Thursday, January 16, 2020

"The Second Thing I Learned About Hawaii..."

… casting, as never before, serious questions about the first thing.

No good when that happens.

I like what I know to remain immutably certain.

Rocks are hard.

Marshmallows are soft.

And they will never ever change places.

You will never bite into a marshmallow and go, “Ow!”

No one will ever roast rocks, slathered in melted chocolate, over an open campfire.

Rocks are hard.

Marshmallows are soft.


The sound of me, basking in immutable certainty.

Here’s what I was certain of about Hawaii.

Late 19th century, America came in, and took over the whole place.

“We are here to protect you from your enemies”, it was explained to Hawaiian Queen Lydia Liliuokalani.

To which she replied,

“If you are here to protect me from my enemies, why are your guns pointed in the direction of my palace, and not in the direction of my enemies?”

Good question, wouldn’t you say?

Anyway, America got Hawaii for strategic purposes – refueling and such, first for battleships, later, for airplanes.  And because of this shameful injustice, from the time of our first visit, I taught my young daughter to say quietly to all our restaurant servers, or least think real loudly:

“I am sorry we took your island.”

I never liked what we did to Hawaii.  We have enough California Pizza Kitchens on the American mainland.  We do not need any more of them out here.  (Note:  I was “out here” when I wrote this.  All around, I see Paradise, with strip malls.)

“Immutable certainty”?

This thing was bad.

Then, a few months ago, I am watching this historian being interviewed on C-SPAN, talking about this self-same subject.  It appeared he agreed with me on the matter,  which is always delightful.  But then, near the end of the program, he said an approximation of this:

“The thing is, if America had not annexed Hawaii, somebody else would have.”

Most specifically, he professionally opined, Germany.

Can you imagine that in World War II?

“Ve attack Santa Monica is fife minutes!”

Think about it. 

As I’ve had to.

“If we had not annexed Hawaii, somebody else would have.”

Assuming that assertion is correct – and it feels like it might be –   

It does not make our actions all right.

But it does make them more nuanced.                

Where does that leave me? 

I guess,

With softer rocks.

And harder marshmallows.

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