The Massie-Kahahawai Case as a Local Story
This introductory chapter begins with a description of the Massie–Kahahawai case, which shook the Territory of Hawaii to its very core. Thalia Massie, the twenty-year-old wife of a naval lieutenant stationed at Pearl Harbor, alleged that on the night of September 12, 1931 she had been dragged into a car, taken to a remote location, and raped by “some Hawaiian boys”. Five young men were accused of the crime. A mishandling of evidence, shoddy police work, and contradictory testimony led to a mistrial when the case was brought to court in November 1931. But before a second trial could be convened, two acts of vigilantism were committed on behalf of Thalia, which resulted in the death of one of the suspects, Joseph Kahahawai. The chapter then sets out the book’s purpose, which is to tell the story of the Massie–Kahahawai case. It examines the complexities of telling and retelling the case’s historical events as a local incident in the islands as opposed to an American one that cast Hawaii as merely a small outpost of the United States.
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