28 November 2011

Colonial pioneer files suit against Guam's self-determination

Guam Shows the Way

The misnamed Center for Individual Rights (CIR) is filing a lawsuit against the government of Guam, charging it with “discrimination” – on the grounds that voter qualifications in the upcoming plebiscite on the island’s status are “undemocratic.” 

The problem? Guam has decided that the American invaders who seized control of the Pacific isle after the defeat of the Spanish Empire – and incorporated the territory into the American Borg by order of Harry Truman in 1950 – aren’t going to get to vote. According to the Decolonization Registry set up by the elected government of Guam, those qualified to vote include:
Those persons designated as Native Inhabitants of Guam or their descendant, defined within Chapter 21 of Title 3 of the Guam Code Annotated, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older on the date of the Political Plebiscite, and are registered voters of Guam. ‘Native Inhabitants’ shall mean those persons who became U.S. citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam and descendants of those persons. ‘Descendant’” shall mean a person who has proceeded by birth, such as a child or grandchild, to the remotest degree, from any Native Inhabitant of Guam, as defined in Subsection (e), and who is considered placed in a line of succession from such ancestor where such succession is by virtue of blood relations.”

National Review reports the story as follows:

“The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Arnold Davis, is a former Air Force officer who has been a resident of the island since 1977. When he tried to register for the plebiscite, his application was rejected and marked as ‘void’ by the Guam Election Commission because Davis is white.”

This is demonstrably false: as the above cited ruling by the Registry makes clear, anyone who was living on Guam in 1950, when the US declared Guam a “non self-governing territory,” and officially colonized it, is eligible to vote, as are their descendants, no matter what their race. 

The plebiscite, which should have been held in 1950, effectively nullifies the conquest of Guam by the US and the denial of its right to national self-determination. That this injustice may soon be coming to an end is what sticks in the craw of Mr. Davis and Neocon National Review. Guam is booty in the game of Empire, an important symbol of American hegemony in the Pacific, and the very idea that the Guamanians want their country back is an affront to the neocons.

Guam has been systematically pillaged by the American conquistadors, its natural resources and beauty despoiled by military encroachment, its native peoples outnumbered by acquisitive invaders – and corrupted by a generous welfare system that has turned Chamorro communities into the Pacific equivalent of our own infamous Indian reservations. 

To make matters worse, an expected flood of US military personnel – as many as 10,000, and their families – are expected to arrive on the island in due course, after having been kicked out of Okinawa by the Japanese. The rapid expansion of numerous military facilities on and around the island is also projected. What this amounts to is, quite literally, an invasion – and the Guamanians are fighting back.

With typical neoconnish rhetoric about “democracy” and “equality,” the CIR lawsuit contends the plebiscite will amount to a massive act of “discrimination,” but this is nonsensical if we consider the crucial context in which the vote is occurring.

Let’s say an invading army occupies your town, and declares it a “non self-governing territory.” They make Main Street the center of a vast and sprawling military base, and commandeer the town’s resources to this end. Tens of thousands of soldiers converge on the place, turning it into a playground for hordes of barely-educated juvenile delinquents.

You and the original inhabitants of your town have had enough, and decide to organize a vote on the question of the town’s future, a plebiscite offering three options: independence, becoming a protectorate of the invading army, or outright union with the invaders. In an act of “discrimination” and “racism,” you disqualify any of the invaders or their spawn from voting: only the original townspeople, whose property was overrun, are permitted to participate.

Is this “undemocratic”? Maybe. Is it, however, an injustice? The answer is an emphatic no!

It is, indeed, an act of supreme justice, one that doesn’t recognize temporal limits to the concept of right, but carries it to its logical conclusion: the idea that the restoration of lost rights is the precondition of liberty. A conquered people surely “discriminates” against their conquerors by disdaining them, and regretting their very presence – they would have to be inhuman not to.

In the battle between “democracy” and justice, libertarians take the side of the latter in any and all cases – and, in this case, the line is sharply drawn. On one side, we have those who uphold the alleged democratic “right” of the majority to expropriate the property and liberty of the minority. On the other side of the barricades stands a people who just want their country back.

Well, then, the smartasses among my readers – of which there are many – might say, doesn’t this mean you want to give America back to the Indians? The short answer is: yes – especially the isle of Manhattan. A somewhat longer answer is: while true justice knows no statute of limitations, the reality is that the passage of time clouds the record, including conflicting claims over just land titles, and so it is not always practical to carry out this restorative principle in actual practice. Yet that doesn’t invalidate the principle itself: it only impels us to apply it whenever and wherever possible.

In the case of Guam, the historical record is relatively recent – and clear. The ongoing rape of a once beautiful and blessed isle is a crime, and there is no reason why the rapist and his descendants and agents should have a say in its future – any more than the German army marching into Austria, in 1938, had any “right” to vote in the “plebiscite” that incorporated the country into the German Reich.

In 1950, Truman and the US Congress passed the “Guam Organic Act,” [.pdf] which absorbed the island into the archipelago of colonial possessions that would serve as lily-pads for the projection of US power into Eastasia. Nobody asked the Guamanians what they wanted: as a subject people, they had no say in the matter. Now they are determined to have their say, and let the US “exceptionalists,” neocon democracy-mongers, and born-again “anti-racists” over at National Review make the most of it!

To underscore the contempt for which the Empire holds its subjects, a recent delegation of 15 US Senators on their way to a China junket didn’t bother meeting with Governor Eddie Calvo, a snub that had the Governor livid:

“This morning, Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo asked whether I would be greeting the 15 U.S. Senators scheduled to arrive at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base today. We were both surprised and extremely upset that no one in the federal establishment informed Guam of their visit. We called the Navy to verify this stopover and we were told that the U.S. Senators will not entertain any meeting or discussions with Guam leaders or the Guamanian people. Instead of landing at the A.B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam, they have decided to shield their visit in secrecy and land within the confines of Andersen Air Force Base.

“In the 100 years we have been a colony of the United States, the U.S. government hardly did anything to resolve our colonial status. What kind of democracy allows colonialism to flourish? I am livid the U.S. Senate, a body created by the will of the people of 13 colonies who wanted freedom and democracy, would turn its back on the Guamanian people. It is obvious we are not part of their constituency, and they do not consider us a valuable part of the American family. This only serves to inflame our long-held belief that we are an American colony of second-class citizens who matter only when our geopolitical position is needed by the U.S. government.”

Adding to the insult was President Obama’s refusal to meet with Guam officials when his plane stopped for refueling en route to the Eastasia Summit: the White House didn’t even take the time to issue a statement to the people of Guam. Which brings to mind the Governor’s trenchant question to the 15 Senators:

“If Guam was so important to U.S. strategic interests, then why would the nation’s leaders continue snubbing Guamanians? If the Senate wants to thumb its nose at Guamanians, then perhaps it is time for Guamanians to call in every injustice ever committed upon our people by the US government.”

As always, the reflexive arrogance of the high and mighty sets the stage for their ultimate undoing. Guam may be a forgotten outpost of empire, a resting place for Uncle Sam’s boot as he performs a “Pacific pivot,” but the Guamanians’ desire to regain control over their destiny ought to be a lesson – and an inspiring example – to the whole world.

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