Of all the reasons to find Donald Trump despicable this week, his dismissal of Guam as a possible target for North Korea is the highest on my list.
Every time he opened his bellicose mouth, he implied that Guam and its 160,000 people are expendable.
As if there aren’t young children who may be being taught to duck and cover right now.
As if there aren’t teen-agers dreaming about their futures now.
As if there aren’t adults with a long bucket list.
As if there aren’t elders hoping for security and comfort in their old age.
But Guam has always been expendable to imperial powers, including the Church of Rome, Spain, Japan, and the US.
Despite the fact that the Chamorros settled there at least 4,000 years ago, Tana l’ManChamorro (Land of the Chamorros) has never been self-governing in the modern era. It has been used and abused for what it can offer foreign military strategists and economic strategists.
We can thank good old Teddy Roosevelt, the founder of American Imperialism, for the US takeover of Guam in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, about which he was so “bully”-ish. Fast forward to Pearl Harbor and the taking of Guam by Japan and Tana l’ManChamorro became a very hot zone until the US reclaimed it in 1944.
Despite Governor Eddie Baza Calvo’s public remarks that the colony is not worried about nuclear threats, there are real people on the island who are and who wonder why no one is considering what could happen to them.
The Washington Post wrote about some of them the other day: “ ‘If anything happens, we all got to be ready, be prepared, and pray to God that it doesn’t happen,’ Daisy Mendiola, 56, said after finishing lunch with her family at a restaurant near Hagatna. ‘Everyone’s afraid, because we’re dealing with powers that’s beyond us.’
“Other residents are worried about the political atmosphere and the government’s ability to find a peaceful solution.
“Todd Thompson, a lawyer who lives on Guam, said he laughed off past threats because he ‘figured cooler heads in Washington would prevail, and it was just an idle threat.’ “
But now we know there are not cooler heads in Washington or in New Jersey.
I am a child of the Cold War. I heard a lot of talk about building bomb shelters, though my family did not have one. I laid awake nights putting myself into utter terror thinking of what might happen during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I wouldn’t let myself go to sleep for fear that I wouldn’t wake up.
No child should ever feel that way. No parent should have to comfort a sleepless child when the parent herself doesn’t know what might happen.
More important, no US president should ever be spouting off threats of nuclear destruction when he has zero knowledge of the true state of the world.
Guam is a little Garden of Eden, by all descriptions. Sandy beaches, temperate weather, friendly people. To misquote Joni Mitchell, please don’t bomb paradise and put up a radioactive parking lot.