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Sunday, May 8, 2005
Know Thy Enemy: Koji Ariyoshi
By Andrew Walden @ 11:53 AM :: 10648 Views :: Hawaii History

by Andrew Walden

PBS Hawai`i’s propaganda piece on the life of Hawai`i communist Koji Ariyoshi should be required viewing for lovers of freedom who understand the value of knowing their enemy. Somehow the program manages to tell the story of Hawai'i's most prominent Communist without once letting on that Ariyoshi was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, USA.

Shown on May 5, “Biography Hawaii: Koji Ariyoshi” traces the life of the man best known as the publisher of the Honolulu Record 1948-58. The son of Kona coffee growers becomes a UH Manoa student working his way through college as a stevedore (the only time he ever worked for wages) who was then granted a scholarship to the University of Georgia where he learned the usefulness of showing “concern” for the plight of white sharecroppers (and blacks?) under the Democrats’ Jim Crow laws.

Gramscian Culture Warrior

Since Ariyoshi is largely responsible for the establishment of the so-called Ethnic Studies departments at UH Manoa in the 1970s (slogan: Our History Our Way), the PBS Biography traces the unbroken ideological chain from China to the International Longshoreman’s and Warehouseman’s Union (ILWU) to the Gramscian communists controlling not only UH Manoa ethnic studies but most other liberal arts departments as well. It should leave no doubt about the true nature of the little Ward Churchills who have taken over the campus and tried to replicate the one-party political system of their dictatorial idols.

In one scene, the narrator, portraying Ariyoshi, intones: “The purpose of ethnic studies is not to justify contemporary grievances, but to learn from the past and gain confidence in building a better future.”

Try telling that to the hacks running UH Manoa's ethnic studies departments today. Ariyoshi’s is the classic Stalinist line which demands that any “national” struggle be secondary to the “international struggle of the proletariat” (i.e. the need of the Stalinist/Maoist bureaucracy to maintain dictatorial “order” over the many disparate nationalities in the USSR or in China.)

Hawaiian "Sovereignty"

Tellingly, the roving lens scans headlines from the Honolulu Record including one, “The Only Revolution in Hawaii” about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. The voice-over says Ariyoshi even wrote about Hawaiian sovereignty. But if Ariyoshi was being true to Stalinist dogma, the article would have argued that the overthrow was a progressive act supplanting feudalism with capitalism. It is worth asking whether the producers consciously lied about Ariyoshi’s writings in order to make them line up with the cultural nationalist ideology of today’s ethnic studies hacks. Thanks to them, Hawai`i is the only state in the US with an independence movement. It is based entirely on the argument that the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Queen was carried out by the United States rather than the individual rebels who formed the Hawaiian Republic until it was annexed in 1898.

While at the University of Georgia, Ariyoshi lives with the parents of Tobacco Road author Erskine Caldwell who informs Ariyoshi that Tobacco Road is about those who have been marginalized by the physical sciences outstripping the social sciences. Even in the 1930s, Luddism and the social "sciences" are the foundation of anti-capitalism.

Friend of Mao

As an internee in Democrat Franklin Roosevelt’s Manzanar camp after Pearl Harbor, Ariyoshi dutifully carried out the Communist Party line of supporting the war effort (established after Hitler attacked the USSR), enlisting in the US Army and being sent to China as a linguist and intelligence officer where he worked hand-in-glove with Mao Zedong, meeting Mao on many occasions.

Returning from China after the war, Ariyoshi continued to work for Mao under the rules of engagement which applied in late 1940s America. He joined the “Committee for a Democratic Far-East Policy” in New York which opposed US efforts to keep Korea free and called for US support of communist China. He then returned to Honolulu and founded the Honolulu Record, Hawai`i’s own version of the Daily Worker, by selling shares to every ILWU local in the islands.

Confronting McCarthyism

The activities of Ariyoshi and other communists eventually ran afoul of the McCarthy-era backlash. Efforts were made to charge them with advocating the overthrow of the US government by force and violence. In the famous Smith Act case of the “Hawai`i Seven,” Ariyoshi and his six comrades were first found guilty but the conviction was later overturned. In all, Ariyoshi spent less than a month in jail.

Fortunately, public opinion turned sharply against Ariyoshi and other communists. He was eventually forced to close the ILWU-owned Honolulu Record due to lack of support by union leaders who recognized that the “heavy left wing slant” of the Record was endangering their grip on union office and funds.

The “brutal fascist forces” of the “vicious American imperialists” closed in on him. Ariyoshi was forced to become (gasp) a florist. For the first time in years, he was not being paid to be a political activist.

A Misspent Life

Meanwhile in China, tens of millions were starving under Mao’s “Great Leap Forward’ as the Communists who advocated “land to the tiller” instead decided to give all land to the state. There is no evidence of Ariyoshi showing the least concern for them.

In North Korea, Kim Il Jung began the ruination of the country under the guise of socialist progress. North Koreans now starve to death while the South Korea Ariyoshi fought so hard to destroy is a prosperous, advanced nation with the world’s 13th largest economy.

In 1976, as Ariyoshi lay dying of cancer, the Democrat-controlled Hawaii State legislature passed a resolution in his honor. He would be pleased that Chinese and North Korean communists have maintained so many poor downtrodden people for bureaucrats to be “concerned” with. His friends in the Democrat party are pleased they have been able to maintain so many poor and downtrodden people in Hawai`i to be "concerned" with as well.



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