Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Friday, August 6, 1999

It’s easy to feel Ige’s pain

I think state Sen. Marshall Ige might have a point, comparing his present legal difficulties -- criminal campaign charges -- to what Japanese Americans went through during World War II.

Once, when an idiot cut me off on the freeway, almost sending my car into a wall, I felt like, right then, I could identify with American soldiers who spent several years in North Vietnamese prisons.

I mean, it wasn't that the two experiences had anything in common. It was just the feeling I got, that there was something more to the near accident than a simple mistake.

My dad was in Vietnam and he said it was pretty yucky and I thought that guy almost running me off the road was a yucky thing to do.

Then, many years ago, my boss yelled at me about something. I forget what he yelled at me about but right at that moment, I could really identify with what Army infantry men must have endured during the Korean War. Especially during the winter when it was cold and they were really miserable. My boss was deliberately making me feel miserable just as if he were forcing me to walk through gunfire.

That's the way it apparently is with Ige. He feels like he's being railroaded through the legal system by a great power he has no control over -- sort of the way the state Senate railroaded Margery Bronster out of her job as attorney general. Except Ige identifies with the people who were put in U.S. concentration camps because they were of Asian ancestry.

HE apparently sees some vaguely racial motivation for his legal difficulties. It doesn't matter that some members of the state Campaign Spending Commission, which made the charges, also are Asian. That's not the point. The point is that right now, he feels connected to the internees. I understand.

I remember once when my mom grounded me, I felt she did it because I was part German on my father's side and she was subconsciously striking out at the German war machine. She said it was because I had skipped out of school and gone surfing, but I really felt there was some deeper motivation there. Stuck in my room for the better part of one afternoon, it's weird, but I also felt connected to those millions of Jews sent to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps.

Obviously, they had it harder than me, but I think Marshall Ige would understand my point.

I think there was a time when I was a little kid that I got spanked in school because I had fair hair and the rest of the boys were more swarthy in appearance. I'm pretty sure the teacher was trying to ethnically cleanse the classroom of fair-haired 6-year-olds and did not spank me simply because I had pushed one of the smaller swarthy boys down on the playground.

Now, some people will say that I'm just being dramatic, deliberately assigning nefarious motives in order to detract attention from the real reason I've been punished over the years. That hurts. It makes me feel kind of like those prisoners on death row who actually are innocent. I'm sure Marshall feels my pain.


I want to finish this column by commenting on Andy Anderson's plans to put a big old Ferris wheel right on the Kakaako waterfront. The comment is: Have you lost your mind? Think of those people eating in your restaurant at Kewalo Basin and looking out the huge windows. Do you think they want to see Magic Island or Coney Island? Please, lose the wheel.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

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