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238 pages, Hardcover
First published February 4, 2011
If a big wave comes in, large and unfamiliar fishes will come from the dark ocean, and when they see the small fishes of the shallows they will eat them up. The white man's ships have arrived with clever men from the big countries. They know our people are few in number and our country is small, they will devour us.This book, sadly, made me a bit embarrassed to be an American. America's policy of manifest destiny at the cost of the cultures, freedoms and lives of various indigenous peoples throughout history is truly appalling, and this book -- although funny in its author's casual delivery -- is a sad reminder of one of the less publicized examples of that policy.
I started looking into Hawaii's bit part in the epic of American global domination. I came across a political cartoon on the cover of Harper's Weekly from August 27, 1898. Above the caption, "Uncle Sam's New Class in the Art of Self-Government," Uncle Sam poses as a schoolmaster in a classroom festooned with a world map in which little American flags are planted on the barely visible island dots of Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba & the Philippines. A barefoot, frowning boy wearing a dunce cap labeled "Aguinaldo" represents the Filipino revolutionary who began the Spanish-American War as an American ally against Spain; but after Spain surrendered and handed over the Phillipines to the United States, Aguinaldo led the guerilla war against his new American colonizers. Uncle Sam is trying to break up a fight between two other barefoot boys, one wearing a satchel marked "Cuban Ex-Patriot" and the other a belt marked "Guerilla" meant to symbolize the unruly discontentment of Cuban freedom fighers also dismayed that their American allies in the fight against Spain for Cuba libre had just become their new colonial overlord. Meanwhile, off to the side, two good little girls, their headdresses identifying them as "Hawaii" and "Porto Rico," have their noses in the books they are quietly reading. Presumably because well-behaved Hawaii & Puerto Rico have politely and graciously accepted the blessings of annexation without any back talk.
If a big wave comes in, large and unfamiliar fishes will come from the dark ocean, and when they see the small fishes of the shallows they will eat them up. The white man's ships have arrived with clever men from the big countries. They know our people are few in number and our country is small, they will devour us.