Monday, September 24, 2007

Host culture

One of the more common methods of deprecation of Hawaiian culture utilized by immigrants (from the mainland U.S., most commonly) is to chide contemporary Native Hawaiians with the fact that they no longer practice all the traditional ways of their pre-contact ancestors --worship of the ancient gods, human sacrifice, separate dining facilities based on gender, a feudal societal hierarchy, to name a few. This insensitive attitude most often results from ignorance, usually intentional to some extent. All too often, however, undisguised bigotry is the genesis of statements such as the following: "Wake up natives, Hawaii is and always will a part of the U.S.A." As a non-native resident of the "Aloha State" for nearly 40 years, I resent such statements, and consider them to be foolish at best, but in all cases pathetic,and for the most part, wholly execrable.

Those who belittle the culture of another people are one step closer than the rest of us to the world view that tolerates colonialism, oppression, and all too frequently, genocide. As much as I detest the legacy of racism and lynching which stains the history of our "Red States", I have a sincere affection for their literature, music, art, spirituality, folklore, handicrafts, hospitality, and cooking, among other things. Moreover, the incredible sacrifices of the masses of the Southern populous during the "War between the States" never fails to amaze me, misguided and intolerant though the fundamental mission of "Dixie's" leadership was. Likewise the horrific legacy of Nazi Germany does not prevent me from desiring to learn more about and deepen my appreciation for the courage of Martin Luther, the genius of Wilhelm Richard Wagner, and the worldwide influence of the teachings of Karl Marx.

The foolishness of those who belittle the culture of Hawaii's host culture indicates a failure to recognize that each immigrant in America has an ancestral heritage worthy of understanding and respect, whether it be African, Hebrew, German, Asian, Latin, European, or whatever. My ethnic and cultural background is primarily Celtic (Irish), but that doesn't negate the importance (for me) of my English and Swedish roots. Nor should the fact that today's Native Hawaiians are mostly a mixed-race people who greeted outsiders with open arm and bedrooms, adopting lifestyle practices from every corner of the planet, in any way lessen the importance of their historic accomplishments-- world class navigation skills, impressive agriculture and aquaculture achievements, and a record of environmental sustainability second to none, to name a few.) More importantly, Hawaii's status today as an former colony of the U.S. empire, whose culture, language, and religious practices were ruthlessly suppressed by its "conquerors", demands a recognition by all who settle here of the historic injustice of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. (See link to the 1993 "Apology Bill" below.) An appreciation of these factors is a start, but only one small step, on the road toward to true appreciation of and respect for the unique history and culture of Hawaii Nei and the Native Hawaiian people.
(Link to the Apology Resolution -- Public Law 103-150: )

What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story.
F. Scott Fitzgerald


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