Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he will not remain silent about things that matter. He will continue to speak up and defend Samoan fish cleaners despite the personal attacks being launched against him by Mr. John Newton.
“Recently, Samoa News published offensive remarks made by Mr. Newton which disparaged and demeaned our Samoan fish cleaners for the work they do,” Faleomavaega said. “When I came to the defense of our Samoan workers, Mr. Newton accused me of being a racist. But I do not think it is racist to stand up for Samoans. I do not think it is racist to defend our fish cleaners.”
“Our Samoan fish cleaners built the U.S. tuna industry, and dug the well from which we drink. Our fish cleaners may not be college-educated. Our fish cleaners may not be business owners. Our fish cleaners may not have played a role in founding the South Pacific Academy or Transpac Corporation. But our Samoan fish cleaners have been the backbone of American Samoa’s economy for over 50-years, and they deserve our respect and gratitude. They do not deserve to be the target of public ridicule, especially when they are toiling to survive, working their fingers to the bone, barely making ends meet in order to support their families.”
“Given their hardships and struggles, I was hopeful that Mr. Newton would have owned his mistake and apologized for his insensitive remarks but instead he is excusing his behavior by stating that his highly offensive remarks were ‘merely a metaphor.’”
“As someone who holds public office, I expect to be criticized, and I welcome criticism. But don’t use our Samoan fish cleaners as a metaphor. Don’t poke fun at the work they do. Our fish cleaners don’t deserve anyone poking fun at them, metaphorically or not.”
“Regarding my record of public service, I don’t take Mr. Newton’s comments personally, as he is certainly entitled to his opinion about me. I also understand full-well that the only reason he is distorting my record is to divert attention away from the thoughtless comments he made about our fish cleaners.”
“About his call center, I sent down $500,000 to establish a computer lab at ASCC that was also supposed to be used for a call center, and I would encourage him, or anyone else interested in establishing a call center, to make use of those facilities and resources, as was originally intended.”
“I also remain hopeful that all of us will keep together as we navigate through the difficult days ahead and begin the long process of rebuilding our economy in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, and especially in the face of a global economic crisis which has already led, in part, to the closure of one of our tuna canneries given the disparity in wage rates between low-wage countries and our own country.”
“Despite the obstacles confronting us, I have every confidence that with the support and prayers of our people, we will make our way through this disaster and economic recession,” Faleomavaega concluded.