The martial art of Jiu-Jitsu is known as a fighting system in which one learns to allow the momentum of an attacker to be turned against them. Here in the bluest of all states, I have been watching in horror as the organs of right wing conservatism are tricking locals and ethnic Polynesians into voting against their own best interests. It aint pretty, but if you have stomach for it, it's below the fold.
Ever since moving here I have regarded the political clime as, well, mystifying to say the least. Even for such a Democratic state, the Tea Party/GOP/fearful conservative demographic is exceedingly small but very very vocal, and overly funded. The fact that someone like Linda Lingle could ever become Governor of Hawaii attests to this bizarre dynamic. Two or three times a year (especially on "Tax Protest Day") I can drive into Kona and see the annoying gathering of Tea Party holdouts, their expensive cars parked close by, shaking signs and waving yellow Don't Tread On Me flags in anger over how we are not living in 1789 anymore. It is rare that you see a dark face amongst their scrubbed, white and slightly sunburned ones. But occasionally you do, and when that happens you are lured into a true Post Turtle moment. For those not aware of the joke, one guy walking a country road sees a turtle placed on top of a fence post and asks a neighbor what it is. The response is "a post turtle". He asks again what that means, and is answered that no one knows how he got up there, but he doesn't belong there and everyone agrees he needs to be helped down.
So, imagine my horror when I get emails from some of my favorite beautiful Hawaiian friends, regarding….what's this? That Obama is a secret Muslim who is ready to spring a gun grabbing autocracy on us while we sleep. Now, I know these people well. They are loving, humanitarian, generous, easy going Hawaiians. Shining souls all the way around. So how is it they are being sold this garbage? How could they be tricked into supporting the very party and political forces that would cast them out into the Pacific Blue given half a chance?
I don't have the silver bullet answer for this one, but a few theories are developing. Let me get the most disturbing one off of my chest first. I have discovered a low simmering racist sentiment in many island enclaves, held against African Americans. I cannot for the life of me figure out where this is coming from, given the nature of American Blacks and Polynesians both being aggrieved groups when it comes to civil rights. I also have to admit that Hawaii does not apportion enough public monies for education, and I have run into plenty of adults who were cheated on that level and run about as very uninformed adults; fertile territory for the minions of fear and hatred politics. Just yesterday I received yet another barely racist anti-Obama email from a musician friend of mine who creates wonderful music about spreading love and the Aloha spirit. Yeah, explain that one to me.
Yet another of my ohana here has tried to convince me that Obama wants a socialist Hawaii. This person, mind you, is working two minimum wage jobs and is struggling to support a family with three small children. He has been programmed to attack the very people who want to raise his income through the new proposed minimum wage standards. On top of it all, he is an advocate of Hawaii Sovereignty, who thinks the tool kit of the GOP will get them there.
Maybe the Right has found the correct buttons..or combinations thereof…to push in the good hearted Hawaiians to make them as fearful, suspicious and hateful as they are. Maybe Hawaiians have been duped into watching too much Fox News (not an uncommon pitfall in these parts, with the attachment so many have to their TVs and internet). Maybe I'm just overly sensitive to the subject.
Or maybe, this is one of the keystones of the Right wing ruse on America that been gestating since Reagan.