How America's obsession with hula girls almost wrecked Hawai'i


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/27/how-americas-obsession-with.html


#2

Here is what actually ruined Hawaii. Cook and Gauguin’s fetishization of native wonen was deplorable, and fueled further visits, but there was much more to it.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/learning/2012/01/17/jan-17-1893-hawaiian-monarchy-overthrown-by-america-backed-businessmen/?referer=


#3

Or, more simply, it’s smack dab in the middle of the Pacific. Everybody wanted Hawaii – America, Britain, Russia, Japan – and the result would have been the same whether the Native Hawaiians were kind or xenophobic. It’s a crappy place to live if you want be left alone by rival imperial powers who see the Pacific Ocean as their own private bath tub.


#4

Yup. Geography, in many ways, is destiny, and Hawaii’s location makes it the place to have a naval base if you want to project power across the Pacific. If it hadn’t been USA, it would have been some other imperialist nation of the era.


#5

Sure, but let’s not rule out the choices people made regarding securing Hawai’i for it’s location.


#6

“Mistook” seems awfully charitable.


#7

see http://www2.hawaii.edu/~anu/pdf/Dissertation(Sai).pdf - it’s a masters thesis on why Hawaii should become an independent nation and goes into detail how their independence was stolen


#8

Just an FYI - Some Hawaiians (not all mind you) are fiercely racist to those who are non-islanders and even those who are born on the island but don’t look native (ie: white).


#9

That’s not so bad. I mean, losing one-tenth of your population isn’t something you want, but at least they weren’t devastated instead.


#10

I thought it was Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Badum-ching!

I would like to visit someday. My dad almost died there once surfing.

My grandpa served there in the Navy fixing airplanes.


#11

Gee, I wonder why?


#12

Make sure you stay away from the islands on Kill a Haole Day!


#13

Someone should mention that Hawaii was an aristocratic culture with a small, powerful ruling class that was more than eager for internal conquest and Western technology and luxuries. The story told is that the ruling class invaded from the west and conquered the original settlers of the islands, except for those on Molokoi where the “little people” used the rough terrain and lack of resources to fend off the invaders.

By the time the Westerners arrived, King Kamehameha was already conquering all of the islands, wiping out his rivals. He was more than glad to buy guns and other weapons in exchange for wood and other local products. Meanwhile, Westerners, often from New England, started marrying into the Hawaiian aristocracy which owned all of the land, generally marked in sectors from some high point inland to the shore. Most of the land in Hawaii is still in very few hands. (It’s interesting to compare the Hawaiian aristocracy and the English aristocracy of the same era. Both married a lot of Americans and other modern industrialists to build their family fortunes which allowed them to keep land ownership concentrated.)

This is a problem with aristocratically structured societies. One ruling class can move in and take over and/or merge with the existing one. Look at Japan taking over all the European colonies, more or less swallowing them whole, to build its co-prosperity sphere. It wasn’t hula girls. It was the daughters of the aristocracy whose charms, mainly vast tracts of land, enticed the Westerners and fueled the take over.


#14

It could be argued that the convenient notions of sexuality and ownership imposed upon Hawaiians by European invaders made “annexation” inevitable, but you’re right, the true hammer fall was the destruction of their sovereignty, as it always is.


#15

#16

Doesn’t excuse imperialism from outside. The Hawaiian monarch also actively MODELED itself on the western monarchies in order to gain legitimacy and stop the west from colonizing them.


#17

Agreed.


#18

In other words: white people fucked it up as per usual


#19


#20

Whoops, sorry. Wrong invasion.