History is in danger of repeating itself

One of the U.S.’s first ventures into imperialism and colonialism was a mere 125 years ago: Overthrowing the Kingdom of Hawaii. The sons and daughters of missionaries stayed on and created vast wealth, controlling the lands, and with U.S. political and military might, taking it away from an indigenous culture that values community and in which land ownership was indeed a foreign concept.

The sugar and pineapple plantations dominated the politics, economy and laws, and made a shameful amount of money on the backs of the people and the land they exploited. After they exploited the lands and the people, these corporations being protected as they were then (and still are today by virtue of limited liability laws and laws they wrote/write with their political control of the courts, politicians and government institutions for personal gain), pulled up and moved out lock, stock and barrel (as corporations are still allowed to do). They found other places on this good earth to exploit: cheaper land, cheaper labor, less to no oversight and still to this day maintain the majority of the land they essentially stole from the Hawaiians!

We must pay attention to all of our history, not just what we want to know and feel good about, and conveniently ignore the rest. This is an example to remember. Abuses such as this are still rampant today with corporate globalization.

Capitalism in and of itself is not necessarily “bad.” Making money for shareholders is a corporation’s nature and total purpose. But having no corporate conscious or responsibility is unconscionable!

We The People need to be protected and in fact must demand protection from exploitive practices which do not take into account collateral damage, decisions that devalue communities, and people and resources. It is called ethics, morality and simply doing the right thing as part of the interconnectedness of everything. The Roberts U.S. Supreme Court declared the “corporations have the same rights as We The People” in their deleterious 5-4 decision in the “Citizens United” case which essentially unleashed a floodgate of corporate money and unchecked influence into democracy.

These money-making, specially treated, limited liability corporations must be held responsible and accountable for cleaning up their messes and to be good neighbors. Yes, governmental oversight, regulations and penalties with teeth in them and that advocate for health, safety, human and environmental responsibility as a part of doing business in our public domain and for using our air, water, people, souls and more has a price extracted beyond profit and depletion has a deep and dear price beyond profit, power and control.

Sustainability and stewardship must be expected and enforceable priorities. And yet today in the year 2018 we are witnessing the complete dismantling of agencies charged with protecting and balancing these rights and responsibilities.

Have we not learned anything about why responsible legislators, citizens and agencies gave years of thought and action to these concerns, listened to We The People and developed laws, rules and effective public policy?

Is deconstruction and destruction of institutional memory, scientific decision making, safety and doing the right thing for We The People simply a lost expectation as corporate criminality and overt/covert influences over politicians and all policies, agencies and oversight they do not like or want prevail over reason and without a modicum of services and support for the citizens who have allowed these corporations to become grossly rich and paying so little of their share? Is this what we signed on for? I doubt that any of us has.

Have we not learned anything about checks and balances? History repeats itself.


James Ahasay is a resident of Lihue.

  1. Charlie Chimknee January 21, 2018 7:43 am Reply

    Extraordinary brave opinion, mahalo.

    Reviewing history brings back extraordinary bad memories. The old plantations have a lot in common with the new ones. Some of which, perhaps too much, is the disregard for WE THE PEOPLE.



  2. Reverend Malama Robinson January 21, 2018 10:01 am Reply

    Hawai’ian Kingdom….

    Love it or leave it!


  3. James Kuroiwa January 21, 2018 7:17 pm Reply

    Library of Congress, The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Report No. 227 on the Overthrow of the Queen of Hawaii.


    “We the undersigned hereby upon oath depose and say:

    “That we are the persons appointed as a citizens’ committee of safety, at Honolulu, in January last.

    “That neither prior to nor after our appointment as such committee, did we or either of us, individually or collectively, have any agreement or understanding, directly or indirectly, with the U. S. minister, Mr. Stevens, or Capt. Wiltse, that they or either of them would assist in the overthrow of the monarchy or the establishment of the Provisional Government.

    “That at no time, either before or after such appointment, did Mr. Stevens ever recommend or urge us, or either of us, to dethrone the Queen or establish a Provisional Government. That at no time, either before or after such appointment, did Mr. Stevens or Capt. Wiltse promise us, or either of us, that the United States troops would be used to assist in the overthrow of the Queen or the establishment of the Provisional Government, and such troops, in fact, were not so used.

    “That at the time the committee addressed Mr. Stevens concerning the landing of the troops to maintain the peace the Queen’s Government was utterly demoralized. The Queen had denounced her cabinet and they had publicly appealed to the citizens to support them in a forcible resistance to the Queen. The new Government had not been organized and the air was full of rumors and threats of violence and conflict. The presence of the troops was a strong feature in preventing the irresponsible and lawless element of all nationalities from outbreak, but was not asked nor used for the purpose of dethroning the Queen nor establishing the Provisional Government.

    “That the forces that rallied to the support of the Provisional Government were ample to overthrow the monarchy and establish the Provisional Government, and such action would have been taken by the committee regardless of the presence or absence of the American troops.

    “That the reason of the confidence of the committee in its ability to accomplish its object was that the same men who were supporting the movement had carried through a peaceful revolution in 1887 and suppressed an armed uprising in 1889. The armed supporters of the movement were not a disorganized body, as has been represented, but were composed largely of the volunteer white militia which was in existence and formed the effective strength in the conflicts of 1887 and 1889, and which, although disbanded by the Loyalist Government in 1890, had retained its organization, and turned out under the command of its old officers, constituting a well drilled, disciplined, and officered military force of men of high character and morale, with perfect confidence in themselves, and holding in contempt the courage and ability of those whom they have twice before overawed and defeated.

    “Subscribed and sworn before me this 4th day of January, A. D. 1894, by C. Bolte, Ed. Suhr, F. W. McChesney, William O. Smith, Wm. R. Castle, Andrew Brown, John Emmeluth, W. C. Wilder, Theodore F. Lansing, Henry Waterhouse, and L. A. Thurston, as a true and correct statement.

    “Notary Public.”

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