Wednesday, May 9, 2007

hawaii no ka oi (at least if you're born theret)

It happens pretty often that I have to retract a statement. The latest statement, though, is one I'm sad that I have to take back.

On Hawaii's most popular morning talk show, a state senator was said to be dishonest because of his "blue eyes" and the fact that he was from California, even if he graduated from Roosevelt High School and has been a resident of Hawaii for 37 years.

I tried to convince someone that pidgin was not indicative of anything in Hawaii--not of ignorance, of lack of education or of racial tensions. I said that these racial tension is not a huge problem in Hawaii-- I may have to take that back.

Larry Price, the xenophobic racist who made the comments, is held in semi high regard in the state--he was once the football coach at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and as long as you aren't Fred vonAppen, who led the team to the longest losing streak in the college football history, people generally like you.

Gary Hooser, the state senator, asked if it mattered if he was born somewhere else. Price responded:

"Yes, to us it does. Because when local people hear somebody from the mainland talk about how honest everything is, that means that something's wrong. You know when they say 'frankly' or 'Honestly, we did a lot of things,' you know, and stuff like that, that sounds suspicious."

This man has a Ph.D and teaches a class at HPU about human resources, and, on the radio, he exposed that he is a racist.

Until just a few days ago, Price refused to apologize, leaving it up to the station to do so. When he finally did apologize on air, his co-host, Michael W. Perry, was shocked, saying that he shouldn't have apologized because people made too big a deal out of what was said.

Perry, by the way, is not only "white", but:
"He was born in Michigan, but grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, working in the Pentagon and in the office of John Gardner, then U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. In 1969, Perry received his B.S. in Psychology from Michigan State University, then served as a Navy Lieutenant in the Pacific Submarine Force."

Essentially, he has spent less time in Hawaii than Hooser, but he does not feel that his co-hosts remarks about people not born in Hawaii being dishonest is not offensive in the least. Has Perry decided that he was born in the Islands, and, in fact, not in Michigan.

Mind you, the Bio I quoted was from the Hawaiian Moving Company's website--Perry hosts "The Hawaiian Moving Co", which looks at quirky events and interesting people throughout Hawaii. If people not born in Hawaii are dishonest, according to Price, why should his co-host Perry be allowed to host the show? What does he know about Hawaii? Why should we possibly care what he has to say?

Ridiculous, isn't it? Perry should have seen it as a knock against himself as well, but he did not.

Larry Price often makes off-handed comments, and there never seems to be any second thought about it. I'm glad that he is under scrutiny now, because one cannot just make bold statements about integrity and honesty based on race. His co-host of 24 years has similar circumstances to the man he called dishonest--what the hell is he thinking (I ask this of both Perry and Price).

The fact that Perry said that Price should not have apologized not only takes away sincerity, but also shows that Perry is trying to deny the fact that his co-host is a racist...Perry is trying to downplay the words of his co-host because he does not want to think that his co-host thinks the same of him, because he is not "from Hawaii"

Lee Cataluna tried to downplay the racism in Hawaii after it was revealed that a Hawaiian man and his son beat up a white man and his girlfriend, all the while calling them "haoles", a term that can be seen as mildly derogatory in Hawaii (meaning whites/outsiders).

She may have to take that back: when an institution of Hawaii calls a man dishonest simply because he is not from the Islands, we have a problem, and it's time that we stop brushing it under the rug. We tell ourselves that we don't have racism problems and that it's impossible for their to be racial tension because we are such a diverse state. It hasn't disappeared--it's just all subtle and subconscious at this point, which might be worse than having it in the open, because it's an issue that no one even admits exists and is also one that is so deeply ingrained that it may be possible to get out.

Hawaii has a problem, and the media has to stop glossing over it.

These columnists are racist the worst kind of apologists--the ones who say "it exists, deal with it" instead of "let's fix it", and, frankly, I'm embarrassed and appalled.


Speaking of unapologetic racists (here's looking at you, Shinzo Abe), Japan has a problem with poor teenagers: they're living at Internet Cafes.