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Saturday, June 24, 2000

Medal of Honor ceremony
elicits thoughts on
heroism and race

Medal of Honor reports stressed race

It is disturbing when the press fosters racism in its coverage of the Medal of Honor winners.

By distinguishing Japanese Americans, Asian Americans or African Americans, the media are pointing out ethnic origin first and being American as secondary. Foremost, we are all Americans.

Our ethnic origin doesn't matter. We don't go around saying Caucasians are German-American, French-American or Italian-American.

It is an unfortunate truth that white America has been intolerant of non-white Americans. Blacks were held as slaves, the Chinese in the West were denied rights and some Indian tribes were wiped out.

Americans of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned in interment camps because of their ancestry. And when the sons of these prisoners went to war, they were denied the Medal of Honor because of the color of their skin.

How many other non-white Americans were denied this medal because of their ethnicity? Perhaps the military should review the records of all combat units, particularly black ones.

The 332nd Fighter Group is one of them. Its claim to fame is that not one allied bomber escorted by this group was ever lost to enemy fighter planes. Bombers with all-white crews went so far as to specificially request the 332nd as their escort.

Vernon Okamura

Inouye's remarks tinged with reverse racism

I believe Sen. Daniel Inouye encourages racism against whites in the United States.

I watched local news coverage of President Clinton giving Medals of Honor to veterans for acts of heroism in World War II, with special emphasis on Japanese-American soldiers. While these men are deserving of these medals after all these years, Inouye said, "It will be many more generations before the effects of racism are erased."

He is intimating that grudges will be held against white America for generations to come. I confront Inouye over his sly and continual murmurings of racial discrimination. How dare he? America has treated him very well.

Inouye is a great success story among Japanese people who came to America to make a new life. Where else but the United States could this happen?

What is really the most sickening is white Americans who prostrate themselves in a "we gotta pay" attitude for so-called minorities in this country. Their grandchildren will pay because of it. They will be at the lower rung of society.

Barbara Jessee

Online edition spread news of heroes

Thank you for your excellent coverage of the Medal of Honor presentations.

I'm sitting in Austin, Texas, with my father, Paul Nishimuta, who fought with the 442nd. We are so grateful to be able to see the news from your newspaper.

My father was in the newspaper business for many years, as the general manager of West Hawaii Today in Kona. He had a stroke in 1983 and lives with his son in San Diego.

Mike Nishimuta
Austin, Texas

Medals stir memories of an old neighbor

I read with interest about the awarding of the Medal of Honor to the 22 Asian-Pacific Americans. I was elated that this event took place even though the well-deserved recognition was more than a half-century late.

Barney Hajiro was my next-door neighbor at McGerrow Camp, Puunene, Maui.

After the war, Barney received the highest medal awarded to a foreign soldier by England, plus other very impressive citations.

Toku Matsuoka
Torrance, Calif.


"I didn't know I could come this far. Imi Ho`ola is for people who wouldn't be able to make it any other way. And that's me."
Roslyn Enos
A successful member of the 1999-2000 class of the Imi Ho`ola Post-Baccalaureate Program that helps the disadvantaged enter the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii

"I think the operative word for all parties is we are encouraged."
James Bickerton
As the sale of the Honolulu afternoon newspaper moves on to the next step, with potential bidders being allowed to view detailed financial information

Legislator's paranoia about gays is laughable

I laughed after reading Rep. Bob McDermott's June 19 letter. I was just going to toss it aside as more ignorant input from an uninformed legislator, when I realized that some people might not understand his misinformation.

He asked whether we would let our 15-year-old son or grandson share a tent with a gay scoutmaster. Why not? Gay scoutmasters are not pedophiles. Studies show that around 90 percent of pedophiles are heterosexual, so I would be more worried if a straight scoutmaster asked a 15-year-old to share his tent with him than a gay one.

McDermott also alludes to "the practice of homosexual behavior," like it was a religion. Is it part of the Scout code to murder someone who is gay, like the former Scout who killed Matthew Shephard? When I was a Scout leader, it was part of the code to treat everyone with dignity.

Young men join scouting for its educational programs to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship and to develop personal fitness -- not to come up with some hate-filled agenda like that of Representative McDermott.

Mike Golojuch
Lt. Col, USAF (Ret.)

McDermott is true believer in family values

I applaud Rep. Bob McDermott's June 19 letter and his moral fortitude to say what needed to be said without fear of retribution or reprisal from special interest groups. He is a true defender of family values.

Unlike Vice President Gore, who claims to be running for president on the family values platform but supports abortion and same-sex marriage (aka "civil unions"), McDermott is not a pawn of special interest groups, saying what the audience wants to hear.

I am only saddened that there are not more elected officials willing to stand for moral and ethical behavior like him. If there were, this country would not be in such a state of moral decline, and deviant and decadent behavior would not be running rampant.

James Roller


Cayetano did well at governors' meeting

After viewing the Oahu meeting of the Western Governors Association on the Internet, I was impressed with Governor Cayetano.

He was a great chairman and ambassador for our state. His knowledge of the issues was impressive, and so were the array of topics discussed, all relevant to Hawaii.

It was good to see Cayetano leading the way and demonstrating to the world that serious business can be conducted here in paradise.

Grant Peters

Medical costs are enough to make you ill

If you happen to be one of the few thousands like myself without health insurance, beware of where you check yourself into if you think you're having cardiac arrest. You'll have another one when you get the medical bill.

At 56, I run a great deal and feel quite fit -- apart from a little tendonitis in the shoulder, for which I was prescribed a drug called Celebrex.

I failed to read the fine print. the side effects listed everything imaginable to contribute to cardiovascular disruption. So there I was one evening, in the middle of a run, at Queen's Medical Center.

One X-ray was billed by Queen's at $300, plus an X-ray by an outside doctor, $150. Tread mill test at Queen's, $300; another tread mill test by an outside doctor, $360. EKG billed by Queen's, $300; EKG by outside doctor, $360. Overall my dramatic evening cost me over $2,500.

They say, "Buyer, beware," but -- my God. Conclusion: A total rip-off. Next time I'll run to the Hilton and book a room.

John L. Werrill

State must protect rights of the disabled

As the parents of a young woman who has developmental disabilities, we are dismayed at Hawaii's support of the defendant in the Alabama case involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (Star-Bulletin, June 8).

This is a civil-rights issue, one that says that states cannot discriminate. Our daughter is entitled to the same consideration as anyone else.

She works, pays taxes, goes to college and is in every way a responsible individual. She also has some differences. Disability can occur at birth, after an accident or at any time during a person's life.

If the rights of someone with a disability or any other difference -- such as age, gender or race --are not protected, couldn't your own rights and possibly your children's rights also be threatened? Do you have other protections because of privilege we are not aware of? If so, how can we acquire them? Meanwhile, shame, shame, shame!

Josie and Dave Woll

Alcohol is most destructive drug of all

National drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey's advice to fathers, published in the Star-Bulletin Insight section on the eve of Father's Day, was a persuasive admonition about a dad's role in educating teens about drugs. Yet it missed the mark.

McCaffrey never mentioned the substance that is, by far, the No. 1 drug of choice for America's youth: alcohol. He needed to tell fathers the very thing they least wanted to hear: Alcohol is a huge killer and destroyer of children and teens.

It kills 6.5 times as many young people as all of the other illicit drugs combined. While the nation is worrying about its youth becoming addicted to other high-profile drugs, thousands are dying in traffic crashes, drownings, boating mishaps, falls, suicides, alcohol-poisoning incidents and other "accidents" because of alcohol.

MADD has taken its case to McCaffrey and tried to have alcohol included in the present educational campaign. Although our drug czar acknowledged that alcohol is a bigger threat to the health and safety of our youth than other drugs included in the expensive campaign, there were still no specific plans to address alcohol education in the near future.

So it is up to moms and dads to tell kids, starting at age 10 or 11 when drinking begins, that alcohol is illegal for those younger than 21 and that there is solid research to support this law.

For more information, contact our local office at 532-6232 or check out MADD's national Web site,

Carol H. McNamee
Public Policy Chairwoman
Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii

Hawaii's elections threatened by fraud

During the past 35 years, I have been an active voter in five states. Never in any other state than Hawaii has the specter of rampant voter fraud been something that could rob me of my right as a U.S. citizen to participate in a fair, just election.

I have read with growing alarm the reports of hanky-panky surrounding the election process and selection of ES&S to administer Hawaii's upcoming elections.

My fear was further confirmed by visiting the Voter Integrity Project Web site,, where Hawaii is listed as one of seven "hot states" with serious ethical questions regarding the administration of recent elections.

I congratulate state Republican Chairwoman Linda Lingle for her attempt to hold those in power accountable and for not accepting this direct attack on our most precious right and responsibility. This is a nonpartisan issue of the utmost importance.

We must restore faith in honest, accurate elections.

Joanne Bretschneider

Youth must learn about democratic process

"Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I'll understand." This proverb epitomizes what I heard from 185 youths representing 21 Hawaii high schools, who participated this past school year in the Close Up Foundation program in Washington, D.C.

For one intense week, these students were involved in the democratic process through observing congressional proceedings, questioning journalists, meeting with government advisors and debating viewpoints with their peers from other parts of the country.

Most took home the best kind of souvenir: a deeper awareness of their responsibilities as citizens and the realization that a single individual can make a difference. The local benefit is that civic participation is a national issue best exercised and developed at the community level.

On behalf of Close Up, I would like to thank all who helped in the coordination and funding of this year's program, including Tesoro Hawaii Corp. and the J.C. Penney Co. Fund.

Jennifer Oh
Hawaii Close Up Coordinator

God doesn't care who wins in sports

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that student-led prayer at high school football games violates the Constitution was a no-brainer.

The high court may have based its ruling on the concept of separation of church and state, but just as easily could have based it on the need to separate church and sport.

Do those people down in Texas really think that God gives a rip about a high school football game? It never ceases to amaze me when athletes thank God after a hard-fought victory, as if God actually cares who wins the Super Bowl or World Series.

But Michael Chang, once a top tennis player, really takes the cake. I remember watching a match of his at the U.S. Open a few years back, during which he repeatedly barked the phrase, "Praise the Lord," between points.

If there is a God, I'd like to think that he or she has more important things to do than watch a football game or tennis match.

Jonathan R. Peterson

Don't take drugs; ride a bike instead

I'll second A.A. Smyser's June 13 column, "Drug policy should stress treatment," especially his closing line: "Foremost should be saving lives, keeping drugs away from children and keeping people healthy."

Indeed, two decades into a virulent war on drugs, we continue to see plentiful supplies of increasingly potent drugs on the street and plenty of paying customers in spite of draconian drug penalties and a growth industry in prisons.

We don't need more jails. We need healthy, vibrant communities where people lead satisfying lives and don't need to chronically avoid reality.

For example, the Hawaii Bicycling League currently teaches safe, fun recreational activities to our school children through our Bike Ed/Walk Smart programs at a cost approximately equal to the price per student of a bike helmet.

We also offer bike rides on weekends for new and established riders, and have strongly advocated building recreational resources such as the Leeward Bikeway. When this multiuse path is finished, it will provide a biking, skating, jogging and walking trail connecting Pearl Harbor to Nanakuli by way of the Ewa Plains, providing opportunities for healthy activities in an area that sometimes feels forgotten.

While we do not link this to a drug policy, one can argue that such programs help our community by providing opportunities to develop healthy minds and bodies, thus avoiding the pitfalls of potentially self-destructive activities.

Khal Spencer
Hawaii Bicycling League

Hawaiian advocates must tell the truth

Louis Agard's June 16 letter, "Hawaiians can protest by withholding aloha," takes issue with Bill Burgess' claim that the unrest in Fiji between "natives" and "non-natives" could occur in Hawaii.

Agard takes us back to an 1897 petition against annexation but refuses to accept the 1959 statehood vote in which 95 percent of the population -- including all native Hawaiians -- voted for statehood. He then uses the 1993 Apology Bill where he says that "270 million U.S. citizens (spoke)..." but he won't refer to the 1898 vote on annexation overwhelmingly passed in Congress.

It seems that Agard is caught in a time warp.

He wants to pick and choose those events that occurred at whatever date he prefers, in order to make his case that native Hawaiians want to secede from the union.

It is also unusual for someone to claim to speak for all native Hawaiians when, as a delegate of the Native Hawaiian Convention, he was voted into this position by less than 8 percent of those eligible to vote in that election.

It's time for those who pick and choose at history, and who have no valid claim to speak for the Hawaiian community, to tell the truth, the whole truth.

Marge Young
Ewa Beach

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