Hawaiians eager to explain to President Obama why the impending Akaka bill needs to have hearings in Hawaii were turned away this first day of the year by the president’s security at the entrance to the vacation compound in Kailua.
Just before the president’s motorcade returned to the compound, a group of about 50 people had peacefully gathered across from the entrance holding signs saying: “Akaka Bill-Not Without Us,” “Bring Hearings Home to Hawaii,” “No To Akaka Bill,” “Hawaiian Independence” and so forth. The president arrived at the expected time, and it would have been impossible for him not to have noticed the signs and the friendly people waving them.
The demonstration was to: 1) call the president’s attention to the fact that no congressional hearings on the Akaka bill have been held in Hawaii since Senator Daniel Akaka introduced it in 2000; and 2) to urge the president to use his influence to insist that hearings be held in Hawaii for this incredibly critical bill.
After the president entered the compound, sign waving continued for an hour or so, then the group walked up to the security barricade to deliver a packet for the president, including a position statement, petitions of thousands of Hawaii residents and background information.
That’s when the run-around started. According to the secret service at the entrance, only someone from the president’s staff could receive the packet. OK, so could you summon someone from the staff? No, you have to contact them yourself. How do we do that? Maybe, you could call the hotel where they are staying. We did that earlier today, but the hotel refused to acknowledge which, or if any, staff member is staying there, and would not accept a “to whom it may concern” packet.
Maybe you could send it to the White House. Everyone knows the White House is a black hole where letters disappear, never to be seen or heard from again. (It’s also been our experience that presidents don’t answer letters, emails and phone calls.) Well we can’t help you. But the president and his staff members are right there, only fifty yards away! Aargh!!
Despite the frustration, everything was peaceful and civil. No voices or tempers were raised.
So how does one contact the president with something as urgent as the impending destruction of his home state? Except for holding signs along a road in Kailua, it appears impossible for Hawaiians to communicate with the President of the United States. This kind of contrived inaccessibility is in reality a pre-arranged act of refusal. No message received, no answer required. And none given. Thus, the issue is dodged and the request for intervention is for all intents and purposes, refused.
So we are going to try another way. Hello!? Mr. Obama, are you there? If you are reading the ‘Hawaii Reporter’, please help us get the Akaka bill heard in Hawaii. If for nothing else, it would come off looking as if you care.
‘Leon Siu, a Hawaiian activist and entertainer, can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org’