By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawaiian activist Charles Maxwell warned yesterday that Hawaiians once were warriors and could become warriors again if no one listens to their concerns.
Maxwell took his people's cause to a middle-class crowd of predominantly haole members of the Rotary Club at their luncheon in Waikiki.
Maxwell, a Maui resident who is chairman of the Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said he pledged allegiance to the flag at the luncheon but refused to sing "God Bless America" because he considered what America had done to Hawaii - from the overthrow of the monarchy through annexation and statehood - to be "despicable."
He received 10 seconds of polite applause and one question after his 23-minute talk at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Did he really think Hawaiians would be justified in becoming warriors again "if there is no redress?"
"I tell you what," Maxwell said, "I will be in the front of the line.
"I am trying my damnedest right now to use our congressional means, any way, because I don't want to go there, I really do not want to go there. My kids will suffer, my grandchildren will suffer, you will suffer, your grandchildren, everybody will suffer.
"I'm trying my damnedest not to go there. But if I am alive when the time comes, I will be on the front of the line."
Maxwell said his remarks were "not a threat."
"I started the Kahoolawe movement," he said, "I've been involved in many protests, been in the front of the line, I been there and done that. Answer your question?"
Island businessman Connie Conrad, 90, who moved to Honolulu in 1938, said he could not imagine creation of a sovereign Hawaiian nation as a solution to "a very deep, very complicated situation," nor could he imagine Hawaiians "becoming warriors" to obtain such a result.
There should be programs to help Hawaiians deal with the problems that Maxwell cited, including the worst education, health and crime statistics among all residents, said Conrad.
But, Conrad said, "The island people owe an awful lot to the United States of America. We could have been invaded here by the Japanese, and many Hawaiians could have been killed."
Maxwell urged his audience to "get involved in getting people down here to take care of us."
"We are in stress," he said. "We are only 250,000 worldwide, not a big amount of people, but the U.S. Civil Rights Commission is coming down here and we want to bring worldwide coverage, publicity, to this point of the Native Hawaiians, because everyone ... wants to come to Hawaii.
"If we want Hawaii to be the same, then we all got to prosper, not only the businessmen, not only the foreigners making big bucks and taking it back to Japan, China, whatever."
"Always remember this: At one time our people were warriors. We do not want to go back to the days of being warriors."
Maxwell said: "Please, please help us. It is not a Hawaiian thing, it's all of our thing."