Monday, February 20, 2012

Insider or Outsider

Right now I am struggling with how to respond to something.

Since the announcement that Guam may receive only 4,700 instead of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, there has been a few murmurs of discontent from pro-buildup proponents, who have been using the occasion to attack critics of the buildup. The inference is that the buildup was moving full speed ahead a few years back, everything was going wonderful, Guam was about to get that dreamy golden ticket that the buildup represented, where everyone, no matter where they fit on the socio-economic ladder was going to get what they wanted. Because the Marines were on their way, and with their big bags filled with 50 Caliber machine guns they also were bringing billions and billions of dollars with them, the rich could get richer, the poor could get richer. Riches for everyone was what the fantasies made us feel.

But then the nasty DEIS comment period came around. During that 3 month period, all of the activists and malcontents of Guam wormed out of the woodwork to take the mic at these events and make it seem like people on Guam hate the military and hate the US. They came out by the hundreds and warped things in such a way so that all of a sudden it seemed that an island who worship the military, now was fed up with them. The silent majority of Guam, cowered in fear at the fiery rhetoric of these radicals, who dared to remind the island that the US still has so many unresolved issues it needs to take care of, before it can expect us to support such a massive unilaterally planned population and infrastructure increase to Guam. These crazies even dared to remind people that Guam is a small island, where the military already has 27% of it and for it to want to increase it by close to 2,000 acres seems unfair. The foaming at the mouth pinheads even went so far as to actually talk objectively about the buildup and how it actually wasn't a golden ticket, and how it might only benefit those at the top alot, and everyone else might actually find it harder to get by.

Hunggan the buildup meant more jobs, but the overwhelming majority of jobs would go to people who were coming as part of the buildup, dependents and foreign workers. The rest of the jobs that people could expect would be more low wage, service industry jobs, which are already in abundance in Guam.

After reading through the DEIS and seeing how the military itself argued Guam would be affected by the buildup you have to be astonished that anyone would really support it. The cost of living was almost certain to rise. The expenses of the government to rise as well. But the benefits from the buildup came nowhere close to actually helping meet these rises in costs. From an objective stand point, the smaller or more non-existent the buildup, the better for Guam.

I mean, to make things perfectly clear, the pro-buildup argument was almost completely vapid yan taitiningo'. It was built primarily on the idea that if you just support, believe in and celebrate something, than good things will happen to you. The argument wasn't built on the idea of understanding or analyzing things, it was built solely upon the idea that accepting whatever comes from the US or from military is necessary and so you should just shut up and take it. Everything which was actually put out there in terms of facts supporting the buildup were vague and favored the few at the top over everyone else. In terms of trying to make an argument that everyone riku pat popble should support this move, supporters were leagues away from saying anything effective. The less people knew about the buildup, the better. The more enamored they were with large sums of money that have no basis on reality, the better.

In other words, the gaps in pro-buildup rhetoric were so massive, that DOD could probably fit comfortably all their proposed firing ranges in them, without having to take any new lands.

Although some might argue otherwise, the discursive object that is the buildup has changed dramatically. People used to feel compelled to say they loved the buildup because of the belief that everyone loves the buildup. Nowadays, people feel pulled in both directions, depending on the context and the crowd they are hanging out with. If they feel like there is an anti-buildup sentiment amongst those they are with they don't feel like their identity is imperiled or the sky will collapse because of it. They don't feel like they are with flaming, wild-eyed insane asylum escapees. They just see people who have a different opinion, and might actually have a point.

This is progress. This is good. This is, as I have stated before, people on Guam not giving into the colonial ideology of liberation, that states that anything that comes from the US to Guam should probably be celebrated as a great gift that will release us from something terrible or squallorly (Hu tungo' na ti magahet este na palabra).

So the question for me is, when I write about this issue, do I speak as if I am writing from a position of voicelessness or marginality. Do I position myself in such a way as to loudly and aggressively condemn those who are arguing the pro-buildup position in such a way to call attention to how subaltern my perspective is? This was the way in which I would talk about this for years, since it was true. Should I speak as if the world is still against me and savagely lash out at from the wilderness?

Or, should I attempt to speak with the authority that my position as "against the buildup" has been vested with over the past two years? Should I not speak as an outsider, but someone whose position now regularly jockeys for a position as being mainstream? Now that there is an inside to my formerly outsider position, does that mean I have to take a softer position, since now more people than before potentially subscribe to the points I am making?

An important question. One I was hoping this post would help me answer, but still hasn't. Both of these tactics have merit. I am writing a column on this issue for the Marianas Variety this week, and I'm still not sure which approach I want to use.

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