Petitioner taken aback
by Polynesian stereotype
LIHUE >> An online petition asking Dodge to drop the name Kahuna from a concept car making the rounds of auto shows has taken off in the past few days.
John Book of Pasco, Wash., who started the online petition Jan. 5, said it was on the Internet with 50 signatures until he decided to promote it to news outlets this week. Yesterday, it jumped from 450 signatures to more than 2,000.
Book, who is from Hawaii but who has lived on the mainland for 20 years, said he is offended by the misuse of the work kahuna, which means a priest or religious leader.
He said he is aware it has been adopted by the surfing community worldwide. There is a furniture store across his office called Kahuna Furniture and its logo is a surfer giving a shaka, he noted. But he said that doesn't make it any less offensive to Hawaiians and he finds its use by a major auto manufacturer objectionable. He also takes it as a comment on the stereotype of Polynesians as physically large people.
"I learned about it in a conversation. And I checked it out and here's this car called Kahuna that's big and wide." The petition is at www.PetitionOnline.com/Kahuna04/petition.html.