By Senator Sam Slom
HCR 100, the Islamic Holiday Resolution passed by the State Senate (22-3) on Thursday, May 7, is insensitive to patriotic Americans of all religions, outrageous, and an embarrassment (once again) for the State of Hawaii.
This resolution (which does not have the force of law) proclaims September 24 as Islam Day in Hawaii. How insensitive, no matter what the original intent, can anyone get, selecting a holiday just 13 days following the 911 Islamic terrorist attack on America? Is it just me that feels the stunning inappropriateness here?
The stealth resolution-most of the general public, including the Religion Department at the University of Hawaii never knew of this House Resolution until passed-was introduced by Rep. Lyla Berg (Democrat District 18-O'ahu) and passed the State House unanimously, 49-0 (two were absent) with all six Republicans voting "Aye." Not that this should be a partisan issue.
Republican Kim Marcos Pine, however, took the time to chastise me in Hawaii Reporter on May 7 for my remarks as being "insensitive and wrong." Perhaps she should have taken more time and care in getting her facts straight. For example, she never contacted me to ask if comments attributed to me and offensive to her were mine. They were not.
In talking to my colleagues in the House in both political parties, several told me they "didn't remember the resolution," a few told me they voted "against it," and their general consensus was, "it didn't pass the House." All statements were wrong. On KHVH radio, Rep. Pine said her caucus did read and did discuss the resolution before voting on it.
The insensitivity with this Islamic Resolution in Hawaii, is not with my remarks-which like Senator Fred Hemmings-clearly differentiated our belief about the vast majority of those practicing Islam and its positive core beliefs, and those small but deadly minority of Islamic terrorists who still declare, "Death to America." It is with the date chosen, some of the language describing Islamic contributions, and the fact that this resolution was rushed from the House to the Senate----my Economic Development & Technology Committee (economic development? technology?)---was told we could not amend it in order to meet the internal legislative deadline. The fact is we have no other major religious days as holidays; Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Jewish, etc. Are Good Friday, Easter and Thanksgiving examples of Christian holidays? It's not the same--as Democrat Big Island Senator Dr. Josh Green said in also voting against the resolution in the Senate.
In conclusion, my vote against this resolution is not one of intolerance but of reason and understanding of sensitivity. Years ago, just prior to the Iraq War, the Hawaii Legislature passed a similar House resolution, referred to as the "Aloha Saddam" measure which urged the President not to take military action against dictator Saddam Hussein, but to practice "Aloha" instead. Maybe some of our legislators don't get the impact a statement like this has on the image of Hawaii and our too often political correctness pandering, but others do. Hours after this reso. passed, several of us were contacted by major Mainland media to explain why we passed such a resolution. Emails and phone calls followed from across the Mainland in protest.
Words and votes do have consequences. I'll stand by mine.
Sam Slom is a professional consulting economist, president and executive director of Small Business Hawaii, and owner of his own business, SMS Consultants. He is also a Republican State Senator (8th district Oahu), Hawaii Kai to Diamond Head. Reach him via email at mailto: SBH@lava.net