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Response to anamnua (Original post)

Sun Aug 9, 2020, 11:36 PM

34. Decided to consolidate my replies here. When I was growing up in Hawai'i, every schoolchild...

...every adult, every Hawai’ian knew of the work of Fr Damien De Veuster.

Leprosy was a devastating, contagious, disfiguring, and fatal disease. It still is, if untreated. There was no treatment whatsoever for leprosy, and as it was highly contagious, especially among native Hawai’ians, the afflicted were simply taken to the remotest part of a remote island and let go into the surf. The remainder of their days was Hell on Earth, as their bodies decayed to the bone, fingers and feet fell off, noses collapsed inward, and maggots took residence.

Father Damien went to them, lived with them, gave them hope, helped build a place to live in with some measure of dignity before death. And he himself contracted this terrible disease and died of it.

AOC speaks from a place of profound ignorance if she thinks he was a “white colonist,” and nothing else. In Hawai’i there were and are many religions. No one else came. Only Damien.

Perhaps as a person born and raised in NYC, perhaps she confused Fr Damien with Fr Junipero Serra of California? Serra has been in the news lately, after all.

Both my states are very far away from her center of the universe, and both these men were priests of the Roman Catholic Church. They were born centuries apart and operated in different parts of the globe, but no matter.

Junipero Serra could rightly be called an agent of European colonialism: in his zeal to convert, he broke apart and virtually enslaved indigenous tribes with the assistance of the Spanish Conquistadores.

Father Damien, on the other hand, went to a leper colony in a kingdom where the native culture was already devastated, but no matter I guess, if you are simply trying to make an important point about race and gender.

After statehood, the sculptress Marisol Escobar was commissioned to create the statue that now resides in Statuary Hall. She chose to work from photos taken in 1889, the final year of his life, and it is no exaggeration to say the result shocked the hell out of people in both Honolulu and Washington DC. Here is no plaster saint. Here is no faux-Roman marble bust in a toga. Here is no conquering hero with a chestful of medals. Here is a man, dying for those he served.

AOC is a rising star in the Democratic Party, and I watch her career with interest. But she is capable of error. I think she tried to take back the implications of what she said, but the fury with which her defenders are attacking even the most on-point corrections is not helping her or anyone else.

For anyone who is interested in the life of this man and his place in the history of Hawai’i, I suggest “Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai” by Gavan Daws, University of Hawaii Press, 1973. It is an entirely secular work of scholarship, for those to whom it matters.

PS for Anamnua: I am not writing as a Catholic, though my grandparents were of that faith. I write as one who cares about my home state, its history, and the truth, as best I can. Peace. See you around.

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anamnua Aug 2020 OP
LakeArenal Aug 2020 #1
KPN Aug 2020 #2
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Iggo Aug 2020 #33
LineNew Reply Decided to consolidate my replies here. When I was growing up in Hawai'i, every schoolchild...
Hekate Aug 2020 #34
anamnua Aug 2020 #35
anamnua Aug 2020 #36
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