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HAWAII'S BROKEN HEART
How the Lahaina fire highlights and perpetuates a legacy of economic imperialism
Years ago I visited the home of Hawaii's last queen, Liliuokalani. She became Queen in 1891, a couple of years later to be deposed in a coup staged by the Dole Pineapple Company with the tacit approval of the U.S government. Dole’s actions on behalf of U.S. business interests ended Liliuokalani's reign and led to our annexation of Hawaii.
The domination of Hawaii by such interests began then and has never truly lessened. As one native Hawaiian said to me once, “Being Hawaiian means waking up every morning and it’s Christmas, but none of the presents are for you.”
Hawaii is ground zero for a form of economic imperialism. Hawaii did not come begging to become a state in the Union; she was made a US protectorate via a coup staged against her. How many Americans have sought refuge and healing in the enchanted land of Hawaii, only later to discover the historical shadows that lay beneath. Hawaii is a deeply sacred land - some say it’s the heart center of the planet - and her heart has been wounded by the soulless economic overreach of everyone from Dole to Monsanto.
Today, after the largest wildfire recorded in the U.S. in the last 100 years completely destroyed the town of Lahaina on the Western shores of Maui, shots were fired from the bow of the new colonialism - over gentrification. Real estate developers swooped in barely 24 hours after the fire to offer people who have lost everything - who are being given a mere $700 stipend per family plus assistance with filling out FEMA forms (from Katrina to East Palestine and now to Lahaina, it’s clear our emergency disaster response systems are themselves a disaster) - to offer them enough to survive in the short term, but probably too little to ever return to where they lived before.
Over a hundred people are reported dead in this fire, and the number is climbing. Many of the unaccounted for were children. If this country cannot provide the necessary help to the people of Lahaina; if this country cannot ramp down the fossil fuel extraction that is exacerbating these weather catastrophes, then the message is loud and clear that we are on the wrong road.
Lahaina’s pain and sorrow is incomprehensible; let’s give generously to support their efforts to heal and rebuild. God bless the people of Lahaina in this hour of their agony. And God bless us all.