Tracey and I recently arrived in Hawaii to begin rebuilding the dormant local IVAW chapter and seek ways to engage in the struggle for social justice for when we move here sometime next year. We were lucky to be on Oahu for Halloween, a holiday that is enormously popular around these parts (Honolulu is to Halloween what South Padre Island or Cancun is to spring break). Being the creative geniuses we are, and given our incredible wealth of resources, we chose to dress up as war protesters, complete with picket signs and pamphlets.
As we strolled leisurely past French Maid and Naughty Nurse outfits, nobody seemed to take too much notice to our choice of costume. There were a few who questioned us about out dress, in which case we were quick to distribute our Hawaii-specific literature encouraging local service members to engage in “local nonpartisan political activities.” A few hours prior, we had met with the local anti-war movement volunteers, and were aware that the initiative had been slowed due to lack of energy and resources, so we were not too surprised when nobody we met seemed to be familiar with IVAW.
Being the disabled vet that I am, my knees didn’t want to cooperate for too long as we waded slowly past voyeurs, Gospel-singing choirs, and various street performers. We made our way to the local Starbucks for a pick-Logan-up, as Tracey considered the idea of mingling with the heavy foot traffic at the corner that we found ourselves occupying. I hurried in for my espresso.
When I emerged from the corporate coffee giants’ swinging doors, it didn’t take long to find my beautiful wife-to-be amongst the crowd. Not the proselytizing type, I lurked behind a nearby palm tree to keep watch. She seemed to be in her element.
I watched as Tracey, all 110 pounds of her, approached a few guys with the telltale short hair of military folk. After only a few days on the island, it was easy for her to identify the rag-tag, dread-headed local haoles (“how-lees” – white guys) from their military counterparts. As she walked up to a group of about five dudes, one in particular seemed to jump at her. Being Halloween, I figured he was pretending to try to scare her, so I allowed just a split second to pass before I decided it was non-hostile. She remained steadfast and continued to speak to the group without any further questionable activity.
A few moments later, she slipped away and quickly located me in the crowd. She immediately blurted out “I just about got in a fight.” Alarmed, I wondered what the guys had to say. Sure enough, she had had her first taste of “I got buddies that died over there, get the f**k outta here with that s**t.” She assured me that nothing got out of hand; adding that the guy that barked at her insisted that his buddies not talk to her “just because she’s cute.”
Refreshingly, despite their friend’s obviously castrating insecurity about discussing Iraq, a few of the guys seemed receptive and sympathetic, and Tracey had left them with a few of our handouts. We expect to face many more reactions similar to the one Tracey encountered, but at least we know now that the seeds are being planted.