Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Battle lines being drawn

Flashback, ca. 1975. I'm sitting in the Student Union with some friends having coffee. There is a stack of pamphlets and papers in the middle of the table that we collected when we ran the gauntlet of activists choking the lobby. They range from the Young Republicans to the Socialist Student Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Student Party. The latter two just had a nasty split over the meaning of 'dialectic'. They now spend their time attacking each other.

We idly discuss the screes, but, really, they try so hard to make their points that they overreach and throw in that last comment that takes them over the top.

Which is my cue to fast-forward.

Bruce Bateman got me to thinking with his Sour Grapes column at
Saipanuvian. He spends a lot of time trying to explain taotao tano. Actually makes some good points along the way. They have their voice, and it's one that's needed. Are their politics too personal? Yeah, for me.

Then Bruce makes the classic mistake--if it's a mistake, because it's also a classic propaganda tactic. He starts branding anyone who might disagree as "mainlander liberals, and mainland educated liberal locals". So there, now I don't have to deal with ideas, lets just talk labels.

Bruce got me to thinking, but it was Wendy Doromal over at
Unheard No More that got me to writing. I vaguely remember her wandering through the Variety when I was there, also vaguely that her stories were pretty good, except that they verged on having too much opinion for straight news.

It's interesting that Guam Chamoru Rights activists seem to be heavily involved with Taotao Tano. Makes sense, I suppose. They've got a lot of the same interests.

I've always thought Guamanians had a better beef with the U.S. After all, the CNMI approved the Covenant in an election. Nobody ever asked Guam. I think we all know how that would turn out, but that's beside the point.

And now that I've made it by the tables in the food for thought court, I'll finish my V-8. All of these activists shouting makes me thirsty.


lil_hammerhead said...

I'm curious.. how would a Chamorro-only vote of self-determination for Guam turn out? I honestly wouldn't know.. and I've been out here for nearly five decades.

lil_hammerhead said...

On another note.. you've made my list of five best NMI blogs. Now you're tagged. See my site, glen's, seaweeds, sbloggers for more info.

bradinthesand said...

guam was awarded to the u.s. from the spanish. when do gifts receive a vote? mommy, i want one for christmas, too!

seriously, guam is an island just outside of statehood and it probably will be, one day.

i think the u.s. would rather bring the cnmi in line with guam so it can make the change all at once.

that said, why haven't they done that with puerto rico and the virgin islands?

and ken, why not get rid of the word verification? how much spam do you really get here?

i get my fair share of traffic and i've only received two bot-related spam comments in the past year.

lil_hammerhead said...

The US can always take the high road and do the right thing. The right thing would be to offer the indigenous people of Guam the right to self-determination.

I agree with you (Brad) that the US is trying to bring the CNMI in line with Guam. Not for the purpose of statehood however. At least not in the next couple of decades.

There's a huge percentage of the population of Puerto Rico, and a significant percentage willing to utilize violence, who want the relationship with the US ended.

KAP said...

Umm, let's see...

Post 1 -- Personally, I think they'd go for the blue passport. But after more than 100 years, how on earth are you going to define Chamorro? And, when people have been mobile since day one, who gets to pick the date when a 'native' is a 'native'? See at Kosovo.

Post 2 -- Lawdy, the other shoe dropped. I try to avoid that stuff, but I'll try.

Post 3 -- Yeah, we stole it fair and square. Statehood, even combined with the CNMI, doesn't seem likely too me. Not enough population. Also, the Beltways pay close attention to whether they're potentially giving more power to Republicans or Democrats. VI I don't know, probably population also. I used to follow Puerto Rico, not so much recently. When I was watching, the polls seemed to fluctuate: 40+ percent Statehood, 40+ percent status quo and the rest opting for independence. They've got a pretty good deal right now.

You're right about the verification, I've only got a couple slices of spam. But it's the only drug test I can administer online.

Post 4 -- New York City wants to secede from Puerto Rico? They've been voting with their feet for years. I really don't know how the percentages run these days.

And yeah, basic fairness says there should be a vote. But indigenous? Geez, what a quagmire.

Oh and Realpolitik rears its ugly head. The military, the military, the military. Guam and the CNMI could go their merry way except for valuable real estate and strategic deniability to the Russians, er Chinese.

KAP said...

This from a quick search on Puerto Rican Statehood.

woodchuck said...

Hammerhead, you amaze me.

How can you be so right about Guam, yet so enthusiastic about bringing down the federal fist on the CNMI?

What's the difference?

bradinthesand said...

there will never be a self-determination vote for guam because guam is owned by the united states.

that's already been decided.

the only vote they'll likely get is one of statehood vs. colony (status quo).

with the military presence growing at the present rate, it's just a matter of time before guam and the cnmi are locked down completely...federally speaking, that is.

in case it isn't abundantly clear, the feds don't care about the cnmi's tourism (why would they).

it's all about securing the guam bases from the chinese and russians (yes, the pentagon's dinosaurs are still wary about the ruskies).

sad to say it but people on the mainland really don't care about us.

we're looked upon as a possession that stands in the way of a secured military base.

with a little fear mongering by the bush administration, the folks on the hill will rally in the name of security... like a bunch of sheep.

it doesn't help that we're making it easy for them by giving them multiple angles by which to attack.

pick one: immigration, labor, security, corruption...

yeah, no vote will likely be offered in the near future. if one is, the feds will probably hope that the tourism market dries up so that falling in line becomes the only option.

just a few thoughts...

on a completely unrelated note, whomever invented the term "submerged lands" must've been in the real estate business.

that term slays me...

so is a boat a submerged land vehicle? ha ha ha ha ha. it's water, people. water, water, water.

lil_hammerhead said...

See Woodchuck. I believe the CNMI opted for what you call "the federal fist" when it opted to be a US Commonwealth. With regards to Guam.. I believe the Chamorros should also have the right to a plebescite.

Now if they are granted the right to a plebescite and vote to become a Commonwealth of the US, with the same caveats as our covenant.. than I would have the same opinion about any such similar situation in Guam.

When you sign a contract.. and that is what our covenant really amounts to, there are clauses that can be looked upon as good or bad for either of the particular parties. You don't sign the contract and take issue with the stuff you don't like.. you signed the contract in its entirety.

lil_hammerhead said...

It is only a submerged land vehicle when it sinks and hits bottom.

bradinthesand said... is our economy submerged?

woodchuck said...

So Hammerhead, in your view you get one decisive act of self-determination and you're done? If you vote to be a colony, you're stuck with that decision forever? It sounds like contracting to sell yourself into slavery. Even if it binds you, how can it bind your children and grandchildren?

And where does the Covenant do that anyway? Whatever else it does, doesn't it also guarantee local self-government? Doesn't that part of the deal mean anything anymore? As you say, if we are going to follow the Covenant, we need to follow the whole thing -- not just cherry-pick the parts the feds like.

KAP said...

So, the part of Medinilla that's disappeared is now submerged land. Are they trying to welsh on the lease?

bradinthesand said...

yeah, sounds like a discount is in order...

kushibo said...

I'm really late to this discussion, but I have a few questions.

Is there a high percentage of CNMIers who would want statehood if the conditions were favorable? How about folks on Guam? In order to get a sizable enough population, would CNMI and Guam residents be willing to have a joint state (but one with sufficiently autonomous parts to maintain identity)?

I live in Korea (but currently study in Hawaii) and I have been to Guam a couple times. Not yet to Saipan or elsewhere in the CNMI, though I'd like to. I've met quite a few Saipanese (sorry if that's not the right term) here in Hawaii, but the reaction I got was mixed — they're young people who don't know much about the issues, I think, one way or the other.

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