A Death in the Islands by Mike Farris

A Death in the Islands by Mike Farris

Author:Mike Farris
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Published: 2016-02-11T16:00:00+00:00



Chapter Eighteen

Somewhere Over the Pali

“The Shame of Honolulu”

If a tie in football is like kissing your sister, then imaginations can run wild on a metaphor for a hung jury, especially after ninety-seven hours. The boiling racial unrest that percolated beneath the surface now threatened to erupt like the volcanoes that had given birth to the Hawaiian Islands themselves. The native population exulted in the non-conviction as a temporary victory of justice—at least until a retrial could be held—while the white minority used the verdict as an excuse to fan the flames and coax the lava of hatred to the surface. As Admiral Stirling informed the members of the press, while standing outside the courts building with Thalia and Grace, “If anyone has any doubts what this verdict is about, he only has to look at the makeup of the jury. Seven jurors of Hawaiian or Oriental extraction, five whites. If you were to ask the jurors their votes, I’d stake my admiralship that you would find seven not-guilties and five guilties.” The actual final vote, as it turned out, was six to six. Facts be damned!

“What will the Navy do?” a reporter asked.

Stirling pursed his lips, a look of outrage on his face, as if the answer was obvious. “The Navy will do whatever it has to do to protect its men and their wives. If that means canceling all shore leaves, perhaps even canceling war games scheduled in the upcoming months—well, the merchants will just have to live without those customers.”

The unspoken boycott of local businesses, with the financial losses it would create, hung heavy in the air. For some in the audience, the threat seemed real. To others, it was the petulant adult version of “I’m going to take my ball and go home.”

“Is that really necessary in order to protect Navy wives?” another reporter asked. Left unspoken was the question, “Don’t your men have guns?”

“It’s necessary to protect these animals that have been set loose,” Stirling said.

The reporter who asked the question seemed taken aback. Was Stirling really concerned about the Ala Moana Boys? “How so?” the reporter asked.

“Should our military personnel feel the need to take justice into their own hands—well, there’s not much I can do about that.”

There it was: yes, they do have guns. And who was a mere admiral to stop their use? It was as if he had just given authorization to the entire Navy for that very thing. Years later, in his memoir, Stirling wrote: “The trial in my opinion and many others was a stupid miscarriage of justice which could have been avoided if the Territorial Government had shown more inclination to sympathize with my insistence upon the necessity of a conviction.”

On Saturday, December 12, the Honolulu Times, a tabloid newspaper, hit the streets with a banner headline: “The Shame of Honolulu.” This was a play on Lincoln Steffens’ scathing collection of muckraking articles on municipal corruption, The Shame of the Cities, published in 1904.


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