Last week....the Attorney General (our former senator from Alabama) got into the news by referring to Hawaii as "an island in the Pacific". Hawaii folks got all peppered up, because of this lack of 'respect'.
I sat and pondered over this story for a while. There are three odd aspects to the story.
First, if you went to the 4.8 million Alabama folks....for those over the age of eight, and asked about where Hawaii was located, it's very likely that 90-percent would just point out into the Pacific and say "there". They might accidentally point toward Japan, the Philippines, or perhaps even Tonga. Ten-percent (the remainder) might point toward the Gulf of Mexico or down near Aruba.
Yes, we do have a geography location problem in Alabama. It's mostly because if you've never been there....you can't reference the local area. You can ask most Alabama folks to identify the four border states, and 98-percent will get that correct. Once you start asking about where Idaho or Montana is located....most folks just point out west on the map.
I would imagine that my brother (the Alabama engineer geek) has met more Chinese in his life than Hawaii folks.
Second, to be fairly honest about this....Hawaii is made up of eight islands. Most lecture instructors from Alabama will point this out and even define that they were all part of some single land mass back around 12,800 years ago...then all hell broke loose and water rose 400-odd feet.
Third, if you asked the 4.8 million Alabama folks if they'd ever met a Hawaii guy ever....in their life. Their response (probably 99-percent) will be no. Probably over 99-percent of Alabama folks will talk up meeting Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, or Tennessee residents. Some will refer to Arkansas folks as the nicest folks on the face of the Earth. Then after a couple of comments, you get down to the number of folks who've ever met anyone from Wisconsin or Utah....and less than ten-percent of Alabama folks can say they've met such a person.
From the 20-odd thousand that might have met some Hawaii folks.....they are mostly former military folks who spent time on the isle, or politicians.
Maybe this is worthy of some controversy, but on the scale of hyped-up frustration or hostility....to an Alabama guy....this is maybe somewhere between number 10,500 and 11,000 on the scale of things. In Alabama, we worry more about summer revival activity with a broken-down AC unit in the church, dry counties converting to wet counties, and Governors behaving like nutcases.