In the comment section of a recent post, a reader wrote:
I always thought of Joan as a progressive, just one who values truth.
This observation apparently infuriated another reader, who first fired off this comment:
Joan is a twisted paid shill for the agrochemical industry. She is not a progressive. Name one progressive leader in Hawaii who supports the kind of person Joan has turned into?
Quickly followed by this one:
Joan name one friend ion [sic] Kauai who is green or progressive and who supports the nasty mean character assassination shell of a journalist you have become. Will even Caren Diamond or Barbara Robson [sic] step out publicly to endorse your personal vendetta against hooser and so many others? Name just one and not Jan Tenbrugengate [sic] please as we know he is getting paid as well. And of course I know you won't post this because you know that no one on Kauai (except the chemcos) supports who you have become.
Where to start, aside from laughing? Especially since both were submitted, so aptly, to the “Dumb and Dumber” post. Oh, btw, Anonymous, if you're gonna use people's names, at least spell them right. And just FYI, I'm not actually looking for endorsements, since I'm not running for office or prom queen.
Still, those two nasty-grams — and others I've received since I began challenging the dogma of the anti-GMO “green” crowd — did get me thinking about the concept of a political “progressive,” and what it's come to represent in some circles in Hawaii.
First, to be considered a true Hawaii “progressive,” one must never, ever speak up against the lock-step, bootjack group-think/group-speak. Questions and criticisms, most especially about the revered “leaders,” must never be publicly voiced.
Second, one must engage in the kind of regressive rhetoric and tactics that have endured for centuries. Like using women's scantily-clad bodies to attract attention. Fear-mongering. Witch hunts. Lies and deception. Shaming. A "with me or against me" mentality.
Third, one must shame and denounce all farmers, save for those who produce food organically and/or as inefficiently as possibly.
Fourth, one must embrace all the latest technology on one's phone, while working feverishly to stop its employment in agriculture.
Fifth, one must fetishize one's food, while turning a blind eye to the malnourished and hungry in the developing world. Or better yet, one must say quietly (because it's not yet PC to say it publicly) to one's “progressive” friends, “Why should we worry about the starving [fill in the blank]? We have enough of 'those people' already.”
Sixth, one must always use the word “industrial” when discussing any farm larger than a few acres, “factory” when describing any animal feeding operation, “drench” when referencing a pesticide application and “shill” when describing someone with a different point of view.
Seventh, one must pontificate, march, post madly on Facebook, yammer on KKCR and stage publicity stunts in Swizerland, but never actually do anything concrete to address the problems, much less get one's hands dirty.
Eighth, one must believe fervently that anyone who doesn't share one's world view is wrong, evil, or to use the words of another recent critic, “damaged.”
Ninth, one must adopt an attitude of sanctimonious self-righteousness, which prompts one to (always anonymously) write things like, “Much love and light to you Joan Conrow! I hope you soon can catch a clue, and finally begin your much needed healing. The world will be a much better place when you finally resolve your inner demons. May your savaged soul soon be soothed."
Oh, and one must always sign hateful missives with “alohas.”
Tenth, one must worship ego- and greed-driven demagogues as political saviors who will make everything all-G — just as soon as they can accumulate enough of your cash to get elected.
Eleventh, one must eschew all forms of introspection, and doggedly refuse to change one's mind, no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary.
Yes, this is the kind of “progressivism” that has taken hold in Hawaii, eclipsing the work of good people who are doing good things to bring about positive change.
It's the kind of progressivism that makes sensible people loathe to seek office, or serve in government, because they've seen just how nasty and mean the so-called progressives can be when things don't go exactly their way.
So given that definition, no, I'm not a progressive.
But given this one, I am:
a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas. Synonyms: innovator, reformer, reformist, liberal, libertarian.
Mostly, though, I don't think too much about trying to define or categorize myself. To borrow a phrase from Popeye: “I Yam What I Yam.” Whatever that is.
To quote a Kauai friend, who some might consider both “green” and “progressive,” though he's also so much more, and less:
“You can't put Joan in a box.”