Michael, Farrah and Statehood Hawaii

Not that the deaths of Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett have much to do with the recent riots over the reported fraudulent Iranian election, or the United Nations Decolonization Committee’s call for a change in Puerto Rico’s status. Their deaths however (Farrah from cancer at age 62 and Michael from a heart attack at 50), reminds me simply that nostalgia has gravity. The weight of nostalgia is an emotional and maudlin sentiment that binds us simultaneously in both collective reflection and mourning. Even now, just two hours after the announcement of Michael Jackson’s passing, a crowd has formed outside of UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Hospital.

The Statehood commission is promoting a nostalgic event, resurrecting memories of a time when statehood represented the promise of freedom and the exercise of democratic principles. In their 50th anniversary of statehood PSAs, videos focus on the nostalgic and steers clear of any substantial issue. Certain phrases repeat like the chorus to “Remember the Maine” a patriotic song repeating, “remember, remember, remember… the Maine.” Instead, we hear, “we got to vote… we got to participate in the democratic process…remember the sacrifices of those from the 442nd and 100th…” Each of these sung praises are worthy and exceptional by themselves, however, in this right that we have earned, why are we not celebrating our rights by publicly engaging in a critical analysis of the issues that confront and challenge us today. The chorus of this statehood nostalgia lulls the public from engaging in any real discussion on statehood.

In the fifty, one-minute spots being aired, what issues should be confronted? Let’s take a look:

Besides the economic challenges confronting the U.S., there is homelessness, mental health, water, sustainability, commercial development, tourism, employment, education, burial sites, budget crisis, prison issues, insurance, health-care, food sovereignty, military development, governmental outsourcing of state projects, big agriculture, Hawaii as military target for N. Korean missile test, civil unions… is there even a list? As an exercise, one should name 50 issues the state might promote and discuss as to why statehood has been good for Hawaii. With these unremarkable, redundant and nostalgic PSAs, the state has lost 50 opportunities for engaging the public in a service for which public dialogue might have championed statehood, rather than lulled the citizenry.

It should be the obligation of the state to celebrate statehood by engaging the public on issues, and not simply devising and scheming solutions by outsourcing projects to “mainland” companies. One of these outsourced events– the upcoming August 21st, 50th anniversary celebration at the Convention Center– how many of the gold or platinum sponsored booths offering solutions to alternative energy, sustainability, food, housing, technology, etc, involve strategies that have publicly engaged local communities?

Why has statehood been good for Hawai’i? For those following Puerto Rico’s decolonization, it might be useful and informative to study the marketing and lobbying strategies employed by those campaigning for the three-way split between statehood, independence, or remaining a commonwealth. Except for the N. Korean missile test and the burial issues, all issues mentioned above are issues that are also at the forefront of Puerto Rico.

Let’s also not forget that Cuba is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary of independence at the same time people in Hawai’i are becoming educated and beginning to discuss its options for self-determination. Without the imposed US blockades, Cuba’s economy will likely once again be vibrant. Puerto Rico’s economy has been held back by the United States in determining what countries Puerto Rico can trade with. Now, Puerto Rico has the option of establishing new trading partners with it’s South and Central American neighbors while Hawaii remains locked to the continental United States.

When the Soviet Union began to collapse, the Baltic states who were already at that time in the midst of their own independence struggles were able to de-occupy without tragic incidence. Could Puerto Rico’s decolonization effort be compared to Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia? Is there an historical symmmetry between the collapsing value of the dollar as the international trading currency with the 1989 collapse of the Soviet financial system?

Looking at these historical metaphors, the 50th anniversaries of Cuba’s independence and Hawaii’s statehood mirror each other like the once-was twin towers of sugar based colonialism and commodities, and the example of Puerto Rico should beacon a light of inspiration

These signifiers are a paradigmatic exercise of US imperialism. How is it that Michael Jackson died during his 50th year and taken to the hospital named after the president who negotiated the staged hostage rescue in the Iran/Contra scandal. How is it that the greatest American sexport after Marilyn Monroe, born the same year that the U.S. officially submitted its territories to be placed on United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories should fatally succumb to a very public bout with cancer at the same time that Congress takes up the issue of Puerto Rican independence? We can mix and match these metaphors over cocktails, and that would be more substantial than what the State of Hawaii has been doing with their 50th anniversary of statehood observations.

In closing, yes, I will miss Michael and Farrah. I miss the posters and music which reminds me of a magical time in my youth, a specific time between childhood and teen-angst, a time of discovery, of coming into my own. When I took down the Farrah Fawcett posters and sold my Michael Jackson records, it was a gesture of evolving, maturing, and preparing myself for both intoxicating liberation and sober independence.

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17 comments for “Michael, Farrah and Statehood Hawaii

  1. rscott
    June 25, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Gorgeously written, but to quote Larry Price, “Are you shooah?”

  2. Jere Krischel
    June 26, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I think you got it backwards -> the example of Hawaii’s Statehood is a light of inspiration for Puerto Rico. Talk about “decolonization” of Hawaii is giving undue attention to a radically fringe point of view, and vociferously denying the truth of progress in Hawaii over the past 200 years. It seems that the “decolonization” and victimhood point of view is like focusing on Michael Jackson’s mutilated face, rather than his “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” albums. Yes, there are problems in Hawaii, and many of them are political problems, but secession and race-based government are not the answer.
    Rather than focus on blaming generations now long gone, and political actions taken before any of us were born, we need to be forward looking. History is an important topic to study, but to expect that Kalakaua’s notorious corruption should guide any political dialog today, or drive any public policy, is both dangerous and myopic.
    The problems mentioned are real. The civil rights of homosexuals to marry, the painful taxation of small businesses, the vile culture of anti-haole and anti-intellectual sentiment in our schools, the racism practiced by OHA and Kamehameha Schools, and the corrupt Democrat establishment through many layers of government, need to be addressed. But asserting that a mythical “independence” would have, could have or should have fixed this problems is horribly naive.

  3. arnie
    June 26, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Jere, you’re not the only one who confuses race-based for nation-based. http://statehoodhawaii.org/v_vids/clip9_public.html. Both sides of the argument insist that independence is race-based. It is a 20th-century paradigm that has evolved in line with the 21st-century.
    Also, victimhood is what the Akaka Bill preys on and, as you know, is not exactly the rallying-pole for those asserting strategies towards self-determination. Beyond the MJ reference, what this article asserts is the lost opportunity the state had in examining and encouraging dialogue over issues. Engagement and empowerment is best in any functional and operative democratic government. It is not simply to assert the right to stand on the soap box, rather it is a responsibility to encourage the practice of those rights.

  4. Jere Krischel
    June 26, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Arnie, I appreciate your sincerity, but it’s patently obvious that even the “nation-based” advocates arrange their definition of citizenship in such a way to act as a proxy for race-based.
    If in fact, you advocated independence on a “nation-based” basis, your population to consider would be the current citizenry of Hawaii. Every man, woman, and child with citizenship in the State of Hawaii would be your constituency. You cannot possibly argue that the State of Hawaii is not a government of the people, for the people, and by the people of Hawaii. So arguing that we need “independence” when we already have State Sovereignty, only makes sense if you’re also arguing that the population with rights in this new “nation” is only a subset of the current population.
    If you can get the State of Hawaii, the legal and proper government of all the people of Hawaii, to agree to pursue independence and nationhood, fine. But arguing that you can have a “nation-based” rationale, and at the same time arguing that you must limit your population that will create a de facto ethnic cleansing, is really dodging the issue.
    I strongly agree that there are problems in the government of our islands, but arguing that some form of ethnic cleansing and following nationhood is going to be the answer I believe is divisive and playing into the hands of the powers that be.

  5. arnie
    June 26, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    The idea of “who gets to vote” is one of the discussions that many in the community are involved in. It’s less, as you suggest, a proxy for race-based change, and more, I would argue, a process for respect of international law and history.
    Self-determination is an international inalienable right, and as some have proposed, the State of Hawaii may have outlived its usefulness in the same way that GM has outlived theirs, or the dollar has outlived its influence as the international trading currency. While many in the international community are racing to confront the mounting climactic challenges through leadership, the nexus of political leadership and sustainability in the US, seems to be still concerned with profit and control for financial gain. In my naiveté, that’s what I call the dinosaur.
    There are some that would argue that those whose ancestors were citizens of Hawaii before the 1893 overthrow would get to vote. Others might cite those who were citizens before the 1898 annexation, while others still might claim those who were citizens before 1959 statehood. Either way, all three scenarios are multi-ethnic and multi-racial and if one were to collect statistical or genealogical sampling of those who can trace their citizenry back to any of those dates, you will find that the qualifications for voting is not about blood or race as you might like to define it.
    There are international methodologies determining voting rights, and it is certainly more stringent than the 1959 statehood plebiscite in which military personnel and their families were encouraged to vote. We will keep an eye on Puerto Rico, see what kind of educational oversight they employ in the voting process– see who and how they get to vote.

  6. Jere Krischel
    June 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    The whole idea of “who gets to vote” is critical in this case, and all the denials by those who would effect ethnic cleansing of the State of Hawaii does not change the evil of their effects.
    Self-determination is an international, inalienable right -> but the confusion comes when someone tries to assert that a “group” can have “self” determination. Selves are individuals, and every citizen of the State of Hawaii, regardless of race, creed or color, has self-determination already. To assert that one can carve out “self” determination for a group is inherently to deny the self-determination of others.
    If you think the State of Hawaii has outlived its usefulness, then you must present an alternative for all the citizens of Hawaii, and they must accept it. Defining your electorate in creative ways to stack the deck in favor of your proposals is most definitely not self-determination.
    The simple fact of the matter is that there is no ethical or moral argument for restricting the vote based on history 100 years gone by. Denying the people of Hawaii, whether or not they moved here yesterday or have lived in the same small village for 6 generations, the right to self-determination and a place in the government of their homeland is evil, and should be opposed at all costs.
    The myth of military personnel and their families corrupting the 1959 vote that you continue to reference is an absolute lie. In order to vote in 1959, one had to declare and prove residency, period. There was no electoral fraud, and the representative electorate was exactly that, directly representative of the will of the people of Hawaii. Taking a 6% minority and trying to idolize it into a popular movement is disingenuous.
    One can only hope that the people of Puerto Rico are not intimidated by radical leftists and ethnic nationalists, and are given a free choice to become the 51st State of the Union. United we stand.

  7. Jere Krischel
    June 26, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Oh, one last thing, “sustainability.”
    1) AGW is a myth, and the world has been cooling for the past decade while still increasing CO2. Started by Margaret Thatcher to bully coal unions, the use of CO2 as a bugaboo is a shameful farce foisted upon the world by leftists who want to control people.
    2) There is no such thing as “sustainability” only “adaptability.” Nothing on this planet has ever sustained anything; life is based on dynamic change and adaptation, not the maintenance of a status quo. To be for “sustainability” is to be against nature itself.
    3) Profit is the driver of progress, the advancer of technology, and the underpinning of adaptability. The idea that financial gain is somehow evil is a common trick used by populist politicians to rabble rouse votes (which end up lining the pockets of said politicians). If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, please do. Certainly the Kamehamehas could be arguably used as examples of benevolent profit driven leaders, and the Kalakauas can be arguably used as examples of incompetent profit driven leaders, but to think that it is profit itself that is evil is to greatly misunderstand the progress of humanity.

  8. arnie
    June 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    To clarify, those in the military and their families who who were stationed in Hawaii for a year were allowed to vote.

  9. admin
    June 26, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Jere, when you write:
    “2) There is no such thing as “sustainability” only “adaptability.” Nothing on this planet has ever sustained anything; life is based on dynamic change and adaptation, not the maintenance of a status quo. To be for “sustainability” is to be against nature itself.”
    I do not know if this something you advocate.
    Sustainability is an idea worth striving for much like our democratic ideals like freedom or equality, or pono, aloha and malama. To call attention to the idea that there is no such thing as sustainability is to suggest that the principle of ideas are a fallacy. The strive towards sustainability is what will ensure that our children’s children might live to know a 22nd century.
    Adaptability however, is what we do when we cannot survive. When our waters are polluted, we adapt by drinking purified triple osmosis water which costs money and creates more waste. When we cannot eat the fish that we catch because of toxins, we adapt by buying our fish from fish farms which costs money and creates more waste. When we cannot live in our radioactive homeland, we can move our peoples to another land and live as wards, which costs money and creates more waste. And when we consider the economic resources being spent on adapting to live on the moon or in the sea, that is not adaptability, that is insanity.
    To assert adaptability over sustainablity is to miss the point. Adaptation, the way it is being used in today’s climate of economic development and research, is simply more propaganda by special interest industries. We read about adaptation in business and finance. Sustainability scares investors. Adaptation doesn’t.
    We do however, as a species adapt, but to deny sustainability is suicide.

  10. Jere Krischel
    June 26, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    “To clarify, those in the military and their families who who were stationed in Hawaii for a year were allowed to vote.”
    I’m sorry, but one had to declare residency – how long you were in Hawaii may have been an indicator of residency, but in no case was their any sort fraud or manipulation involved for those members of the military who decided to become Hawaii residents, nor was their participation in any way critical to the vast majority of the electorate who voted in favor of Statehood. The implication that large numbers of military families were shipped to Hawaii in a conspiracy to ensure the Statehood vote succeeded is false, insulting, and disrespectful to all the people involved in Statehood, military and non-military.

  11. Jere Krischel
    June 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    “Sustainability is an idea worth striving for much like our democratic ideals like freedom or equality, or pono, aloha and malama. To call attention to the idea that there is no such thing as sustainability is to suggest that the principle of ideas are a fallacy.”
    No. Sustainability is a meaningless word; freedom and equality have meaning. For example, what does “sustainable growth” mean? Does it mean capping the population and limiting the amount of children people can have? Or perhaps limiting how much energy each person can use, and lowering that limit as the population increases?
    Imagining that humans have any capability to maintain a status quo of the environment around them is hubris to the greatest degree. Even stone age people, such as Easter Islanders, have an impact on their surroundings, and cannot avoid running into limits and being forced to adapt. In our case, adaptation is in improving technology, modifying the environment around us, and learning to adapt to conditions like drought or flood or other natural disasters. You seem to profess a myopic view which romanticizes the past, and hearkens back to an imagined golden age, when in fact, pollution of the old world was brutally worse than any sort of toxins you can imagine exist in our modern society.
    Sustainability means stagnation and extinction. Adaptability means growth and progress.

  12. christen
    June 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    “Self-determination is an international, inalienable right -> but the confusion comes when someone tries to assert that a “group” can have “self” determination. Selves are individuals, and every citizen of the State of Hawaii, regardless of race, creed or color, has self-determination already.” — “I strongly agree that there are problems in the government of our islands, but arguing that some form of ethnic cleansing and following nationhood is going to be the answer” — “Taking a 6% minority and trying to idolize it into a popular movement is disingenuous.”
    I am thankful that before statehood, before annexation, and even before the overthrow the Nation of Hawai‘i was one of the most “racially” diverse in the world.
    (btw race is a construct http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm)
    “Race” did not limit or determine eligibility of citizenship or ability to participate in government.
    The issue at the heart of the argument really is the illegal occupation and overthrow of a legitimate and internationally recognized nation. NOT a racially based government. That nation (Hawai‘i) did happen to be made up of many Kanaka people, but there where also Korean, Japanese, “Haole” (English, American), Portuguese, Samoan, and on and on…
    “Sustainability is a meaningless word… For example, what does “sustainable growth” mean?”
    Here is how Merriam-Webster defines sustainability.
    Sustainability:
    1: capable of being sustained
    2 a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
    What sustainable growth means to me, is not stagnation and extinction. It means preparing for future growth in a way that insures continued growth. Perpetuation.
    Also, here are some definitions of the word sustain which I found interesting to think about in relationship to thinking about Hawaii and self-determination also Merriam-Webster online.
    Sustain:
    2 : to supply with sustenance : nourish
    4 : to carry or withstand (a weight or pressure)
    5 : to buoy up
    6 a : to bear up under b : suffer, undergo
    7 a : to support as true, legal, or just b : to allow or admit as valid
    8 : to support by adequate proof : confirm
    Many of the comments and supporting arguments presented by Jere are unsettling to me, but I am glad there is a forum where differing viewpoints can engage in discussion on this topic.

  13. Jere Krischel
    June 30, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    “Method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”
    1) All resources are finite – everything will be depleted eventually;
    2) Nothing is permanent – everything changes eventually.
    The problem with the term “sustainability” is that it is in contradiction to nature itself. Every species expands its population and range until it is either unable to do so further, or is stopped by some other species. This has happened before, and shall continue to happen forevermore.
    Take for example “native” Hawaiians…those who can trace ancestry to pre-1778. Did they live a “sustainable” lifestyle? Obviously not. They were colonists, settlers, explorers, who left the places of their birth to expand into more resources. Had they been a part of a “sustainable” culture, they never would have left the Marquesas, or Tahiti, or wherever they came from before then. Like all species, their population expanded, required more resources, and so they went to conquer and subjugate new territories.
    The idea that you can “sustain” something and grow it at the same time is a logical fallacy. As population continues to grow, fewer and fewer resources are available to each individual, until finally there aren’t enough resources to support every individual. The only way to maintain population growth is to expand the pool of resources through either more efficient means of harvest and technology, or to find more plentiful alternatives. You cannot simply say, “we will sustain this particular level of fish population in Hawaii, and allow unlimited population growth as people have more and more children, and live longer and longer.” Eventually, you run into the limits of technology, and imagination, and are required to adapt to a new situation. Adapt, you survive. Continue to try to “sustain,” and you end up using draconian measures to limit population (sterilization, war, ethnic cleansing), and still fail to adapt when the resource eventually runs out.
    3) Race is a totally artificial construct, and should be recognized for the arbitrary and pernicious concept that it is. Totally agree with you there.
    4) Race actually did limit participation in government circa 1887 – Asians got disenfranchised. Minor point, I know.
    “The issue at the heart of the argument really is the illegal occupation and overthrow of a legitimate and internationally recognized nation.”
    5) The issue at the heart of the argument really is whether or not the Republic of Hawaii can be considered a legitimate and internationally recognized nation, thereby validating the overthrow, and subsequent declaration of the Republic. Can you undo the legitimate, legal and internationally recognized actions of the Republic of Hawaii to return us to the Kingdom era?
    6) I’m glad for this forum as well, and appreciate your mana’o.

  14. Tane
    July 9, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Jere Krisel had joined the ranks of the ultracrepidarian critics with his promoting of his version of what is and what should be done and by whom by parroting the distorted arguments. It’s not the native Hawaiians that created this race-based notion but U.S. Americans living within the Hawaiian Kingdom and on their continent. Many forget that Hawai’i is the homeland of the native Polynesian Hawaiian, unlike the settlers that have come to the islands from their own homeland. The native Hawaiian established its government in conformity to the western world that it was recognized as a sovereign nation-state by its peers throughout the world. This includes the U.S.A. with its racist WASP society.
    Since there was no treaty of annexation that was ratified by the required 2/3rds majority vote and an overwhelming protest against annexation by the Hawaii nationals who did not consent to it, the annexation purported by the U.S.A. has been deemed unlawful, null and void. This, then, makes Statehood with all its irregularities null and void as well. The Hawaiian Kingdom is still under belligerent occupation by the U.S. which continuously violates the laws of occupation and Hawai’i’s neutrality status.
    Arnie suggests that statehood represented the promise of freedom and the exercise of democratic principles. It may surprise U.S. Americans that the Hawaiian Kingdom already had those principles before the U.S.’s plot to break its treaties with the Hawaiian Kingdom, invaded and set up its own puppet government. The true purpose was for U.S. naval dominance in the Pacific and added resources for the elite oligarchy within the U.S. government. Hawai”i is considered an outpost to protect the continental U.S.A. and regarded as expendable.
    Jere and his ilk are part of the problem and they are “horribly” naive as they spout their disinformation and blind patriotism for their country, the U.S.A. They view this according to their perspective as U.S. Americans; more so now for Jere since he moved to California.
    Tane

  15. arnie
    July 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    President Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, which was the executive order that declared the freedom of all slaves. Eleven years earlier, in 1852, Kamehameha III delivered his Declaration of Rights which as Art.12 states: Slavery shall, under no circumstances whatsoever be tolerated in the Hawaiian Islands: whenever a slave shall enter Hawaiian territory he shall be free; no person who imports a slave, or slaves, into the King’s dominions shall ever enjoy any civil of political rights in this realm; but involuntary servitude for the punishment of crime is allowable according to law.”
    Also, in his King’s Speech at the Opening of the 1850 Legislature, and despite complaints by some of his missionary advisors, Kamehameha III also encouraged inter-racial marriage, which the U.S. at that time vehemently opposed.

  16. Jere Krischel
    July 9, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    “Since there was no treaty of annexation that was ratified by the required 2/3rds majority vote and an overwhelming protest against annexation by the Hawaii nationals who did not consent to it, the annexation purported by the U.S.A. has been deemed unlawful, null and void”
    Wrong Tane. Once again, you cling to your illusions no matter how clearly they are rendered void. The treaty of annexation, regardless of any US constitutional defect (which of course, is only adjudicable by the US), was properly and legally enacted by the Republic of Hawaii, the internationally recognized, sovereign and independent nation, with every right to sue for annexation. Annexation was universally internationally recognized, and the Republic of Hawaii, as the duly representative government of all Hawaii nationals at the time, did enact annexation legally, rightfully and justly.
    The so-called “protests” against annexation are shown clearly to be fraudulent and unfettered by reality. Native Hawaiians dominated the Territorial legislature for 30 years, and all fought for Statehood, and worked at the highest levels of Territorial government. Even the most ardent royalists, Robert Wilcox, and Prince Kuhio himself, acted an behaved as proud Americans -> Robert Wilcox actually converted the two anti-annexation groups into the Hawaiian Independent Party.
    On June 6, 1900, Robert Wilcox, upon his return from the mainland advocating for equal rights in the Organic Act, spoke to a rally sponsored by Aloha ‘Aina and Hui Kalai’aina, the two main Hawaiian political clubs. In his speech, he said, “The question of the restoration of the Monarchy is gone from us forever. We are now a people, however, who can vote. You all know we have two-thirds of the votes in this country.” He also advised against racial loyalties, saying, “We are all Americans. We should not consider personality.” On June 7, 1900, the Hawaiian Independent Party was established, its motto being, “Equal Rights for the People”.
    The Kingdom was dissolved on July 4, 1894, an act recognized by every nation that ever had diplomatic relations with the Kingdom, and the Republic was recognized as the de jure successor to that government. None of the desperate history twisting of radical royalists can change that fact, and the fact that the State of Hawaii is part of, and always shall be part of, the United States of America.

  17. Jere Krischel
    July 9, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    “Many forget that Hawai’i is the homeland of the native Polynesian Hawaiian, unlike the settlers that have come to the islands from their own homeland.”
    Tane disrespectfully glosses over the true diversity of peoples the Pacific has had. The Marquesans who first came to the Hawaiian islands were settlers and colonists. The Tahitians who came afterwards and conquered and displaced them were settlers and colonists. And all the other waves of immigration to the islands since then share the common humanity of the first two waves.
    Hawaii is the homeland for all Hawaiians, not just those of Polynesian descent. Hawaii is a place, not a race. Tane once again disrespects the noble sentiments of the 1840 constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which declared all people, “of one blood.” The Hawaii of today is as unique and worthy of recognition as the Hawaii of 1778, and the modern Hawaiians of all racial extracts can be rightfully proud of their contributions to our modern society, culture and government.

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