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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, October 21, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Candidate supporters should walk the walk

Being a 24-year-old, I know it's hard enough to get my age group to vote. It's an endless cycle of politicians not catering to my age group because we don't vote, and us not voting because politicians don't cater to us — very much like the chicken-or-the-egg theory.

In any case, here's an issue that should apply to all ages. We all see them. The expensive banners and people waving campaign signs at busy intersections. Instead of spending time and energy standing on sidewalks, why not do something productive? I would love to see men and women donning Mufi T-shirts while doing a beach cleanup, or people sporting Bainum hats handing out meals at the homeless shelter.

If visibility is the issue, surely the news will cover these events. Better yet, do some weeding and planting by the side of the road during rush hour. Seeing selfless acts of walking the walk rather than just talking the talk would be a great motivation for people to vote. It would definitely push me to do so.

Faye Varias

Genetic engineering of ill plants is wrong

Regarding the Oct. 17 article "How UH helped save Hawai'i's papayas": The solution to viruses in plants is not to genetically engineer any plant that falls ill.

Most plants these days become weak or sick because the soil in which they grow has been severely depleted from years of herbicide and pesticide use. Not only is healthy soil a requirement for healthy plants, so is biodiversity.

Genetically engineered crops that contaminate indigenous varieties threaten to eliminate the source of native papayas that are strong and adapted to these islands. CTAHR, the UH college of which Dr. Hashimoto is dean, is clearly devoted to genetic engineering of crops. It has scores of researchers in genetic engineering and only a couple of researchers of sustainable and traditional indigenous methods of agriculture. The college seems to believe that farmers practicing the age-old tradition of organic and sustainable agriculture should "bag" their papaya flowers so they will not be contaminated by UH's GMO papaya. Why is the university not held accountable for contaminating the papaya trees of small farmers, who risk losing their organic certification (which represents their livelihood)?

With genetically engineered taro and pineapple down the line, if we do not do something to insist on the regulation of GMOs, we will be left with no choices about what we eat, and not even the health food stores will be able to confirm that they are selling organic food.

If the university researchers are so assured of the quality and "ecological containment" of their papayas, why don't they label them so consumers can decide for themselves, and why don't they perform regular environmental testing for contamination, like the environmental safety regulations required of corporations?

Maris Abelson

OK, Bush bashers, answer the following

I have two questions that I would like to hear the Bush bashers answer:

• In a 1998 speech, then-President Clinton said, "We all know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, and he will have to be dealt with sooner or later." If President Bush lied when he said Saddam has WMDs, did President Clinton lie when he said the same thing?

• In 1993, the Twin Towers were attacked by car bombs in the underground garage. If then-President Clinton had responded to that, would the towers still be standing and would the thousands who died on Sept. 11 still be alive today?

Sid Tsubaki Jr.

This veteran prefers Kerry as president

Veterans' views on John Kerry are varied and diverse, as shown in yesterday's Letters and Commentary section, but perplexing to me nonetheless.

I'm a veteran, and I prefer John Kerry's military record versus President Bush's. Why, you ask? Because when John Kerry was called upon, he not only served his country, but did so with distinction and honor. After serving his country and viewing both sides of the war, he spoke out against it. Which he does have the right to do. As a veteran, I am not offended by his actions or stand. He was there, he experienced it, he lived it every day, he knows war firsthand.

President Bush, on the other hand, served his country by serving in the Air National Guard. His service was suspect at best. Any Vietnam-era vet knows that, at the time of the Vietnam War, service in the National Guard was a way out of service in Vietnam for the rich and politically affluent of U.S. society (unlike now, where the National Guard is an intergral part of America's national defense). The rich joined the National Guard, the rest got drafted. Pure and simple.

I feel that since John Kerry has been in combat, in a war zone, lived through the God-awful experience of war, he is much better qualified to be president and run a war (and this is a war) than the current president. I ask you: Who would you want in your foxhole? John Kerry, an experienced veteran? Or George W. Bush, who never served a day of combat in his life?

I know who I would pick. John Kerry without hesitation. And my son-in-law, a Hawai'i Army National Guard "grunt" who is in training on the Mainland preparing to go to Iraq, shares my concerns. So who would you pick to be in your foxhole?

Bill Riddle
Pearl City

Contrarian indicator

Thank you for your recommendations in Tuesday's paper. Given the persistent liberal slant of your opinions, I will take your recommendations with me to the voting booth, and where I don't recognize the name, I will check your list and I will vote the opposite of your recommendations.

Terry Blackwood
Hawai'i Kai

Natatorium has long been problem, danger

I remember the Natatorium in the 1950s. There was a vending machine that sold chocolate-covered frozen bananas. At the entrance to the lockers was a dip filled with freshwater so you could rinse your feet off and not track sand into the showers and restroom stalls. Walking through the entrance to the Nat, you knew you were in a special place built for a special purpose. These were nice touches and bring back fond memories.

The pool itself was a big problem. The structure was crumbling even back then. The water quality was poor, and the bloom of algae was as thick as pea soup. There were barnacles growing underwater on the walls, and as I climbed out, I cut my foot on one. My friend got stung by a jellyfish. The murky waters made swimming an uneasy pleasure.

Decades later, people still debate the fate of a crumbling pool. At a time when funds are scarce and open space and beaches are scarcer, it is not a reasonable option to keep the pool. It is a dangerous liability that Honolulu cannot afford. Give the space back to the beach, open the public restrooms and even put in a vending machine selling chocolate-covered bananas for nostalgia.

The public will always remember heroes of the past each time they enter and exit the hallowed memorial archway.

Carol Ataki Wyban
Kurtistown, Big Island

Bob Midkiff a perfect match with education

Hawai'i is very fortunate to have a highly qualified candidate in Bob Midkiff running for the Board of Education.

Bob is known for his dedication to serving Hawai'i's communities. As president of the Atherton Foundation, Bob has been responsible for awarding millions of dollars in grants to hundreds of nonprofit organizations for the benefit of Hawai'i's people. His discerning judgment and financial acumen in his fiduciary responsibilities for the foundation would be a tremendous asset to public education.

Voters should take great comfort in knowing that Bob is not only a dedicated community servant but also very akamai about education. Bob was instrumental in starting the Good Beginnings Alliance, an organization that emphasizes the importance of early childhood education.

The board would be lucky to have someone of his wisdom and caliber as a resource.

Lynne Waters

Get over it; move on

By now, Verizon has learned that bigger doesn't always mean better. Can everyone now stop whining about the new directory and simply cut its spine to separate the white from the yellow pages, tape on a nice piece of cardstock and go on with your lives?

C. Tortora

What remains is being taken

It is a fact that official history is written by the victors, to provide a mythology toward creating a shared group identity and stability. "Revisionist history" simply means one sometimes needs to take another look at that "official history," and if the facts don't check out, then that history needs to be rewritten.

Similarly, numbers are often manipulated as "facts" to give the illusion of truth. As Mark Twain once said, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.

If one wishes to speak of numbers, 40,000 Hawaiians signed the Ku'e petitions throughout the Islands, demanding restoration of the Hawaiian government. They had faith in the legal process, the fairness of the U.S. government and the community of nations of which they were a part. The whole attitude was one of patience because Hawaiians, like their queen, believed in the law, that justice would prevail and the rightful government would be reinstated. The strictness of the kapu system lives on in the koko. The brief armed resistance by Hawaiian men ended out of obedience because the queen asked them to end it to avoid more bloodshed.

Americans cannot understand a culture that believes so profoundly in law and rationality to the point where its self-preservation is doubtful. At the time, Americans could not understand why the Jews did not fight their confinement by Germans in the ghettos and concentration camps; the Jews are another people who believed in the humanity, rationality and justice of humankind.

When it gets to that point, the American personality comes out. We Americans are rebels and individualists by nature, or we would not have fought and schemed against Native Americans, France, England, Spain and Mexico to claim their lands as our own. With our cherished ideals of Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion, how could our experience as Americans in Hawai'i in the 1800s have been any different?

Americans have learned the lesson, from the Revolution through World War II, that justice is the goal, but the means are often through armed conflict. People assumed if there was no substantial and sustained armed resistance, Hawaiians were OK with the overthrow. The 40,000 Hawaiian signatures on the Ku'e petitions prove that to be a lie.

Yes, to American eyes, much of the traditional ali'i and kapu systems were unfair; but who would not rather have a bad system of government made up of their own people than any system of government imposed by foreigners?

When Christianity was officially abolished by the Romans, martyrs were made and worship went underground; was that the end of Christianity? The kapu system was officially abolished by high-ranking ali'i in 1819, marking the beginning of oppression of traditional culture by authorities subscribing to the Western system. But, just as in those early centuries of Christianity, for many Hawaiians, the practices went underground within the extended 'ohana system, especially in rural districts like Ka'u and Wai'anae.

For others, there was syncretism with Christianity; Hawaiian churches like Kaumakapili were strongholds of Hawaiian language and culture.

Simply put, Hawaiians were here in Hawai'i first, Americans and other foreigners came in and took just about everything, and now even the little that is left to Hawaiians is being swallowed up whole. It remains to be seen whether greed and avarice deliver the coup de grāce to the Hawaiians and their Hawaiian Islands.

There is much good in the American culture, notably a sense of liberty, freedom and justice — especially for the little guy, the underdog. The Hawaiian people are under unbelievable stress, pressured to leave their ancestral homeland in ever-increasing droves because of the inequities, the economics, the loss of land and housing shortages. The land owns us and makes us what we are, but we cannot own land. Without Hawaiians, there is no Hawai'i.

Lance M. Foster
Director of Native Rights, Land and Culture; Office of Hawaiian Affairs