Our semi-centennial semi-celebration passed, in the end, with neither a whimper nor a bang. There was a little bit of patriotism –both American and Hawaiian–and a little bit of protest, but the most dramatic image of the week was Kekuni Blaisdell’s bloodied cheek on Friday evening’s newscasts, and it turned out he had just slipped. No, really–he said so himself.
The biggest surprise of our golden anniversary as an American state may have been the emergence of our longstanding internal struggles with sovereignty and identity onto the national scene–and without much comment, at that. Mark Niesse’s story for the Associated Press, which emphasized the muted nature of statehood commemorations, ran in hundreds of newspapers across North America, but so far, it doesn’t seem to have riled up mainland conservatives much at all, especially when compared with the furor generated by the Akaka bill two years ago. Maybe they’re waiting for the bill to come up again. Maybe they’re distracted by the assault on health insurance profits. It does seem, though, from commentaries and blog posts and newspaper comment forums, that many Americans have accepted that the 50th State stands apart from the rest. That seems like progress.
Speaking of progress: The 8th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention is underway this week at the Hawaii Convention Center. The community development-focused event, sponsored by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and featuring workshops galore, flies under the radar for many of us, but is a major spot on the political calendar–all four of our delegates to Washington, D.C. will appear at some point during the three-day convention, as will many heavyweights in the Native Hawaiian political community.