Letters to the Editor

Silly reference

April 14, 2011


To the editor:

I laughed out loud at David Merton Shultz’ assertion (Journal-World, April 12) that the birth of a “mulatto baby” (and doesn’t THAT term take one back to the good ol’ Jim Crow days!) was an uncommon, and therefore memorable, occurrence in Hawaii at the time of President Obama’s birth. Had Mr. Shultz’s “hundreds of hours of research” led him to actually visit Hawaii, view its census records or read its history, he would know that it is arguably the most multicultural/ethnic/racial of states in the Union.

He would know too that the local term for people like Mr. Obama is hapa, a native Hawaiian word meaning “half” which is now commonly applied to those of any combination of races and ethnicities. Among the peoples representative of the modern state of Hawaii are those of native Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, African-American, Filipino, Korean, Chamorro, Samoan and Tongan heritage — and any and all combinations thereof. (Oh, yeah, and even plain old vanilla haoles like me.) Think Tiger Woods; think Greg Louganis.

So thanks, Mr. Shultz, for a good chuckle. And please: Do try to get out more!


Corey Williams 7 years ago

Yes, but of course you are somehow named "anonymous." How sad and unfortunate for you.

Bill Getz 7 years ago

This is a letter I missed. I can hardly believe that anyone expresed such an idiotic opinion or that the JW printed it. I suspect a hoax.

jafs 7 years ago

It was in the paper yesterday.

And it was real.

Kirk Larson 7 years ago

People might have referred to themselves as "mixed race" in the census. Mulatto is now a somewhat derogatory term from "little mule".

Kirk Larson 7 years ago

From the source you cite: "Mulatto existed as an official census category until 1930." No one would have referred to themselves as mulatto in the 2000 census.

Maddy Griffin 7 years ago

Agreed. My kids do it all the time.Since Obama was elected, if you ask them their race, they will tell you they are "Presidential".

notanota 7 years ago

There are plenty of black people that refer to themselves as the n-word, too. It still doesn't make a white person sound less ignorant to use the term.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 7 years ago

Since when is Wikipedia a reliable source?

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

6,171 people self-identifying with this term in the 2000 census doesn't change the fact that it is an outdated term from a bygone era. You could probably still find a few thousand people who would use the term "colored," too. You could probably still find a few people who own beta max machines. Doesn't mean that technology isn't obsolete.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Wow, somebody is sure of his intellectual superiority.

We aren't talking about the use of the word in 1961; we're talking about its use in 2011. This week, in fact.

It might be a good idea for you to take your own advice.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Since we're so into nitpicking, the use of the word "mulatto" was in an earlier interview, not a letter, so it was a speaker, not an author.

And while he was describing events in 1961, he was doing that describing in 1961. We don't revert to Olde English when we speak about the middle ages, now do we? We judge the appropriateness of a speaker's words by the time in which he is speaking, not the time he is describing.

Oh, and my name's not Einstein. But since you're so smart, you probably figured that our for yourself.

I just have one question for you: law student or philo major?

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Goodness, it must be lonely to be you, what with no one being capable of keeping up with your vastly superior critical thinking skills, Vizzini. And then there is your ability to bend the space-time continuum which obviously I lack as I was unable to acknowledge your comment at 4:05 in my comment posted a minute earlier.

Truly you do have a dizzying intellect. My mistake for thinking I could keep up.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

You're funny. But not in an I want to keep you around and be friends with you way. If you think you won this little battle of wits, I'll let you keep thinking that.

John Hamm 7 years ago

Bad analogy - Betamax technology isn't obsolete. Still has many users.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Seriously? As I indicated, yes, you can still find people who use it. It doesn't have to be an extinct technology to be obsolete. Betamax is an obsolete technology.

kernal 7 years ago

"I can hardly believe that anyone expresed such an idiotic opinon..." If you are referring to Ms. Boyce's lte, there's nothing idiotic about it. Granted, her lte is loaded with sarcasm, but given the topic i think it's warranted.

fuel_for_the_fire 7 years ago

"Thousands of Americans identified themselves as "mulatto" in the 2000 census" - This statement is not accurate. Nowhere on the 2000 census is the category of "mulatto".

It is true that the 2000 census was the the first time that respondents were allowed to select more than one racial category. On earlier censuses, multiracial individuals were asked to choose a single racial category, or respond as "Some Other Race."

It is erroneous to say that the percentage of the population who marked more than one category consider themselves to be "mulatto".

That's the problem with relying on Wikipedia as a credible source of information.

elspethwood 7 years ago

I was sorry to see that LJW altered my spelling of Hawai'i to "Hawaii." Probably that's straight out of some journalist style-guide, but I think it's a disrespect to the Hawaiian language.

As to sonofliberty's (anonymous, huh?) comment that "blacks make up just 3.2% the of (sic) Hawaii's (sic) population": I tried to avoid the term "black" in my lte, because it's used so very differently by different people. Does it mean only "Americans of African descent?" Or, "people with black skin?" Or, "people with beige-to-brown-to-black skin?" Are Samoan people "black?" Do they consider themselves black, or would they check "Pacific Islander" on a census form? How about Tongans? Would Mr. Schulz, the Wichita birther dude, call any of the above folks "black?" Auwe! The mind boggles.

The term "hapa" is used by many kama'aina (local residents of Hawai'i) to mean "anybody of mixed race." My own extended family in Honolulu uses the term that way. I have no doubt that it's used differently, among different families and communities. Here is the definition from Mary Kawena Pukui's "New Pocket Hawaiian Dictionary" (1992): Hapa: 1. Portion, fragment, part; to be a portion; less (Engl: half). 2. Of mixed blood; person of mixed blood.

Betsy Boyce

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

So what's your point? Your (not-well-supported) nitpicking really doesn't detract from the main point of the letter. Are you a birther?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

So, you're not a birther, but you appreciate the confusion that their mis/disinformation creates in the body politic, so you nitpick with those who call them on it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"You're making assumptions."

A relatively safe one, IMHO.

Jimo 7 years ago

So, let's see if we follow the "logic."

Babies born in Hawaii of a mixed race involving African descent is (or was) rare - therefore, there's something suspicious about such an event?

Yet, how much more rare must it have been to have black governmental economist--and Kenyan citizen!--in Hawaii, yet I can't recall anyone questioning this even more rare occurrence and doubting Barack Obama, Sr.'s existence. Indeed, if I correctly recall, Papa was the first foreign student from Africa the U of H had ever enrolled. Sounds fishy to me!

I'm tempted to go to some wingnut site and post some "information" about how Papa's school records have never been found!!!!! (Except, some dumb Kansas Congressman would probably put out a statement demanding a Congressional inquiry of this revelation and then I'd have to go on Stephen Colbert's show or somewhere and try to debunk my own satire.)

Joe Blackford II 7 years ago

"some dumb Kansas Congressman would probably put out a statement demanding a Congressional inquiry of this revelation"

You lost me just after "Kansas," as I was picturing someone of the female gender . . . you know, a Divorcée.

My Dad, USMC, served on the Big Island during WWII. He played a lot of golf & had the 8mm color movies to prove it. He putted around Ala Wai Golf Course, designed by Donald MacKay, (opened its original nine holes on September 13, 1931, as the first municipal course on Oahu and the first in the Islands).

Dad panned the camera; he would always comment on the open (no hotels!) views of Diamond Head, the Koolau mountain range and the non-existent Waikiki skyline. Then would mention the Navy dumping heads of lettuce, bobbing in the surf.

Dad was the loudest bigot I knew, until he passed away, March 2010. But I Never heard him say anything derogatory about our President. I was amazed on several occasions while shopping for groceries with Dad: a person of some ethnicity would recognize Dad, their face breaking into a big grin & hurry over to greet him & say where Dad's Beech, or East HS (Wichita), aircraft sheet metal training had taken them in life. They knew a man I'd never met . . . those were the proudest moments of my life.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Now that's a pretty impressive reading between the lines. Either that, or complete BS.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

He abandoned whatever socialist leanings he may have once had at the White House door. But from your postings here, you likely see anyone who isn't an acolyte of Ayn Rand as a socialist.

jafs 7 years ago

Do you really think that intelligent people just decide what to believe when they're young, and that never changes?

As a young black man in America, it's not at all surprising to me that he may have been attracted to some socialist ideas, or to Liberation theology.

It's also very plausible that as he got older and matured, his views changed, as many of ours do.

jafs 7 years ago

Actually, I thought you might be capable of thinking about the topic with a little more depth and care.

My bad.

jafs 7 years ago

That's good!

Very funny - you should be a comedian.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

He campaigns one way, governs another.

But he doesn't even campaign as a socialist (a term you clearly don't understand.)

notanota 7 years ago

Hmm, I got "Here's a relatively centrist proposal to fix the deficit by a combination of tax reform and spending cuts."

But who am I to stand in the way of a two day old poster with a straw man argument?

notanota 7 years ago

It was also founded on the ideas that slaves were property and only counted for 3/5ths of a person and that voting was strictly for the men-folk. You support those ideas, too?

notanota 7 years ago

Oh really. Which parts are untrue? That slaves did not get to vote but were considered 3/5ths of a person for the sake of census figures? That women did not get to vote? Or the part where you cherry-pick your ideas about the founding of this country and gloss over the parts where we've evolved our positions and philosophies over the years?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Of course it did. It wouldn't have taken a civil war to (almost) end it, otherwise.

By the way, who is "skippy?" An imaginary enemy?

What do you call your imaginary friend(s)? (I can't imagine your having any real ones.)

notanota 7 years ago

Why is it that so often the people who whine the loudest about us not following the Constitution always end up being the ones who've never read it and have no understanding of the history surrounding it?

notanota 7 years ago

So why exactly did we need a 13th and 14th Amendment? Oh, because the Constitution had these now modified gems:

"No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due."

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

Constitutional scholars would quite clearly tell you that these two passages and one more about importation were, in fact, talking about slavery. That's right. Constitutionally codified slavery.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

She did precisely that. It was in rather ambiguous language because the opponents of slavery didn't want to openly acknowledge the elephant in the room, but only an idiot could fail to understand what was being said.

notanota 7 years ago

You're trying to nitpick your way out of a hole, when really you should just stop digging. The Constitution specified that slaves escaping one state were still slaves when caught in a free state. That is giving authority and permission for some states to own slaves. IE, it is sanctioning slavery.

That's your Jeffersonian Constitution at work. You know, Jefferson - that guy who also owned slaves.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Do you know what the word sanction means? Frederick Douglass was saying that the Constitution doesn't guarantee a right to own slaves, a position I fully agree with. But there's a big difference between guaranteeing a right to slavery and sanctioning the practice of slavery. I don't think anyone has ever seriously tried to argue that the Constitution as originally written didn't sanction slavery since the owning of slaves was allowed under that document. Not guaranteed, just allowed.

When you respond to this by insulting my intelligence, could you please come up with a better nickname than Skippy or Einstein? Since you're so smart and all, you really ought to be able to come up with something less pedestrian.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Sanction means to authorize, approve, or allow. By not outlawing the practice of slavery, which was active in many states at the time of the Constitution's drafting, yes, the document did indeed sanction slavery as it allowed the practice to continue. As nota has noted (and as I'm sure you are aware), the Constitution even dealt with slavery in the lovely 3/5 clause. It didn't explicitly approve of slavery and it certainly didn't guarantee the right to own slaves. Nor did it prohibit states from outlawing slavery, but it sure as heck didn't prohibit anyone from continuing to own slaves. In this way, it allowed slavery to continue. Or using a synonym for allow, it sanctioned slavery.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Douglass didn't say quite what you're maintaining he said. All I'm saying, which anyone with a brain would not argue against, is that the Constitution allowed slavery to continue. Otherwise known as sanctioning the continued practice. Also, at the time of Douglass' writings and speeches on the subject, other lawyers disagreed with him. So you are relying on an overstatement of the thesis of one lawyer as definitive proof of your point, but I'm the one who looks silly? The only reason I look silly is for being unable to let your nonsensical, arrogant posts go without comment. I'm working on that.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

You cited Frederick Douglass, who was making political speeches seeking to sway the nation to abolish slavery. He did so by trying to argue that the Constitution had always been anti-slavery. Happily, the abolitionists won and we got the 13th Amendment. But Douglass' political comments in the 1850s and '60s can't be seen as definitive on the subject of whether the Constitution as originally written sanctioned (meaning allowed) slavery. Clearly it did or it wouldn't have included provisions like the importation clause and the 3/5 clause.

I offer you A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals from 1990 to 1991, graduate of Yale Law School. Prominent author, specifically on matters of race and law. Had no qualms stating that the Constitution sanctioned slavery.

Again, please remember that sanction does not mean guarantee. It was a tacit sanctioning. No one at the Constitutional Convention even wanted to utter the word "slavery." Many framers wanted to outlaw slavery all together, but knew they would never get such a document ratified. So they quietly accepted slavery. And by not outlawing it, knowing that it was an on-going institution, they allowed it to continue. Aka sanctioned it.

By the by, I am confident you won't believe me, but I actually am a Constitutional scholar.

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

What kind of proof would you accept? An in-depth discussion of standards of review in Constitutional law? Being able to distinguish between rational basis review and strict scrutiny? If you go back and read my comments on the threads related to the WBC lawsuit, you will find ample evidence of my ability to discuss First Amendment law. Going back through my old comments, you should also find at least one instance in which I promised that the way the District Attorney had charged a crime could not stand only to be proven thoroughly correct shortly thereafter when the DA dismissed the charge I had complained of.

But if you want me to tell you where I studied American political theory and Constitutional law, I'm afraid I can't satisfy you there. Pardon me for being unwilling to divulge such identifying information on an anonymous message board. I don't know who you are, after all. Consider me paranoid if you will.

Paul R Getto 7 years ago

Sounds like some folks need to reread Kingsblood Royal by Sinclair Lewis: "The protagonist, Neil Kingsblood, a white middle class man, discovers that he is partly of African American descent while researching his family background. He then begins to see himself as black, despite his lack of racial features, and is forced to choose between continuing what he now sees as a hollow existence in the white community and the oppressed minority existence of the black community. After he admits his heritage to several white friends, the news quickly spreads, and he engages in a quixotic struggle against the racism prevalent in the community. The climax of the novel comes when a mob comes to evict Neil from his house in a white suburb, and he is able to stand them down." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsblood_Royal Totally a nonissue......Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Brent Garner 7 years ago

All Obama has to do to silence the doubters and critics is to release his origianl long form birth certificate. Then the controversy is over. The Democrats tried to make a big deal of McCain being born in the Panama Canal Zone and thus not eligible to be president. It is only fair if critics of Obama make similar accusations. There really isn't anything sacrosanct on a birth certificate. The item Obama released is not a birth certificate but rather a certificate of live birth--a document asserting only that the peson listed was born alive. Release your birth certificate Mr. Obama and silence your critics, confound the doubters, put the issue to rest, and score points for your re-election! Doing otherwise hurts you far more than it helps!!!

ebyrdstarr 7 years ago

Banging head against wall

When did we reach the point that a certified document from a state averring that the individual named was born in that state on a specific date isn't sufficient proof of that person's birth?

jonas_opines 7 years ago

This thread smells strongly of potential Groenhagen

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