Sunday, March 4, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, March 4, 2001

Letters to the Editor

To Alani Apio:No, that’s not how I think or talk’

Me, I’m not Hawaiian by blood or by birth. So I’m one of the "you" called out by Alani Apio to speak up about the "1,000 little cuts" that bleed the life out of Hawaiian culture. Alani asks "That’s what you think, isn't it?" after several lines of thinking that are anti-Hawaiian. No, that isn’t how I think or talk.

Instead, I sing heartily from "Hawaii 78" with my friend Hawaiian John: "How would he feel if he saw Hawaii nei · now these condominiums · these traffic lights and railroad tracks?"

How do I feel about this modern city life? It hurts to be visually assaulted by an urban-scape of freeways and high-rises and even uglier low-rise apartments that reveal a culture reminiscent of the worst of California, and anything but Hawaiian. (I resonate with Colorado’s signs: "Don’t Californicate Colorado!") That loss of a Hawaiian sense of place cuts me, too, though not to the same extent it does "indigenous" people; only one generation of my family lived here before me. It’s not my treasured way of life, my culture that was "paved over" when "they put up a parking lot." But it’s a culture I appreciate and value, to the small extent I understand it.

How do I think? I think we have inherited a "fine mess" from both our well-meaning and our greedy ancestors. We have an understanding of their mistakes from a perspective they couldn’t have had. So we can do better if we will. But we also inherited a legal system that is increasingly less a servant of what’s "right and just" and more a servant of what can be proved, given the right amount of money. So I disagree with the "Rice v. Caye-

tano" decision while recognizing its technical legality. I think the copycat suits (some filed, some foretold) are outrageous. And I think the most extreme expectations of some Hawaiians to "undo history" are also outrageous. We can do better if we are willing to find and work from common ground, thinking of ourselves as "allies for a better future in Hawaii." Or we can do worse, in the oppositional framework of the courts, fighting against each other from our most outrageous polarized viewpoints. That’s how I think.

How do we think, the "yous" called out by Apio? Look at the OHA election: We helped weed out the radical candidates, especially those who would have gutted the purposes of OHA from the inside. I spent more time studying and listening to my Hawaiian friends on this issue than all other election issues combined.

We can read history as a series of wars and bloodless coups that disrupt established cultures, or we can read history as a series of culture building episodes between the disruptions. I think we have a chance to be culture builders now, in a way that gives just honor to Hawaiians and Hawaiian ways. And we must do so in the face of greed, extremism and "blind progress," or we all lose.

Glenn Sackett

Blame the problem on Hawaiians only’

Me, I’m a Hawaiian, too. I’m also part Chinese and part Filipino.

My Chinese and Filipino relatives knew they couldn’t rely on anybody but themselves to get educated and buy their own land. But they did it, on their own, without the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, without the Office of Chinese or Filipino Affairs, without special entitlements, without any freebies at all.

What’s Alani Apio complaining about (Focus, Feb. 25)? As I see it, Hawaiians have got it pretty good here in Hawaii. We’re not discriminated against at all. If you look at all the government programs, we’re the favored race.

Just look at the list of "Hawaiians only" freebies:

Kamehameha Schools, with an estimated $8 billion for Hawaiians only.

More than 100 bills passed in the Legislature favoring Hawaiians only.

In recent years, Congress has awarded more than $440 million for Hawaiians only

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs now holds almost $400 million — for Hawaiians only.

Hawaiian Home Lands, where more than 200,000 acres of public lands and $30 million more every year are for Hawaiians only.

With all these special privileges, what is preventing Apio from living, speaking and being Hawaiian?

Is it perhaps all these race-based freebies themselves that are causing the cultural genocide he feels? Has the degrading message (that if you have a drop or more of Hawaiian blood, you are a victim who cannot make it on your own) taken its toll? Have the years of racial grievance systematically destroyed the pride and self-esteem of generations of Hawaiians?

Is it time for us to free ourselves from the bondage of dependency by cutting off OHA and all the other well-intentioned but degrading programs and breathing the fresh, clean air of equality?Ê

Sandra Puanani Burgess

Police want to be liked

The problem of police, lifeguards, and other officials not enforcing the leash laws or laws about keeping dogs out of parks is symptomatic of the entire attitude of police that prevails today. With the New Year fireworks, the police are essentially saying they don’t feel like enforcing those laws.

I’m from the Lanikai area and people speed and cross center lines. Even driving over the Pali, the average speed is 10 miles over the speed limit and you regularly have people weaving in and out who are going 15 or 25 miles over the speed limit. Only when somebody gets killed or on certain special occasions do they make a big to-do about giving people tickets.

Another example is that in Kailua, and probably in other areas around the Island, people regularly park their cars in the beach park, oftentimes right under signs that say there’s a $500 fine for parking there. My theory is the police don’t enforce laws because they’d rather be liked than feared.

Sandy Cathey

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