I don't want to speak to the specific issue of Micronesians in Guam, as the available language and ideas makes it almost impossible to have a productive conversation. The "Micronesian problem" is what it is usually referred to as, and it is a textbook example of how a class or group of people become associated, in a way which becomes too commonsensically and too natural, with the ills of the world.
Every society has problems, and every ethnic group has problems or roles in creating those problems. The problem however is that in every society, usually a single group or a small set of groups become blamed for the majority of ills in that society. They come to signify too much wrong with things. They end up shouldering just about all the problems that you can find.
Part of the reason for this scapegoating is because of the way people in a society don't want to admit to their dependency. In every society, there are strong beliefs that those in the middle or those at the top are the ones who keep things moving. They are the job creators, they are the wealth holders, they are the ones who keep things ordered and work as a check to keep things on an even keel. Although the lowest classes are always the largest and actually do the most work, they never ever receive the most credit for what they do. Part of this might simply be logical, since it is easy to reward a few at the top, but how could you reward everyone at the bottom? There simply isn't enough to go around to reward everyone down there, so why not just give extra to the few at the top?
But it is cruel the way in which the assumption becomes that those at the top must be there for a reason. And while we could interpret their elevation to be due to trickery, greed, and other evil forms of social violence of taking from others and amassing so much for yourself, too often the assumption emerges that they are at the top because they serve a higher function. The notion that something is "too big to fail" is closely related to this. You are too high up to fall down. If you were to be dragged down, if you were to be stripped of everything, it wouldn't be you who loses out, but everyone else as well.
Those at the bottom get no such extra ideological meaning. They are cogs in the machine, not the master who runs the machine. This is also part of the reason why First World life is considered to be so much more valuable. They represent more embedded resources and power. There are less of them and they tend to die in smaller numbers and so it is easier to consume their tragedy. It is more "camera-ready" to use a completely inappropriate term. In a place where death and suffering are the norm, what is one more body on the pile? But in a place where the perception is that violence and terror are aberrations, the story is more dramatic and compelling since it is exceptional.
Part of the reason for this scapegoating is because it is selfish. No one wants to admit being dependent upon another, especially if the others are "other."There is a way that we can stomach needing people if fate has made us related to them or we see them as similar, but for those that fate has marked as other, and not just other, but someone that you see as inferior in their otherness, people go to great lengths in order to assign those people a particular subordinate meaning, so as to keep their dependency from bleeding all over everything and staining you.
One thing that students sometimes ask me about is why racism still exists. Why is it that even after people have "learned" not to oppress others or discriminate against others, that people still do it? Why is racism still around when just about everyone can publicly agree to it being bad and needing to vanish from human life? One answer deals with people not wanting to appear bad publicly and so saying things which will mesh well with prevailing opinion. So most people, even those who are racist will say less than racist sounding things since they don't want to stick out like a sore, racist, jerk-off of a thumb.
The other reason why, you can see clearly in the comments on KUAM that were attached to the article that I mentioned earlier about the Chuukese community. I've pasted them below and as you can see they are "racist" in the sense that they say horrible things that polite people aren't supposed to say. But this isn't really the best way to determine the racism of something. What stands out in nature of the comments below is not just that they say bad things, but the way in which they are said. There is a security in speaking that way. There is an assuredness, a safety in how they are attacking and who they are attacking. What you should notice in these comments is how comfortable people are in the way they say the things they say. They are not written as if they are being meekly put forth because they might not be true or might not be right, but they are written as if they are most certainly true.
You could chalk that up to simply the way people write on the internet, but there is another factor at play here. In his chapter "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" from The Souls of Black Folk WEB Du Bois discusses what it is like for him to be treated and discussed as "a problem." All forms of racism are such, they identify a people as "the problem." They are something to be figured out and something to be solved. If other groups, who are not identified as the problem have similar problems they are not treated with the same urgency, they are not afforded the same scrutiny. Racism is a lens that allows you to see the world where certain groups are magnetized with negativity. Much more than anyone else, those who you feel racism towards always attract your ire, your hate, your disgust. No matter what the issue is, you can always find someway of connecting it back to those you feel are the problem, and how they should fix themselves to spare everyone else.
Racism is a delicious experience that people become addicted to because of the intoxicating effect of truth beyond truth. Minagahet ni' mas ki magahet. As much as we may say that we are creatures of reason and intellect, racism is always appealing because it takes on the emotional appearance of truth, and can be in truth impervious to facts and truth. It is the way in which you can know something in sheer blinding ignorance that will resist anything and still stand tall and strong. Racism remains important to people because it can be something that is drilled into you as part of your upbringing or your community, but it is also something that you can cling do against all odds, like a desperate captain chaining himself to the mast of his fast sinking ship.
Racism is judgements about people and reality that are divorced from fact, but feel to people as if they are more real than facts. Why else would so many people for so long question the "Americaness" of Barack Obama, and then even when they are presented with copies of his birth certificate still refuse to accept it? Racism is a defense against everything. As Slavoj Zizek notes, that was the twisted genius of the Nazi victimization and scapegoating of Jews in Germany. You portrayed them as bloodsucking, evil fiends who were robbing the strength of great Germany, but when you actually looked at these terrible Jews, they seemed so normal. They didn't have fangs, wings, and were far from monstrous, they were just your neighbors, your friends, your fellow Germans. But that is where racism comes in to fill the gaps and provide a feeling of truth stronger than truth. People argued that the normalcy or banality of the Jews was the most insidious representation of their evil. They were so evil that they went so far as to mask their evil and make themselves appear normal. Such a mental juggling also took place around Obama's birth certificate. Once it was produced, those still mired in racism would constantly jump from new point to new point, fabricated in their mind, that felt so real. They argued that this birth certificate looked "different" and that everything from a smudge to a faded letter signified the "fakeness" of it.
Racism is a warm snuggie, that makes you feel like the narrow-minded and sometimes reptilian things that you feel about other human beings who may be a little different than you are eternal truths. Racism need not be spoken, it can be embedded and buried and kept from the public. But racism when it emerges it always does so with a confidence, that is why it is so attractive. Not only can it be articulated as a great truth, but since those you are speaking of are often marked as "a problem" by most of society, your articulation of your racist truth becomes an actual public service. By saying that Micronesians are the cause of so much misery on Guam you are not only speaking the truth, but calling attention to a great injustice being dealt to the people. No wonder racism doesn't go away. The most ignorant person can feel like the smarter person on the continent if they give in to their most base instincts. They can even feel like a great defender of their community by simply enjoying saying terrible things about people.
Read below from the comments to see what I mean.
From betterearth: It is a start; however, they really should emphasize the deportable clause. Also, they should periodically check out the homeless walking the streets and those found loitering in parks. Lastly, they should provide airline tickets to FSM citizens unable to survive here, or those who are jobless.
From Gary Chester: It is all talk, what can the FSM really do? The government of Chuuk does not provide proper education, medical assistance or Jobs for its people. What do you expect them to do? You can not blame them for wanting a better life. But the people of FSM need to do something more than just sit around and talk. I have seen Chuukese people come here after a typhoon just to get public assistance. We need to cut all public assistance. Better yet let the FSM government pay all the public assistance. How long do you think that would last? Then let us see who stays on Guam. We can not be a dumping ground for unwanted FMS people. I have not heard of anyone on the FMS side saying they will take back any of the bad breadfruit if they break the law.. I feel this situation will only get worse. The United States Government needs to be held accountable.. We need a deport clause. God help us..
From roland: My daughter's boyfriend is from Paluwat and we have a granddaughter 5 months old, his work ethics is good my wife and i didn't agree at first about our daughter being with a micronesian (chuuk) but when our granddaughter was born that totally change me about how we both feel. Now we both are enjoying the greatest gift that god has ever given is our granddaughter.
From Frank: I don't get what you mean mitch!? So using chuuk as a landfill!? That mean's bringing all of them here!! The biggest trash here on Guam is the chuukese! they alway's litter Guam with problem's!!
From Jane: This is no longer the Chamorros' island, Chuukese will one day rule this island. " God bless Guam the new Chuukese paradise". May they continue to use as much Chamorros and Filipinos tax money." Kinsou Chapur" that means thank you for all the welfare and quest card.
From Andrea: Send all the Chuukese back along with our trash. They live here like trash, and to the senators, if any of the outer islanders get in trouble, we should have a law that say they get sent back to were they came from and NEVER allowed back on our island again! And to you jane, like I said trash should be sent back!
Proposed FSM action plan up for discussion
Posted: Nov 12, 2011 5:09 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2011 6:08 PM
Plan curbs crimes & violence committed by Micronesians
by Nick Delgado
Guam - A draft action plan will be presented to the FSM Association of Guam Board of Directors this week. The plan ultimately lays out the FSM Consul General's goals to put a stop to the crimes and violence being committed by those in the Micronesian community.
It's an action plan that most would say was sparked by the September triple-homicide in Harmon that involved two Chuukese gangs. According to the members of the special committee tasked with putting together ideas though, the plan has been in motion for several months prior to the fatal incident.
FSM Association of Guam and special committee member Koisumy Rudolph told KUAM News, "What we need to do now is work on a budget and some realistic outcome that we like to see happen, we are very optimistic that if we work together we can address the problems that we have and eventually the bottom line in all that we are intending to raise is that there is be less and less dependency of our people on public assistance."
Public assistance is what Foreign Service Officer Robson Romolow says is a key discussion in the plan, as the goal is to try to get more citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia to stray away from using government aide. "Under our compact with the U.S., you can be deported if you use public assistance for life or a long period of time it is deportable," he said.
The draft plan also highlights parenting and how FSM parents need better education on the laws of Guam as they relate to domestic violence and rehabilitation programs for those who spent time in jail. Also noted is the need to address social issues in prostitution, suicide and bullying as well as the use of drugs and alcohol by adults and teens. Additionally, the proposed plan hopes to provide better awareness on educating new FSM immigrants.
Until the Association approves and implements these plans, Rudolph says, "I think for the interim there still something that can be done for us, maybe have our people work closely with police or mayors in the village."
While the FSM consulate continues to push that FSM citizens should only be on the territory for three reasons - education, employment or medical care - the special committee will also be hosting separate meetings for the FSM citizens on Guam to get their input on the action plan. FSM Consul General Robert Ruecho says recent town meetings with the FSM president were well attended, but admits they need to branch out to those in the FSM community who are not getting the message about Guam's laws.
"That's why we want to have these pocket meetings so we can reach out to everybody," he said.