Not Much Changes In Waikiki

A postcard from 1940

How did Hawaii appear to Mainlanders the year before the Pearl Harbor attack? Here are excerpts from a 1940 Forbes article titled Hawaii: Sugar-Coated Fort.

It cited a survey showing that fewer people in the U.S. were willing to go to war to defend the Hawaiian Islands than to defend Canada. The no-byline story says we had a “huge concentration of anti-aircraft guns, larger than any similar concentration on the Mainland there is a great deal of hush-hush; but the 415,000 people of the Islands, including the 155,000 Japanese, are quite aware of their existence, even if not of their precise whereabouts.”

Some of the article is either right on or way off.

“Decades of advertising and movie iteration have convinced practically every stranger outside the islands that Hawaii is still a semicivilized Eden where heavybodied, sleepy-eyed Polynesian girls go about in ti-leaf skirts and do the hula … to the accompaniment of Aloha Oe by the Royal Hawaiian Band.” And: “If the tourist is not looking for mere gregariousness he will be disappointed by Waikiki Beach, a good deal of which has been washed away by the sea. And he may very well find it a slight anticlimax to learn that the pure Hawaiian is practically extinct.”

With one misspelling, it continues: “The kamaainas, as whites who have lived in Hawaii for a long time are called to set them apart from the recently arrived ‘malahinis,’ have a schizophrenic attitude toward the hula stuff. They deem it necessary, for it brings cash into the tills of the Royal Hawaiian and Moana hotels. From the tourists, some $20 million is poured into the islands annually money that the old-time residents are glad to get, even though they contemptuously stay away from the visitors around Waikiki.

“When the kamaainas justify themselves as a class above the tourists, they do not think of themselves as part of any grand scheme vs. defense. They snoot the Army and the Navy almost as much as they snoot the visiting bathers at Waikiki. Hawaii is neither a tourists’ paradise nor the military man’s clenched fist, but just a darned good place to live, to make and invest money, and to hand on all its wealth and loveliness to satisfied sons and daughters.”

I’ve read another World War II history Max Hastings’ Inferno that ignores Hawaii’s 100th Infantry Battalion being in the Italy campaign from Salerno to Rome. Rick Atkinson’s The War In Sicily and Italy did the same.

It puzzles me. Were they really not there?

Normally, I’d agree with lawyer Brook Hart that we must withhold judgment until trial on Christopher Deedy, the APEC security agent who shot and killed a man in the Waikiki McDonald’s. But then there’s res judicata already-court-settled law. You can only use lethal force when confronted with a lethal-force threat.

So unless the dead man, Kollin Elderts, had a gun or a knife or was a professional boxer, it’s a question of murder, negligent homicide or manslaughter, not of innocence.