January 16 marked the observance of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday (his actual birthday was Jan. 15, 1929). Around the nation, people held parades, read (or, hopefully, re-read) his speeches or just took the day off, which I guess is how most Americans celebrate the memories of those who bravely defied corrupt power.
Here in Wailuku (us Mauitimers celebrated by working on this very paper), we watched one of the shortest celebratory parades I’ve ever seen: maybe 50 people gathered out front of Requests Music at the corner of Market and Main–complete with bagpipers in full costume!–and then they marched all the way to Wailuku Coffee Company (at most, 20 feet away) and then they all went inside. It was epic (I suppose the parade eventually continued on from there, but I didn’t hang around to find out).
But I thought the best way to honor the memory of one of the greatest Americans of the 20th Century was by quoting from the press release of Hawaii’s own Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D, 2nd District). Her statement, in my humble opinion, sums up the day best.
“Last year, our nation unveiled the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the National Mall,” Hirono said in her Jan. 15 news release. “This monument serves as an inspiration for the country we strive to be.”
Hirono, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Daniel Akaka, should know better. Actually (as Colbert Report viewers already know), the memorial is actually a monument to our nation’s intellectual laziness. The problem lay with one of the “quotes” from King that’s inscribed in the monument’s granite: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”
King never said that. In fact, he never even thought it. The “quote” is, in fact, a paraphrase from a longer speech King once made–a speech the monument’s designers clearly did not understand. Here are King’s actual words:
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. Say that I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
See, what King was actually doing was ridiculing the idea of heroic self-aggrandizement. But considering how silly it is to chisel a denunciation of self-worship into an ostentatious granite statute, it’s probably not so shocking that the memorial’s designers ended up rewriting King’s original words.
CRUISE SHIP FOLLIES
So did you guys see that incredibly scary footage of that cruise ship that ran aground in Italy? There’s something terribly unreal about seeing a big ship simply lying on its side, half-submerged in the shallows. And the reports about the captain allegedly going over the side long before his passengers–and then refusing Italian Coast Guard pleas that he return to his stricken vessel, in defiance of centuries of maritime law and tradition–are simply outrageous.
Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with any of that here–unless, apparently, you live on the Friendly Island, that is.
“The U.S. Coast Guard will enforce a temporary ‘security zone’ around Kaunakakai Harbor when the Safari Explorer cruise ship resumes visits to Molokai this week,” the Maui News reported on Jan. 15.
Apparently, Molokai has become a dangerous place for cruise ships. Back in November, a number of island activists made considerable noise when the Safari Explorer docked. Though not one of the bigger ships out there–the cruise line, in fact, specializes in taking small numbers of tourists to out of the way places–Molokai residents protested that the company wasn’t attentive enough to the needs of those who actually live on the island, and thus went about making life difficult for the boat.
Clearly, the cruise line is terrified that people will do what Kauai residents did years ago when confronted with the Hawaii Superferry–namely, paddle out in the harbor and place their bodies directly in front of the oncoming ship. Though incredibly dangerous, the tactic can bring results. After two extremely contentious trips to Kauai, the Superferry never again journeyed to that island.
What’s important here is that like that old battle against the Superferry, the Coast Guard is playing the role of “big corporation guard,” by using its official status as well as its ships and boats to protect a cruise ship from the pesky, dangerous residents who fund it through federal income taxes.
Doesn’t that get you all choked up inside?
WIND FARM EXPANDS
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the Kaheawa Wind Farm is expanding. Currently there are 20 massive wind turbines up on the Pali above Ma‘alaea generating 30 megawatts of clean, pollution-less power. Now Boston, Massachusetts-based First Wind, the corporate owner of the Kaheawa site, is adding another 14 turbines, bringing the grand power generation total to 51 megawatts.
The only problem with this (other than the aesthetic issue of how those spinning blades screw up the Pali’s lines) is that if these wind farms keep growing and working, and their success gets duplicated in similarly windy places across the United States, it’s going to be a lot harder for this country to justify bombing and invading Middle Eastern (read: oil-rich) nations.
Well, I guess that’ll be the great defining challenge of the next generation.