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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 4, 2010

Why you should care about 'ainokea'

By David Shapiro

In my "flASHback" wrapping up the news of 2009, I used the local slang "ainokea" in several items.

As in: "Pearl Harbor was excited about the arrival of the submarine USS Hawaii. Next year we get our state's other namesake ship, the USS Ainokea."

Or: "Gov. Linda Lingle signed a new law reserving the 'Made in Hawai'i' label for products that are 51-percent locally produced. Products must be 100-percent made in Hawai'i to be stamped 'Ainokea.' "

I was surprised by how many readers didn't know what it meant. I guess a lot of folks don't read T-shirts and bumper stickers.

The online Urban Dictionary entry on "ainokea" says: "Literally means 'I don't care.' This word was created in the 808 state. Better recognize, brah."

I use the word a lot to describe what I sometimes think is becoming our official state attitude not only in popular culture but also in officialdom.

Our failure to care is one of the big reasons we have the lowest voter turnout in the nation even in a year when there was a local-born candidate for president, the fewest public school days for our children and some of the weakest ethics and bribery laws in government.

There are times I think the big seals hanging from the state Capitol should say: Bodda you? Call 1-800-AINOKEA.

Which is why you won't hear me joining in with those putting down demonstrators who have lined the streets of Kailua during President Obama's visit holding signs stating their views on Hawaiian rights, the war in Afghanistan, abortion and health care.

Bless them, I say. At least they care as do the folks who have stood on the curbs without signs just hoping to catch a glimpse of the president. It's good for the president to see that the citizenry is engaged, whether they agree with him or not.

We had an opposite dynamic when former President George W. Bush visited for a political fundraiser at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and a bunch of protesters gathered with signs near the hotel's entrance trying to get his attention.

His hosts snuck his limo through a back service driveway so the president's gaze wouldn't be polluted by placards expressing views other than his own.

That dodge put our ainokea spirit on display ahead of our spirit of aloha, and we're in for trouble if we keep it up.

I'm with the wag on my blog who wants a bumper sticker from the Scandinavian furniture store IKEA.