Monday, October 13, 2014


Two stories about Duke Aiona better than one

by Larry Geller

The two Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor addressed their constituent base at a meeting on Friday. I wasn’t there, but felt well informed by two articles covering the event. They are very different and complement each other.

All good things must come to an end. In a newspaper, that’s usually when the story hits the bottom of a printed page. So an on-line report can often have more detail than a traditional, print story.

At the same time, a print reporter must craft the article more carefully, given that the word count is limited. Here’s where experience and skill pay off.

This is a case where I am glad to have both articles.

Chad Blair , in his Civil Beat article, Chad Blair: Faith and Politics, Aiona and Ahu, at the Blaisdell (Civil Beat, 10/13/2014) carefully developed how gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona and his running mate, Elwin Ahu, were nourishing a populist campaign, particularly among religious voters.

The Star-Advertiser report on the same meeting appeared in their Sunday edition, so I had read that one first. Even as I scrolled through Blair’s account this morning, the lead paragraphs of reporter Derek DePledge’s account echoed in my skull:

Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona pulled out a worn, pocket edition of Gideon's New Testament and read a verse that reminds him of his "spiritual rock."

The Republican candidate for governor, speaking at a revival-style "We Believe" rally on Friday night at the Blaisdell Center, was not talking about God. He was talking about his wife, Vivian.

"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands," Aiona read from Peter, playfully apologizing to his wife. "That even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives." He read that passage again for emphasis. "When they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward -- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart."

"That's my wife," Aiona said. "Her heart."

[Star-Advertiser p.1, Aiona campaign aims to win religious voters, 10/12/2014]

The on-line Star-Advertiser article is paywalled, but if you have access to the Sunday paper, check it out.

I suppose at some time and some place, praising one’s wife for being submissive and chaste would be a plus. Today, that might fly in Saudi Arabia (among the men, anyway). In the Hawaii of 2014, should Aiona be applauded for publicly espousing these beliefs, or should he be criticized?

Even among the male and female audience members there must have been more than a few who would not sympathize with Aiona’s view of inequality of the sexes. At least, I would hope so.

In any case, DePledge nailed it right at the top of his article. It was easy to build on that, or rather, Aiona’s statement cannot help but dominate anything that followed. Perhaps that happens only if Aiona’s statement triggers one’s hot buttons. That’s what happened to me.

The two stories together raise some questions that will probably remain until election day—for example, does the evangelical segment of Hawaii’s religious community really want payback for the special session that brought marriage equality to the state? At present, since the US Supreme Court refused to consider the various state appeal vying for its attention, somewhere around 30-35 states now recognize or are on the verge of recognizing same-sex marriage, and it is recognized at the national level. There’s no going back.

The religious community itself is not at all unified in opposition to marriage equality. Last night (Sunday), the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii held its annual award ceremony. The second of several awards was given to Equality Hawaii.

News coverage of the competing protests at the State Capitol during the course of last year’s special legislative session noted that each side behaved civilly toward the opposition. This is Hawaii, and we do that. One side had to emerge victorious. Both sides left the Capitol peaceably.

As the opponents of same-sex marriage returned to their daily lives, have they remained obsessed with their loss and are they still contemplating revenge?

Voters would be wise (don’t laugh) to make their choice for governor based on the strengths each candidate would bring to the office. Even if Aiona should be the choice, he can’t reverse marriage equality at this point.

Nor can he turn Hawaii into a “Christian state.”

Since both men and women vote, I wonder how how many accept Aiona’s concept of a good wife? The story as reported by Derrick DePledge says a lot about the man. Perhaps enough for many. We shall find out on election day.


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