ve turned into a bunch of wimps,” said farmer Jerry, who nevertheless took advantage of the mandatory day off from his state job to work on his farm.

It was dead calm until about 4 p.m., when the wind started gusting out of the north. Koko and I took a walk on the mountain trail, where the trees roared as loud as the pounding surf and fine rain blew in sheets, like ghostly figures marching, creating rainbows in numerous incarnations.

It kept on through the evening, causing those dreaded brown-out surges that had me unplugging everything and occasional black outs that twice killed power to the cordless phone while I was on it.

Then about midnight, the wind gave up with a sigh and the morning arrived sunny, wet, still and cold enough that I can see my tea-warmed exhalations of breath in the house as I write this.

Looks like it should be good weather for the big march planned today on Oahu to mark the 116th anniversary of America's overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Check out commentator Paul Harvey’s take on it, which was originally broadcast in 1993. In this famous "Rest of the Story" broadcast, he speaks of "the death of a nation, January 1893, away from the headlines and the TV cameras, down in the shadowy realms where U.S. foreign policy shakes hands with the devil..."

The usual overthrow observance promises to be even larger this year due to outcry over the state’s attempt to grab the so-called “ceded lands.” According to the Advertiser:

Organizers say tens of thousands are expected to participate in a march and rally in Waikiki today to protest Gov. Linda Lingle's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of a January 2008 Hawai'i Supreme Court ruling that bars the state from selling or transferring ceded lands until Native Hawaiian claims to those lands are dealt with.

As some of us had hoped, the current threat to the “ceded lands” is serving to bring different groups together:

Wayne Kaho'onei Panoke of the 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition, which is organizing the march and rally, said representatives from the traditional Royal Order of Kamehameha I to independence groups such as Hui Pu are participating.

"This is one issue we can all agree upon that it's wrong," Panoke said.

Meanwhile, as some of us had feared, efforts are also under way to accelerate passage of the Akaka Bill. When I ran into attorney Dan Hempey, who represents the Reinstated Hawaiian Government, at the courthouse on Thursday, he noted that with the “ceded lands” issue going before the U.S. Supreme Court and other challenges against Hawaiian entitlements continuing, it could create “the perfect storm” to push the Akaka Bill forward.

The Advertiser, as evidenced by an editorial yesterday, is already whipping up the winds of support, using language intended to lull folks into believing the Akaka Bill is really good for kanaka:

Federal recognition will end the legal challenges to the trust funds derived from part of the revenues from lands that once belonged to the Hawaiian kingdom. And the focus then can turn back to the use of these funds for the benefit of Native Hawaiians, as they were intended.

What it doesn't say is that federal recognition will extinguish all hopes of independence or true sovereignty. Worse, the editorial advocates leaving the bill, currently being rewritten yet again, in its present form, which was heavily watered down in previous years to placate opposition from Bush and Republicans:

And it would make more sense tactically to leave the bill intact. This will make it easier to recommit the votes already in hand from supporters and avoid roiling the opponents.

God forbid we should roil the opponents by insisting on what's right, not what's expedient.

Anyway, the editorial drew some 50 comments that represented the wide range of opinion that this issue generates. Perhaps that’s why Kahu Kaleo Patterson will be participating in today’s march and rally, and also welcoming folks to a “service of reconciliation” tonight sponsored by the Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center and numerous churches.

The flyer for the event offered these words of wisdom from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the “fight fire with fire” method….is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community….

It isn't easy to love all the Hawaiian-haters out there who are masquerading as friends or trying to characterize a legitimate moral and political struggle to throw off a colonizer as racism. But as Dr. King knew, love is what's needed when you're trying to create and not destroy.


Anonymous said...

ya it would be nice if, whatever that current us sup ct case outcome, that a result is better coordination among the dozen or so ethnic hawaiian sovereignty groups. its hard to see how they wont be stronger and more effective as they work together more.

Katy said...

Sure, but unity does not equal unanimity, nor should it.

Usually debate and discussion are considered positive, rather than negative qualities. The fact that there is debate within the Hawaiian independence movement is a sign of a healthy and vibrant movement, though detractors like to pretend like the movement is fatally divided.

Also, regarding the post: "love" does not preclude a strong and powerful opposition to injustice. I think that the words of Martin Luther King Jr are often used to promote a kind of watered-down form of social justice engagement, where you learn to "love your enemy" and then sit back and wait for them to see the light. That's just foolishness, particularly when the main enemy of social, environmental and economic justice is systemic and winning is not a question of changing the hearts or minds of individuals with power in the system.

Real social change happens because of a shift in the balance of power. While shifts in the consciences of individual elites can sometimes help shift power balances, it is much more a question of building mass movements with the strength to take power back from a system which has it robbed it from them.

Love is important there, because one can't engage in such a struggle over the long haul without love for one's people.

Anonymous said...

Check it out, Aunty Nani's photo accompanies the Advertiser story on the march.

Anonymous said...

but the bottom line is the answer

Anonymous said...

i have no idea if its "fatally divided" or not, but ya i follow what you are sayin

Andy Parx said...

“Federal recognition will extinguish all hopes of independence or true sovereignty.”

Yet one more attempt to steal the land “one last time fair and square”... didn’t they try that in 1893, 1898, 1920 and 1959?

Fool me six times shame on..... well, you can’t get fooled again.

Q- How many illegal laws based on previous illegal law does it take to screw the kanaka?
A- Always at least one more. .

Q- If Uncle Sam steals $100 today, $200 tomorrow and $300 the next day how long will it take him to have enough money to change the law and make his theft legal?
A- None... it’s on the (white) house... because “we like your face”.


Anonymous said...

Fool me six times shame on..... well, you can’t get fooled again.