- 1 How It Is Different in Hawai’i From Elsewhere; How “Local People” Get to be “American Idols”; The Role of the Aloha Spirit in Local Pride
- 1.1 LOCAL PRIDE PROMOTES SOCIAL STABILITY, SELF-PRESERVATION, AND DEFIANCE AGAINST JUDGMENTAL OUTSIDERS
- 1.2 NATIVE HAWAIIANS AND ASIANS SAW THEMSELVES AS LOSERS; AND THEIR DESCENDANTS UNTIL RECENT TIMES OFTEN FELT SHAME AT BEING "LOCAL"
- 1.3 HAWAI'I'S "AMERICAN IDOLS" HELP US ANALYZE LOCAL PRIDE: JASMINE TRIAS, MICHELLE WIE, GENERAL SHINSEKI, GENERAL TAGUBA, GOVERNOR LINGLE, JASMINE SIEFMAN (who dat?)
- 1.4 LOCAL PRIDE IN HAWAIIAN CULTURE: DUKE KAHANAMOKU, BRADDAH IZ, KAMEHAMEHA, NAINOA THOMPSON
- 1.5 THE ALOHA SPIRIT IS THE MOST POWERFUL SOURCE OF LOCAL PRIDE
- 1.6 REFERENCES
How It Is Different in Hawai’i From Elsewhere; How “Local People” Get to be “American Idols”; The Role of the Aloha Spirit in Local Pride
(c) Copyright 2004 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
SUMMARY: Throughout America, the residents of any town or state take pride in the accomplishments of local people. Whenever individuals or groups achieve nationwide fame for something positive, they become local celebrities. But in Hawai'i the intensity of local pride is far stronger than elsewhere, and the heroes are more lavishly celebrated. Local pride in Hawai'i is a glue that helps the local people of a group of remote Pacific islands preserve local values in the face of huge numbers of temporary guests (tourists and military personnel). Local pride is also a defiant assertion of worthiness by ethnic Hawaiians and Asian immigrant descendants overcoming a history of loss, poverty, and low status. Local people who achieved nationwide fame illustrate the reasons that elevate local people to the status of "American idol": Jasmine Trias, Michelle Wie, General Shinseki, General Taguba, Duke Kahanamoku, Braddah Iz (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole), Kamehameha. The idolizing of Hawaiian culture as the core of Hawai'i's culture is entirely appropriate. It is a powerful source of local pride for everyone. But making an idol out of a racial group is very different from making an idol out of an individual or a set of cultural values. Stereotyping or racial profiling of one group can lead to evil consequences for all groups, even when it is done with a positive intention. The Aloha Spirit is higher and greater than any ethnic group. It is a localized aspect of God, or the Cosmic Spirit. The Aloha Spirit should be recognized as Hawai’i’s true, permanent “American Idol” -- our greatest source of local pride.
Note: This article was published in Hawaii Reporter (on-line newspaper) on June 11, 2004 at http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?5dc23cde-27b6-4152-81be-f3e413e494a8
LOCAL PRIDE PROMOTES SOCIAL STABILITY, SELF-PRESERVATION, AND DEFIANCE AGAINST JUDGMENTAL OUTSIDERS
Hawai'i's permanent population needs to take pride in our local culture as a way of maintaining stability in the face of a huge number of temporary guests who feel no loyalty to local values. Tourism and the military are large parts of our economy. About 6 times as many tourists come to Hawai'i each year as the number of people who live here. The fact that so many tourists are willing to spend so much money to come here seems to validate local people's pride that Hawai'i is a very special place. But tourism can also make local residents feel inferior, like servants; or like quaint and unusual animals on display in a zoo. Besides tourists rotating in and out, Hawai'i has a substantial part of its population who are active duty military personnel who know they will move to another state after just a few years. Tourists and military personnel bring their outside values and expectations to Hawai'i. Local pride is a kind of "us vs. them" cement that keeps our local values intact.
One factor demographers use to measure the stability of a neighborhood or a condominium apartment building is the ratio of owners to renters. It seems obvious that owners care more deeply about property values, crime prevention, environmental protection, and the strength of local institutions such as churches, schools, and libraries. Long-term residents planning to stay permanently are more likely to spend time and money investing in long-term values. Thus in Hawai'i, with so many tourists and military personnel rotating in and out like renters with no long-term local commitment, it's important to celebrate local people as a way of maintaining a local identity.
Why is local pride stronger in Hawai'i than elsewhere? Perhaps it's because of Hawai'i's isolation across thousands of miles of ocean, making Hawai'i more strongly "local" than other places. Hawai'i's small population compared to most other states also contributes to a sense of 'ohana, that we all are part of one family with shared values despite strongly held ethnic cultural differences. Indeed, the existence of our rainbow of cultural differences is celebrated in Hawai'i as nowhere else in America, and is itself a unifying source of great local pride.
Local pride also has an element of defiance against judgmental outsiders. Among some locals there's almost a feeling of shame or inferiority, which is compensated by outward bravado. It's like 40 years ago when some "Negroes" began carrying signs in "black pride" parades saying "I'm black and I'm proud." More recently gays have done the same sort of thing: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it." People who have feelings of inferiority because others have treated them as inferior feel guilt and shame if they believe they are inferior; and they feel guilt and shame at the very idea that they have those feelings when they know such feelings are unwarranted; and they feel angry at outsiders who have branded them inferior; and they feel a need to compensate by loudly proclaiming their (incomplete) pride in who they are.
Local pride as a form of defiance might also stem from Hawai'i's history as a place where "losers" tried to improve themselves. Whenever someone belonging to a group branded as "losers" actually becomes a big "winner," it's a source of defiant pride for the entire group. The success of the group's representative is a sort of revenge against the outsiders and their history of branding the group as losers.
NATIVE HAWAIIANS AND ASIANS SAW THEMSELVES AS LOSERS; AND THEIR DESCENDANTS UNTIL RECENT TIMES OFTEN FELT SHAME AT BEING "LOCAL"
Native Hawaiians were historically big losers. They were confronted with a technologically superior culture when Captain Cook arrived. They observed that the newcomers violated kapu rules without penalty. The natives soon abandoned their old ways and their old religion even before the white missionaries arrived to tell them how backward and sinful they were. The native population declined by perhaps 90% during the first century after Western contact due to the availability of new weapons of mass destruction for fighting old wars (metal knives, guns, canons, and large ships), plus imported diseases, starvation, and malaise. Then the native Queen was overthrown primarily by people with no native ancestry. Many native Hawaiians came to feel like strangers in their own land, landless and living in poverty next to prosperous newcomers. Native Hawaiians were big losers, and they knew it and took it to heart. Many ethnic Hawaiians today are wealthy and have professional credentials -- Census 2000 found that one in eight have incomes over $100,000. Many take great pride in elements of their ancient culture. But regardless of wealth and cultural pride, some ethnic Hawaiians feel oppressed or downtrodden and assert pride as a form of angry defiance. They look to a past they imagine to have been even more glorious than it really was. They work hard to trace their geneologies to ancient royal bloodlines, giving them a feeling of high status even if living in a poor neighborhood. They revive the dream of a bygone Kingdom.
Tens of thousands of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos immigrated to Hawai'i to work in deplorable conditions as virtual slave laborers on sugar plantations -- they were bound to their masters' land by long-term labor contracts, earning very low wages and depending on the plantation management for housing and healthcare. They were oppressed by both the native Hawaiian government and the white plantation owners. Yet they were able to send money to their families back home, and to bring "picture brides" to join them. Why would someone leave his homeland and travel thousands of miles to work for low wages doing hard labor under the hot sun in a foreign land where he does not speak the language (either Hawaiian or English)? Why would a woman do the same thing, and additionally leave her homeland to marry a man she had never met? Clearly such people were "losers" in their home societies -- they were poor, had no hope for advancement, and had marginal standing in their social relationships. They got out, and came to Hawai'i to escape being losers at home. In Hawai’i many of these “losers” became winners through hard work, intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Their descendants today may have acquired substantial wealth and professional credentials as doctors, lawyers, or business executives. Today’s descendants are proud of the courage and hard work of their immigrant ancestors. Census 2000 showed that ethnic Japanese have higher median income than whites. Hawai'i's Asians take pride in their cultural heritage and go to great lengths to perpetuate traditions, even while realizing that their own family heritage in the nation of origin was probably lower class in a society that valued rank and status.
Many of the whites who came to Hawai'i early were also losers at home. They were sailors, or neer-do-wells, escaping from home to go see the world; or perhaps forced into the crew of a naval or commercial vessel. Arriving in a tropical paradise where wine, women, and song were easy to get, they "jumped ship" in possession of few skills and no money. Some became beach bums, drunkards, and criminals. At first these white losers may have been treated respectfully by the Hawaiians because their whiteness made them seem like Captain Cook, Isaac Davis, or John Young; but soon the Hawaiians discovered their individual undesirability. Some whites were more resourceful, turning carpentry or organizational skills, plus hard work and clever maneuvering, into wealth and social status.
Other whites who came to Hawai'i a few decades later were quite different. The most-remembered ones ordained ministers who brought Christianity and taught Hawaiians to read and write; but there were also doctors, lawyers, and businessmen with substantial financial backing. They ended up as highly respected pillars of society, sometimes owning lots of land and prosperous businesses. Lower-class "losers" who were white sometimes got respect they didn't deserve simply because they had the same skin color; and generally got preferential treatment from white professionals and businessmen. Whites rarely worked alongside Asians or Hawaiians on the plantations, unless they were crew leaders or "lunas."
It's been a long time since 1778. It has been more than 125 years since Asians began coming to Hawai'i in large numbers. Things have changed a lot. Japanese have higher average income than whites. Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos have become wealthy businessmen and powerful political leaders. Nevertheless there's still a perception that people "of color" in Hawai'i are "local" in a way that white people can never be, even if born and raised in Hawai'i for multiple generations. Portuguese, although European and having white skin, often see themselves as "local" rather than white, and are generally treated as locals by other locals. Maybe that's because Portuguese worked on the plantations; and although they were usually lunas, they were definitely not in the same class as the white owners and managers.
In any case it seems that "local pride" is perceived to belong to "locals" whose skin is not white or who are Portuguese. White professionals and managers usually themselves feel proud to be part of Hawai'i when "local people" get national recognition. Whites eagerly support and enthusiastically applaud the achievements of "local people." But there seems to be something of a disconnect in the opposite direction. Whites born and raised in Hawai'i generally do not get the same level of enthusiasm or "local pride" from "local people" for high-visibility achievement. Perhaps that's because whites are expected to do well both in Hawai'i and in the world outside Hawai'i, so there's nothing special to cheer about. But more likely the racial difference in local pride for outside accomplishment is because "local people" who do well outside Hawai'i are seen as overcoming obstacles, exceeding expectations, and proving to "local" people that there's no need to feel shame in being local and coming from a heritage of foreign "losers" a few generations back.
HAWAI'I'S "AMERICAN IDOLS" HELP US ANALYZE LOCAL PRIDE: JASMINE TRIAS, MICHELLE WIE, GENERAL SHINSEKI, GENERAL TAGUBA, GOVERNOR LINGLE, JASMINE SIEFMAN (who dat?)
The strength of local pride in Hawai'i, and the kinds of things that cause people to feel such pride, are illustrated by events in the Spring of 2004. Six local people were in the national spotlight for different reasons. In alphabetical order they are: Governor Linda Lingle, retired General Eric Shinseki, 13-year-old spelling champion Jasmine Siefman (who?), General Antonio Taguba, 17-year-old singer Jasmine Trias, 14-year-old golfer Michelle Wie. Four of them were celebrated as American idols. But they received different kinds and different intensities of adulation. The other two got some media attention but no adulation.
Following are brief descriptions of these six people, in order from highest to lowest level of idolatry.
The greatest outpouring of local pride and intense, prolonged media coverage went to the two teenage lovely-to-look-at female superstars performed physical skills that are easy to see and understand, showing lots of lovely young skin in the process.
Top honors go to Jasmine Trias, Filipina, age 17 and a high school senior. She was on TV for many weeks, singing in the "American Idol" competition where viewers from throughout America voted by telephone for their favorite performer and the person receiving the lowest number of votes was eliminated for the following week. She ended up in third place. Viewers were able to vote as many times as they wished during a two hour period each week immediately after the contest, limited only by their speed of dialing and the capacity of the phone lines. One night there were more votes for Trias in a two hour period coming from Hawai'i alone (1.32 million) than the total population of Hawai'i! Honest commentators agreed that her singing was not nearly as good as the singing of her competitors, and the "judges" on the "American Idol" TV program made it clear that she should be voted out. Later there was talk that the program might change the rules for next year to prohibit competitors younger than 18. In the first few nationally broadcast programs Jasmine wore a flower above her right ear, island-style (not-taken and available). When one of the judges commented that it might be an inappropriate gimmick, she came back the following week wearing a flower on her hip instead; and then the flower was gone forever after. But Hawai'i's people had a major attack of local pride and voted so massively that she continued many weeks longer than her talent would warrant. It was clear that Hawai'i's people wanted to see a local girl make good, regardless or her actual skill. In a media blitz during Trias' two-day visit home during the height of the competition, both Lieutenant Governor Aiona (on behalf of Governor Lingle who was traveling) and Mayor Harris issued official proclamations declaring May 14, 2004 to be Jasmine Trias Day.
Michelle Wie, Korean, age 14 and in 8th grade (but 6 feet tall and showing some feminine curves), has been playing golf for many years, pushed along by her father who often serves as her coach and caddy. She first came to national attention at age 13 when she began playing in some major tournaments. She made the "cut" in some adult tournaments of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She also played occasionally in the predominantly men's Professional Golf Association where she turned in respectable performances. Her presence in these events drew unusually large live and TV audiences, ensuring invitations to future events. This girl has great talent and composure as demonstrated by her ability to compete effectively against adult professional women and men. She attracts a great outpouring of local pride, even though there's no way for local people to "vote" to give her a higher placement than she deserves. In June, when a major national LPGA tournament gave her an exemption from the need to play in qualifying rounds and invited her to participate, many of the longstanding professionals filed a complaint; but some commentators (especially local ones) said the complaints might be racially motivated, citing discrimination against Tiger Wood a few years previously.
One important difference between Trias and Wie is that local people are largely responsible for pushing Trias to a high level of national fame that her talent does not deserve and that she would not have gotten without strong local support. Ancient Hawaiians had a procedure whereby a family or village might deify some especially beloved or powerful person who had just died. A ceremony for ho'akua or ho'omanamana included prayers and food that converted the dead person's spirit into a family god, or 'aumakua. Instead of prayers, Trias' supporters used telephone calls; and instead of placing food on an altar for the gods, Trias' supporters gathered around the TV set eating spam musubi. But the concept is similar. A local person is given special honors that elevate him (her) to the status of a god; the god is worshipped; and the god is then available to bestow special favors (autographs, personal appearances, vendor contracts) on those who performed the rituals, and their descendants.
General Eric Shinseki, Japanese, age 61, was a local Kaua'i boy who made good, bigtime. His parents had immigrated from Japan. He was born at the beginning of World War II at a very difficult time for people of Japanese ancestry in Hawai'i. Like many local boys, he went away to college. But unlike any previous American of Asian ancestry, he rose to the rank of 4-star General in the U.S. Army, becoming Chief of Staff. What brought him into the national media spotlight was his forced retirement for political reasons. During the war in Iraq he testified before Congress that troop strength in Iraq should be several hundred thousand in order to provide enough "boots on the ground" to provide security and prevent uprisings and terrorism during the period of occupation following a quick American victory. The Bush administration, and especially General Shinseki's civilian boss, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, were eager to minimize the political and budgetary fallout of the war, and had insisted that only 100,000 to 150,000 troops would be needed. Shinseki's very public testimony, contradicting his bosses, caused him to be ostracized and ignored. After several months, when his term as Chief of Staff ended, he felt compelled to retire. It turned out that General Shinseki's views were correct. The looting in Baghdad following the American victory was blamed on lack of enough troops to provide security. Much of the work that would normally be done by military personnel was farmed out to American civilian contractors earning huge salaries and profits. Some of those civilian contractors were murdered and had their bodies mutilated and put on public display, due to lack of enough military personnel to protect them. Only a few hundred U.S. soldiers, mostly poorly trained reservists called up from civilian life, were available to guard thousands of Iraqi prisoners -- the result was horrendous prison conditions, and torture of some prisoners due to inadequate training and supervision. Commentators repeatedly cited General Shiseki's courageous career-ending testimony to Congress. A special exhibit was created to honor general Shinseki at the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki. There is talk he might succeed Dan Inouye in the U.S. Senate if Inouye ever retires or dies.
Major General Antonio Taguba, Filipino, age 53, was born in Sampaloc, Manila. He is the second Filipino-American general in the history of the Army. His family moved from the Philippines to Hawai'i when he was 11. After graduating from Leilehua High School (1968) he graduated from Idaho State University in 1972 and then joined the Army, rising steadily to his present rank. The national media spotlight focused on him when he testified on May 11, 2004 to the Senate Armed Services Committee about prison abuses in Iraq. Taguba was deputy commanding general of the 3rd Army when he was assigned to investigate wrongdoing among American military jailers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. His 53-page report, and Senate testimony, clashed openly with the Pentagon official responsible for intelligence, Stephen Cambone, over the wisdom and importance of a decision in November 2003 to place Abu Ghraib prison under the command of a military intelligence officer, thereby causing problems in the chain of command. All Hawai'i's people, and especially Filipinos, are very proud of General Taguba's thorough investigation, straightforward report, and courageous testimony at times contrary to the statements of higher officials.
Generals Shinseki and Taguba are both military men of high rank who have had long and important military careers and have recently had significant impacts on national political debate about American military policy. They have received great media attention in Hawai'i and substantial expressions of local pride, including a special exhibit devoted to General Shinseki at the Army museum in Waikiki. There is no doubt that these two men have made far more important contributions to our nation, and have shown far more courage under adversity, than Jasmine Trias and Michelle Wie.
Yet it's clear that the teenage girls are idolized far more than the two generals. Why is that? Here, it seems, the situation is no different in Hawai'i than it would be elsewhere. Music and sports are far more attention-grabbing and easier to understand than military and political issues. Music and sports are physical and appeal to the senses, while military and political issues are mental and require focused concentration. Pretty teenage girls showing skin, singing and moving around, are more arousing than old men in uniform who merely talk while sitting or standing at attention.
At the low end of the idolatry scale (but still getting more attention than Joe Schmoe) are Linda Lingle and Jasmine Siefman.
Linda Lingle, white and Jewish, age 51, is the Governor, so anything she does is newsworthy. This Republican Governor battled the Democrat Legislature over reforming the public school system and a host of other "hot topics." She vetoed some important legislation and saw her vetoes overridden. She then went on a trip to Israel, allegedly to promote trade and tourism but also because she is Jewish and always wanted to plant a tree there and see her ancestral homeland (just as Governor Cayetano before her visited the Phillipines for personal and ethnic pride as well as political reasons). But instead of being idolized for her leadership and strong political courage (not to mention middle-aged beauty?), she was often attacked by claims that her policies are misguided. Critics also said that since she is Jewish, her trip to Israel during an ongoing war against Muslim extremist terrorism makes Hawai'i a target in the attention of those Muslim terrorists. Newspaper editorial cartoons show her looking ugly, like a really mean schoolteacher, with a long bulbous crooked (Jewish) nose. Linda Lingle is clearly more important, and has shown more skill and courage, than Jasmine Trias or Michelle Wie. Lingle is Hawai'i's first woman Governor, and first Jewish Governor. She is the first female head of government in Hawai'i since Queen Lili'uokalani was overthrown more than 111 years ago. Yet she is far from being idolized.
Jasmine Siefman, unreported ethnicity, age 13 from Kula, Maui was Hawai'i's representative in the 77th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee June 2 and 3 in Washington, D.C. Portions of the competition were telecast on ESPN. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, "For weeks now, every day after classes at Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao, Siefman has pored over a list of 24,000 words." She was disqualified during an early round of the competition when she made a spelling error (just as Michelle Wie usually bogies a few holes and fails to get to the final round). Public education has been a major focus of Hawai'i politics for many years. The schools are not doing a good job educating the students; scores on national tests are poor compared with other states; the Governor, Legislature, and school board are constantly debating what to do. School Superintendent Hamamoto delivered a major televised speech to a rare joint session of the House and Senate. Here is a dedicated student competing at the national level in one of the basic skills most important to education. But hardly anyone notices. She'll get hugs from her family; maybe a lei when she goes back to school; then drudgery for another year as she struggles to meet expectations for hana hou.
Lingle and Siefman have low charisma and are low on the idolatry scale. One reason is that they are both engaged entirely in the realm of ideas and abstract concepts, far removed from singing and playing golf. Watching them in action is about as exciting to most people as watching paint dry. Neither one is especially pretty, shows much skin, or wears a spiffy uniform with plenty bling-bling battle ribbons. Lingle and Siefman fail to arouse much local pride. They are losers in the idol competition, even though they are winners in their own areas of expertise.
LOCAL PRIDE IN HAWAIIAN CULTURE: DUKE KAHANAMOKU, BRADDAH IZ, KAMEHAMEHA, NAINOA THOMPSON
Finally, we should not ignore the permanent local pride we all feel for "Hawaiian culture" and for some ethnic Hawaiians who are permanent idols (even though some are dead).
In some sense it seems obvious that ethnic Hawaiians are the most local people in Hawai'i -- people who have at least one ancestor who lived in Hawai'i before the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778. Ethnic Hawaiians have the longest tenure in Hawai'i as "local" people. Some elements of the ancient Hawaiian culture are the core of Hawai'i's culture for all local people today. Everyone knows a little Hawaiian language, and some people with no native ancestry can speak it fluently. Many people of all races belong to hula halau. We all appreciate the custom of opening a meeting with a prayer or chant, and "blessing" a new building (thankfully today's blessings leave out the human sacrifice that might have been performed in ancient times). Poi, lomilomi, and ho'oponopono (in an informal style) are appreciated by many. Heiau and fishpond restoration are multiracial community service projects. The Polynesian voyaging renaissance, and especially the canoe Hokule’a, have contributed to ethnic pride for ethnic Hawaiians and to local pride for all Hawai’i’s people. See two footnotes below that discuss “Pride and Prejudice” and “Polynesian Voyaging.”
At least two ethnic Hawaiians have achieved the status of idols for all America. As in the case of Jasmine Trias and Michelle Wie, these two achieved fame through music and sports.
Duke Kahanamoku is so well known in Hawai'i that no description is necessary. He is known throughout America (and the world) as a champion surfer, swimmer, and diver. His statue on Waikiki Beach (facing the wrong way?) is photographed by millions of tourists. A commemorative U.S. postage stamp was issued only a couple years ago with his picture on it. Because of him Hawai'i will always be known as the surfing capitol of the world, even though great waves and skillful surfers can be found in many other places. From all accounts he was intelligent, friendly, and kind; and it helps his idol status that he was extraordinarily handsome.
Braddah Iz (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole) was somewhat known earlier by Americans who like Hawaiian music. But what made him especially famous recently was an episode of the popular TV series "ER." A long-term major character, Dr. Mark Green, discovered that he had a fatal illness with only a few months to live. He came to Hawai'i and rented a beach house to enjoy beauty and serenity while waiting to die. And as he lay dying, with visions of his friends and family floating through his fading consciousness, there was the beautiful voice of Braddah Iz singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" accompanying himself on 'ukulele. Millions of people heard that and fell in love with it, and "discovered" more about Iz and about Hawaiian music. There is now talk that Hawaiian music might become an official category in the record industry's Grammy awards, giving a major boost to local pride. Iz was not pretty to look at. But he is definitely an idol.
All Hawai'i's people are proud of the voyaging canoes, and especially Hokule'a. For more than 25 years Hokule'a has navigated by the stars along the entire Polynesian triangle and to Alaska and elsewhere. Navigator Nainoa Thompson has become a local idol, not only as a navigator but also as a trustee for the University of Hawai'i and for Kamehameha Schools. However, he has not achieved national recognition, perhaps because his skills are limited to local political issues and to what a national audience would see as an obscure slow-speed local sport (sailing an overgrown canoe while using the stars to navigate).
Kamehameha the Great is a local idol in Hawai'i. His name is recognized by most Americans, but they don't know much about him. A quintessentially local parade, filled with local pride, is held every year on the official state Kamehameha Day holiday; but in recent years the parade has come close to being cancelled for lack of financial support. One or two action movies celebrating Kamehameha's life might be in the process of development by national production companies. Many things that make Kamehameha a hero to ethnic Hawaiians in particular and local people in general are subtle aspects of ancient Hawaiian culture, including Kamehameha's success in moving Hawai'i from constant primitive warfare into the beginnings of modern civilized social and political behavior. But without considerable knowledge of Hawaiian history, American audiences (and therefore film-makers) are likely to envision Kamehameha as a savage warrior whose battlefield skills helped him create a nation, much like Shaka Zulu. A few local ethnic Hawaiians who imagine themselves to be the guardians of political correctness have expressed concern about how Kamehameha will be portrayed in movies made by outsiders, and have asserted race-based "intellectual property" rights to demand control of how his story is told. Ethnic thought-police are especially angry that writers and producers of the movies are not ethnic Hawaiians, and the person who will apparently play the starring role is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson whose ancestry is Samoan/African. What a blow to Hawaiian ethnic pride!
THE ALOHA SPIRIT IS THE MOST POWERFUL SOURCE OF LOCAL PRIDE
The idolizing of Hawaiian culture as the core of Hawai'i's culture is entirely appropriate. It is a powerful source of local pride for everyone.
Unfortunately some people idolize the racial group of ethnic Hawaiians (see references below). Making an idol out of a racial group is very different from making an idol out of an individual or a set of cultural values. Stereotyping or racial profiling of one group can lead to evil consequences for all groups, even when it is done with a positive intention. Turning over money, land, and permanent political power to an ethnic group is legally and morally wrong, no matter how much we love and respect some of the elements of their ancient culture and want those things to flourish.
Perhaps the slogan that best captures the inappropriate idolizing of ethnic Hawaiians as a group is the bumper sticker: "No Hawaiians, no aloha." But of course that's wrong.
Heaven forbid there would ever come a time when some horrible genetic disease wipes out everyone who has a drop of Hawaiian native blood. But even if such a disaster were to happen, there would still be Aloha in Hawai'i and throughout the world. That's because Aloha is higher and greater than any ethnic group.
The Aloha Spirit is Hawai’i’s localized version of an aspect of God, or the Cosmic Spirit, or whatever it might be called. Christian religion recognizes that God manifests himself in the three persons of the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each all-powerful and present everywhere. The ancient Hawaiian religion recognizes that the gods manifest themselves in various kinolau -- body forms including plants and animals. In keeping with these metaphors, we might say that the Cosmic Spirit manifests itself in various ways in different cultures. Its local form in Hawai’i is the Aloha Spirit, which grows and changes as local culture grows and changes. Ethnic Hawaiians do not own Aloha, although some of them are fortunate enough to have more or less awareness of the Aloha that lives inside themselves. Aloha lives everywhere, forever.
What we people of Hawai'i should have as our permanent, paramount idol is the Aloha Spirit -- our greatest source of local pride.
The fundamental political principles implementing the Aloha Spirit: Unity, Equality, and Aloha for all. http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/principles.html
Pride and Prejudice -- a generalized analysis of pride in heritage, racial profiling, racial prejudice, and racial supremacy; all with a focus on Hawai’i. http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/prideandprejudice.html
Local pride in Hawai’i is magnified by ethnic Hawaiians who consider their racial group to be the “most local” and therefore the most entitled to feel local pride. One assertion of ethnic pride which resulted in severe prejudice was the Polynesian voyaging canoe project. Hokule'a was created in 1975 primarily for the purpose of reasserting ethnic pride. But the project was conceived and headed by a haole; and numerous haoles also participated in designing the canoe, constructing it, and serving as crew mwmbers. The result was ethnic Hawaiian prejudice and racial hate-crimes against the haoles, to the extent that the head of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (a haole) resigned, along with the master Micronesian navigator who had trained a Hawaiian navigator. Several Hawaiian crew members endangered the entire crew by refusing to perform their assigned responsibilities on the open ocean. The second voyage was racially exclusionary, with none of the original leaders or crew being asked for advice or participation; the canoe capsized and a life was lost. Polynesian voyaging is an example of irrational racial pride when individuals who have not participated in the organization or its voyages claim praise merely for being members of the racial group. But the irrationality is further compounded by the lack of authenticity of “Polynesian” voyaging. The claim to authenticity is based on a claim that ancient knowledge has been authentically resurrected by modern people despite centuries of time when the knowledge was lost. Such a claim can only be sustained by a belief in a collective racial memory of a deep culture which is carried in the genes even when someone has only “one drop” of native blood. For details, see: http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/polynesianvoyaging.html
A Psychological Analysis of Why Hawai'i's People Tolerate and Irrationally Support Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism. “Native Hawaiians” as Hawai’i’s racial mascot. http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/hawnsasmascots.html
The claim that ethnic Hawaiians are the worst “losers” among Hawai’i’s ethnic groups is called into doubt by statistics from Census 2000. Demographic and economic statistics from Census 2000 (and numerous updates since then) can be found in the enormous website of the U.S. Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/ [.] However, that website is extremely difficult to use because it is so massive. The State of Hawai’i maintains a statistics website for DBEDT (the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism) that includes U.S. Census data specifically focused for Hawai’i: http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt Census 2000 shows that the median family income for ethnic Hawaiians in 1999 was $49,282 and that 13.1% of them had incomes above $100,000 even though their median age was only 25.3 (compared to a statewide median age of 36.2). See: http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/census2k/sf4profiles/xnhstate.pdf
Portraying ethnic Hawaiians as poor, downtrodden victims of history is one way of making ethnic Hawaiians into an “american idol” or poster-boy of victimhood in order to drum up sympathy and political support for special race-based programs. The best propaganda piece for the Hawaiian grievance industry is the book reviewed in this webpage: “Haole Collective Guilt for Hawaiian Grievances and Pain -- A book review of “Then There Were None” by Martha H. Noyes (based on Elizabeth Lindsey Buyers TV docudrama)” http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/lindseynoyesthennone.html
The present article showed that pretty teenage girls competing in music and sports become “American idols” far more easily than middle-aged military generals whose actual achievements are far more important. Lowest on the idol scale are people whose achievements are in conceptual areas of abstract thought that are difficult for most people to grasp. One man who broke this barrier to become an international idol, despite age and physical unattractiveness, was Albert Einstein. Many people also admire Stephen Hawking, the professor of physics and cosmology whose book “A Short History of Time” became a best seller even though most who try to read it cannot comprehend it. Hawking became an idol even though he has Lou Gherig’s disease and has been unable to speak or care for his most basic physical needs for many years. Then there’s Nobel Prize winning Princeton Professor of Mathematics John Forbes Nash Jr., who overcame severe schizophrenia to achieve profound mathematical discoveries and win the Nobel Prize. He remained unknown to the general public until his life was portrayed in the Academy Award-winning movie “A Beautiful Mind.”
Achieving idol status depends on the ability of people to recognize beauty through their physical senses -- the beauty of a youthful body, or a musical or artistic composition, or a stellar sports performance. But there is also beauty inherent in abstract concepts, and those who are able to see that beauty can become renowned scholars and can achieve idol status if they get good media attention.
The idea that abstract concepts can be beautiful is controversial among philosophers of epistemology and aesthetics, but was defended in scholarly publications by this author. The following articles unfortunately are not available on the internet and were published in obscure journals read only by specialists at the time and now resting on dusty shelves in library archives:
Kenneth R. Conklin, “The Aesthetic Dimension of Education in the Abstract Disciplines,” Journal of Aesthetic Education, IV, 3 (July, 1970), pp. 21-36.
Kenneth R. Conklin, “The Aesthetics of Knowing and Teaching,” Teachers College Record, LXXII, 2 (December, 1970), pp. 257-265.
Kenneth R. Conklin, “Wholes and Parts in Teaching,” The Elementary School Journal, LXXIV, 3 (December, 1973), pp. 165-171.
Kenneth R. Conklin, “Knowledge, Proof, and Ineffability in Teaching,” Educational Theory, XXIV, 1 (Winter, 1974), pp. 61-67.