Truth

INDEPENDENT LENS
Dawnland

 

See how a group of Native Americans and non-Native American leaders in Maine came together to acknowledge and address the abuses suffered by Native American children in the hands of the child welfare system, illuminating the crisis of indigenous child removal.

 

 

“Comfort Women” – A Twisted Euphemism

 

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“Comfort Women” – A Twisted Euphemism
LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX: Nora Okja Keller

Honolulu’s Nora Okja Keller, author of the acclaimed novel Comfort Woman

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOI remember exactly what I said some three decades ago to a Honolulu news colleague, when we first heard the expression “comfort women” and learned what it meant.

 

“How twisted is that?” I said. “A truly deceptive term to hide horrendous brutality against the powerless.”

 

Of course, that’s what euphemisms do. They mask unpleasantness; they blunt the horror.

 

This euphemism refers to young women of little means, mostly teenagers, forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. In filthy conditions, they were required to sexually service 20, 30, sometimes 50 Japanese soldiers a day.

 

They endured beatings, infection, disease and abortions. Most died.

 

At the end of World War II, survivors felt so much shame that many didn’t go home. They sought new lives and didn’t speak of their ordeal. One former captive was Keum-Ju Hwang, of South Korea, who finally resolved to tell her story before she died. She spoke in 1993 at a University of Hawai‘i symposium – and Honolulu resident Nora Okja Keller was in that audience.

 

Keller, born in Seoul and of half Korean ancestry, felt a “burden of history” and embarked on a journey of research and writing. The result was a critically acclaimed first novel, Comfort Woman. She recalled that before she heard Ms. Hwang’s account, she was only aware of scenes in Korean soap operas: “There’d be this mysterious woman, veiled in black, going through the background. And the reference would be, ‘Oh…do you see that woman? Something bad happened to her during the war.’”

 

PBS Hawai‘i will air an encore of my 2008 Long Story Short conversation with Nora Okja Keller on Tuesday, October 16, the week before our October 22 premiere of a POV film, The Apology, which follows three survivors – from China, the Philippines and South Korea. (See interview with the filmmaker on pages 4-5 of our October Program Guide.)

 

Keller’s inspiration, Ms. Hwang, died in 2013, knowing she had done her part to let the world understand her soul-scarring but freeing truth.

Aloha nui,

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#METOO, Now What?

 

Join executive producer/host Zainab Salbi and a range of guests for open, authentic conversations about sexual harassment. Women and men discuss how we reached this point and how we can effect positive and lasting change.

 

 

A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting

 

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A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting

 CEO Message: A Front Row Seat to Myth-Busting. Ornithologist Auguste von Bayern with a jackdaw
Ornithologist Auguste von Bayern, with a jackdaw, from the NOVA episode Bird Brain

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEO“What a bird brain!” “You’re a Neanderthal!” Not so long ago, these were taunts. But, thanks to recent research by scientists and the fine documentaries on PBS, we know better.

 

And I’m just the person to be thrilled by these discoveries. When I was a kid, my no-nonsense grandmother called me a bird brain every time I forgot my rubber slippers on our neighbors’ porch, which was often. And just last month, a 23andme.com ancestry test turned up Neanderthal DNA in my family.

 

When you sit back and view Nature or NOVA on Wednesday nights on PBS Hawai‘i, you sometimes have a front row seat to myth-busting. In vibrant video, you see that some of the ideas and conclusions printed in our old textbooks have been blown away.

 

As depicted in the recent NOVA episode Bird Brain, birds are far from empty-headed. They make great use of their small neuron-packed brains. They turn pebbles and sticks into tools; they plan multiple steps to solve problems; and some even “read” human faces. Put birds to the test with puzzles – and they can figure out when to defer a reward in order to snag a bigger one later.

 

In NOVA’s Decoding Neanderthals, we learned that these hominoids were not the brutish, knuckle-dragging simpletons we’d conjured. They were powerfully built, yes, but they also had large brains. They were adept at tool-making, and in fact, may have developed the first synthetic product, a type of glue. It was a very tough life in the Ice Age, and it’s unlikely that most Neanderthals lived past age 30.

 

Within the last decade, it’s been confirmed that Neanderthals interbred with their close cousins, homo sapiens. Many of us of European or Asian ancestry carry snippets of Neanderthal DNA. That’s just what my brother’s genetic test showed. In fact, he has more than the average amount.

 

A prevailing theory holds that our homo sapiens ancestors vanquished the Neanderthals. With the recent genetic evidence, another theory merits consideration: Through mating, the Neanderthals – with their smaller populations – were simply absorbed into homo sapiens life. Look for a brand-new PBS program about Neanderthals this month, Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors on Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 pm. [Note: Since publication, PBS has announced that the program has been postponed until further notice.] I suspect there’ll be further re-branding of my ancient forebears.

 

We want to thank Dr. Belinda A. Aquino for generously sponsoring the broadcasts of both Nature and NOVA on PBS Hawai‘i. A retired University of Hawai‘i political science professor, Dr. Aquino is an internationally recognized authority on contemporary Philippine affairs. She tells me that she savors these programs about natural phenomena because they inspire new ways to think about humanity and the world around us.

 

And I’d like to thank you, too, for your support of PBS Hawai‘i’s role of adding new perspectives and context to our collective understanding of history and current affairs. Myth-busting is a byproduct!

 

Aloha nui,

 

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INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Speaking Truth to Power

 

The phrase “speak truth to power” is often used to describe an act of courage and non-violence, standing up for what one believes to be the truth, despite resistance from powerful forces. We often think of figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Anita Hill, or the man who stood in the path of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

 

Perhaps the people who have changed our own community by speaking truth to power are our greatest inspiration. On INSIGHTS, we’ll ask three of them about the meaning of truth and how it inspired them personally to face powerful opposition: Attorney General Doug Chin, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Hawai‘i that successfully challenged the second national travel ban; Randy Roth, a community activist and co-author of Broken Trust; and Loretta Sheehan, trial attorney and member of the Honolulu Police Commission. Colin Moore, UH political science professor and Director of the Public Policy Center, is also scheduled to join this discussion.

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 


INDEPENDENT LENS
Little White Lie

 

Filmmaker Lacey Schwartz grew up with two loving Jewish parents. When she discovers that the man she’s always assumed was her father is not her biological parent, she unlocks a powerful family secret about her real father’s identity. The film is a moving look at the legacy of family secrets and the healing power of truth.

 

INDEPENDENT LENS
Little Hope Was Arson

 

On January 1, 2010, Little Hope Baptist Church burned to the ground in Canton, Texas. Officials concluded the fire was caused by a problem in the century-old church’s wiring. But when nine more churches went up in flames in one month, the largest manhunt in East Texas history was ignited. In this riveting investigation of a community terrorized from the inside out, families are torn apart and even Satan himself is considered a suspect.