CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kaliko and Paco Mireles rallied along King Street Thursday to demand the removal of City Councilman Rod Tam as chairman of the Zoning Committee after he used the term "wetbacks" during a committee meeting. Paco Mireles, who was born in Mexico but has lived in Hawaii for 30 years, held a Mexican flag during the protest.
Councilman didn't use slur without thinking
Being of Asian descent, one would have hoped that City Councilman Rod Tam would be more sensitive about words that might be thought of as "slurs" or "racial." After watching the video of Tam using the word "wetback," it is clear that he paused and put some thought into it before he said it.
Also, he used the term twice, and no other Council member stopped to question his use of that word. I know Hawaii is country compared to the mainland, but I didn't know we were "Southern rebs," too.
That's the last thing our state needs, the impression (real or imagined) that we are racists - or worse, that our politicians are racists.
Henry K. Konno
Would you say that word to someone's face?
I understand that the term "wetback" is clearly defined, but I am Mexican American and the fact is it is a racist term. I am not an illegal immigrant, but I have been referred to as a wetback by racist or prejudiced individuals who were trying to put me down.
As decent human beings, we should not use terms like that when referring to other human beings, period. If a person is in this country, they should be referred to as illegal immigrant or alien or whatever as long as it is not a hateful term. If you were to be locked in a room with someone and you wouldn't call him something to his face because you know it would offend him, you should not use it anywhere.
Whining about hurt feelings won't fix the problem
The American-Hispanic (I'm not for hyphenated Americans, but if we're going to do it let's put American first) community is going bonkers.
Americans were once a strong, tough people. Now, sadly, the mention of a wrong word will send a race/nationality of hyphenated Americans into a collective paranoid depression. The new mantra: Sticks and stones will break my bones and words will always hurt me because I'm a hyper-sensitive whiner.
Should City Councilman Rod Tam have been smarter about his now infamous utterance? Yes. However, the point being obscured by all this politically correct nonsense is he was referring to illegal, undocumented leeches sneaking into our country uninvited. I don't care if they come from Mexico, Russia, Japan, the Philippines or Africa. If they don't belong here they should be put in jail, then deported.
Alas, the "word" and our "feelings" have taken center stage, not the real problem of illegal immigration. You want to make a difference? Do something about undocumented workers. Support our laws. Obfuscating the issue and throwing a fit like a 2-year-old baby does nothing. Waaaaa! He hurt my feelings.
Get over it.
Don't let controversy distract from workers' rights
Thanks to Pablo Wegesend for his thoughtful, nuanced column last Tuesday on City Councilman Rod Tam's racist remarks, to the Star-Bulletin for covering this story and to all who have spoken out in protest.
I am part-Mexican, born and raised here.
If Tam knew what he was saying, he is a racist. If he lied about what he knew, he is a liar. If he did not what he was saying, he is ignorant. He should resign. Failing that, he should be removed from any committee chairmanship position.
For those concerned about nonunionized, undocumented workers, there are remedies. Enforce union contracts. Educate membership about the issues. Unionize new workers.
Hawaii management has a lengthy history of trying to break unions by bringing in workers from new places or language groups. This is just more of the same. Unions and the general public need to recognize this, and not fall into management's trap of racist distraction from the key issues of workers' rights.
Marcella Alohalani Boido
Are opinions changing about the Superferry?
I used to be against the Superferry; now I'm beginning to support it. More precisely, my reservations were not so much about the Superferry itself as the high-handed manner in which the owners started doing business in Hawaii.
When I first heard the words "pushy haole" nearly 40 years ago I had one of those proverbial "light-bulb moments," and certain changes started to come about. To judge from the much smoother sailing the Superferry has had with the public lately, perhaps a similar adjustment in attitude has occurred.
Worried about germs? Buy local produce
I'd like to assure your readers that tomatoes grown at our farm, Hamakua Springs Country Farms, are "food safety certified," as are most tomatoes grown in Hawaii. Just ask your store's produce manager if the tomatoes he or she sells are food safety certified.
Food safety certification procedures focus on areas of highest risk. They focus on about 60 line items of concern in field operations, and about that many more in packing house operations.
The highest risk in most farming operations involves use of water. Contaminated water can spread contamination to all produce, so certification requires that water used in spraying, rinsing and washing be free of contamination. Farmers must use approved procedures, in conjunction with constant monitoring to ensure that only contaminant-free water touches the tomatoes. We use county drinking water when we spray and rinse our tomatoes.
Food safety certification also mandates policies and procedures regarding food handling, personal hygiene, produce storage and other areas. Certification is not a requirement in our industry. It is voluntary. Hamakua Springs chose to become food safety certified more than five years ago because it assures our employees a better working environment. It also gives consumers an extra measure of comfort when choosing what they will feed their families.
President, Hamakua Springs Country Farms
Immigration makes us more oil-dependent
Powerful business interests are supporting the view that the more people are crowding into the United States, the better for us all - that immigration is good for us. Their real reason: The more people, the more sales, the more profits.
Why is nobody mentioning that every new immigrant makes us more dependent on foreign oil? Isn't it hypocritical to talk of making us more energy independent when tens of millions of legal and illegal immigrants have entered the United States in the last few years and are still entering the country? Have we all been brainwashed?
Roosevelt would have us drilling in ANWR
When Theodore Roosevelt championed the creation of national parks, forests and wilderness areas, his goal was to protect these lands for the people of America. It would be safe to say that the modern environmental movement and Congress want to protect our public resources from Americans. Teddy would have wholeheartedly agreed with extracting oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or off the continental shelf, particularly given our ability to accomplish this with minimum environmental impact.
Rather than acting in the sprit of Roosevelt, the current attitude Congress has toward public resources resembles more of a monarch ruling over crown lands. Touch not the royal forest and wilderness areas! Marie Antoinette would feel right at home in the U.S. legislature with their "let them eat cake" attitude.
Sneaky earmarks should not be allowed
Your editorial last Tuesday headlined "Continue the pork, but with better restrictions"
was anticipated. It was written just as I expected it to be, with a desire to keep those earmarks (pork) flowing to Hawaii ... and to any other state with senior congressional delegations that are in power for life, because of those earmarks.
Pork is pork. Your comment that "Inouye's so-called 'pork' includes engineering for Honolulu's planned mass transit systems" is humorous. If this is so important then why can't he put it in the funding bill, out in the open? Why does he have to sneak it into a nonfunding bill as an earmark?
Earmarks should be outlawed! That is the only acceptable restriction I could accept.
Newsman's death leaves great void
We were all shocked and sad to hear of the incomparable NBC's Tim Russert's sudden passing. We always looked forward to Saturday's "Tim Russert" show and his legendary "Meet the Press" program on Sundays.
Anyone looking for objective reporting need only tune in to his interviews with politicians and celebrities. He was always fair to everyone, regardless of political affiliation and social status. And he was always well prepared with facts. It was the hallmark of his interviews. It was most enjoyable and informative when he caught some powerful politician lying about the facts.
He was dogged in pursuing the truth in his interviews and still remained nice and courteous to the interviewee. His character and professionalism often made me wish that someone like him was our president. We will miss him terribly and his weekend political shows.
Don't hate - educate
Congress is looking at legislation to help military personnel return to school after their separation from the military. I find that admirable.
By the same token, I find it despicable that to achieve higher education our young people need to join the military to afford it.
If more of our young people were educated, they might be able to find ways to allow their peers to avoid needless conflicts and wars such as we engage in now.