Michael G. Malaghan
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: We continue Michael G. Malaghan’s serialized historical novel, “Picture Bride — A Family Saga,” based on the Japanese immigrant experience. Malaghan’s trilogy takes readers from turn-of-the-20th-century-Japan to Hawai‘i in the picture bride era; the Islands during World War II, highlighted by the exploits of the Nisei soldiers; and beyond.

The novel, which is now available as a printed softcover book, opens with 12-year-old Haru-chan, fleeing her home in Amakusa, Kyüshü, for Hiroshima, where she becomes the picture bride of a Buddhist priest in Hawai‘i.

Author Michael Malaghan is a retired businessman who divides his time between Hawai‘i, Georgia and Japan.

Chapter 116

At the Hawaii Hochi office, Taka quickly typed up his column and turned it in to Fred Makino. He stood back while the editor read the hurriedly written copy.

Makino looked up. His smile was wide enough to almost show his teeth. “Good copy, Taka. Clean up the grammar and spelling. You just made the front page of the Extra. Stick around; it will be off the presses in an hour.”


By Takeshi Takayama

This morning, twelve citizens representing the ethnic blend of Hawai‘i validated my mother’s belief in America. These honorable men would not be bullied by an intimidating prosecutor emboldened by an outrageous press that had already convicted the defendants.

The prosecution could not prove its case.

If you heard the racist taunt of a senior naval officer outside the courtroom today, you would believe the reason for the hung jury was “Brown people would not convict brown people.”

But what are the facts? My interviews with the exhausted jurors revealed that a Japanese Nisei led the six-jurist conviction faction while a white jurist advocated acquittal. Don’t expect to find this fact reported in certain newspapers, because it is at odds with the verdict they have been drumbeating since the Massie woman first claimed to having been raped.

In their view:

A white woman lie? Never!

A white woman accuses a brown man of rape, which, and here I quote from our biggest competitor, “is typical of his fiendish class of colored men lusting for white women.” Case closed.

When the police arrested the five accused the morning after the alleged rape, they gathered their clothes, certain they would find semen stains. There weren’t any. But did that raise doubts about the woman’s story? NO! The white woman identified the five. Case closed.

The doctors could not find any damage to the “victim’s” private parts. No matter. She said they did it. Case closed.

When Thalia Massie gave the time of the assault and the police discovered the accused could not have been there at the time she claimed, she suddenly remembered the “correct” time. A Navy wife would not lie. They did it. The police said so. The newspapers said so. Case closed.

But then twelve men heard the evidence. The strength of our Constitution’s third and sixth amendments requiring the accused to be judged by a jury of their peers is based on the belief in the common sense of twelve ordinary citizens. Today, half of them were not convinced. Where was the proof?

There wasn’t any.

Most likely, the judge will order another trial.

There wasn’t any.

Most likely, the judge will order another trial.

But then again, maybe not.

There is not just anger over this jury’s failure to convict. Given the even split, there is also the fear that the prosecutor and the police will not be able to prove Mrs. Massie’s rape claim at the next trial and the one after that and the one . . .

A great dread hangs over a righteous community blinded by racism.

These five accused will never be convicted.

This is a terrifying prospect for the Navy and certain groups of our island that have invested so much in their prejudices. Could they have been wrong? Never! Is it possible that these men did not do it? NO!

An entire segment of our community has allowed themselves to buy into the woman’s unsubstantiated story. She has unleashed an evil we thought was restricted to certain Southern states.

In a few weeks, we will celebrate Christmas. Perhaps the original message of the missionaries who visited our Islands more than a century ago will prevail over the passions of the moment. When our privileged class looks into the many nativity scenes in their churches, maybe they could ask: “What would the Baby Jesus think of all this hate and suspicion?”

“A Stupid Miscarriage of Justice” led Pafko’s own front-page story. “They were let go because of their race.” He then rehashed all the venom he had spewed for two months.

* * *

Judd swirled his fourth whiskey as he put down Pafko’s rant, the last Extra he read under the bronze eyes of the King Kamehameha statue outside his office window. A phone call every 30 minutes from the police chief verified Judd’s take on the mood of downtown Honolulu. Stunned haoles and sullen “browns” quietly vacated the city to return to their homes. He mused how this place called “Hawai‘i,” which only a few months ago had been synonymous with paradise, was now irreparably sullied. Pictures of brown Hawaiians and white tourists had seemed as natural as apple pie and ice cream. He agreed with Dillingham on the merits of the case. One white woman, who may have had an out-of-marriage indiscretion, accused five local boys of raping her and, in so doing, ripped asunder the harmony of our island. Of course, he belatedly admitted to himself that this could not have happened if a deep distrust between the races had not been seething beneath the surface, waiting for a single tectonic shift to create an earthquake.

He picked up the Hawaii Hochi newspaper and reread Taka’s column. Judd wondered why he was not outraged. Why wasn’t he on the phone demanding Makino write a retraction? Deep down, he knew why: The kid, the son of that Buddhist priest and his activist wife, had it right.

To be continued . . .


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