Advertisement

Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hawaii measure conjures up new ‘tribe’

November 29, 2007

Advertisement

"I decide who is a Jew around here."

- Hermann Goering in 1934, when told that a favorite Munich art dealer was Jewish.

Under legislation that the House of Representatives has voted 261-153 to foist on Hawaii, Goering's role would be played by a panel empowered to decide who is a "Native Hawaiian" and entitled to special privileges and immunities. Because there are perhaps only 7,000 "pure" Native Hawaiians, "Hawaiian blood" will inevitably be the criterion and the "one-drop rule" likely will prevail. Goering would have approved of this racialist sorting-out.

Those designated Native Hawaiians would be members of a new "tribe" conjured into existence by Congress. But it cannot legitimately do that.

In 1959, 94 percent of Hawaiians, including a large majority of Native Hawaiians, voted for statehood. Opposition was strongest among Southern Democrats in Congress, who, with the civil rights revolution simmering, were wary of Hawaii's example of multiracial harmony.

Today, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, when accurately described, is opposed by a large majority of Hawaiians and supported by only a bare majority of the approximately 240,000 Native Hawaiians in the state. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka, is a genuflection by "progressives," mostly Democrats, to "diversity" and "multiculturalism."

It would foment racial disharmony by creating a permanent caste entitled to its own government - the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity - within the United States. The NHGE presumably would be exempt, as Indian tribes are, from the Constitution's First, Fifth and 14th amendments. It would, Akaka says, negotiate with the state of Hawaii and the United States concerning "lands, natural resources, assets, criminal and civil jurisdiction, and historical grievances."

Reparations? We shall see. Independence - secession? "That could be," Akaka, 83, has said, depending on "my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

The seeds of this weed were sown in 1993, when Congress passed a tendentious apology for supposed U.S. complicity - which was neither clear nor essential - in the peaceful 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani's monarchy by Hawaiian residents. The novelty of America apologizing for a monarch's fall was followed in 2000 by a Supreme Court ruling overturning a Hawaiian law that excluded everyone except Native Hawaiians from voting in a statewide election for trustees of a state agency. This, the court said, violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws and proscription of racial discrimination in voting.

This ruling raised doubts about the constitutionality of the racial spoils system administered by that agency, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Which is perhaps why Akaka decided the Reorganization Act was necessary despite what he has called, with weird defensiveness, his state's "perceived harmony."

There are 400,000 Native Hawaiians nationwide, who will be eligible to participate in creating the NHGE. Native Hawaiians are 20 percent of the state's population. They are defined as direct lineal descendants of indigenous peoples who lived on the islands before 1893 and who exercised sovereignty then - an unintelligible provision because the queen monopolized sovereignty. She, however, was more enlightened than Akaka. She did not distinguish between Native Hawaiians and immigrants, who served in her government.

Under President Washington, the U.S. government's Indian policy was a facet of foreign policy because tribes were considered foreign nations. The Constitution speaks not of native "peoples" but only of "Indian tribes." Akaka's legislation would create a Native Hawaiian "tribe" as a nation within the nation.

Unlike Indians, however, Native Hawaiians' land was not taken by force. They are not a compact community - they are woven into the fabric of one of America's most polyglot states. They chose to bring themselves under the Constitution by embracing statehood.

Congress does not create tribes, it recognizes them according to settled criteria: Tribes were nations when the Constitution was written and are geographically separate and culturally distinct communities whose governments have long continuous histories. As the state of Hawaii has said, "The tribal concept simply has no place in the context of Hawaiian history."

Virtually all Democrats and a few inexplicable Republicans support this legislation, which will further inflame the ethnic grievance industry. Imagine the lesson that some descendants of Hispanics who lived in the Southwest prior to 1848 would learn from it. A Republican president would veto it. A Democratic president would sign it - Sens. Biden, Clinton, Dodd and Obama support it - but the Supreme Court would shred the plan for different laws for different races. Still, the legislation is an important symptom of Democrats' constitutional flippancy and itch for social engineering.

"One nation, indivisible"? Not for the House majority or the Senate committee that have approved Akaka's mockery of the Pledge of Allegiance.

George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Art 7 years, 1 month ago

"I decide who is a schmuck around here." - Chippy the Chimp, after beating George Will in a test of the accuracy of his political predictions.

What a propaganda-spewing little simp.

George says, "The seeds of this weed were sown in 1993, when Congress passed a tendentious apology for supposed U.S. complicity - which was neither clear nor essential - in the peaceful 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani's monarchy by Hawaiian residents."

"Supposed" U.S. complicity? George, who the hell were those white guys marching through the street with guns? Swedes?

Peaceful? The whole affair was peaceful, nice, soft and fluffy, for only one reason: THE HAWAIIANS DIDN'T SHOOT BACK!

Here's a quick summary of the events of that January morning, from a good article from a 1994 issue of Aloha Airlines in-flight magazine (http://www.hawaii-nation.org/soa.html):

"Armed insurrection by a relatively small group of men, most of them American by birth or heritage, succeeded in wresting control of the Islands with the backing of American troops sent ashore from a warship in Honolulu Harbor. To this "superior force of the United States of America," Queen Lili`uokalani yielded her throne, under protest, in order to avoid bloodshed, trusting that the United States government would right the wrong that had been done to her and the Hawaiian people."

(oops... too long; gotta split it.)

Art 7 years, 1 month ago

(continued...)

How's that been working out?

From Wikipedia:

"In 1921, the federal government of the United States set aside as Hawaiian Homelands approximately 200,000 acres (809 km²) in the Territory of Hawaiʻi as a land trust for homesteading by Native Hawaiians. The law mandating this, passed by the U.S. Congress on July 9, 1921, was called the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) and, with amendments, is still in effect today. The act is often also attributed to the year 1920, the year it was written. The avowed purpose of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was to rehabilitate Native Hawaiians, particularly in returning them to the land in order to maintain traditional ties to the land. The Hawaiian politicians who testified in favor of the act specifically referred to the devastation of the Hawaiian population and the loss of the land, and the need for Hawaiians to be able to grow and eat kalo (taro)."

From the Honolulu Advertiser:

"The Hawaiian Home Lands program has been a magnet for controversy since the U.S. Congress set aside roughly 200,000 acres in 1920 to be leased at $1 a year to anyone with 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood. While thousands have applied for the plots, only a small percentage have been awarded.

FIVE-YEAR GOAL The Lingle administration set a five-year target of handing out 6,000 leases by the end of 2008. If successful, the number of leases issued would equal all the previous awards in the eight-decade history of the Hawaiian Home Lands program."

And from hawaiiancommunity.net:

"When Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) began to serve its first clients in the summer of 2001, the organization eagerly tackled the frustratingly slow progress of settling the island's Hawaiian Home Lands. Although Maui has 31,000 acres set aside as Home Lands, only 225 families actually had settled on homesteads during the program's 80-year history, using less than 150 acres."

Far as I can see, this is just another in a long, long line of rich white guys trying to decide the lives of native Hawaiians.

In Tahiti, the local variation of the Polynesian language prominently features the letter "T." In Hawai'i, they call that place Kahiki, using the letter "K" in half their words instead. How was it decided that the Hawaiian language, after remaining unwritten for hundreds or thousands of years, would use a K instead of a T? By a show of hands, among a small group of rich white guys in a smoke-filled room. Like the fates of most other indigenous Americans, the future of na kanaka is decided on a daily basis by someone else, with little input from them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Another fine example of George's Willful ignorance.

Art 7 years ago

Dollypawpaw (Anonymous) says: The locals would have been much better off speaking Japanese. Don't you agree Bra?

Eh, tita, many of them spoke fine English before their country was seized, yeah?

pace 7 years ago

George is just type set dirt. Why did i bother to read his trash. He should have coconut thrown at him by the people who's history he is slaying. His own words "supported by only a bare majority of the approximately 240,000 Native Hawaiians in the state" Another whine, another lie. But he gets paid to say this crap.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.