Aloha Bob - The flag_ the effigy_ and the point

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					Aloha Bob: "I support self-governance for the indigenous Hawaiian people. This position is the result of my respect for the Hawaiian culture, my disrespect for how the lands of Hawaii have been raped since I came here in 1965, and because it's the right thing to do. . . . I believe many of your followers in the sovereignty movement have done irreparable harm to your cause by burning the U.S. flag and stabbing an effigy of Uncle Sam during the demonstration. These images are an insult to the country I love and have served and are indelibly burned into my mind. This is not Iran. " Bob First, mahalo for taking the time and pain to write to me of your deep feelings over our demonstration for Hawaiian independence. Your writing is directly in line with my understanding of two principle points set forth by Mahatma Gandhi who encouraged dialogue, even with the one who may be most opposite your position, for it is only in such dialogue that resolutions may come about. A second principle he also taught was to choose conflict over complacency, thus respecting the commonality rather than the irrelevance of one another. I am glad you can say you support self-governance of the indigenous Hawaiian people, a result of your respect for Hawaiian culture and of how the lands of Hawaii have been raped since your arrival here in 1965. Further, you recognize that its the right thing to do! This is a good starting point from which a little clarity may be called for. We who have marched and rallied on Friday were generally indigenous Hawaiians, and many of us support self-governance to a degree, among indigenous peoples. But it is even more important to recognize that what we are saying in the Friday event, that the right of selfgovernance from the point of view of an independent nation-state has been taken away from us, a nation-state which stretches its hands across people of Hawaii beyond merely its indigenous people. It was that multi-racial, multi-cultural nation-state which had its independence stolen by the invasion of the U.S. and their tactic of "regime change" from our Queen to an oligarchy calling themselves the "Provisional Government". That "government" received its only claim to power from the military forces of the United States -- not by the "consent of the governed" in accordance with the principles which emit from that great document indeed, the American Declaration of Independence. I want you to fully appreciate the gravity of the above paragraph. The question of Hawaiian self-determination is not merely a claim for autonomy as a self-governing indigenous group within the United States of America. It is for the full-fledged claim of disengagement from the United States as an Independent Nation-State, as we had been before the American invasion. In other words, we are indeed AN INVADED NATIONSTATE! The U.S. has not only committed the crime of invasion and occupation, but it has stayed and continues to commit the crime of colonization. It, and its citizens continue, brashly, brazenly, defiantly, to fly their symbol of superiority, their American flag, over

our country. The U.S., with the continued presences of its citizens, have gone so far as sewn another star on its flag, to indicate its intention to remain here permanently, pulling Hawaii into its union of States. In doing so, they threw legal obligation out, and proceeded to cheat in their claiming Hawaii as a "State" of their union - another "shotgun marital arrangement!" Your government has used its flag as a symbol of oppression here in Hawaii as well as wherever it goes in its expansion of the U.S. empire. We have been forced to pledge our allegiance to that flag from our elementary school days through adulthood. We find this symbol along our streets, in our public buildings, throughout the judicial systems which are supposed to met out justice, but ends up only supporting continued U.S. domination throughout these islands. What good is an American confession and apology a hundred years too late, while the American presence only continues and expands in Hawaii! What good is an American Flag when it stands for nothing but to be flown over the graves of fallen soldiers who had thought they were fighting for American Principles while more often, they were merely dying for American Interests? Once in awhile, the Congress may throw a bone of appeasement to the native Hawaiians for stealing our country. They passed a domestic law back in 1921 providing for some "Hawaiian Homes lands" (which was part of the bag of goodies they got in that national theft). They allowed us to have our own Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1980, but the U.S. Supreme Court said only if everybody else could have a say in who would run that office. Now they are talking about giving us official recognition as an Indian, Native American, First Nation, or whatever term a particular audience may feel comfortable with. All of this amounts to nothing in comparison with our right to have the U.S. out of our country. Sick and tired of this continued practice of appeasement by the U.S. government and of complacency by its citizens, I and a small number of others decided to take this occasion of the "Statehood anniversary" to demonstrate our frustration and anger over continued presence of the U.S. and the do-nothing approach of the good hearted and loyal citizens of the U.S. who love their flag. In our planning meetings, we had decided to remove the 50th star from the flag, the star which represents the lie of Hawaii Statehood. Others had suggested that we simply burn the American flag, but we decided that would not communicate the message we had. We had also decided to mail the star back to the U.S. via President Obama. On the morning of the march, I learned that at a final meeting the decision was that the only appropriate disposal of the star was to set it afire. This does make some sense for it stood for Hawaii and it would make no sense sending it off to the U.S. It is an appropriate disposal as our statement of the symbol of statehood. The fact that the American flag had to be cut was inevitable. The star should not have been sewn on in the first place. As to the effigy of Uncle Sam, we had constructed a likeness of Uncle Sam with special attention to his hat and the "Yankee Doodle Dandy" feathers which read, Guam, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Cuba. These feathers were to stand for symbols of imperialism,

the conduct of the U.S. empire building after the regime change forced upon Hawaii. The program called for the knocking off of the hat, the pulling out of the feathers, the removal of the American flag from the hat and the removal of the star from that flag. We would subsequently place a large one-way airline ticket around Sam's neck to send him off, as we sang "Hit the road Jack! Don't you come back no more . . . " Those who also joined us in the rally who subsequently took the time to stab at the effigy was not acting in accordance with our earlier decision. However, this is all part of the reality of holding demonstrations in the streets where others may also join and sometimes have their own personal expressions. I hope this explanation will help you to understand the actions which took place on the street and in our march ceremony on the 21st of August. I am writing not to attempt to alleviate you of the pain which you feel over the treatment of the flag and the effigy, but in the hope that you would be willing to consider the importance of those national symbols in contrast to the national and international principles for which we are standing. Such national symbols as a flag and as a caricature of Uncle Sam are supposed to stand for democracy, equality, justice for all and partiality to none. They should stand for liberation of all people held against their will, governed without their consent, and removed from their language, culture, natural resources, etc. When a nation's actions are contrary to its national symbols, when its national deeds simply ignore and contradict its national creed, the symbols no longer have any value and every step necessary to call this to the attention of its people is appropriate. May I suggest that a moment of reflection, self examination, and mutual commitment be made, not to "loyalty to country" or to the continued elevation of symbols, but to principles of right dealings, regardless of one's nation's interest - or as we say in Hawaii, just be Pono. I welcome your sharing your continued reflections on this matter with me. Aloha a hui hou. Poka Laenui

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