Monday, March 30, 2009

Tetehnan Chapter Four

The first full draft of my dissertation was completed almost a month ago and in the time since I've been editing and fixing up my chapters in preparation for my defense in June.

As I've done with my previous chapters, I'm pasting in this post, all the tetehnan or leftovers from my writing of the fourth chapter of my dissertation.

To read the tetehnan of my other chapters, click the links below:

In this chapter I was discussing sovereignty and decolonization from a more local perspective, writing about and sometimes critiquing the ideas of sovereignty that Chamorros, activists or not, everyday use to articulate their existences, and how a lot of times they set themselves up for failure, dependency, non-existence or eternal colonization through their ideas. You might recognize some of the names in this chapter, and in fact, there might even be a chance that you might be mentioned in this chapter. Read through if you dare, its all over the place, but there's still some interesting thoughts in there.

Some of it though is copied and pasted from elsewhere and just so you know that I'm not the one who said those things (since some of them are screwed up), I've italicized those sections.

For those who aren't familiar with this tradition of mine, what you see below is what has been edited out of my chapter. So its a mixture of complete sections, sentences or words that I took out, random notes and reminders that I erased and finally sections which I didn't necessarly get rid of, but re-wrote but felt I should still keep the original wording just in case I missed something. You never know when you might need something you once wrote again, and so I find it helpful to keep everything.
Also, as part of my tradition now, I'll be interlacing the tetehnan ginnen iyo-ku dissertation with pictures of sunsets and skyscapes on Guam.


The impossibility is inadvertantly revealed to be contingent
that others decide their fate and the fate of their land.

I say that Howard realized this because by the end of his comments he had changed his tune completely. Gof matulaika i hinasso-na. Fine'nina ilek-na na hita i Chamoru la'mon todu put i kuttura gi isla-ta, lao by the time he finished, we Chamorros were not free at all on Guam. By the end of his statements Chamorros were not free to practice their cultural rights and heritage, the issue of independence was not simply finding what the colonizer hasn't touched, but rather would require, as Fanon notes in The Wretched of the Earth, a direct confrontation with the colonizer and the apparatus of desire that props up the colonial world.

End this section with the FANIHI!!!!!

When faced with this daunting and cruel framework, the majority of our energy which is dedicated to resistance and critique, never seems to actually directly confront the colonizer, but instead work to sidestep, predate or withdraw from such a fight, by retreating into claims about cultural superiority. This is why for so many, decolonization if it is not a dry and formal political process, it is then a purely cultural endeavor, in which one tries to find the point the colonizer hasn't tainted or destroyed yet. (Hunggan bei konfotme na maolekna i kutturan Chamoru kinu i kutturan Amerikanu, lao kao nahong ha' este na sinangan? Para Guahu, yanggen un atan i sisteman power giya Guahan, kalang taibali este, because it does not necessarily disrupt the authority or power of the United States over life and the future in Guam.)

The interesting part of this, is the way in which the introduction of a political dimension to the Chamorro, or a political claim made on behalf by Chamorros suddenly

which tasked that the Department of Agricultural

This is perhaps a fairly conservative act of de
taking on the need for what they called “native fishing rights”
Fishing rights issue
But this dynamic of multiple types of Chamorros existing at the same time, in the same discourse, but yet

The imagination that Chamorros use to think about processes such as decolonization or the sovereignty or existence of a Chamorro today are so narrow and so rigid, that the evacuation of Guam, the emptying of Guam that took place in the Wall Street Journal article, is something they themselves are absolutely willing to participate in.

This is the
It is because of letters like this and the logics it represents that there must be more education in everyday conversations which can break this commonsense about decolonization, since this conception of it, as being a time traveling trip into the past, is not just the belief of haoles such as Dave Davis, but rather the majority of Chamorros as well. Chamorros that I have interviewed in my research on decolonization have thought that decolonization would mean, running the island naked with barbeque tongs.

Decolonization in all of its diverse forms is not simply about the past, but about the future. It is about dealing with the political sins of the past and rectifying them, not ignoring or forgetting the injustices of the past, but rather creating a process to confront them and act in awareness of them in the name of the future of our island and our people. It is a process of making that future our own, rather than accepting an existence where others who are "whiter" and "more modern" control it for us. For both Chamorros and non-Chamorros we must make this point very very clear.


A ‘free and sovereign’ NMI?

WE note that Mr. Jose U. Garrido (a.k.a. Joe Garrido, chairman of Guam’s Decolonization Commission’s free association task force) is again clamoring to part company with the United States of America — espousing Chamorro sovereignty, as it were.

Dream on, Mr. Garrido. You may have difficulty convincing your Chamorro brethren to forfeit their expectations of those amenities, along with American citizenship for succeeding generations. As for your notion that changes to the CNMI Covenant would provide the opportunity for residents there to become “free and sovereign”: it would be interesting to learn just how many would embrace that option. Perhaps we’ll have the chance to find out.

By the way — how’s progress on the Guam “Chamorro Only” political status plebiscite?

Yigo, Guam

and a Guam military would be required to fight with “slingstones” and “spears.”

Anyone who wishes a more concrete analysis of my point need only look to the November 5th, 2001 PDN, and the revoltingly revealing editorial by Joe Murphy. Murphy, rambles about nostalgia, and how the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is still living in the past, and creates an odd almost baffling local connection to his thoughts.

How can we afford to be Chamorro when there are terrorists in the PI? Or how can we afford to be Chamorro when there is a K-Mart on the island and the Taliban oppresses women? When did Chamorro culture become a crime or a sin? When did finding value in simpler things become, or even in identifying with your culture and family become something we don’t have time for, or can’t safely do in this post 9/11 world?

The latte marks the boundary, the limit. The other side is sovereignty, we’re stuck on this side.

Bringing in here “what has he found?” section.

The latte marks the
which he soon asks what his gra
(Bring in here ma’å’ñao. He investigates her, and discovers that in himself the only real Chamorro part is “ma’å’ñao”)

At the worst we are stuck with the idea that Chamorros only exist in the past, only exist in the time when there were nothing but Chamorros on Guam, prior to the arrival of intervention of anyone or anything else. At best this logic results in an unholy marriage of eras.

Mention your master’s thesis
Do you provide examples? Running a military with slingstones?

You are constantly pulled away from the present, told that decolonization is about past things, about bringing back the past, living in the past. It takes you away from present problems, makes your focus being on solving the problems of the past.
You need more about this past issue.

Decolonization in this context, in terms of autonomy is impossible, the conditions for existence only allow a few choices. 1st. You can turn back in time, to the moments before these modern problems. Return to a previous harmonious moment. 2. You can simply expel all traces of what is “modern.” (ti siguru yu’ put este na punta)

3. Developing a Chamorro response, but one that can be made only using that which is “authentically Chamorro.” Not necessarily playing with the terms or meaning, but operating with almost ludicrous assumptions as if the only thing which is Chamorro is that which has no trace of anything else, or predates the contact from Spain, Japan, America. (you can move from this section into the next one, the pointlessness of this version)

Joe Murphy and Dave Davis. Not meant for this world, wouldn’t know what to do with sov. if they got it.

12. The latte and the fanihi. Impossibility, how sovereignty is placed beyond the Chamorro. This can be used to indicate, how pointless this sovereignty is. The walling of it off, what is the purpose? What’s the point? If it can’t be touched, can’t be used?

Or perhaps, you can connect is by saying how out of place it is in today’s world. Its not meant to roam free, not meant to exist in the Guam of today.

The fanihi, Lamorena plays the game. The result is that
But this is the curious point about this version of sovereignty, in that it is supposed to be about providing a path to strength and security amongst Chamorros, it is meant to be a foundation for their lives, it actually appears to weaken and limit them. Both of them create almost impossible conditions for a sovereign Chamorro to exist, and therefore what the Chamorro is, is feeble, weak, dependent, has to rely upon the United States in order to survive.

Both of these texts provide an intriguing metaphor for the impossibility of decolonization from this version of sovereignty. The first inspiring, but still uncertain, unclear. The second tragic, yet comical.

The latte, both of them mention the latte. Also bring in Tony Brinkley
Then the fanihi provides the bridge to the next section. To the political part. This interaction with Lamorena provides a truth of decolonization and sovereignty that both texts completely elide or fail to mention, its political dimension. And that sovereignty and decoloniation are ultimately about the structure of life, not just meanings and artifacts, but the rules by which those artifacts are given or infused meaning. There is a relationship here, one’s powerlessness is America’s power.

The possibility for Chamorros exist in this world, but only when it is sealed off and trapped. The autonomy, the desire for it, the acceptance of a Chamorro essence and that its sovereignty must be inherent, untouched thus becomes a prohibition, manifests in metaphorical ways in the present as something which is thus cut off from even the very search of Chamorros, as something they themselves much be sealed away from, or risk tainting it as well.

At worst its impossible. In the Wall Street Journal article this impossibility is portrayed in a tragic comical metaphor, that of a fanihi, or a fruit bat.

(this section could go after the fanihi and latte section) What is the problem with this? Is this effective? What sort of foundation is this? How does this grounding influence the present?

Bring in Howard Hemsing anecdote here. But introduce it somehow.
The locating of this sovereignty in the distant mafñas past,
This desire for a pure or inherent sovereignty
Actually the Fanihi and Latte metaphor can be part of the past and present section.

Impossibility and Pointlessness (you could combine these points into just a general discussion which then sets up the political part, since Joe Torres and the Chamorro Land Trust should actually go in the political section)

The other dimension of this type of sovereignty should be clear by now as well. Delicate or impossible.
It is so easily lost, destroyed. It is so pointless, so fragile.

The relationship between the present and the past of Chamorro is just the beginning. The next logical step is impresentability, and thus impossibility. So while this version leads away from the present, what happens when we remain in the present? When we give up on any desperate yearning voyage into the past and accept the present as our and therefore our sovereignty’s location?

Chamorro Land Trust (who is really Chamorro?)
Native Fishing Rights (Torres, Chamorro one moment, when it approaches the political however, it suddenly disappears. He’s Chamorro at home, to everyone else, but once it comes down to the Chamorro becoming a political creature its gone, it doesn’t exist.

(this could go after the explanation of multi-culturalism)
(you can bring in from your thesis, how discussions on decolonization force to the surface the structure of these hegemonic formations)
Bring in here the fanihi and latte section.

The apolitical is next. Where does the delicate part go?
Maybe it can still be the second point. And the 3rd is stil the political as the ultimate meaning of what you’ve introduced so far.

The recycling issue can be the bridge, between the delicateness and the pointlessness and then the apolitical point. First you introduce the way the limited way in which Chamorros can act or interact. What you can and can’t do is limited by your culture. That which is authentic for you to embody or take on.

Then you enhance this point with the discussion on how the Chamorro disappears or is dismissed. Or how this leads us to the issues of the cultural and the political.
This type of sovereignty is the kind best designed for a multi-cultural world. It is the one which helps the Chamorro, whether they are conscious of it or not, fit snuggly within their colonial world, but still find or search for sovereignty, but always away from any possibility of affecting their present political life.
Multiculturalism section

he still doesn’t speak Chamorro.

Conf spoke of giving oneself to justice
Mencius spoke of sacrificing oneself for righteousness
Surrendering is not a matter of victory or defeat,
But rather one of virtue

(this goes in the apolitical section)
There is no “authentic” recourse here. The Chamorro who accepts or believes these rules traps themselves and requires that they be unable to affect the world around them.

has its own set of technological and historical accomplishments.
These stones attest to a Chamorro techno
The emphasis on food, one such potential artifact. But the quest for authenticity always leads somewhere else.

In both the landscape of Guam is torn up and sifted through to glean from all the potential signifiers, the composite existence of Chamorros today, as to what is actually Chamorro. Nothing is found. Although the plebiscite is still on, and the author while obviously finding the idea of the vote ridiculous, never actually formed any coherent political argument against it. Instead, he approached an island full of potential political subjects, Chamorros, with political claims, armed with a potential act of decolonization, and rather than contend with their argument, simply evacuated them.

(It is never stated in the article that only those who are pure deserve or are capable of self-determination or decolonization, by this is the implicit logic of the piece’s evolution. Or, only that which is pure deserve the label, everything else should be cast aside. Tydingco’s comment. It was fun, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Chamorro)

By operating under that simple, but never stated assumption that sovereignty in this context equals that which is pure, authentic, that which has survived untouched or unscathed, he is able to divide the island up, into small pieces and reveal each of them to belong somewhere else, or reveal each to be inauthentic and thus remove them from the island, remove them from the political picture.

By the article’s end, the question of Guam’s political status remains, the stench of colonialism is still present, but all the potential actors or agents, the beneficiaries of decolonization have been dismissed. There remains no one else save for the non-Chamorro, whose identity, unlike all others mentioned in the article is never questioned. Unlike those who possessed potential political claims, she asks for nothing, represents nothing save for the authentic observer, who can pronounce the death sentence upon the Chamorro. Who can pound the final nail into an empty coffin.

The second is a documentary named Chamoru Dreams, which chronicles the struggle of a young Chamorro who has lived much of his life in the states, who returns home to the island to “find his roots.”

Dozens of Chamorros interviewed struggled to name a food that is distinctly Chamorro. (why does it have to be distinctly Chamorro?)
Potential signifiers of Chamorro existence are again unloaded, but again signify other places and by default signify a Chamorro lack.

genuine Chamorro artifacts

On a steamy evening along the coast, the lights flicker on at Chamorro Village. A Spanish-style plaza of stalls and shops, Chamorro Village was born in the early 1990s to promote Chamorro arts and crafts and raise the profile of Chamorro culture. Tonight, only a few stalls are open -- and they're far from Chamorro. Most sell kimonos and T-shirts. Carmen's Mexican Restaurant is dark, and the Jamaican Grille is empty…"You have to come on Wednesday nights," says Tien Bin Wu, a 67-year-old owner of a Cantonese food stall. "Wednesday night is Chamorro night."

is of course a double strike, first attacking with “what culture?” and
Up until this point in the article Frank had yet to introduce a Chamorro, but had instead populated Guam with banalities on its former and current political and economic colonizers. Guam is described as a “small island containing a world of cultures,” and
And lists of signifiers that made clear the
this “suggestion” of yet another place where we might find some sort of authentic Chamorro existence or fragment is

After describing the landscape of Guam as a gaudy collage of consumeristic, corporate images and
This is the narrative thread of the piece, a sort of trial to see whether or not the
Leading the charge is the Chamorro Nation, a group of tattooed youths and tribal activists who seek to reclaim the country. Their methods are mild -- aside from staging the occasional sit-in, they give beach tours and fauna lessons.

The group has gained widespread popularity on an island searching for its precolonial roots. "We've had some tough times since Magellan landed" in 1521, says Eddie L.G. Benavente, leader of the Chamorro Nation, and a teacher at Guam's John F. Kennedy High School. "But now it's time to take control of our country and our culture."

Mention all the specific parts

The most annoying example which pops into my head is the Wall Street Journal article "Guam Struggles to Find its Roots Beneath Piles of Spam" from 2000 which discussed Chamorro non-existence. Such a search for pure signifiers took place, around food, where the article's brodie author, asks Tony Lamorena to show him what "real" Chamorro food is. A handful of food dishes are mentioned, each leading to somewhere else, not Guam. At last when a real Chamorro dish is found, fanihi, its mentioned to be illegal to hunt and eat. Thus making it clear in unclear, salient yet silent terms that whatever this Chamorro is (which is not this cruel diffusion), is inaccessible to us. There is a prohibition on it, which puts it beyond the reach of Chamorros today. The article ends in a way too painful perfect for proving my points, with this frightening empe' Real:

"Who's a Chamorro, and who's not?" asks 18-year-old Menchie Canlas, a Filipino ticket-taker at the cliff. "I don't think anybody knows any more."

Chamoru Dreams
(use this part earlier in the chapter, when you are discussing the importance of “location.”) Sovereignty is the problem of location and legitimacy. Where do violence and power become legitimate? Where are the points through which a community becomes stable, ordered, coherent? This type of sovereignty is no different, but from a different perspective. Here we see a community incomplete, impure, lost in time and history and searching for the artifacts, ideas and objects that can heal their colonial wounds, that can bring them back.

The artifacts used to show this sovereignty are meant to show a durability, a continuity, but in reality reveal an implicit weakness. This sovereignty is so fragile, so delicate, the mere “taint” of civilization transforms it into inauthentic, fake, not real, not really Chamorro. The defining of sovereignty through autonomy creates this weakness, whereby anything which could be invoked to prove the strength and durability of the Chamorro can easily be unraveled and turned to ash should any connection the colonizer or modern things be revealed.

This leads us away from the present in multiple ways.
First, the subtext of Frank’s article is that if you’re looking for a Chamorro its not here, indirectly and almost sarcastically calling into question those who are pushing for Chamorro rights today. The quote from the Filipina ticket taker is the nail in the coffin, who are these people struggling for identity, when they don’t exist anyways? All that they search for isn’t there’s, or is beyond their grasp.

The fanihi is an interesting choice, because it reveals that possibility is always beyond the Chamorro, the Chamorro is impossible.

Tydingco sits before his grandmother, a very accomplish Chamorro woman, but bypasses her, sees her as just a stop on the road, a bearer of incomplete, impure knowledge

Texts: Wall Street Journal Article, piles of Spam
Tony Brinkley, Guam Confronts Americanization
Chamoru Dreams
The logic of how it is filled. Looking for the root, the source, the tahdong, the authentic. That which is real. Lamorena and the fanihi.
(these are the problems with that view, is that the search is impossible from the start or that it leads you away from the present. Bring in the statement from the ticket taker at the Mall.
Native Fishin Rights,

This form of decolonization leads you away from the present, away from today. Away from the structures of power today, encouraging you to look far away, in whatever has not been touched.

Violet Castro, the one thing that Chamorros can contribute to the world.
People who refute decolonization or activist arguments by saying there aren’t any Chamorros in the world.
Joe Torres, the guy who said, whose a Chamorro?
Hemsing example shows the danger of futility of this version. We are sovereign, you aren’t really sovereign.

It places a massive, sweltering gap in the life and history of the colonized. Which is supposed to be there’s, which is meant to be theirs, which they are supposed to fill, but has been for a variety of reasons, kept from them. They have been pushed out of that sovereign place.

Even within the article itself, we can begin to perceive this.

Chamorro activists are spoken to and while they do not accept the ultimate conclusion of the article, that Chamorros don’t really exist and that their whole argument for self-determination is ridiculous, they do not resist the logic that leads the article there. But while they would resist this conclusion, the logic itself is not necessarily tampered with or critiqued. Both of the voices quoted meant to represent Chamorros and that political spirit, admit to their existence being a minimal one, a shaded, shadowed, tainted, corrupted one.

While this article could be easily dismissed as being written from an obviously “outsider” perspective, but as the discourse of these Chamorros hint at, the accept of this logic of Chamorro impossibility or minimality is something Chamorros often enthusiastically or grudgingly accept as well. We can see this in Chamoru Dreams.

the documentary represents his search for answers.
Authenticity is supposedly its own reward.
decided to reassert
My grandfather looked at this artist, gof lalalu, and responded that I AM YOUR ANCESTOR.

My grandfather has a store in the Chamorro Village, an tourist area on Guam created to showcase Chamorro culture

Even most of the Chamorro artists who represent themselves as producing indigenous works, recognize the importance that his machete and fosino symbolize in terms of Chamorro toughness and ability to survive and sustain itself.

The older generations respect my grandfather’s tools because they can recall using them and the quality of our family’s wares

Bring in here the KSN story.
I will end here with a story, which proves to me why people who argue for a pure Chamorro in the distant past are wrong. My grandfather is Tun Jack Lujan, the Chamorro Master Blacksmith. Because of his work he is respected by many many people. Manamko' remember his father and him and their tools that they depended upon to survive on the lancho and in particular during the war. Even most of the Chamorro artists who represent themselves as producing indigenous works, recognize the importance that his machete and fosino symbolize in terms of Chamorro toughness and ability to survive and sustain itself. At one arts festival on Guam, my grandfather was talking to a group of artists near one of their booths, where they had bone, shell and wood carvings. My grandfather is in his 80's and uses a cane when he walks around. He got tired of standing around while talking and looked for a place to sit, and saw a wooden latte carving, which he could use as a stool. After he sat on it, one of the artists yelled at him, that he couldn't sit there, that is for our ancestors.

The latte today is
message t
First that the Chamorro and Guam need the United States to survive
One Chamorro made clear

All of the things which fill its long history, all of the potential cultural forms it might possess, which might assist with the present

But all this changed when I started discussing decolonization,But all this changed when I started discussing decolonization,

It is understood that Chamorros are the indigenous people of Guam, and that he is one of them.

In 1974, the Guam Legislature passed the Guam Land Trust Act, which, modeled after the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, was designed to provide land to landless Chamorros. Although on the books, the law was dormant for decades, as questions over who legally qualified as Chamorro were debated. In the early 1990’s, the group Nasion Chamoru was formed, comprising of indigenous rights activists, families seeking the return of their ancestral lands, and a surprisingly large number of disillusioned former American military servicemen. In 1992, the Nasion Chamoru sued the Government of Guam for its failure to implement the Chamorro Land Trust Act, and eventually won, forcing the Governor of Guam to create the Chamorro Land Trust Commission. That same year, the United States Navy returned the land beneath Naval Air Station, in the island’s central area, to the Government of Guam.

During the Decolonizing Our Lives forum that Famoksaiyan helped organize last month in Guam, Howard Hemsing, an independence for Guam advocate, spoke for several minutes during the question and answer period about independence and cultural rights. Howard is often criticized for the radical stances he takes, most notoriously the holding of signs by the sides of Marine Drive that proclaim the importance of Independence for Guam, or that "Yankee Go Home."

Howard began his statement by telling all that we don't need anyones permission to be independent, we don't need anyone else's process of decolonization or Congressional approval. Este i isla-ta esta, ti guailayi i inapreban otro, hita la'mon! For him, what constituted this independence was clear, the ability to practice our culture, to enjoy our cultural rights.

Somewhere in the middle of his tirade, Howard no doubt realized that the purely cultural realm which he was telling all was the site for decolonization was actually insufficient. Again, as I often write on this blog, that isolated native and its space which is dictated negatively into existence by appearing to embody all the things the colonizer couldn't kill, is unfortunately one of the colonizers most potent spaces for continuing its control.
Chamorros in the states actively and excitedly accept and celebrate some of the most fundamental multicultural and colonial fantasies, that of the divisions of the colonized and the colonizer or those white and those non-white into binaries of culture vs. political and social vs. political. In both of these binaries, racialized or colonized groups are produced as the inferior and stagnant side of the spectrum.

In the United States, the position of Chamorros ensnared in the most base forms of multi-culturalism work in a similar way.
in the United States, for racial groups, the house still does not belong to you, but now you may choose what goes on your walls.

This type of sovereignty is the kind best designed for a multi-cultural world. It is the one which helps the Chamorro, whether they are conscious of it or not, fit snuggly within their colonial world, but still find or search for sovereignty, but always away from any possibility of affecting their present political life.
Multiculturalism section

Culture, is something which all Chamorro clubs in the United States, regardless of their type of mission profess to support. Culture in this context is often meant to refer to the language, history and ideals of the Chamorro people, but too often is reduced to “partying and food.” This limited and limiting notion of what is Chamorro culture is precisely what induces fear amongst Chamorros in the states, about engaging in political activities or decolonization. As mentioned in the previous section, there is a clear link between the way Chamorros on Guam conceive the United States’ place in their lives, and thus resist decolonization, and the ways Chamorros in the United States insist that they are social beings only.

There is something to this, there
The answer lies in the political, in moving int hat direction, moving towards it. Not retreating

(this could go second, as it leads us to the political question. Apolitical. Because it points us to who is responsible. That this impossibility is not neutral, not the fabric of reality, but can be traced to another somewhere who draws power from the acceptance of this limit.)

Guam and sovereignty. Because of the particular discursive specificities of Guam, in terms of how to talk about its political status, and the discursive and textual objects used in making its status possible today, the word sovereignty is not in common use.

which despite a patriotic veneer, is inundated with feelings of being marginalized or not respected or recognized by its colonial master, Guam regularly experiences pangs of desire towards more sovereignty
The two key terms for sovereignty in Guam are “self-determination” and “decolonization.”
These terms come from Guam’s long association with the United Nations and its presence on its list of remaining world colonies.

(the previous chapter already investigated the UN definitions)

Bush quote:
discussing the quote itself
(bring in here autonomy?)

Bring in here 4,000 year history (put this in the reaching back to before the colonizer)
hope for the feelings of authenticity and self-determination craved by people are sought. Yet
Where feelings of authenticity and self-determination are craved by people, yet the very

Bring in here the dubious distinction part
Bring in the filling part somewhere
How do you show this? Destiny’s Landfall reviews? Angel Santos written out of our own histories?
Actually you can show this later when you are discussing the filling
About telling the Chamorro side of things.

Thus decolonization is a process of filling in this gap. Or rectifying this unjust silence or void. It is about filling it with Chamorro culture, the Chamorro side of things, the Chamorro way, the Chamorro spirit.

These should be examples of that filling:
Angel Santos comment on being written out of our own history.

The canonical text for Guam history right now is Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam, by Guam historian Roger Rogers. This is the most comprehensive narrative of Guam’s history.

Examples of this filling:
1. Self-determination vote. A political status vote, an act meant to put Chamorros back in the driver’s seat.
2. Chamorro dance – bringing back a lost and dead tradition. Discourse that defends the break in continuity as being the end, and anything after that is deemed impure and fake.
3. Chamorro language (the most explicitly decolonial are the pre-Spanish, tahdong words)
4. Writing the Chamorro side of history, writing a Chamorro-centered history.

. In that this logic for sovereignty leads it to be extremely fragile and elusive.

Bring in here what these have in common.
About a self-determination plebiscite that was scheduled to take place that year but did not happen. It is a standard sort of text in terms of the way that political questions for indigenous people are dealt with in crude, overly simplistic cultural ways.

It is an article on political topics which devolves into cultural rambling. Based on the same logic or searching for sovereignty.
they are given a voice several paragraphs into the piece, through the quotations of a leader of a Chamorro sovereignty group.

Bring in quote, bring in the “distinctly Chamorro quote”
The lure of autonomy, that purity, which in this case is translated as “distinctiveness” “uniqueness” that your sovereign space is that which no one else shares or can claim.

friend who is committed to living a more traditional life, who is making sure his children speak Chamorro,
signifiers regularly betray the director.

Bring in here the transitional points.
No one mentioned that purity equals sovereignty, its just implied and accepted. Authenticity is its own reward
A lot of the stuff in this section can stay for now.

The two points you need to make before you move on to the fanihi and latte section are:

it is never mentioned that cultural purity equals sovereignty, nor is any argument tendered as to what makes a

(France, black people, slavery)
(the 4,000 year history is tied to this. Should you bring this in here?)
(this goes in the intro for Chamoru Dreams, or possibly in the impossible/pointless section)

(people snickering at his tools being “Chamorro.”)
Then the next section begins with a “sinembatgo” it is the present in which we act.
(should this section be moved to the “confinement” section) The texts agree however that the only place in which Chamorros are certain to find sovereignty is in their dreams.

Dreams are metaphor that binds these texts together. It speaks to the unrealistic, unreal sorts of expectations of Chamorros and also the only place it seems where what they are searching for can be found. Tydingco constantly dreams of his goal, and its unclear at the film’s end whether he has actually found them in Guam or is finding them in his dreams.

In the WSJ, dreams as aspirations. As in a scornful, decolonization and sovereignty, only in their dreams!

But this is, in a metaphor taken on by the film, only possible in his dreams. They only speak to him in his dreams. Although the film ends with him discovering them it is unclear what this means.
where as America began gearing up for its War on Terror, the Chamorro was argued as better confined to another world, an older world.
a group of roughly hundred Chamorros, from diverse backgrounds banded together to form the Taotaomo’na Native Rights Groups.

a diverse group of Chamorros calling themselves the Taotaomona Native Rights Group emerged as an activist group fighting for Chamorro rights

in order to add color and life to the island’s waters and make them
Bring in here Hemsing’s anecdote.
Given these tendencies, decolonization built upon this form of decolonization can itself be an impossibly difficult process. A confused, uncertain process. You can bring in what you’ve written in the next section.

As one of the orgnaizers made clear,
With death, doom and dire straits a plenty, the organizers for the conference,
America and its influence and impacts on Guam, s

The political activists article, KUAM, Johnny Sablan and Flora Baza Quan. All the dire issues that are brought up, there is death and dying everywhere. Culture, physical, linguistic, health wise, mind wise. Yet we are not political. Then what is the link? What can the link be between your problems and what you can do?

The false security of autonomy or pre-contact sovereignty.

Culture is the glue that holds this together and makes it possible.
But Fanon’s conceptions of culture and what should or should not be considered “culture” in a colonial situation are drastically different.

(this is a transition between the introduction to Fanon and then the section on his ideas about culture)
To keep the very ideas of sovereignty unchallenged.
Should you bring in Hemsing’s story after this point?
VIOLENCE: violence reveals that conflict and confrontation is the key to decolonization.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Barney Frank Called Justice Scalia a Homophobe

Why I Called Justice Scalia a Homophobe
Rep. Barney Frank
Huffington Post
March 26, 2009

While responding to questions from journalists about my characterization of Justice Antonin Scalia as a homophobe, I realized that the fact that I made that comment in conjunction with a potential lawsuit about the Defense of Marriage Act created some confusion as to my basis for that characterization.

My view that Justice Scalia is prejudiced against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is based, not on his position on marriage, but entirely on the angry minority opinions he wrote in two Supreme Court cases in which the majority held that gay and lesbian people had certain rights against discrimination regarding private consensual sex and political activity. In those two virulent dissents, Justice Scalia denounced the court majorities not simply for finding that it was unconstitutional to discriminate based on sexual orientation in cases involving political rights and the right to private consensual sex, but he also made it clear that in his view sex discrimination is not only permitted by the Constitution but is very much in society's interest because homosexuality deserves to be treated with not only disapproval, but legal disability.

This comes out most clearly in his very vigorous abjection to the court's decision to block a criminal prosecution against two men who had consensual sex in the privacy of their bedroom. And it is made very vivid in the passage in which he affirms society's right to treat homosexuals unequally by citing other categories which deserves such treatment -- beginning with murder.

It is of course possible for reasonable people to differ over what the Constitution requires in these cases. But the point is that Justice Scalia goes far beyond simply denying that there is a constitutional right here and makes clear his support for the discriminatory policies based on his condemnation of homosexuality. This is best illustrated by the contrast between his writing in the criminal sodomy case and that of Justice Thomas, who in disagreeing with his colleague's view that the Constitution prohibits criminal prosecution for private consensual sex between adults, notes that he believes that the law in question is "remarkably silly" and notes that he would have voted against it if he was in a legislature. So while both Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia are in the minority upholding the right of criminal prosecution, Justice Thomas makes clear his disapproval of this as a matter of policy while Justice Scalia enthusiastically embraces it.

I have attached some of the relevant quotations from the two opinions:


[June 26, 2003]
No. 02-102
Lawrence vs. Texas was a landmark US Supreme Court case in which the court struck down the sodomy law in Texas, which was specifically targeted against homosexuals. Justice Scalia authored the dissent, joined by Justices Rehnquist and Thomas.
One of the most revealing statements in today's opinion is the Court's grim warning that the criminalization of homosexual conduct is "an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres." Ante, at 14. It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as "discrimination" which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession's anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously "mainstream"; that in most States what the Court calls "discrimination" against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal; that proposals to ban such "discrimination" under Title VII have repeatedly been rejected by Congress, see Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994, S. 2238, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994); Civil Rights Amendments, H. R. 5452, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975); that in some cases such "discrimination" is mandated by federal statute, see 10 U.S.C. § 654(b)(1) (mandating discharge from the armed forces of any service member who engages in or intends to engage in homosexual acts); and that in some cases such "discrimination" is a constitutional right, see Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000).


on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Colorado
[May 20, 1996]
In Romer v. Evans, the US Supreme Court ruled against an amendment to the Colorado state constitution which would have prevented municipal governments from taking action to protect homosexuals from discrimination. Justice Scalia wrote the dissent, with Justices Rehnquist and Thomas joining.

First, as to its eminent reasonableness. The Court's opinion contains grim, disapproving hints that Coloradans have been guilty of "animus" or "animosity" toward homosexuality, as though that has been established as un-American. Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even "animus" toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of "animus" at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.....
But though Coloradans are, as I say, entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct, the fact is that the degree of hostility reflected by Amendment 2 is the smallest conceivable.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Common Dreams

The website Common Dreams is a great resource for people wanting to know what's going on in the United States and the world from a progressive perspective.

When I moved to the states in 2003 to start graduate school, I made Common Dreams my homepage, so that every morning when I got up I could see what was happening in or happening to the progressive world. I admit, I enjoyed having my vision broadened, but like anyone from a small, disrespected and ignored community, who nonetheless thinks that their little spot in the world is the best in the world, I was irritated at how little attention Guam received on the site. A couple years back I searched for Guam mentions or Guam pieces on the site, and didn't find much. But this is the both the story our lives and in particular the story of my dissertation.

Although Guam is a site where American militarism and colonialism co-habitate in perfect harmony, this doesn't seem to mean much to most peace groups or anti-war groups out there. Although they might decry the greedy fingers of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld reaching out to take ownership over "someone else's" nation or sovereignty, Guam is either entirely unknown to them, or does belong to the US. On Common Dreams, when I did a search a few years ago, I found no articles that dealt with Guam from this perspective, but only from Guam as a site for potential outbreaks of SARS, Mad Cow Disease and the Avian Bird Flu!

Thankfully all of this is changing. I came across this comment on Common Dreams recently left by another Guam blogger Drea:

Japan wants to decrease the presence of the U.S. military in Okinawa. There have been protest against the U.S. military by the locals. Why else would they pay to move another nation's military?

The real question is why, knowing this, is the government and people of Guam allowing it to happen? Truth is we have no choice. We live by their constitution, but can't even vote for president. Our congresswoman can't vote. We are pretty much at their mercy. And all of this is happening in today's world on supposedly U.S. soil. Our economy has become almost completely dependent on the military. Tourism will surely drop when all these marines and their dependents arrive and shortly we will be completely dependent on the military. And the families who've lived here for generations upon generations will become the minority and will be unable to compete for housing and jobs. We will be homeless in our own homeland. We will basically serve the military to survive. Our sons and daughters will join the military to provide for their families. This is what the people of Guam have to look forward to.

The comment was attached to an article from January 2009 titled "US Plans for Military Base Leave Guam Wary." I represents an important shift in the level at which Guam has been dealt with in Common Dreams article, and how since 2005 and the announcement of the transfer of several thousands Marines and their families form Okinawa to Guam, more and more progressive groups, especially those dealing with war, peace and militarism are forced to give Guam more presence.

Here's some of the coverage that Guam has received recently on Common Dreams. Some of these issues, receive or have received little to no coverage on Guam and so its always interesting when this sort of disconnect happens and someone who has only read a single article on Guam, might actually be better informed than someone who lives there. Another note, Sabina Perez, a good friend in Famoksaiyan and from other struggles was fortunate to have a piece that she wrote with several other women from the group Women for Genuine Security republished on the site.

Air Force Wiping Out Rare Wildlife Of Guam, March 5, 2009
Rampant Poaching, Beach Paving and Human Intrusion Ruins Island Habitat

Resisting the Empire, March 20, 2008
by Joseph Gerson

Gender and US Bases in Asia-Pacific, March 14, 2008
by Ellen-Rae Cachola, Lizelle Festejo, Annie Fukushima, Gwyn Kirk, and Sabina Perez

A New Network Forms to Close U.S. Overseas Military Bases, March 12, 2007
by Medea Benjamin

Cornering the Dragon, February 23, 2005
by Conn Hallinan

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hinasso-ku Siha Put Mes Chamorro

It’s Chamorro month again, or mes Chamorro ta’lo. That means that the landscape of Guam changes in some small and large ways, to bring out more of the island’s “Chamorro side.” It’s the only month of the year that you might see more Guam flags than American flags. It’s the only month that you can actually hear a large group of young people, actively debating and creating in the Chamorro language. Its also the month during which communication between grand kids, great-grand kids and their respective elders is usually at an all time high due to class assignments about Guam history. Lastly, it’s also the third most important time period for t-shirt vendors on Guam, after election season and the month of July (Liberation Day).

It can be both an exciting and depressing month. Exciting because of all the public sector, private sector and even personal energy that is suddenly put into representing or sharing kosas Chamoru siha. Depressing because one has to wonder where does all this Chamorroness go for the rest of the year? Where is it warehoused for the rest of the months? And how can be “liberate” it?

For me, as a scholar and a sort of long-time Chamorro activist, there are other reasons that I sometimes feel not depressed, but sad during Chamorro month. Much of the emphasis of Chamorro month is not Chamorro things in a broad, diverse sense, but tends to focus on arts and culture in a narrow sense. These two words “art” and “culture” could encompass nearly everything, but when transformed into actuality tend to be reduced to the performing of dances or the sale/display of artistic materials, ranging from anything from paintings to shell necklaces to woven products.

Part of the reason for this emphasis is that these are the aspects of Chamorro culture are the most ideal for a tourist and a capitalist economy and a culture which also advertises itself through harmless generosity, warmth and a desire to Welcome All Visitors Enthusiastically (WAVE)! The emergence of Chamorro dance in recent years is part triumph as many of its proponents have very real and deep de-colonial commitments and ideas. But it is also part loss, because the broad support it receives comes from the mentality of com-modifying Chamorro culture or reducing it to simple showy pieces that please audiences. Something quick, harmless and that can be consumed by a Japanese tourist, a visiting dignitary or stationed military. The artifacts and other products which people make, whether they be t-shirts, necklaces or artwork aren’t bad by any means, but they are the pieces of culture which are frankly the easiest, and potentially the least meaningful. They may be made by people who also are very committed to the perpetuation of Chamorro culture and have the most radical decolonizing intentions in mind as they create, but those intentions don’t stay attached or infused to the art or craft once it leaves the table. They don’t necessarily affect the reasons why Chamorros put so much energy into the purchasing of those products, or the showcasing them as what is Chamorro. So I’m not saying taking issue with anyone in particular, but speaking to the larger issues of how we Chamorros see ourselves and our relationship to our culture.

I attend literally hundreds of art and cultural fairs or activities each year on Guam, both in order to sell my own artwork, but also to help promote the traditional blacksmith tools of my grandfather, Tun Jack Lujan. We see thousands of Chamorros wandering from table to table, booth to booth, hunting for gifts, hunting for beautiful art, hunting for cheap shit, sometimes looking for potential pieces of their Chamorro identity. My grandfather, who can be a very negative and jaded bihu, often laments the fact that most Chamorros are only Chamorro when they have to buy gifts for people.

It’s the only time that being a Chamorro seems to mean anything to them. It’s the only time that they seem to take an interest in the culture and the people that they were born into. Furthermore these sorts of activities seem to be the only way that most Chamorros care to even represent or consciously consider what a Chamorro in the world today would mean or be. I don’t share grandpa’s mala’et na pessimism, but he does touch on an important point to consider.
Our identities as Chamorros, and all peoples’ identities are supposed to be reciprocal, meaning that we draw from things, we take from a history, a set of cultural beliefs, ideas or icons, and we use them to give our lives meaning, to represent who we are to others. Some people see this world as being limited or small, only encompassing those things which can be consider “authentically” Chamorro, dictated primarily by time and contact with other cultures, but others see it more (accurately) as an always growing force, enveloping all that Chamorros consider to be theirs.

But this is only half of the cultural equation. For at the same time that we make use of this Chamorro culture, we are also supposed to commit ourselves to the protection or the maintenance of that amorphous Chamorro universe. We don’t simply draw from it, but we remain loyal to it, we keep it alive, we help nurture it, help expand it. Our culture is never a neutral thing, but always something that each and every one of us have a role in either perpetuating and keeping alive and growing or killing and leaving to crumble to the dust they will spread around the floor of the eventually built Guam Museum.

The wisdom of my grandfather’s snark is that he recognizes that the relationship between Chamorros and their culture has, in so many ways stopped being a reciprocal one. It has stopped being something which everyone feels they play important roles in perpetuating and has been absorbed into a crass capitalist mentality. The culture is not something that I help perpetuate, it is instead something that I purchase, usually in the form of small colorful shells or sometimes bad ass t-shirts. I engage with my culture as something which is objectified, not living, not breathing, and certainly not breathing life into me or the world around me (except perhaps as color on walls or car bumpers). Culture from this perspective is found in definable objects, those with monetary values, those which come with no strings attached, and don’t seem to signify that I have any further commitment to this culture except that I put this necklace on, or that I wrap this up and send it to my cousin in Texas.

Is it any wonder then that the Chamorro language is so marginal nowadays? When you lose that reciprocal commitment, you lose that everyday feeling of responsibility to your culture or to your language, then why would anyone take the time to teach younger generations to speak Chamorro. Especially since if you do absolutely nothing they will learn English anyways! If the culture is not something that I can simply purchase and be done with, then forget it. Its too much work, too much effort, takes too much of my time.

There is an argument, and it’s a very good one, that these cultural products can help build consciousness, that they can give our people the means of feeling pride in who we are, where we’ve come from, or that they can help use represent ourselves, build up our identities, make them stronger. This is true, but, and now I’ve finally come to the point of this post, for me this is pointless, without what I feel Chamorro month should be about, and that is history.

For me, Chamorro month, if it is to mean anything must be about history. And when I say this, I don’t mean history as in: make students memorize important dates in Guam history, or have the Pacific Daily News run even more articles on This Month in Guam History by Tony Palomo. I don’t mean history as towering stack of papers with the names of dead people on them, the dates when important things happened, and multiple choice and essay questions, which sits in the corner of the room waiting to be handed out to the classroom that is Guam today. When I say history I mean, history in the true form that it takes in our lives. Imagine that infinite stack of papers, as a massive typhoon swirling all about us. Names, dates, events, ideas come and go, flash by, and everything and nothing is always capable of appearing absent and present in that cyclonic mass.

The task of the historian in the worst sense is to make that typhoon look like it’s a straight line, which you can simply write words alongside to explain everything. In reality however, history is something that is constantly swirling all around us, always giving us the appearance that we are moving, that things are changing, and yet at the same time making us feel that everything is still the same, that nothing has really changed. Most importantly from this metaphor is the idea that history is not some distant concept, but something which is always pressing up against us, something which is constantly pushing and determing what we do.

Robert Underwood, when he became president of the University of Guam, said that he was committed to the University providing “education” to its students in the most compelling form, that it be something which “enables people to deal with life from a position of strength.” This is what Chamorro month should be about. Not the simple sharing of Chamorroness as objects to be bought or as dances to be consumed with eager eyes. It should be a month in which Chamorros and Guam are helped inch closer to that position of strength and history is the key to achieving that power. History as I am thinking of it here involves the recounting and knowing of the past, but is not about the past. History as I am invoking it here is all about the present and the future. History as the force through which we know and feel who we have been, but also know and feel who we are today and what we can be in the future.

Instilling this month with Chamorro history means teaching the past in a way that productively relates to the present. That way it can provide us answers to all the questions we might have, but more importantly provides us answers to the questions we might not think to ask, or worse yet, think that we can’t ask.

Our island is in such difficult times right now, primarily because of our collective refusal to pay close attention to our island’s history over the past 100 years. We have yet to learn the lessons of rapid development with little planning. We have yet to learn the lessons of the negative impacts of increasing Guam’s military presence. We have yet to learn the lessons of American colonialism, that its not the surface of our relationship that matters, but the foundation. If we are fundamentally not equal or the same, then all the flags, quarters and stamps are nothing but tokens. Finally, we have yet to learn the lessons of our own strength, our own survival, our own power. We pack our year and our lives with constant testaments and reminders to the authority and power of the United States. We eagerly recite our lessons on how backwards Guam is, how corrupt it is, how dependent and helpless it is, and how it constantly needs the United States to save it, to liberate it, most importantly from itself.

The end result is that rather than teaching ourselves the truth of our history and our present, we instead fill our minds and our souls with simple colonial fictions. Simplistic, ridiculous thoughts that keep us in a position of powerlessness and helplessness. The American return in 1944 was a liberation. The military downsizing in the 1990’s happened because we hurt the military’s feelings and scared them away. More military means more security. The military does not damage people’s health or the environment. The military as an institution, cares about Guam and is our partner. Guam is too small, Guam can’t survive on its own.

I call these sorts of ideas “colonial commonsense.” These are ideas that bind us without our even knowing it. We treat them as commonsense and in return they shape and restrict us in particular ways. They distort our view of everything, in particular Guam’s relationship to the United States. They are the ideas upon which Chamorros and others on Guam today build their identities of dependency and helplessness, which therefore see Guam as a corrupt backwards place, which is always in need of some American presence to come and liberate it from itself. This common sense cripples us, twists our perceptions of ourselves, make us feel that we can’t really do anything without Uncle Sam holding our hand or telling us what to do. We end up twisting ourselves in so many ways, forcing ourselves into literal pretzels of dependency. Its no wonder than that whenever the United States recognizes us, even if its just to tell us that we are its weapon of war, we celebrate it!

Chamorro month should be about countering these ideas and helping release us from this colonial commonsense, which cripples us in so many ways without us even contemplating it. It should be about taking our history and transforming it into something which in Underwood’s definition, educates us, helps us see past the commonsense ways that we everyday build America up, and degrade Guam. The Chamorro side of Guam, is not just shells and latte, it is the spirit of a people, it is the dreams of a people. It is the successes, failures and struggles of a people. It should be a month dedicate to educating our island and ourselves about the Chamorro people in the hopes of helping them into a position of strength. A position from which they can make well-reasoned choices about where they and this island will go into the future.

Chamorro month should be about the remembering of previous dreams and the building of new ones. And if it were to become this, then all of those shell necklaces, dances and t-shirts might truly mean something more, might be the objects that we would hope they be.

Living artifacts or art that do not just signify, price, color or the packaging of culture into something that can be bought on the shelf at the store, but instead living breathing pieces of an epic and always evolving guinifen Chamoru, or Chamorro dream.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Inquilab Zindabad!

I've been a writer on the site Guamology for more than a month now and the most shocking thing about the website is that the most popular, most viewed and most loaded page there is my article "Guam and Gaza." Looking at the page statistics, it is by a huge margin the most visited page on the entire website. I'm not at all sure why, since its not the most discussed by any means.

The post itself is something you'll find plenty of on this blog. Discussions about what kind of future and present should Guam have. Should we be an island that accepts the way the United States defines and determines our lives, in particular through their strategic military interests? Should we accept and celebrate it when they call us the tip of their spear? Or should we be pushing for an existence which is more focused on ourselves and doesn't rely on the most crass and militaristic ideas of weaponizing or militarizing. As I often say to people, if you accept and celebrate Guam as the tip of the spear, what does that make us?

Yanggen pon aksepta este? Yanggen pon aksepta este na mafa'lansa-ta. Pues hafa hit? Ilelek-mu na este na tano' mismo iyon Amerika, mismo i lansan-niha, pues hafa hit? Ma fa'lansa hit, ya i hiniyong na ma fa'ga'ga hit. Ma fa'otdot hit gi i pintan i lansan-niha!

To accept and celebrate that life as the tip of America's spear, means to dehumanize ourselves, it means to live in the militaristic fantasies of the DOD, it means to basically transform ourselves in the ants on the tip of their spear. Small, minute, not deserving of much, happy as long as we aren't crushed by anyone.

The post created some discussion, mostly positive, which centered around, what can we do, and why is it so difficult to do anything? We can see that the position we are in right now is not ideal, so why can't we act? Why can't we address it why are we stuck?

Chamoruboy, or Peter Santos the owner of the former website, added some thoughts of his own, taken mainly from a college class in Human Rights he had taken. His thoughts weren't very precise and tended to be very general and abstract. Not necessarily wrong, but his thinking took such a route that it might as well have been useless, especially for talking about Guam. When you come at any issue from the perspective of "Human History," you lose the context into which you are considering, analyzing or hoping to effect. The Macro look is always the one which resists well, everything. Before continuing let me paste his comment below:

In order to try and predict what Guam and the NMI’s political future will be, it might be useful to look at the progression of and nature of the discourse, products of the dominant western ideologies, that has lead to modernity.

First in ancient times mankind respected nature as the force and cause for all our existence. As individuals, we lacked importance and we had no concept of individuality. Everything was done for the good of society.

Then mankind developed religion and God as the source and authority of our being. We still lacked individual importance and everything was now done in the service of and in the name of God.

Afterwards mankind began to elevate himself as the center and we began to recognize indivual rights. We embraced the idea of freedom, but freedom was not available to all. We separated the church and state and gave more importance to the state. If you were fortunate to have a particular status in society (a free person) you were free to believe what you liked but were still obligated to the state and bound by the state.

We saw that ideology move towards applying equally to all human beings and we abandoned the system of having different classes of citizens to a large degree, at least in principle.

The progression seems to be moving towards more and more individual autonomy as well as group autonomy.

From this perspective, it seems possible and even probable that Guam, the NMI and other “colonies” will some day truly be free.

This progression I described took place over thousands of years. It may take at least some more hundreds of years to get to the point of true autonomy, but I’m sure it will happen. There is also a strong possibility of backward momentum. What if the U.S. never recovers from the current economic disaster and China emerges as the new lone world super power. China might take Guam as well as other valuable U.S. possessions in exchange for the trillions of dollars the U.S. government owes them. I don’t think I have to explain how that would be a backslide in the progression towards complete and true autonomy.

Now, as for the apathy of our people when it comes to political determination, I’d like to offer a simple explanation (not an excuse) for it. It is human nature that when you are content you will not scream and holler. There are no “atrocities” occurring on Guam at the hands of the occupier that the people can see and feel so they don’t feel the need to go an protest. Of course there is the political atrocity of imperialism but that’s not readily apparent to the people. Humans only react to what the can sense and what they sense is that all is fine. Unfortunately, in order for a society as a whole to get passionate and committed to do something, they have to sense pain and be extremely dissatisfied with thier disposition. That does not exist for the majority of people on Guam.

To use this perspective of history, is to invoke the infamous wise old man of history, the wise all knowing old man of the universe and attempt to speak through that all-seeing, all knowing voice such as to not just understand history, but attempt to predict it as well. Although this position is often invoked as being neutral or something which merely describes the way the world is, it in reality absolutely shapes the world as well. It is something which limits and inhibits us and the world. It is something which takes the momentum out of movements, the dreams and the hopes out of people.

The voice through which Chamoruboy and any other who use this sort of framework to understand Guam, is that of that wise all knowing bihu. He can claim to have seen all that has happened before, and furthermore claim that nothing else is possible, nothing else can, will or should happen. His argument is a persuasive one, for it states that as I sit in the neutral, universal place, the objective place in relation to history I can tell you that "No matter where you go you will always be brought back to the place you started. Or maybe it won't be you who returns, but your children or your grandchildren."

One very serious problem with this perspective is that it is an argument built around universality, populated and slanted with the experiences and interests of the victors of history, in particular the white, European or American victors of history. I am not saying that this is bad because its built on "white ideas" or "European" ideas, but I am saying such because it still places Europe, America and other white ideas as the engine of history, as the thing which moves and makes history. The result is that the Chamorro, in his comment is stripped of any and all ability to do anything. The political freedom that will eventually come to Chamorros has nothing to do with them or their desires, their struggles, it is something which will eventually happen by this universal modern train that is always moving towards a better place and just happened to forget the Chamorros, Guam and other colonies and indigenous people. This position ignores the relationship between people and the context into which they are thrown into. They ways in which they are imprisoned by those circumstances and the ways in which they change them.

As for Chamoruboy's argument about pain or suffering as being the catalyst for political action and movement, he's only about 1/3 right. He's not wrong, and in fact such a conservative argument is very very common. You'll hear it everywhere you go, no matter who you talk to, and the most common form that it will take in political discourse/speech is the infamous "pocketbook." That people start to move, people start to respond when they start to feel things in their pocketbook. I call it conservative because it reduces human beings to their most animal or primal instincts and abilities. It takes away human consciousness from the equation and reduces human subjects to their most base form.

Furthermore, this argument doesn't make any sense, except through a very narrow and strangely unrealistic lens of democracy and unified revolutionary consciousness. Mainly that societies change based on when everybody feels the same thing and everybody has been unified in their consciousness by a shared pain or a shared common ideal. Such is frankly never the case. Even if a nuclear bomb is headed for a city, there are those who will run and there are those who will stay. There are always divisions and differences and its silly to wait around until everyone believes the same thing. It just never happens. If it did, then nothing would ever happen. This is why I would call the entire character of Chamoruboy's comment conservative, because its all written upon assumptions which take away any sort of positive ability in humans. Things happen through some abstract historical process of unfolding progressive evolution, or they happen in response to horrible social pain that has the ability to unify or activate people.

As I've already qualified, this isn't wrong, but its incomplete. Chamoruboy is only providing part of the history, the least interesting, the most base. I'd like to build then on his comment to give a more balanced and clearer picture of what he is talking about, social change, history, etc. I'm responding not because of this comment specifically, but rather to this general point. I hear these arguments often and so I actually appreciate this comment in particular because it helps give me a foundation to provide a counter-argument.

The idea that since people aren’t suffering on Guam, then no real change can take place is so frustratingly common. It comes from living in not just any colony, but a "first world" colony, or a "comfortable colony" as Robert Underwood often calls Guam. I agree that this seems very true in the abstract, that even if there are larger forms of domination at work if you don’t really feel it in an everyday way as something that is oppressing you or causing you pain, you won’t do anything about it. Given our own everyday experiences, this might seem to be true and especially if we look at Guam today.

But this is really only part of the story of human communities and misses a huge dimension. What's missing from the interpretation of human history as one being build on pain and then progress, is that it omits the role of government and leadership in communities, as being a vanguard for foreseeing the need for change ahead of the general population. Government and leadership finish off that equation, since if human communities only responded to pain and suffering, it would have become extinct a long time ago, since that leaves humans with all their usual destructive imbalanced practices, but with no ability to perceive that something might wrong with what their doing, and also without any ability to rationally see what is going on around them. Its akin to seeing someone come at you with a knife, can you dodge the knife ahead of time or can you only dodge it after it stabbed you? The pain then progress argument basically assumes that the part of the human brain which would tell you to dodge before you get stabbed doesn't really work.

One thing that has impressed me about Obama and his administration is that on certain issues he is showing real leadership. There was a push by plenty of Americans, even those of us in the colonies, last year to increase fuel efficiency standards, to do something about “foreign” oil, and just revolutionize the whole energy policy in America. Political leaders responded with both plans that pandered and plans that were good. As prices have dropped and stayed low, obviously the general pressure, the general feeling amongst people has returned to apathy, its not really something they care about anymore.

But Obama has stayed on course. He has basically done what a leader does, he has made tough choices in the best interests of all, but not necessarily meant to match the mood of people. Revolutions take place all the time and not just in the overthrowing of governments, but simply actualizing of what government is supposed to do, and helping change the course of a community. For better or for worse.

Decolonization is the same thing, there have been points in the past where the Government of Guam has led on this issue and eventually was able to mobilize broad support from the Guam community (although of course the US response was always a polite “f$*k you.”). But at present we are stuck in a position where neither the majority of the people and the majority of the government refuses to move on this issue, but this doesn’t have to be forever, and it certainly would not only take a tragedy or a catastrophe for it to change.

I'd like to end this post with one more example, from the film The Day the World Stood Still.

This movie which came out last year is built around this very issue. Are humans driven by their lower or their higher functions? Do they have ability to change when abstract challenges confront them or can they respond to only concrete, visceral challenges? Keanu Reeves stars as an operative from some intergalactic universal collective which has come to determine whether or not the human race should be allowed to continue exist considering their continual destruction of each other and most importantly the world they inhabit. After being captured and imprisoned by the US Government he decides to destroy the human race. There are regular arguments over whether or not human beings can change at any point other than when they are about to fall off into the abyss of oblivion.

According to the most generic interpretation of this film everything changes, and Keanu Reeves can perceive the depth of humanity when he sees Jennifer Connelly and Will Smith's son, who had been estranged the whole film (as step-mother and step-son) at least re-unite and bond over the grave of their dead husband and father. He decides to reverse his decision and spare humanity. Humanity is saved, but at an unknown cost. When the film ends, there is no electricity or computers, and technology around the world seems to have stalled or stopped, hence the title the day the earth stood still.

But we cheapen the meaning of this film if we reduce it to this interpretation. Yes, this is part of it. But when Keanu Reeves does decide to change his mind and save the world we can see that the revolution in question potentially as nothing to do with the way everyone feels or what everyone wants. In reality, it is Keanu Reeves, a intergalactic bureacrat who revolutionizes the world. He makes a choice for everyone else and changes everything. At the film's end, as the people of the world open the windows to their offices, or step out of their dead cars, they are left to live this fact. There is no revolutionary consciousness that grips the world at the end as they face certain death or doom, the revolution in question is far from democratic, far from something all agree upon. This is both the profit and the price of government. Is that it posses this ability to change society, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worst.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sumahi Wows You

Recently, i hagga-hu Sumahi started talking so much, and not just words, but sometimes even short sentences. Usually these sentences deal with demands, for liquids, foods, items, demanding to leave someplace, demanding to go to another place, etc.
One of the cutest sentences that she's started using that is not a demand, is when if you say "I love you" to her, she'll respond to you back (if she loves you) with "I Wow You." I've tried to get her to respond to me when I say "Hu guaiya hao," but no such luck. Although she does respond when I say to her "Hu Wow Hao Nene," and when I respond to her saying it with "Hu Wow Hao Lokkue'."

One of the ways in which you can tell whether or not Sumahi does indeed "wow" you, is if she'll play with you when you speak to her in Chamorro. Slowly over the past couple months I've taught her a half dozen words, and taught her a corresponding action to each of those words. If she likes you, then she'll play along with you and giggle and laugh as you say each of the words and she acts out what they mean.

Here are the words and actions:

Na'i yu' singko: Literally "give me five." If you say this to Sumahi and she trusts you, then she'll smack the palm of your hand.

Dakdak: Means to knock on something or tap on something, such as knocking on a door. When you say this to Sumahi she'll turn her hand into a fist and wait for you to do the same so you can do a "fist bump."

Biba: An exclamation of excitement or calling celebratory attention to something, usually translates to "long live!" If you say this to Sumahi then she'll give you a thumbs up sign and put out her pointer finger and you are supposed to tap the tip of your pointer finger to hers.

Fongfong: Means to pound or smash something. If you say this to Sumahi then she make a fist and lift it up in the air and get ready to pound it down on the top of your fist.

Patmada: Means to slap. If you say this to Sumahi she will either slap you or slap at whatever you are pointing to.

Hulos i tiyan-mu: Hulos means, to pet or to touch lightly, to soothe or stroke. Tiyan-mu means your belly. So you say this to Sumahi and she will rush to rub her belly. By the way, if you say "hulos" and then name something else or someone else, she will rush to go and rub or pet them.

Paki: One of the first Chamorro words that Sumahi knew was "pakpak" which amongst other things means "to clap" for applause. Paki is a new word that she's learned, which means gun or to shoot. If you say paki to Sumahi then she'll turn her hand into a gone and slink away from you and start making cute little baby gunshot noises as she blows you away.
Baila: The detonator word, the word which will ultimately make Sumahi explode and go nuts is "baila" or dance. Once she hears this word, it doesn't matter where she is, she blows up and literally starts dancing around yelling "baila! baila!"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Case Study in Contemporary Colonialism

To read the filing of contempt charges on behalf of the United States of America against the Government of Guam, click here. If you ever want to know what the relationship between Guam and the United States is at its core, at its foundation, read any court cases such as this, where you see local and federal interests clash. You'll see reiterated over and over the idea that Guam is ours, Guam belongs to the Feds, Guam belongs to the Congress, Guam belongs to the military. That is the legacy that we get from American imperialism and then the case law which starts with the Insular Cases that authorized and legalized American colonialism in its territories.

I'll be writing more on this soon, but for now the KUAM News article on it will have to suffice. But in case you don't read through to the end of the post, my favorite quote from this so far is that the Guam Legislature has "warred against the Constitution."

Guaha taotao kumalamlamten, pues sa' hafa kumeketu hao?


GovGuam found to be in civil contempt
By Mindy Aguon
Published Mar 20, 2009

Despite the Government of Guam's contention that Public Law 30-1 was a viable solution, District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood in a 16-page decision shot down every argument presented by the government. Not only did she hold the government in civil contempt and order the immediate payment of nearly $4 million by Monday, but the judge admonished lawmakers for passing legislation that she deemed unconstitutional.

It's clear in the chief judge's decision that the she wasn't buying GovGuam's argument that existing Guam policy was the answer to closing the dump and opening a new landfill. In fact, the judge contends lawmakers who voted for its passage violated their oath of office. Her order requires weekly one million dollar payments and compliance by the government otherwise stiff monetary penalties will be imposed.

Saying the court and the people of Guam have been more than patient in expecting Guam's leaders to jointly arrive at a solution to the Ordot Dump crisis, Tydingco-Gatewood made it clear Friday that inaction and obstacles will no longer be tolerated. She further reiterated her position by finding the government of Guam in civil contempt. Saying the government met both thresholds to be held in contempt, the judge first found that the government disobeyed a specific court order she handed down on February 13, mandating weekly cash payments beginning March 1.

Tydingco-Gatewood noted that the order could not be more specific and definite, writing, "It unequivocally told the government what it was to do, and when it was to do it. No reasonable person or entity could be confused as to what was required." While the government maintained that Public Law 30-1 represented its good faith effort to find a viable alternative to the weekly payment, the chief judge found that despite Governor Felix Camacho's cooperation through the introduction of Bill 51 and specific funding mechanisms, the legislature made "radical amendments" and "Cannot imagine how PL 30-1 could qualify as a reasonable step taken in compliance with the court's February 13 2009 order."

Senator B.J. Cruz introduced Section 6 of the public law prohibiting the government from making any payments for consent decree-related projects unless first receiving approval from the Guam Legislature. It's this particular section the judge says was clearly enacted in direct contravention of her order and it's this section that she declared null and void under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Tydingco-Gatewood added that every lawmaker who supported the enactment of Section 6 violated his or her oath of office, saying, "...not only have our island's officials wasted time and money by enacting patently unconstitutional legislation designed to frustrate compliance with a valid court order effecting federal law, they have 'warred against the Constitution', thereby violating their oath of office."

She also found that the government's force majeure argument was not only unfounded and frivolous but she warned that future attempts to use that argument would be cause for sanctions.

After finding the government in civil contempt the court ordered the government to immediately turn over the $3.9 million that has been set aside by the Camacho Administration by noon on Monday, March 23. The judge noted that the government may purge its contempt and avoid the actual payment of the coercive sanction by immediately coming into compliance reiterating the suggestion of using Section 30-backed revenue bonds. She even referred to the government's consultants that pointed out flaws in Public Law 30-1 that created uncertainties for the issuance of financing for consent decree projects.

Should the government fail to deposit the money on Monday, the court will immediately impose daily civil contempt sanctions beginning at $10,000 and doubling each day, up to a daily limit of $250,000. If no payment is made by April 1, the sanctions will accrue at a quarter-million dollars per day until the government comes into full compliance.

With a little more than two years of airspace left at the dump, the court is hopeful today's order will be the catalyst for officials to take action in compliance with the consent decree.

Voicing her own response to the order, Senator Judi Guthertz wrote, "I am disappointed in the District Court Judge's ruling. I am studying the ruling and I believe the repercussions on our community will be severe. I believe that the judge is not being reasonable and I believe the Legislature should consider whether it should challenge the judge’s interpretation of the Supremacy Clause.” As for acting speaker Tom Ada, he reacted by saying he was disappointed because he felt the Legislature provided viable options in the Public Law 30-1, however he understands the reality is those options may not be available as soon as the court may have wanted them. Ada added he is focusing his attention on how the million dollar weekly payments will affect the people of Guam.


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