American Experience
Hawai'ians Remember Hawai'ians Remember

video | transcript

Grieving for Joe KahahawaiStories About the Massie CaseFear of the MilitaryPrejudice in the Haole CommunityThe Case's Impact on Hawai'iansAssessing the JuryCould It Happen Again?Racial TensionsA Threat to StatehoodInjustices Today

Jon Osorio (1:43)
Prejudice in the Haole Community

I think there was just a whole lot of paranoia especially coming out of the haole community and especially out of the Navy haole community when Thalia Massie claimed to be attacked. And one of the things that happens -- largely as the result of a tremendous publicizing of this, especially in the Hearst newspapers in the United States -- was this notion that white women were not safe here.

The whole issue of whether the United States ought to be in Hawai'i, whether Hawai'i ought to be a territory, for instance, and what kind of territory we should be, actually goes back to 1898, to the annexation days itself, in which there were tremendous debates among [U.S.] senators and congressmen over the difficulty, really, of "civilizing" a place like Hawai'i, not just because we have this native population, but because of the strong preponderance of Asian populations here as well. So the Chinese and the Japanese -- they were "not trustworthy" in a different way than natives were "not trustworthy." And that kind of discourse and a really powerful discourse, based on the notion that really only white Americans really understood the franchise, really understood citizenship, really understood what it meant to participate in a democratic society. That's just well known. That discourse is present and powerful and strong in this period.

The Massie Affair American Experience PBS