People Protest Right After False Missile Alert in Hawai`i: “Now’s the Time, Now’s the Hour, Drive the War-Mongers Out of Power!”

January 14, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Saturday, January 13—This morning an alert blasted out on every cell phone on every island of the State of Hawai`i—three loud buzzes followed by a warning: “Ballistic Missile Threat Inbound to Hawaii. Seek Immediate Shelter. This is Not a Drill.” This was followed by a deafening silence as people waited for a nuclear bomb to fall. Many rushed to their phones to call the media or the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency or turned on their televisions or radios to get more information but could reach no one. Media phone lines were overloaded; the Emergency Management Agency’s website crashed. Some rushed to get their emergency supplies together. Parents opened manhole covers and shoved their kids down storm drains. Others called their friends and family or posted Facebook messages saying good-bye. And then came the wait—a full 37 minutes before an official message was sent saying that the warning was a false alert. Given that residents of Hawaii have repeatedly been told that inter-continental ballistic nuclear missiles could only be detected 20 minutes before arriving in the islands, many expected nuclear annihilation.

Within an hour of being notified that the missile alert was a false alarm, five organizations had gotten in touch with each other and had posted a Facebook event calling for a protest at the Federal Building that afternoon. Refuse Fascism was among them. More than 50 people came to the protest within just a few hours. They were angry and loud, and placed the blame squarely on the Trump/Pence regime, chanting: “No War! No Trump! We Won’t Take It Anymore!”; “Now’s the Time, Now’s the Hour, Drive the War-Mongers Out of Power!” and “No Nukes! No Excuses!” An online petition denouncing the missile sirens as war-mongering came alive. Actions for disarmament were called for the MLK Day holiday and beyond. Within minutes of the alert, Facebook pages were ablaze with messages denouncing the U.S.’s militarism and the Trump/Pence regime. However, as soon as the alert was lifted, state officials began creating committees to “investigate” and the Federal Communications Commission has promised a “full investigation” in order to divert the righteous anger against U.S. war-mongering to demands to fire everyone involved in issuing the false alert.

Hawai`i has been on edge for months. Every first Tuesday of the month island-wide sirens go off to “practice” emergency alerts that notify residents of incoming ballistic missiles. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has been conducting meetings in neighborhoods to advise residents how to prepare for the unthinkable. If anyone had read the mainstream morning paper they would have read the first page headlines: “Isle Military Brass Weighs N. Korean Threats” reporting on a major conference on nuclear preparedness at the State Capitol yesterday in which a retired Air Force Lt. General warned that “There is a real threat [to Hawai`i]… The U.S. is the designated recipient because we are public enemy No. 1 to North Korea,” and noted that Hawai`i’s proximity to North Korea makes Hawai`i the likely target. Politicians and military officials have been demanding additional military funds to build a more powerful missile defense system to intercept missiles predicted to come from North Korea and many people are being won over to the idea that the U.S. has to launch a pre-emptive war against North Korea because “there’s no other choice.” In a state where war-mongering is rampant and North Korea is constantly being vilified, the missile alert was not only terrifying but further drives people to support the Trump/Pence regime’s calls for war against North Korea. However, this is not an easy task.

Trump does not have widespread support in Hawai`i. Hawai`i’s population has a close connection to Japan and Korea. Stories of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are told and re-told, and while the history of the U.S. war against Korea in the early 1950s is less well known, many are aware of the devastation caused by that war and have close connections with families in Korea. People remember Pearl Harbor and there is widespread fear that the massive presence of the U.S. military in Hawai`i makes the islands more vulnerable to attack. Nonetheless, today’s missile alert may push many more to believe that the only way to avoid being the target of a nuclear war is to strike first.

In light of the widespread fear that government officials and the media have been spreading, it has been heartening that a few individuals and organizations have been writing letters to the newspapers, holding small protests denouncing the monthly missile tests, and crashing the Emergency Management Agency’s “community preparedness” meetings. Today that message resonated and was amplified.

In a small way the silence against the very real danger of nuclear war was broken in Hawai`i today, but these voices will fall silent if they are not joined by millions of people across the U.S. who refuse to go along with efforts to create an atmosphere of fear in the very real threat of nuclear war and instead fight to end the nightmare we are living in and take to the streets to drive out the Trump/Pence regime.


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