Thursday, June 26, 2008

now here is nowhere.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

This one is probably going to be a bit touchy. Last week, Honolulu Advertiser Opinion Page editor Jeanne Mariani-Belding was named in a racism suit against the paper. The remarks she allegedly made can be found by following the link, as that particular article sums up the argument better than we ever could.

Obviously, the statements made weren’t the most politically correct—and they’re not remarks to be made by someone with any sort of power…or anyone period. However, such statements are commonplace in Hawaii.

I’m not defending the remarks, but they’re sort of part of growing up in Hawaii. Obviously, not everyone in the world grew up in Hawaii, and these remarks are inexcusable. Where do we go from here?

Hawaii is an incredibly diverse place. This allows us all to be exposed to different customs—but, unsurprisingly, there is still a subtle racist undercurrent running beneath the Island. Most people are described based on race—haole, yobo…the list goes on---and many attacks are said to be prefaced by such terms, often elevating said attacks to hate crimes.

In all honesty, there is racism anywhere multiple ethnicities of people come into contact. And, in many places, these tensions elevate into civil wars. The conflicts in the Middle East, Sudan and the fight over a Kurdistan in Iraq (among others) all occur based on racial/religious lines.

In a way, it’s a bit surprising that more violence doesn’t take place. Again, I know this is a big statement, but when one considers what these cultural differences in other places, you’ve got to question why it doesn’t happen here.

Is it because our rule of law? The fact that we’re a democracy? Or does it come down to the plain logic that these differences take away from working towards the greater good? That societal in-fighting accomplishes little while requiring all involved to expend so much?

The counter-argument would probably be that it all comes down to the fact that we don’t believe in fighting for intangible beliefs that don’t involve dollar bills—that we’re a secular society that doesn’t believe in anything other than the almighty dollar. In a way, this argument meshes with the aforementioned one—there are things far more important to fight over than petty differences, like skin color, what god we believe in or what days we call holidays.

There is no long and short of it. It’s all there. Yeah, the editor forced the woman to keep progress logs—but doesn’t this defend the almighty dollar? The problems lie everywhere and nowhere.