Friday, Aug. 12, 2022|
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I grew up with NRA. My Portuguese grandmother was a huge proponent, passing it along with other advice.
“Keep yoah money in yoah bra,” she warned us girls, “cuz dose are de oney two suckahs you can truss.”
When it came to NRA, we heard it often.
“Gramma, you want another cone sushi?”
“NRA,” was always her answer.
In our family thanks to Gramma Cozy, NRA stands for only one thing: Never refuse anything. It means when offered something, graciously accept. If I give you some avocados, the correct response is “Oooh, yeah tanks!” And not, “which variety?”
A friend saw a woman sitting by the roadside with her “borrowed” shopping cart. He bought her a hamburger but she refused it, declaring that she was a vegetarian. Even so, the babooze could still eat the bun and tomato! My guess is she did not grow up here with NRA. My friend took his hamburger back to the car and scarfed it down right then and there. Mashfika.
This is my history with NRA. But now, NRA has taken on another meaning, one that is eclipsing my warm and fuzzy memories of Gramma Cozy. In case you’ve been living on the moon, NRA stands for the National Rifle Association, a powerful gun organization in the United States.
No one needs a reminder of the terrible tragedies that have taken place on the continent these past few months: mass murders of elementary school children, ethnic communities and churches targeted by crazed maniacs. It makes you wonder if the world has gone purple pupule.
Supporters of the Second Amendment are devoted to the ‘right to keep and bear arms.’ But if so desperate to wield a gun, why not join the army?
I belong to the generation that struggled with the Vietnam conflict. Many protested the war and young men fled to Canada to avoid getting called up. These were kids who had the means and connections to bypass military service and I wonder how many are gun owners today.
Last week, we honored those who served and sacrificed including Hiloans who did not return from Vietnam: Wilfredo Andrada, Rodney Fukunaga, Fred Hatada, Kaoru Honda, Charles Iopa, Larry Leopoldino, Alberto Milar Jr, Michael Nakashima, Delmore Nerveza, Terrence Ogata, Errol Perreira, Kenyu Shimabukuro, Steven Wolter.
The NRA has a branch here called the Hawaii Rifle Association whose mission also includes the protection of Hawaii’s shooting and hunting traditions. I didn’t know we had shooting traditions but these promoters must be the ones clamoring for more firing ranges in Hawaii.
As for hunting, yes, I have friends and family who hunt. But if you need a long range rifle to kill a pua‘a that’s armed only with tusks, that’s pretty pathetic. To level the playing field, hunt with a bow and arrow.
There are other mainland organizations here such as the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group. I learned this after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when a member of the Hawaii branch was arrested.
My daughter, an anthropologist, watches me try to hang on to all that makes our islands special. “Hate to tell you Mom, but with so many settlers moving in especially during this pandemic, they bring some good stuff but also a lot of baggage. In a generation or two, Hawaii will not be what it is today.”
I’ll be long gone but it still makes me sad.
We need to be aware of agents of change, not just obvious ones such as chain restaurants, but sneaky ones, like the American glorification of guns.
Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears every other Monday.
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