Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chinatguinife yan Guinife

A series of storms are currently surrounding Guam.

When I was younger, I would pray for typhoons, since it would mean no school (although no power and cable too). As a professor at the University of Guam, I pray for typhoons since, there would be no classes to teach, no power (internet, video games) to distract me and then I can finally catch up on my grading.

I dreamed all day of coming home and finding that classes at UOG were cancelled tomorrow, but after logging on to the UOG website this evening, I found that there were indeed classes tomorrow.

Lana, I just went back to the website to see if anything had changed in the past hour, but it hadn't. I guess that means I'll need to stay up a few more hours finishing my prep for my four classes tomorrow.

Nina'hasso yu' ni' i mubin Equilibrium. Gi ayu na mubi, un petsona ilek-ña este: Manmahafye i guinife-hu gi sanpappa’ i patås-mu. Adahi månu un pokkat, sa’ hu gagacha i guinife-hu siha.
Dalai UOG. Sa' hafa ti un siesiente i manadong na inigong-hu siha?

But just as one silly dream fades away, another impossibly silly one emerges.

On my computer I have the ability to track through the website Statcounter the visitors to my blog, and in some cases the searches on Google or Yahoo that brought them here. Too often, I feel as if no one ever reads this blog and that everything I do here is pointless, and the only people who actually visit my blog regularly are my students at UOG who are cluelessly attempting to plagiarize me in order to write up their papers for my classes.

But one of the searches today that I saw today, which led someone to this blog, was something that I created on this blog, but which I never imagined anyone would actually search for on the internet. In my mind it was so crazy and impossible, that I couldn't help but laugh and be filled with curious pride when I saw it.

Apparently earlier today, someone in Indonesia went on Google and typed in the following phrase "Sakigake Chamorro" and was (of course) directed to this blog. For those of you who don't know what the phrase means, Chamorro is the language of the indigenous people of the Marianas Islands, and Sakigake is a Japanese word meaning to move forward or push ahead. Last year I started a feature on this blog called "Sakigake Chamorro" where I would take a song from an anime and then translate it, or be inspired by it to write a simialr song in Chamorro. I'm pretty sure the only other era in which this phrase would even be possible would in the pre-World War II Northern Marianas Islands, or perhaps as a strange abusive cry uttered by the Japanese during World War II when they occupied Guam.

I have no idea why someone in Indonesia is searching for Sakigake Chamorro on the internet, perhaps they just spelled a word or two wrong and they were in fact looking for Wakigake Vhamorro. Hekkua' dei.

But, after losing my smile at the prospect of teaching tomorrow (ai adai, I should be preparing right now instead of writing on my blog), the knowledge that someone in Indoensia might be actually following something that I enjoy putting time and effort into, has put the smile right back there.

We'll see, if another hour of prepping for a Guam History lecture on 19th century Spanish colonialism, can get rid of it though.

Mames na guinife siha yan buenas noches. Adahi todus hamyo gi este na mamaila na pakyo'.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conflicts of (Business) Interests

The media on Guam seems obsessed with the conflict of interest represented by Matt Rector being both a Senator in the Legislature and the President of the Guam Federation of Teachers. I don't see anything inherently wrong with this inquiry, it is something which can be questioned and should be looked at, but I think its almost hysterical how narrow or selective the idea of "conflict of interest" is in this case, (and the way it is usually conceived of). In any community, the ideological glue that holds it together will always mark the interests of some as being a conflict or something which will taint the governance of said community, whereas a myriad of other equally or more dangerous interests will go unnoticed, or worse yet, be seen as essential or positive.

So in this case, the idea that a Senator is the President of a labor union on Guam becomes the ultimate sin, whereas the fact that various businessmen on island have repeatedly obstructed legislation or passed legislation on Guam meant to support themselves and protect their profits is considered to be the norm and acceptable.

Guam is an interesting place, because even though it has almost no consciousness about labor movements, labor history, or even an awareness of what unions or what they have historically done or can do, a surprising majority of people seem to have strong negative opinions about them. Since being elected as a Senator, there has been so much everyday vitriol directed at Rector and GFT, and while I know alot of it has to do with Rector's personality, so much of it is hidden behind some taitiningo' argument about labor unions taking over, or pushing people around. As a historian I'm tempted to make some sort of remark now about how a sort of feeble devotion to rich people has emerged on Guam, from the Spanish era, the American era up until today. Or how people on an island, which supposedly has nothing, thus comes to worship those who can build from this nothing, an empire of commercial ventures. I do find it odd how an island in which so many hover below and around the poverty line, can worship and make so many excuses for the wealthiest. Perhaps one day I'll study this, and do an in-depth study of labor movements and unions on Guam, and draw some conclusions about why Guam would be so pro-business without any obvious reasons.

Otro fino'-ta, my earlier remark wasn't to say that Guam has no labor history, but merely that so few people know about it, even if they are connected to it or tied to it in some intimate way, such as family members who protested racist treatment of Chamorros in the late 1940's, strike members of the GFT in the 1980's, members of the Chamorro Labor Union or CHELUS. Guam's progressive historical dimensions are almost tragic sometimes, different generations and different manifestation of political action cut off from each other, so that children or grandchildren of those who participated in events such as the Guam Congress Walkout don't even know what the event was or that they have any link to it.

I'm pasting a video below in which Senator Rector answers a question about his potential conflict of interest and he side-steps the question a little bit, but in a very effective way. He is able to reframe the issue in a particular way, so that it helps make clear why the media on Guam and certain interests are so invested in attacking Rector.

First of all, I should note that if I were Matt Rector I wouldn't have remained the President of GFT after being elected to the Legislature. In my mind it would make things too complicated and make it too easy for people to dismiss me. But that doesn't mean that Rector should step down, he has made his decision and he has been very up front about it. I think that is what makes the difference in this instance. Whenever an issue arises that affects people who own lots of property or own businesses or employ many people, you don't see prominent politicians recuse themselves or say that I have a vested interest on this particular bill and so I can't be expected to act impartially here. This is precisely what should happen for every discussion of every bill any legislature acts upon, but imagining it taking place is almost making me tear up from laughter. Its such an obvious, but ridiculous thing to consider.

Regular people may complain that the politicians are all in it for themselves, or just in political office to line their own pockets, but on any particular issue the media and most people are completely silent when they actually do it. They either don't know it or aren't paying attention.

With Rector his conflicts are very clear, everyone knows he is the President of GFT and that he is a Senator, when he acts, everyone knows it and sees it. The same can't be said for most other politicans, who put up a huge facade of being for all and not for just a few, but then shroud or keep quiet their own particular interests. If you believe that Rector is totally out of line by being in both positions that's fine, but I'd ask you to widen your view a little bit. There are plenty of other conflicts out there, and just because they don't stick out or aren't as openly admitted to, the way Rector's affiliations are, that in truth actually makes them even more dangerous.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kumakanta Gi Koreanu

Fihu gof hosguan yu’ nu Si Stephen Colbert.

Guahan iyo-ña programman telebishon, ya kontat ki na’chalek i fina’tinas-ña, Guiya la’mon hafa pau na’fanhuyong. Maseha hafa na gof "silly" na hinasso, siña ma na'magåhet gi i show. Gof suette este na klasin taotao, sa' este na inebra i guinife todu.

Desde ha tutuhun i show-ña, meggai na’chalek na bidå-ña. Gi i ma’pos na sakkan, ha kesaonao i botashon Amerikånu pare Presidente. Matakpånge un patten i Space Station para Guiya. Ya gaige un to’lai giya Hungary, ya dipotsi matakpange para Guiya lokkue’.

I mas na’chalek na patten i show-ña, annai mama’mumumu Si Colbert yan un otro sesso “random” na taotao. Mama’mumu Si Colbert yan Si Sean Penn, Si Barry Manilow, Si Kongresa Eleanor Holmes-Norton (ginnen Washington D.C.) yan Si Willy Nelson. Gi este na ti mismo na yinaoyao, Si Colbert ha chanda i otro taotao, ha fa’enimigu gui’, ya sångan meggai båba put Guiya gi i show-ña. Ya pues ma kombida ayu na ti magåhet na kontrariu halom gi i show, para u mumu gi me’nan todu.

Lao para Guahu, i mas na’chalek na ti magåhet na minimu ginnen Si Colbert, annai mama’yaoyaoyao gui’ yan Si Rain. Yanggen tåya’ tiningo’-mu put Si Rain, kakanta gui’ ginnen South Korea. I mas matungo’ na kanta gi hiyong Korea, “Ways to Avoid the Sun.” Umaacha’igi Si Colbert yan Si Rain gi i online poll para i Time Magazine mas matungo’ yan mas gaiinfluence na taotao siha. Gi 2007 manggana’ Si Rain, ya put ayu, muna’lalålu Si Colbert, ya guaha nai na ha kase’ yan chanda Si Rain gi i show-ña. Mama’tinas Si Colbert un “Korean Pop Video” i na’ån-ña “Singing in Korean.” Gi este na video ha sakke’ yan ha adda’ i dandan-ña yan didide’ na bailå-ña ginnen i video “Ways to Avoid the Sun.” Annai Si Rain ha li’e’ este na video, manoppe’ gui’ gi as Colbert “mungga maquit i che’cho’-mu gi ha’åni.”

Makpo’ este na chatyinaoyao, annai umakompete i dos gi un “dance off.” Manggana Si Rain, lao sen mampos na’chalek i bailan Colbert.

Hu egga’ este na mubi siha (ni’ hu pega sanpappa’), kada na mannisisita yu’ chinalek.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
He's Singing in Korean
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Yahoo Korea - Rain
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Tip/Wag - Rain
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Rain Rivalry Challenge
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Rain Dance-Off
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Absence of Minagahet and the Presence of the Guam News Factor

I have to really apologize. I haven't put together an issue of Minagahet Zine in close to a year, nine months actually. Its not because nothing has been happening on Guam or to Chamorros around the world. Its quite the opposite really. Over the past nine months there have been too many things happening, and so I tried to get someone to guest edit an issue of Minagahet. One of my friends agreed and started putting it together but never finished. I was so busy with finishing my dissertation, and now working at the University of Guam that I couldn't work on it either, even after it was obvious that my friend wasn't going to finish it.

So I just wanted to put out a quick note saying that the next issue is on its way. I'm trying to find some time this weekend to organize and upload it. So many things have been happening lately, and a few things that were supposed to happen, haven't yet. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the bulk of the construction for the military increases the DOD is planning on Guam was supposed to be out several months ago. It was initially supposed to be released in April, then July, and now we're in September and have yet to see it. At the same time, there are political rumblings in Japan about their diplomatic and military relationships with the United States. The "transfer" is not in jeopardy in the sense that it might be cancelled, but there is a strong possibility that it could be delayed or the larger framework deal that its a part of could be renegotiated.

Two events that I participated in over the past few months, will hopefully help change Guam in a different direction than those mentioned above. I helped organize the Reclaim Guahan/ Chule' Tatte Guahan Rally in May, which brought together 500 people of all ages interested in art, social change and decolonization on Guam to an all day event at Skinner's Plaza in Hagatna. Guam also hosted the 7th International Meeting of the Network of Women Against Militarism last week, which was inspiring in so many ways, as it brought together activists from all over the region together in Guam in hopes of building some solidarity against the increased militarization that is being planned from their governments.

One interesting change that has appeared in the small and generally useless media landscape of Guam (which is why Minagahet Zine first came into being six years ago), is the emergence of the Guam News Factor. The media in Guam, trends towards the conservative or the lazy, and the Guam News Factor is no exception to this rule. It is an avowedly conservative website (hence its title), which is invested in attacking liberal ideas, Democrats, and doing the heavy and difficult ideological work of being unwaveringly pro-military buildup.

Its is an ideological outlet in the sense that it doesn't really have a mind of its own, there is no thinking behind its content, just battle lines clearly drawn around who is doing wrong and who is doing right. There are regular attacks on certain (mainly Democratic, but a few Republican) figures, but they go beyond any rationality or thinking and just seem to stem from the fact that those people are not the good ones or the ones that we should support and so therefore any minute and ridiculous thing about them should be considered to be a mortal sin and attacked. Some of the articles that they post are almost pathetically funny. They are written with the righteous fury of a 17th century Spanish missionary admonishing the savage natives of Guam, but are about things so tragically small, you can't help but laugh at them and wonder if they are taking seriously what they are writing.

In terms of colonization (one of the main things I follow in researching Guam), they offer us nothing new in terms of media on Guam. The Pacific Daily News scores very poorly on this topic because the only real time that they engage in discussions on political status is when something appears in order to prove that we're one step closer on that never-ending path to Americanization, that path which tells us we are far more American than we really are, and is the core of Guam's colonial amnesia and denial. In order to see any rhetoric such as this, you need only place statehood for Guam at the end of the road and it quickly evaporates.

The Marianas Variety scores better but not because they have a different ideological bent, but simply because, as I wrote about in July, they follow whatever stories are out there and print almost anyone's press releases. If there's activists protesting, then the Variety has no qualms about telling their side of the story. That is a massive ideological difference than the Pacific Daily News.

The Guam News Factor scores very close to the Pacific Daily News, maybe a bit worse right now, but who knows they could get better over time. They regularly cover "scandalous" Guam mentions out there, where Guam is portrayed in savage, racist or inaccurate ways. Their take on it however is always the same and a fundmentally useless one. In any colony, the easy way out of any sort of scandal where people in your mother country exclude you or articulate you as being outside of their nation, is to chalk it up to ignorance. That they simply don't know me, that's why they assume I'm not part of them or assume that I suck or that its okay to treat me like I'm nothing. If only they knew me, then I would be treated fine, then I would be a real American, its just a lack of knowledge, its nothing more, I just need to talk and inform everyone in the world about me, and then everything would be just fine.

This is the normal position in Guam and as I said, from a colonial perspective, its the easiest one, its the one which doesn't involve any heavy lifting, involve anything really fundamentally wrong with the world, just misunderstanding, miscommunication, maybe a few racist people, but really everything is still just great. The more difficult task, which is far more useful and effective in terms of fixing things or garnering respect, is to change the political relationship, because so much of the ignorance and disrespect for Guam stems from the fact that more than 100 years of US legal tradition says that the United States (and by default its people) can do whatever they want to Guam. This is perhaps the most important element that all people on Guam, Chamorro or not, who feel the regular disrespect or ignorance of the United States in their lives, unintentionally or intentionally leave out. The Guam News Factor is no different and always emphasizes the need to make our case, to have accurate information out there (which is fine, lao mampos ti nahong). It never makes any connection that our political relationship, our dependent status, the fact that legally we are a "possession" of the United States might have anything to do with it.

I'm truly hoping that in the next few months the Democrats on Guam, or the liberal side of Guam step up and recognize the narrowness of the media here, and start to see that something needs to be done. The Guam News Factor isn't very influential right now. They obviously have some money behind them and they are obviously tied into some other businesses on Guam, but they don't have much of a presence yet. When you go onto their articles, and read the few user comments, you get the idea that the writers or staff for the site is actually leaving them. But all of this could change very quickly, especially with the 2010 election just on the horizon. Alot of what lost Robert Underwood the past two elections, had to do with websites and campaigns which operated on the same sort of smear levels that the Guam News Factor sometimes sinks to. The smears for 2010 are already being put in place, and so like Obama did in his campaign last year. When people attack you, you need to push back, you need to fight back. I'd absolutely be willing to help, so if any Guam Democrats are reading this and are interested in starting their own media site or outlet, just get in touch with me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

4 Minutes on Health Care

Ti bai hu bailanaihon ni' fino'-hu pa'go: President Obama's health care reform is weak. I don't know if he's shrinking the public option down to a footnote in order to get the thing passed or not, but even at the level of his rhetoric it seems more and more like he's becoming less of a leader or a reformer, and just another political hack who wants to give a little bit the many (who don't have much) and a whole lot more to the few (who of course have the most). Just because the leaders of the Democratic party are less in bed with the Health Care lobby and industry does not sadly translate into any real reform. It just means that Democrats (not all, but the one's who make the key party decisions) will find more liberal convoluted ways of giving large corporations means of making massive profits.

What I hear coming out of the White House lately is so weak, i hagga'-hu Sumahi could probably come up with a better health care reform plan. I'm sure it would consist of alot of unnecessary references to dogs (ga'lagu), horses (kaballo), killer whales (bayenan peko') and baloons (abubu), but it would ultimately do more for more people than what Obama's offering us. But the problem here sadly is that, as sen maolek a plan as Sumahi's would be, it probably would have no chance of getting through both houses of the Congress. Sumahi's plan would also most likely include the kissing of scratches or cuts, and that ice cream be applied to an opened mouth whenever anyone (ko'lo'lo'na Si Sumahi) is injured.

Speaking of Health Care in the houses of Congress, I'm pasting below a video that the White House released today, which is a four minute version of the President's health care speech that he gave two weeks ago. It edits together the pieces of the speech where the President outlines the health care bill/plan/nebulous of reform that he envisions and wants to whip Congress into writing. I've heard a few people complain about the lack of details or specifics in Obama's speech or in most of the rhetoric on health care reform, especially for those who are proponents. But you have to admit that from Obama's perspective, its hard first: to give specifics on a bill that doesn't exist yet, and second its sort of impossible: to give specifics on the many possible bills which are floating around out there, some of which have been offered 500 amendments, and consist of hundreds to thousands of pages.

Speaking of health care insanity, I didn't see Congresswoman Bordallo holding a town hall meeting over her recess. I wonder why, if she was worried about people protesting her, on Guam it certainly wouldn't be about health care reform.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Will "Capitalism: A Love Story" Come to Guam?

My answer to the question that is this blog's title, is a hopeful "hunggan" or "yes."

I've been following this film for a while, although I admit, that he kept a lid on this one up until recently, unlike Sicko. I guess the lack of knowing and the relative dark that I've been kept in, has just increased my desire to see it. Moore's movies always have a sort of radical Americanist edge to them. They are absolutely patriotic and America-loving, but in a critical sense, always in the hopes of using such rhetoric in order to push the United States to recognize hypocrisy, to change itself, to change the direction its heading.

When I watch Moore's film, I'm less conflicted or mixed then I am with other liberal or progressive critiques. Despite the fantasies of conservatives or Republicans, liberal rhetoric is just as exceptionalist, just as forgetful as that of conservative Republicans and can therefore be just as violent and colonial as the worst crap that ever came out of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush's mouth. So often times when I listen to liberal talk shows, watch liberal pundits, part of me (the Democratic party part) is absolutely fired up. Other parts of me however, the decolonization activist, the indigenous rights activist, and the Ethnic Studies scholar are all apalled and insulted, by such pathetic rhetoric, which can't see beyond the boundaries of nationalism, and is too busy protecting some mythical American exceptional wonderfulness to be of any use to the world.

But, as Moore's films are polemical and have no qualms about attacking both Democrats and Republicans, as well as taking on huge systems of sedimented power, wealth and privilege, my conflicts over his films are tolerable. They do serve a very important purpose, as we'll see in Capitalism: A Love Story, namely working media magic to try and shift the mainstream or acceptable manifestations of Americaness, towards the Left and towards embracing progressive ideas and causes.

I've pasted below some clips from Youtube to help get you in the mood for the film, as well as an article from the UK.


Michael Moore's Smash and Grab
Mark Weisbrot
The Guardian
September 10, 2009

When I first met Michael Moore more than 20 years ago, he was showing a half-finished documentary to a few dozen people in a classroom in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was funny and poignant and had a powerful message. He had taken a second mortgage on his house – equipment for filmmaking was a lot more expensive back then – and raised some money from like-minded locals for a long-shot venture. We all loved what he showed us but thought he would be lucky if a few thousand people got to see it.

But the film, Roger and Me, about the irrationality and human cost of the destruction of America's auto industry, was a smash hit and Moore was on his way to become America's most influential documentary film-maker. Twenty years later, he has produced his most radical work, which was greeted with rave enthusiasm when I saw it at the world's oldest film festival in Venice.

As the old saying goes, you either blame the victim or blame the system. Moore is making an appeal to blame it on the system, big time.

You know this film is going to be subversive when it opens with clips depicting actual bank robbers – caught on security cameras in the midst of their heists – grabbing their loot with Iggy Pop's cover of Louie Louie (a special version for the film) blasting away in the background. Moral equivalence for the titans of the financial industry, and their political protectors, is just around the corner.

Capitalism: a Love Story doesn't just go after the seamy side of the American economy, although that is captured neatly in the scenes of "condo vultures" feeding on Florida's housing bust, alongside the corporations (including Wal-Mart and Amegy Bank) which take out insurance policies on their employees and cash in big when they die young. These ghoulish derivatives go by the charming name of "dead peasants" insurance – which says it all, really.

But Moore has bigger targets in his sights: he is questioning whether the whole incentive structure, moral values and political economy of American capitalism is fit for human beings. Although this will not seem so radical in Europe, where most countries have had governments in the post-second world war era that at least called themselves socialist, or in most of the developing world, where socialist ideas have popular appeal, it's pretty much unprecedented for something that can reach a mass audience in the US.

But you don't have to be a revolutionary to appreciate this film. Indeed, it can be seen as a social democratic treatise, with Franklin Roosevelt's proposed "second bill of rights" – an "economic bill of rights" that included a job with a living wage, housing, medical care, and education – as its reform program. Roosevelt is shown proposing this now forgotten program back in 1944.

As in his previous films, Moore combines the grief and tragedy of the victims – people losing their homes and jobs – with hilarious comedy, cartoonish film clips from the 1950's, and sober testimony as needed. And there are victories, too – as when workers occupy their factory in Chicago to win the pay that they are owed.

As an economist who operates in the think-tank world, I have to appreciate this work. He gets the economic story right. How is it that Michael Moore's father could buy a house and raise a family on the income of one auto worker, and still have a pension for his retirement? And yet this is not possible in the vastly more productive economy of today? The answer is not complicated: in the first half of the post-War era, employees shared in the gains from productivity growth; since 1973, most of them have hardly done so at all. (Productivity growth has also slowed.) Moore also explains the structural changes, such as Ronald Reagan's rollback of union and labour relations to the 19th century, that helped bring about the most massive upward redistribution of income in US history. (Moore even includes graphs and charts to back up the main points with data.)

From an economic point of view, the only thing missing was a look at the stock market and housing bubbles of the last decade. The current recession, like the last one, was primarily caused by the collapse of a huge asset bubble – an $8 trillion housing bubble in 2006, and a similar size stock market bubble in 2000-2002. This is something that most of the media has not really understood. Asset bubbles are as old as capitalism, and since this is a movie about capitalism and the current Great Recession, it would have been nice to see some of this in the movie. But I can't fault Moore too much for not taking on something that most economists and the press missed – and still don't talk about. It's a film, not a textbook.

Moore also wins my vote by getting his facts and numbers right. This is worth emphasizing because Moore's last documentary, Sicko – which was quite careful with the facts – drew attacks from CNN and a smear campaign from the insurance industry. Both attempted – unsuccessfully - to impugn its accuracy. One former vice president of corporate communications for a health insurance company, and the author of several memos attempting to discredit Sicko, recently admitted to Bill Moyers on camera that Moore "hit the nail on the head with his movie."

The new love story also targets the big boys who made our current Great Recession possible: Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers (the three smugly depicted in that 1999 Time cover of the "committee to Save the world"), and Tim Geithner. Rubin, who came from Goldman Sachs, helped deregulate the financial industry and got rich at Citibank from the results. Larry Summers, who came from academia, also made millions from the deregulated, government-guaranteed casino that he helped fashion when he (like Rubin) was President Clinton's Treasury secretary. It's a bipartisan hall of shame, tracking the havoc wreaked by a burgeoning, parasitic, and increasingly politically powerful financial industry, through the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II presidencies.

In a heart-warming contrast to the age of greed, we see Jonas Salk, the man who discovered the vaccine for polio in 1955, saving millions from the crippling and often fatal disease and refusing to get rich off his work by claiming patent rights. He only wanted that it be as available as possible. "Could you patent the sun?" he asks. And the Catholic Bishop of Detroit, when asked what Jesus would think of capitalism, replies that Jesus would not want to participate in such a system. It's all part of Moore's plot to make democratic socialist values as American as apple pie. Which is a tough sell – but if anyone can do it, it's a boy from America's heartland, the Midwest, the kind that Garrison Keillor writes about when he says that it's "the dummies who sit on the dais, and the smart people who sit in the dark near the exits". As the son of a Flint autoworker, Moore doesn't forget which side he is on. Twenty years later, he doesn't seem to have been changed very much by fame and success.

Moore's last film was a devastating indictment of the US health care system, an excellent introduction to the battle for healthcare reform. This one could be a prelude to the anger and disillusionment that is only beginning to swell.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the official unemployment rate will remain near 10% through next year. If we add in the underemployed (involuntarily part-time), dropouts from the workforce and other uncounted unemployment we are looking at a number nearly twice as high. Even if the economy were to begin its recovery soon, it won't feel like one for quite some time. This film will have an audience that is ready for it, in the US and elsewhere.

Another September Passes

At the student center at the University of Guam last week, there was an exhibit commemorating the 9/11 attacks eight years ago. Well, actually, I'm not sure if either exhibit or commemorating are the right words. It was an overwhelming spectacle that's for sure. There was a looping video of the attacks in New York City that day. A list of all the people who died in the 9/11 attacks (although not the people who hijacked the planes). A list of all the soldiers with ties to Micronesia that have died in the War on Terror since 9/11, and pictures of current UOG students who are right now deployed. Finally, in a strange touch, there was in the middle of the circular student center rotunda, a poor replica of the Twin Towers, reaching almost to the ceiling, bathed in the glow of multiple spotlights.

This sort of exhibit made clear to me why memorial such as these are so dangerous and can be so disgusting. These sorts of memorials become overpowering lessons in amnesia in the apparent guise of memorialization. In an effort to cram together whatever you can that is patriotic, that is troop supporting, that is Al-Qaeda hating, you basically end up bringing out the worst in a country, the worst in individual people. It is because of things such as this that so many people in the United States still believe that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, and even after the United States and its military have destroyed two Middle Eastern nations (one of which is not really Middle Eastern), there doesn't seem to be any room for rethinking things or taking a step back. A memorial such as this, won't admit to any wrongs, won't leave any room for thinking about anything really. Everything is connected together in ways in which you can't and shouldn't question them. Just as with the video which showed over and over again the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, everything in this memorial is a loop and thus a trap. It all comes together in such a way that justifies not only the particular wars of the United States in recent years, but rather any future wars as well. The twisted end result of this exhibit has nothing to do with remembering something in the past, but ensuring that this logic remains steadfast into the future: that wherever troops are sent and regardless what they are doing, they need to be there.
Seeing this memorial made me think back to a post from last year and an article I wrote in 2003. Both bear the title "Todu Dipende Gi Hafa Ta Hahasso" and talk about the September 11th attacks, Chamorros and issues of colonialism. I thought it would be appropriate to paste them here.


Todu Dipende Gi Hafa Ta Hahasso
September 11th, 2008

People often ask me how I became "political" or how I became "radical."

There are a number of points in my life that I point to, each of which in some way contributed to the development of the consciousness that I use to write this blog.

One faint event is the time that my family spent in Africa when I was a small child, and the experiences we felt there as a mixed family with a white father and a brown mother and two brown children.

Another is a variety of experiences as a undergraduate at the University of Guam, and finding myself entangled in numerous forms of faculty racism and apathy.

One whose seventh anniversary just passed today is the 9/11 attacks. I had always been a more liberal and Democratic person, but it was the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent run up to war against Afghanistan and Iraq that pushed me to become a more mature anti-war or peace activist. It was also interestingly enough, 9/11 that helped propel me into becoming a far more intelligent and aware progressive Chamorro activist.

It was 9/11 and all the gestures that people on Guam made in order to feel and be a part of America in the aftermath that made me perceive clearly the colonial relationship we have with the United States, where the reality that we face everyday is dismissed and casually cast aside so that we may imagine, often based on nothing more than emotion that we and Guam are more American than we really are.

In the days after 9/11 this was made most clearly to me through the ways in which Pearl Harbor was invoked. Although this is an idea which has long left the consciousness of Americans, in the week following the attacks, Pearl Harbor was an analogy that was used by both local and national media in order to make "sense" of what had just happened, the "surprise" attack on American "soil." Just as the tranquillity of America life had been shattered by the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i in 1941, so too was the attacks in New York and Washington D.C. in 2001.

I found it interesting that even Chamorros, old and young on Guam, who were trying to describe their own feelings of shock and vulnerability also used Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that Guam, the island that they call home, was attacked the same day. At a moment when their feelings appeared to be so personal and intimate, so tied to their innermost feelings, it was strange that no one thought to articulate their fears through the most obvious choice, the Japanese attack on Guam in December 1941 and subsequent invasion. Instead, they imported an event from the larger national imagination of the United States, which ended up erasing their own place in that attack that brought Guam and the United States into World War II.

These ways in which Chamorros erased their own local histories and identities in order to force their way into the American family, all helped give me my first lessons into contemporary colonialism in Guam.

My first attempts at writing about this came in 2003, when I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write an article for the short-lived, but still important magazine Galaide, published by the Guam Communications Network in Long Beach, California. My article was titled "Todu Dipende Gi Hafa Ta Hahasso: Chamorros on Guam and 9/11." I'm pasting it below for you to check out:


Todu depende gi hafa ta hahasso
Chamorros on Guam and 9/11
Guam Communications Network

On September 9th 2001, the Pacific Daily News published a perspective piece by Benigno Palomo titled “Landmark Legislation, major events happened in Guam in September.” It contained of events in Guam’s history, all taking place in September, the majority of which focused on Guam’s political relationship with the United States. A few days later, the article would seem almost prophetic.

September 11th, 2001: Depending on what channel you were watching it was either an end to irony, the start of a new world, or a second day which will live in infamy. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. was indeed a horrific tragedy. A defining moment in which illusions are dispelled and ideals are thrown aside and only a harsh reality meets the eye.

In his examination of the global and American response (some people think they’re the same for some reason) to 9/11, Slavoj Zizek in his book Welcome to the Desert of the Real, comments on America and how it dealt with the tragedy. “On September 11th, the USA was given the opportunity to realize what kind of a world it was part of. It might have taken this opportunity – but it did not; instead it opted to reassert its traditional ideological commitments: out with feelings of responsibility and guilt towards the impoverished Third World, we are [all] the victims now!”

Makkat este, lao debi di hu konfotme na minagahet

I awoke that morning to the TV, frantically showing over and over what film they had of the attack and the aftermath. Speculations abounded, as to who had done this and why. Everyone was frightened and scared, confused. What was happening? How could this happen to us? I found myself like most people, unable to pull away from the coverage, hanging on every new bit of info, no matter how insignificant.

For a few hours I was lost in that mindless world, which drives people to instinctively reach for something patriotic to wave, or something anti-American to beat the snot out of, without thinking of what they are doing. Biba AMERIKA! For a while I was mad as hell. For a while I wanted to yell to the island and the world that without justice there can be no peace! And those who dare shatter our peace must be brought to justice. A UOG student more than a week later would be quoted in the PDN saying “Kill them all. Turn Afghanistan into a parking lot.” I admit for a few moments the morning of the attack, I felt the same. Kill them all, and let their God sort them out.

But, soon realization formed somewhere behind the unthinking anger swelling within my mind. I began to listen to my own thoughts, my own statements and I began to realize that I was not speaking/thinking in a vacuum. That I was not alone. So many others were feeling the same, feeling so mortally different and confused as we were being pushed into this new world, built upon the charred remains of more than 3,000 people.

It was at that moment that I stopped listening to the media, that I refused to give in to the propaganda. The world was not truly any different, and if a new world was too be formed out of this, it was not the terrorists who would be doing the construction, but us. It would be us remodeling our world. And if everyone felt this intense anxiety and unreasonable anger, then the new world we were making would be one rooted in paranoia, worry and therefore the unreason of hatred.

For Chamorros, and for those linked to America, but not fully a part of the fold, the confusion would be even greater. How were we to act with this? The circle of belonging for Chamorros is far from complete, and the relationship will most likely never be satisfactorily resolved for those who remain on Guam. Such is the nature of a colonial relationship, it is always fraught with confusion, as issues of belonging and identity, overlap, blend and mend, leaving no clear pictures.

With patriotism rushing about all, blinding and binding all with its producing propaganda and its oppressive prohibition of any dissent, I wondered what was being hidden by all this? The September 15th edition of the Pacific Daily News compounded my concern. In huge font across the front page were the words, LET FREEDOM ROAR. Nation embraces a surge of patriotism. Shaking my head in sad reservation I recalled a song lyric from the musical Chicago. In the musical while the players discuss how hype easily replaces truth in courts and in life, the lawyer Billy Flynn sings, How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Fehman magahet

In the September 14th PDN, Kongresu Robert Underwood prevailed upon the floor of Congress to “remember who we are a people.” But is exactly this point which must be questioned, this point which is obscured. After September 11th, the calls for unity, the calls for all to pull together as a people is the kind of bland rhetoric which must be resisted and critiqued. Because it dismisses and puts aside vital questions, such as “are we the same people?”

Para todu I Chamorro siha, Gefhasso pot este. Gi 9/11, kao mismo ma hatme hao, I manterrorists? Pat kao ma hahatme I passport-mu?

Are we the same? Culturally? Maybe, depends on who you ask. Historically? Perhaps, but only in a very dubious way. Politically? This is one that Chamorros always seem to get hung up on. People are always quick to pull their passports on this one, quick to quote history and deny reality. But all arguments fall because of one simple reason. Despite all the rhetoric anyone can muster in defense of the American blah blah blah way of life, rooted in yada yada yada democracy, Guam is still a colony. Military construction or cash infusion cannot destroy that. Citizenship cannot and has not destroyed that.

A little history lesson for all, Chamorros especially, is that the Chamorros under Spain, towards the end of their reign were considered Spanish citizens, with all the subsequent rights. And in an eerie parallel, they didn’t have to pay income taxes either. Also, any funding that went into Guam was primarily through the military, as Guam was nothing more to the Spanish than an outpost (which is the same as now with America) (By the way, this relationship, this continual exploitative aspect is drawn out in clear and concise form for all to see in the September 20th PDN article, “Guam’s Military role endures). One last thing which everyone should know is that in the last half of the 19th century, under Spain, Chamorros were allowed to elect their local leaders, just like we are able to do now.

So long as another country controls our destiny, politically or culturally, we are colonized in mind, body and soul. John Adams, one of the “founding dead white males” of America, was quoted this regarding British control of the colonies, “there is something very odious and unnatural about a government a thousand leagues off.” I bet he never envisioned his words would be used against the government he helped to spawn.

A significant problem with Chamorro perceptions is that much of what we think is colonialism derives from our history under Spain. But times change, and so must our ideas. Those modes of colonial control are outdates, and only work today if you have tacit US support, like in East Timor. Today’s new colonial missions are benevolent and chalked full of lip service regarding concern for human rights, self-determination and democracy. But the bottom line for colonialism has never changed.

Magofli’e yanggen fanmanosge hamyo, lao malamana yanggen ti fanmanosge

We are still a possession as long as we remain on Guam. We are not equals. We are not really Americans. And aside from the rhetoric that occasionally comes by the slow boat to China from the states, or that which we disperse ourselves, we are constantly reminded through our own wishful forgetfulness and the US’s convenient ignorance that we are not truly part of that big gaudy American dream.

In the months following September 11th, dozens of examples pop up here and there which intimate to Guam’s being outside the circle of belonging, outside the very scope of the United States. When the PDN would run photo pieces about the aftermath of the attack, with titles such as A NATION’S TRAGEDY. A NATION’S RESOVLE. There would always be an added page, an almost “oops” afterthought, which would include Guam, constantly created as separate, as different. AN ISLAND’S RESOVLE. When America would pray a local headline would read “Guam joins America in prayer,” As if somehow when America prays, it needs to be reminded that we are supposed to be a part of that prayer group.

Less than a month after September 11th, Guam had been left out of an economic stimulus package, as well as a new series of states entitled “Greetings from America.” The impetus behind the stamps was to boost patriotism as well as the national economy. Incidentally not just Guam was left out, but also the other Insular areas and territories such as Puerto Rico, CNMI, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and others. Earlier Guam and the other territories had also been left out of the national coin program, which issued a special quarter for each of the 50 states.

In response to the federal snub, Guam’s Delegate said that “this is a direct slap in the face at a time when we are trying to show national unity.” A Dededo resident added, “Guam is a part of the US. We can’t let them just forget us.”

Kao maolek ha’ este? Na I guatdia para democracy yan freedom taiguini? Hamaleffa?

Aside from the obvious colonial entrapments attached to the military and its presence and its conceptualization of Guam’s essence (perfect strategic location, too bad people live there), the primary colonial force we must deal with, kololo’na pa’go despues di I hinatmen 9/11, is American patriotism.

Chamorros on Guam are caught in that terrible colonial contradiction, insisting that we are both the same and different, at the same time. For years Guam and Chamorros have been moving closer to and further away from the US. The jingoism and unthinking patriotism which has been wrenched from within or freely volunteered from every able-bodied citizen is dangerous enough in a country with the potential firepower and ability to wipe human existence from the face of this planet. But on Guam, it becomes the drug that every Chamorro longs for and secretly hates at the same time.

For every American, the tragedy of 9/11 gives each person a chance to feel new value. The attack was most likely caused because of meddling American imperial interventions in the Middle East, and their support of regimes that many Muslims feel are corrupt such as Saudi Arabia, but the media response and the political discourse which will be presented to the public will be something further from the truth and more propagandistic in nature.

In the first edition of the PDN following the attacks, an editorial was published covering what was known at that point. “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward,” were the words of the president. The day after the attack, Senadot Frank Aguon Jr. was quoted saying, “There are times when being the greatest and most powerful nation in the world has its risks.” In the September 16th issue of the New York Times, the lead analysis of the 9/11 crimes was that “the perpetrators acted out of hatred for the values cherished in the West, such as freedom, tolerance, prosperity, religious pluralism and universal suffrage.”

Ultimately the consensus in the media and in your everyday discourse was that we had been attacked because we are democratic, we are free, and they hate our way of life. It suddenly gives new life to lives around the country, as the way we live is something people are willing to die for, willing to kill for. The discourse of danger also is created. All of a sudden people want to kill me, kill us. All these thoughts, while rarely spoken out loud work inside each individual, feeding into their ego.

Yanggen un aksepta este na hinasso, pues insigidas gumof impottante hao. Sa’ pa’go malago-na Si Osama Bin Laden pumuno’ hao. Hagu I enimigu-na. Sa’ Hagu rumepresesenta hafa mas ti ya-na, freedom, liberty, justice, capitalism, modernism. AI NANALAO!!

All this works within the Chamorro psyche, and the local bonus is that through the participation in the fervor of patriotism unfettered for the time being, we get to be part of the American fold. Through our empathy, our sympathy our unasked for support, our placing of the American flag in our front yards or on our cars, we get to be Americans, regardless of what history, what politics have kept us from reaching that point. In a September 15th PDN article, “Residents rally behind Old Glory,” A sales associate at a radio station comments on how “even though Guam is so far away from the sites [of the attack], they had much impact…the outpouring of people displaying flags here shows “how personal it is.”

In the September 22nd PDN, in an article entitled “Schools shine with patriotic pride,” school officials and students discuss their patriotic responses to the World Trade Center attacks. The principal of George Washington High School stated “It seemed like a good idea for the students…to give them a chance to be part of something big like this. Part of a whole.”

By wrapping ourselves up with the American flag, covering our eyes and mouths, we can suspend, not the colonial relationship, but our belief in that relationship. We can blind ourselves to the fact that we belong to a country that doesn’t care about us, that wants only our land and its strategic presence, that tried to destroy our culture and language, that says that democracy, freedom and justice are so vitally important but has denied us for so long, in large and small ways, those very things.

In a time of crisis these are exactly the things that must be questioned, before we react, before we reach for the flag we must remember, that that flag represents much more than freedom, liberty and justice. It represents colonialism, imperialism, militarism and ignorance. But Chamorro identity is so complex, that it is easily overwhelmed. The benevolence of the US, the fact that we are rarely confronted at gunpoint with American demands, or that the association with the colonizer has reaped us huge short term gains, make critiques of the US/Guam and Chamorro relationship difficult in the best of times, and impossible in the worst of times.

Former Kongresu Robert Underwood, speaking to a University of Guam class said that Guam is somewhat unique in the world because of the way it reacts to a crisis, such as the current economic one. In most places around the world, when things are as bad as they are on Guam right now in 2003, people begin to grumble, they being to mumble. They start to talk about the leadership, the government, the politics of their particular place and they probably start to demand change. Well, on Guam, ideas of culture, identity, political status, they can only be dealt with when things are fantastic, when the economy is wonderful. Only then can we afford to deal with issues such as our relationship to the United States. But when things are bad, then everyone screams and shouts, “DON’T TOUCH THE POLITICAL STATUS! We can’t afford to mess with that now!”

That is the nature of the colonized mind. Yanggen todu maolek munga mafa’maolek. Yanggen todu dimalas, CHA-MU fafa’maolek! Mappott maeskapa este.

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. “Sometimes I think that the Chamorro activists yearn for those days of continuous fishing, sailing and fiestas. When everyone spoke the same language. That was before terrorists and airplanes and computers and television and shopping at Kmart and Gov Guam Layoffs.” 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?

After reading this I recalled during the 2002 races for the Legislature how candidates had been invited to come to my Chamorro class at UOG, and each pitch to us in Chamorro as best they could, the plans they had for Guam. It was for the most part an enlightening and inspiring experience, save for the speeches given by one candidate (who I shall leave nameless. But I’ll tell you his name if you ask). The candidate responding to a question about Chamorro culture and language responded oddly that “if you want to be a Chamorro then start wearing a g-string (I think he meant loin-cloth).” He also stated that people who want to speak Chamorro should go back to Inarajan (I think he meant Umatak). And as if he hadn’t dug a deep enough hole for himself, he said that his children were not Chamorro, because being Chamorro meant them living at the lancho and using outhouses.

I bring up these statements because they exhibit a fundamental symptom of many Chamorros today. And that is, an unforgiving discourse of self-depreciation, the constant marginalization of everything Chamorro, and attributing of most if not all progress, all intelligence, all positive notions to outside influences, in particular American influences. Where do the politicians statements above come from? They come from a psyche that feels that his own culture has nothing to offer the world. His ideas about Chamorro culture are so skewed that he can’t conceive of Chamorro language and culture as anything but antiquated, anachronistic or dead. His racist statements allude to an identity in which all he values, he believes comes from outside of Guam, outside of Chamorro.

I am reminded here of the words of South African activist Steve Biko, when he discussed ideas of inferiority and colonization for Africans in white controlled South Africa: [when studying to be accepted for a black job in South Africa] he suddenly realized that it wasn’t just all the good jobs that were white, but all the history everywhere, was the history of the white man, written by the white man. Television, cars, medicine all invented by the white man…In a world like that, it’s not hard to believe there’s something inferior about being black.

Where Chamorros, as a people find value for their existence needs to be redirected. At present, we derive most of our value from our relationship with United States, with its ideologies and institutions. We find self-merit from our strategic presence in the pacific, from our strange heritage of patriotism and loyalty. From our hospitality to tourists, to the way our education and economic systems are run, we derive most of our value from outsiders, from outside of us. Aside from the vast and fortunate resources of the US, what makes them an effective, even though fragmented people is that they are extremely self-centered, and obtain nearly all their value from themselves; the elementary school rhetoric taking myriad sound bytes from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, though eventually meaningless later in life and in terms of US foreign policy, is constantly invoked to justify the United States as the greatest country in the world.

It is also impossible for colonized peoples to attain this level of taimamahlao as the term self-centered within this framework means the “focus on the Center” which means a focus on the colonizing body, in this case the United States. Even if colonies are self-centered, the term reveals literally, who is in control of the situation.

And if you don’t agree with the above paragraphs or even with the entire tone of this paper, then I congratulate you. Prove me wrong. Discussion, competition, disagreement and dissent are at the core of the vitality of any culture. Discussion of these issues should not be left to professors, anthropologists, psychologists, historians or would-be academics like me. We ultimately control where we get our worth from. When we speak of privatization of the Government, we need to think about why we want it so bad, why it seems so right, why it seems to necessary. When we conceive the military presence on island, we need to think about our responses to wars, to armed conflicts, to increased military presence. Think hard about the way we think about our economy and our culture in relation to that. All these issues are intertwined with our perceptions of the US and more importantly our perceptions of ourselves.

The energy of our culture must not be attached to military spending or construction projects for the National Guard. Our dreams should not be imported, especially not from America. Every time a Chamorro thinks about settling down, buying land, and building a house, raising a family, he or she should know that that dream is not solely an American one. For Chamorros it was a reality for generations, to own and work your land, raise a family and so on. It was American intervention which disrupted all that, their intrusion which suddenly made the life my grandparents speak of in pre-war Guam not just a fading memory, but a distant impossibility.

Returning at last to 9/11, I am not proposing that a Chamorro reaction to the 9/11 would be any different from an American one or indifferent to the tragedy. Notions of identity do not mean absolute or even limited uniqueness. America seems to feel that hard-working behavior is their traditional domain. Lao esta ta tungo’ na manmampos bumachachu I manaina-ta siha lokkue’, and so do many other cultures.

I am not saying that a Chamorro response to the attack would be radically different. I am not focusing on the anthropological or socio-political aspects. But I do know this; to respond to 9/11 as a Chamorro means to find value in your own response, in what your culture, the Chamorro culture recommends. And of course that response is one of sadness, of compassion or empathy, all the right things. But if you are to respond as an American, you just continue the terrible colonial cycle of abuse and exploitation which has been in effect for more than a century. Responding as an American means you have been duped, you have been fooled by the propaganda, taken in by the stirring orations and speeches designed to illicit an instinctive response for unity and acceptance.

You can see the cost of this “duping” or “responding as Americans,” in the way the Pearl Harbor analogy was articulated in discourse on Guam. The media in the United States used Pearl Harbor as an emotional parallel, calling the September 11th attack, “another day of infamy,” both attacks threatening the US homefront (even though Hawaii was a colony then, not really a part of the US). On Guam the response was no different, the analogy met with no criticism, qualification or exception, despite the fact that Guam should of responded differently. Pearl Harbor, and the entire World War II experience are vastly different for a Chamorro, then for your average statesider. For a Chamorro on Guam, Pearl Harbor was the prelude for two and a half years of Japanese oppression and then American destruction. A Chamorro representation of destruction, bombing, of Pearl Harbor itself, must be different, then your typical flag waving, Never Forget bumper sticker using, American disposable rhetoric patriot.

There are those who would say that Chamorro and American are the same thing. Or that one is political the other ethnic. All I can respond to that is that you must of left a lot behind, forgotten much to have successfully reconciled that in your mind.

Para I mamamaila, guaha chathinasso-ku, lao guaha esperansa lokkue’.

Despite the tone of my paper, I am not as depressed or as worried as it may seem. History can be a depressing and enraging thing, yet it can also be enlightening at the same time. For me, after reading, knowing and internalizing a history of the Chamorro people from 4,000 years to the present, I cannot see how anyone could doubt the authenticity, tenacity and vitality of our culture (myself included). Chamorros have gone through so much and someone maintained a sense of identity, of sense of themselves. It boggles my mind how much credit we give to the US in our daily lives. How much credit we give to others when we are deserving of so much more!

In the September 15th PDN, Tony Sanchez writes a very moving and yet puzzling editorial, “Tuesday, Sept. 11th, changed our world, won’t be forgotten.” The gist is typical patriotic propaganda, irrational calls for unity, inspiring speeches in order to dispel dissent. “So what do we do? We do what America and Guam have always done. We pull together. We do our jobs better. We raise our children better. We help our neighbor more. We argue less; we compromise more. We face the stark reality of the world we live in with eyes wide open. We cannot afford to be divisive. Not today.” And later Sanchez goes on to say that although we do not vote in national elections are governments and our people (us and the Americans) are one and the same. The disconcerting part for me of this article is the fact that America or our relationship with America is a vital part of us raising our children better, doing our jobs better. For Sanchez the whole of our improvement and progress is attached to America and our unity with them.

Who survived near extinction at the hands of Spanish guns and disease? Who maintained a semblance of continuity in the face of cultural vaporization by Spanish colonialism? Who survived the horrors of Japanese occupation and brutality? Why does America receive so much credit for our survival and endurance? Why is altruism, compassion, caring and kindness attributed to a country which could have cared less about our fates? All the value, all the inspiration you need can be found within these shores, or within the relative who has left it behind. Within our own families lie all the worth any Chamorro should want or need.

As I write this American imperialism is at “war” with the world around it. I am constantly reminded of our parents’ and grandparents’ war not too long ago. I think of Liberation Day, and what it celebrates, the re-occupation of Guam in 1944 by American troops. I think of all the patriotism, mixed and confused messages associated with that holiday. I hope the next time a Chamorro gets a sudden burst of patriotism and feels the urge to grab an American flag they think first, about what it truly represents. Liberation Day is where I think a re-focusing of Chamorro identity must begin, so much of what we feel and how we think today depends on how we interpret that event.

The PDN often places on its front page, a small American flag and beneath it the foreboding proclamation that “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN.”

Put fabot, todu I Chamorro siha, fanhassuyi este…

Those colors ran like little school girls in 1941. Those colors made sure that all their relatives and military were evacuated before the Japanese attacked. They also made sure that only haole dependents were evacuated, any non-haoles though still military dependents had to stay behind. They were also very careful not prepare the Chamorros for an invasion or an attack. And when they finally ran back to Guam, on their way to Tokyo, they made sure to bomb it continuously for three weeks, not really caring what they hit, and pleasantly surprised to find later that there were still people alive on the island after that barrage.

After September 11th, across the country people called for us all never to forget. Never forget this grave injustice which had been committed against the greatest nation in the world. I call on Chamorros as well, never forget the grave injustices which have been committed against us and this culture, that I feel is the greatest culture in the world (I admit, I’m biased). No matter how much money the Federal Government gives us, no matter how many times people say “my fellow Americans,” or how many free miniature American flags are distributed, Never forget.

Munga maleffa. I mamamaila gi I lina’la-ta depende gi hafa ta hahasso ni’ I manmaloffan siha.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chinemma', Nina'maolek yan Inarespetu para Direchon Taotao

Activists explore post-military economy
Friday, 18 September 2009
Marianas Variety

PEOPLE will have to work together if they want to sustain an economy after the military. This was emphasized during the fourth day of the 7th Meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism at the University of Guam in Mangilao.

The morning a panel focused on the topic “Beyond the Military Economy: Exploring Alternatives for Sustainability.”

Participating were Alma Bulawan of the Buklod Center Philippines, Dr. Hannah Middleton of the Australian Anti-Base Campaign, Dr. Miyume Tanji of Curtin University of Technology in Australia, and Isabella Sumang of Palau.

Each panelist gave a perspective of the impact the military has had on their respective regions.

Bulawan had indicated that when there were bases in the Philippines, businesses were set up to cater to the military as well as prostitution. It appears now that with those bases closed, businesses and the prostitution still remain.

She referred to the Subic Bay and Clark Freeport Zones, which formerly hosted the U.S. Naval Base and the Air Force Base and have each seen the creation and development of businesses.

Despite the conversion of the old bases, Bulawan said the Philippines continues to face economic challenges.

As for Australia, Middleton explained how millions of Australian dollars are spent on military defense and other armed forces programs. A recent poll showed that 70 percent of Australians do not want any more money spent on the military.

She added that the Australians believe the money should go on helping the environment, improving hospitals and even to create jobs.

“We expect one million Australians will be unemployed in 2010, money should be spent to help them find jobs,” she said.

During the open forum, several concerns were brought up including a question on whether they felt that the threat of an invasion and war is real here in Micronesia.

Sumang responded that it could be the case especially when there is a military presence. “You have that threat hanging over your head,” she said.

Middleton offered another perspective saying that the threat is an excuse to keep military bases in the region.

“It’s not real,” she pointed out.

The women’s conference concludes today at the Carmel on the Hill Retreat Center in Malojloj or the former Carmelite Convent.

Participants are expected to discuss Human Trafficking and Prostitution and gather together in group meetings to develop short term and long term goals.



Women's conference against militarism held
By Heather Hauswirth
Published Sep 14, 2009

The 7th meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism began today. Women from all around the region are on island to attend the weeklong event with the theme of "Resistance, Resilience, and Respect for Human Rights."

"We are very much concerned that women are still seen as a commodity," said Philippine delegate Gorazon Requizo. As the island prepares for the impending military buildup, participants attending this week's conference say we can expect to see more human trafficking. Requizo, a native of the PI, provided insight as she grew up near the Olongapo Province that once hosted one of the largest United States military installations.

"We are advising since there will be a military expansion now here in Guam, we must challenge the women, especially the women and people of Guam to have a very strong resistance movement to this implementation," she said.

Concerns have been raised about the relocation of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, as there were concerns in Okinawa about the Marines behavior and sexual misconduct. Victims Advocates Reaching Out executive director Vangie Cabacar said, "It's a big concern for us, our numbers are high from sexual assault cases already, the lack of federal funding is another problem."

VARO is just one of many organizations in Guam involved in the dialogue about how to mitigate the impact, but Speaker Judi Won Pat says a full pronged approach is needed. Asked if she was planning on taking any preemptive measures to protect them, she said, "Yes, absolutely." The speaker warned that talk of a red light district by GVB and individuals at the Chamber of Commerce are of concern to her.

"A possible red light district, moving them out of Tumon and at that time to Harmon, but I think this is a bigger problem. We need to look at the whole picture. We need to look at our community and what it is we need to do to protect women and young girls," she said. Won Pat says she plans to create a blue ribbon committee to counter exploitation and to help create policies to ensure the safety of women and children.

Said Won Pat, "This is going to be a policy for Guam, I know we can't legislate or mandate anything for the military, but when their men come into the community, they would have to abide by the local law." Dr. Vivian Damas, UOG professor and committee member at the conference said that while a law that defines human trafficking has been passed, there is still more to be done. "Regulation of massage parlor, reporting of violence versus women and children both on the base and off the base, if we don't do that and we don't work out the coordinated agreements, we are going to have a huge problem on this island."


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