The New People


I love Hawaii. Every April and May my wife and I are residents of Kailua-Kona on the “Big Island.” It is an amazing place with snow capped mountains and cactus covered desert. You can ski at the top of Mona Kea and swear you are in Arizona standing in the Ka’u Desert on the South end of the Island. Bananas hang outside your door. Mango Trees hang heavy with fruit and coffee grows just down the road. You can find almost any weather you want on Hawaii. There are 24 climate zones!

What is just as cool is the variety of people. The diversity of “Hawaiians” is amazing. The population of the state is about one-third Caucasion, one-third Asian and one-third is whatever! A Hawaiian friend of mine is German, Hawaiian, Portuguese and Chinese. His family story is the story of the people of Hawaii and to look at him he would be hard to place in any ethnic group. And in Hawaii as the diversity grows what you are is not important as who you are. Hawaiian-Americans are becoming an American representative – a new people. Look at American History and you will see this is not the first time we have created a “new” people in our country.

Settlement was originally very English. English was who colonists looked like and imitated. Very early on this group was disrupted by (gasp!) the Germans. A group of “Americans” General Washington had trepidations about recruiting into his army. Today the “Germans” are the “Pennsylvania Dutch.” A new people who fit into the English tinted American Culture but, in the process, changed it while re-inventing themselves!

The process continues to this day. My Irish ancestors brought their “ways” with them and my family unconsciously to this day reflects a behavior from Wexford, Ireland, where we have not been for 150 years. In the 1800s the dominant culture speculated as to whether or not the Irish were “white.” Their religion was feared. No doubt the Irish would take political direction from Rome. And crime? Why do you think the “Paddy” Wagon is called that? Because that is how “Paddy” was transported to jail. My grandmother remembered “NINA” (No Irish Need Apply) signs in the shop windows in Everett, Wash., in the early 1900s. Yet few other cultures have been assimilated into our overall culture as much as the Irish. Music, literature and St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated more in this country than in Ireland!

Sound familiar? It should because with the changing demographics of our country all you have to do is tune into Fox Noise! Who do they tell you Muslim-Americans will be taking orders from? How many Republican state legislators are warning us against “Sharia Law!” Change Irish to Muslims and the Vatican to the Mosque and you have the same bigoted racist discriminatory rubbish today. I would suggest anyone who doubts an assimilating Muslim population watch a direct TV channel called “Peace.” The Imam is obviously first generation and students are no doubt second and third. The young students mannerisms and clothing are “American.” Demonstrating what happens to every new population coming to America. A new people created.

I see this most dramatically every year on Hawaii. The Hawaiian word “Ohana” means family and it is used as much as “Aloha.” It is the way the Hawaiians see one another – family and one community of many various people. And in Hawaii they are from everywhere. Everyone is dissimilar but the same – they have created a new people making up one community. No matter where you go the person you will deal with – whether in business – government – or your private life – that person will not look like you but will talk like you and relate to the same experiences and concerns as you.

It is so important to understand what successful assimilation depends on if a democracy is to survive. Acceptance is the key. Americans have become a “New People” over the past two centuries because of assimilation. “I have a stake in this community.” If my well being and my family’s is dependent on the well being of the community I will be a part of that community and the nation will be stronger for it.

As our country’s demographic “appearance” continues to move far away from our English, Caucasian, Protestant roots to a “Hawaiian-like” population there is also danger. The death of our civil society. A distrust and disgust of government generally and a legal system moving us daily towards Oligarchy (i.e. rule by the rich). Oligarchs do not promote community or assimilation. They rule by “divide and conquer.” Go no further than the Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court proclaiming corporations (things) are “persons” and have the constitutional right to buy all the government they want. As Jay Gould, the anti-union Wall Street tycoon once said, “I will pay one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” And that is exactly what is happening today with unlimited corporate money in the media at all levels.

Oligarchs are using the country’s demographic change in two ways against the rest of us. First they promote uncontrolled migration of people who can be exploited as cheap labor and displace American Citizens. As they did in the 1980s by replacing a well paid union workforce in meat packing plants with cheap intimidated undocumented labor from Mexico. At the same time they are funding the racist propaganda media such as Fox ‘News’ and campaign propaganda to accomplish Jay Gould’s philosophy of using the working class against itself.

I guess you can’t blame the oligarchs because it has worked for them time and time again! White workers against blacks – men against women – now citizens against non-citizens – they know if they allow the working class to unite their system of corporate corruption is in peril!

Now what does this have to do with Hawaii you ask? Well, take a trip to the Big Island and look around. No doubt things are not perfect. Some “Hawaiians” even want their kingdom back. But basically you will be immersed into a diverse culture where the “boss” might be of any ethic background and so might the janitor. No one is looking over their shoulder. We “average” citizens must be aware of the oligarch’s plan of divide and conquer by turning us against one another. Alienation is the path to disaster while assimilation is the path to a peaceful strong future for all Americans.

Bill Johnston is a retired staff organizer of the United Food and Commercial Workers. He is a member of the National Writers Union (Pacific Northwest Chapter). Email

From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2014

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