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Letters for Sunday, December 12, 2021

Kind Kaua‘i people outnumber the few ‘rotten pineapples’

Last Friday, my husband, Bill, was in Safeway trying to buy me two gift cards. The first one went through with no problems, but the second one refused to process. Even the manager couldn’t solve the hang-up, whatever it was.

A young man and his mother were waiting patiently in line behind Bill, until the young man just took out his wallet and paid for the card! His mom said to Bill that she raised a good boy, and Bill wholeheartedly agreed, as do I.

Thank you, young man, whoever you are. I hope you see this letter and know that people like you are what makes Kaua‘i such a special place to live. You ARE the aloha spirit. Since you bought me a Christmas present, you should know what I’ll be getting a cordless trimmer to help me tame the colorful jungle that is our yard. I’ll think of you every time a stubborn shrub becomes manageable. And I want you to know we paid it forward to charitable groups here on the island and paid the yearly high-school tuition for a young woman in Malawi.

This was supposed to be a heartwarming Christmas letter, but then that old white guy in Po‘ipu verbally assaulted a visiting serviceman because he is Black.

I’m going to make this short, or I might cross the line and render this letter unprintable: I’m SO sorry, young man, that you were treated with such hatefulness by the rare-but-unfortunately-not-extinct bigot on what is dominantly a welcoming island. He’s lucky this old white woman wasn’t in that store. But to stay publishable, I will just quote our legally elected (by 7,000,000 more votes) president and say to the Grinch, “Will you shut up, man?”

To our ill-treated visitor, please come back again. I can’t promise you won’t encounter the occasional rotten pineapple, but I can promise that the kind people of Kaua‘i will far outnumber the few.

Happy holidays everyone,

Christine Queen, Kapa‘a

Trump tried to stage coup from the White House for months

Don’t let the Jan. 6 investigation distract from what we already know.

The congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol is generating lots of fanfare. And understandably so. The riot was a disturbing low point in American history. Recent headlines highlight Steve Bannon’s indictment for refusing to cooperate with investigators; former Department of Justice lawyer Jeffrey Clark’s plans to plead the fifth amendment during his upcoming testimony; and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ refusal to sit for an interview.

But the pursuit of additional information about Jan. 6 shouldn’t detract from or obscure what we already know. This is not a situation — like the Mueller investigation — where there is some ambiguous smoke and we need an investigation to determine whether there is fire.

When it comes to the events surrounding Jan. 6, we are already choking on smoke as the fire blazes before us.

Indeed, what we already know constitutes an unprecedented offense to American democracy. We already know, for example, that before the election Donald Trump spent months undermining the election’s integrity. On May 26, 2020, for example, Trump tweeted that “[t]here is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.” On Aug. 24 he asserted that “[t]he only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.”

And so on.

We already know, moreover, that in the two months after the election — before Jan. 6 — Trump doubled down on his baseless claims: “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA,” Trump tweeted about Joe Biden. “I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”

We already know that, during this time, Trump didn’t just tell lies. He tried to coerce the Georgia secretary of state to commit election fraud. He and Jeffrey Clark tried to capture the Department of Justice after Attorney General William Barr — who flatly rejected Trump’s claims of election fraud — left office. He initiated baseless litigation in numerous courts. He pressured Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results. And, of course, he helped to plan and organize the Jan. 6 rally itself.

We already know that on Jan. 6 Trump held the infamous rally and directed his supporters to the Capitol. He again publicly pressured Pence to overturn the election results. And he openly supported the rioters — while they roamed the Capitol hallways looking for Pence — in a Twitter video.

And, finally, we already know that Trump is carrying on with his open assault on America’s electoral system. Trump’s baseless accusations of election fraud continue.

The January 6 Committee should, of course, continue on with its important investigative work. And there are undoubtedly critical facts that have yet to emerge.

But while the committee wrestles with the nuances of Bannon’s and Meadow’s assertions of executive privilege and Clark’s pleading the fifth, it’s essential for Americans not to focus disproportionately on these skirmishes.

We must see clearly what’s already right in front of our faces. We already know that the sitting president of the United States spent months feverishly trying to stage a coup from the Oval Office. And, no matter what we learn from here, how we respond to this affront to American democracy will fundamentally shape our nation going forward.

•••

William Cooper’s writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Daily News, Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today and Huffington Post. He is a parttime resident of Kona on Hawai‘i Island.
Source: The Garden Island

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