Tag Archives: Depratment of Interior

Media Coverage of DOI Hearings Off-Base

‘If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.’

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Randall Akee wrote in the Hawaiʻi Independent that media coverage prior to the Department of Interior hearings was “presumptuous.” Iʻm finding that the coverage during the hearings seems to miss the point. The Star-Advertiser lead article was headlined “Hawaiians Reject Federal Input.” While this is somewhat accurate if read in the right way, it could easily be misconstrued as Hawaiians rejecting the input of the Federal government. What Hawaiian rejected was the opportunity to give input on several questions pertaining to the relationship between their “community” and the Federal government. This was followed up with the headline “Conduct at Native Hawaiian Meetings Bemoaned.” Rather than conduct, the media should focus on content. Hawaiians are now asking the right questions, including “by what authority are you in Hawaiʻi?” This questions the process, their presence and undermines their assumptions – namely, that annexation was legal.

Civil Beat ran a negative headline: “Kanaka Maoli to Feds: ʻGet Out of Our House! Go Home!'” While this is also accurate in a sense, focusing on the aggressive delivery of a minority of the speakers undermines the quite valid and rational logic of the speakers (even the aggressive ones). Chad Blair writes: “’Get out of our house!’ several speakers told the Interior panel, which included Esther Kiaaina, a senior adviser to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. ʻGo home!'”

Leona Kalima at the Honolulu hearing. Photo: Civil Beat.

Leona Kalima at the Honolulu hearing. Photo: Civil Beat.

Blair goes on: “they cited analyses of treaties, bills, acts, resolutions, petitions and law that led them to passionately believe that Hawaii is quite independent of the other 49 states.” Nevermind the actual content of the “treaties, bills, act, resolutions, petitions and law,” Hawaiians, according to Blair simply “believe … the U.S. government had no jurisdiction in the islands.” Perhaps Blair was exercising journalistic neutrality, but this is where such a practice may be misguided. The entire system is biased toward the Federal viewpoint and against the Hawaiian perspective. Attempting to balance these with judgement-free accounts is taking the side of power.

The only major media site that got it right was the Huffington Post, whose headline read “Hawaiians Say ‘This is Our Country.'” This sums it up very eloquently.

Written testimony can be submitted for 60 days from the start of the hearings at this site:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOI-2014-0002-0005

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