(c) Copyright 2004 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
On Wednesday July 28, 2004 the Democrat candidate for Vice President, John Edwards, gave a powerful speech to the Democratic National Convention calling upon government to help unify America. Edwards complained that at present there are two Americas: one consisting of "haves" and one consisting of "have-nots." He said the role of government is to bring us together as one America. But in Hawai'i both government and private institutions have promoted divisiveness by creating racially exclusionary benefit programs. There are now two Hawai'i's. The separation between ethnic Hawaiians and the rest of the population is increasing, and the Akaka bill proposes to harden that racial separatism by providing federal authorization to create a race-based government. John Edwards' proposal that government should help create a unified America should be applied to Hawai'i. If liberals think unity and equality are good for America, why not for Hawai'i? In this essay five items from Edwards' speech are modified to fit the local context. Each item consists of three parts: (a) exact quote from John Edwards; (b) the same concept and rhetoric rewritten to the context of Hawai'i; (c) a brief analysis of the situation in today's Hawai'i. The five items are: general overview of the problem; dual healthcare systems; dual school systems; the need for implementation of a common core of unifying values; getting past present despair toward hope for the future.
Shortly after this webpage was created, Ken Conklin received an e-mail raising some important points. That e-mail is copied at the bottom (without the name of the sender), together with the reply.
On Wednesday July 28, 2004 the Democratic National Convention heard a speech by the Democrat nominee for Vice President, John Edwards. The full text of his speech can be seen at:
Here are excerpts from five of Senator Edwards' most important topics. Each item consists of three parts: (a) exact quote from John Edwards; (b) the same concept and rhetoric rewritten to the context of Hawai'i; (c) a brief analysis of the situation in today's Hawai'i.
(1a) "I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John to make America strong again. And we have so much work to do. Because the truth is, we still live in two different Americas: one for people who have lived the American Dream and don't have to worry, and another for most Americans who work hard and still struggle to make ends meet."
(1b) I sit here at my computer hoping to convince people we can restore unity, equality, and aloha for all in Hawai'i. And we have so much work to do. Because the truth is, we are moving toward two different Hawai'is: one for people who have Hawaiian native ancestry and receive special status and government benefits appropriate to ali'i, and another Hawai'i for the 80% of us with no native ancestry who are relegated to second-class citizenship appropriate to the maka'ainana.
(1c) There are over 160 government programs providing benefits exclusively to ethnic Hawaiians, in addition to the benefits everyone receives (including ethnic Hawaiians). See:
In addition to those federal programs, OHA (the Office of Hawaiian Affairs) and DHHL (the Department of Hawaiian Homelands) have cost the treasury of the State of Hawai'i more than one Billion dollars to date, and are projected to cost the state treasury an additional two Billion dollars during the next ten years at the current expenditure rate. See spreadsheets at:
(2a) "It doesn't have to be that way. We can build one America where we no longer have two health care systems. One for people who get the best health care money can buy and then one for everybody else, rationed out by insurance companies, drug companies, and HMOs -- millions of Americans who don't have any health insurance at all."
(2b) It doesn't have to be that way. We can have one Hawai'i where we no longer have racially separate health care systems. One for people who have a drop of native blood and therefore get special access to screening and treatment programs, and then one for everybody else, rationed out by insurance companies, drug companies, and HMOs -- thousands of Hawai'i residents who don't have any health insurance at all.
(2c) The Native Hawaiian Health Care Act was first passed in 1988, and has been reauthorized continuously since then. Under that legislation, Papa Ola Lokahi was created in 1988 to spearhead a Native Hawaiian health care system including planning, advocacy, technical assistance, research projects, and delivery of health care. This organization is now a large bureaucracy receiving tens of millions of dollars for racially exclusionary programs, and for conducting research and writing grants to get more money. In 2003 the University of Hawai'i Board of Regents, seeing a chance to get some of the race-based money for itself, created a new UH Medical School Department of Native Hawaiian Health (but no comparable departments of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, or Caucasian health). A reauthorization of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act was introduced in the 106th Congress in 1999, and hearings were held in Honolulu in January 2000. This bill had language providing federal funding for healthcare for all ethnic Hawaiians, whether they are needy or not. This bill, like many other Hawaiian racial entitlement bills, contained false and distorted historical and Hawaiian grievance language in the preamble "findings." Citizens of Hawai'i need to realize that numerous Hawaiian racial entitlement bills similar to this one are introduced every year in Congress by our Senators and Representatives who are extraordinarily zealous in their efforts to create two Hawai'is separated by race. An analysis of that 1999 bill, including detailed rebuttals of 29 false and distorted "findings," can be found at:
(3a) "We shouldn't have two public school systems in this country: one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody else. None of us believe that the quality of a child's education should be controlled by where they live or the affluence of their community. It doesn't have to be that way. We can build one public school system that works for all our children. Our plan will reform our schools and raise our standards. We can give our schools the resources they need."
(3b) We shouldn't have two public school systems in Hawai'i: one focused on Hawaiian culture and language where 90% of all the children and 100% of all the policy-setters are ethnic Hawaiians, and one for everybody else. None of us (well, perhaps some of us) believe that the quality, content, and achievement standards of a child's education should be controlled by his racial or cultural affiliation, or by the granting of racially-targeted matching funds to some schools in some ethnic neighborhoods. It doesn't have to be that way. We can build one public school system that works for all our children. We need a plan that will reform our schools and raise our standards for everyone. We can give our schools the resources they need.
(3c) For many years the Native Hawaiian Education Act has funneled tens of millions of dollars to provide race-based programs in all levels of schooling. One such program at the University of Hawai'i, the Native Hawaiian Leadership Project, provides millions per year for scholarships, travel, and research for college students and young professors throughout America who have a drop of Hawaiian native blood. For about 15 years there have been some individual public school classrooms, and then some entire schools, using Hawaiian language as the medium of instruction (but no public schools using Tagalog, Ilocano, Japanese, etc. as the medium of instruction). For about three years there have also been a dozen public charter schools focusing on Hawaiian culture as the core of the curriculum (meanwhile, Japanese families who want their children to preserve their culture must pay for private after-school and weekend language and culture academies). Also for about three years Kamehameha Schools has had an arrangement with the Department of Education whereby Kamehameha provides one dollar for every four taxpayer dollars to carefully selected public schools in neighborhoods that are predominantly ethnic Hawaiian, in return for Kamehameha exercising substantial control over the curriculum and staffing. A bill in the Legislature for the past three years has attempted to establish an apartheid school system by granting autonomy to the consortium of "host-culture" charter schools to allow that "non-contiguous school district" defined by ethnicity to set its own standards for student achievement and teacher certification, and to certify additional schools for membership in the new ethnic school district. Naturally, the content of the courses in American history and Hawaiian history in these language immersion and culture-immersion schools, and in the schools leveraged by Kamehameha's 20% budget contribution, teach children that ethnic Hawaiians have a special relationship with the gods and the land not shared by those lacking a drop of the magic blood. These schools, whose zealousness of cultural and political indoctrination resembles the madrassas of Saudi Arabia, teach children that America colonized Hawai'i, suppressed the culture and language, staged an armed invasion and overthrew the monarchy, illegally annexed Hawai'i and stole the land, etc. Instead of using the schools to foster unity and mutual respect in a diverse multicultural student body mirroring the rainbow population of Hawai'i, we use the schools to encourage racial separatism, racial grievances, and cultural chauvinism. We educate our future generation in a way that will foster two racially separate Hawai'i's instead of one unified Hawai'i. See a major webpage on Hawaiian education for ethnic nation-building:
(4a) "Let me talk about why we need to build one America. I saw up close what having two Americas does to our country. From the time I was very young, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination. I saw young African-American kids sent upstairs in movie theaters. I saw white only signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters. I feel such an enormous responsibility when it comes to issues of race and equality and civil rights. I have heard some discussions and debates about where, and in front of what audiences we should talk about race, equality, and civil rights. Well, I have an answer to that question. Everywhere. This is not an African-American issue, not a Latino issue, not an Asian-American issue, this is an American issue. It's about who we are, what our values are, what kind of country we want to live in. What John and I want -- what we all want -- is for our children and our grandchildren to be the first generations to grow up in an America that's no longer divided by race."
(4b) Let me talk about why we need to build one Hawai'i. I see up close what having two Hawai'is does to our government and our people. From the time I first came to Hawai'i 22 years ago, I have seen the anti-aloha forces at work. I've heard of "kill haole" day in the schools. I've seen Professor Haunani-Kay Trask hurl racial invective at an undergraduate student in her own department, in print, in the school newspaper; and get rewarded with promotion and tenure. I have been told that as a haole "newcomer" I should not presume to speak about such matters -- that I am merely an unwelcome guest in someone else's homeland. Well, I have an answer to that. This is not an issue for "local people" or "Hawaiians" alone. This is an issue for all of us who love Hawai'i and have it as our beloved permanent home. This is about who we are, what our values are, what kind of Hawai'i we want to live in. What my colleagues and I want -- what we all want -- is for all Hawai'i's children and grandchildren to grow up in a Hawai'i that's not divided by race.
(4c) For a statement of the fundamental values of unity, equality, and aloha for all, see:
In September and November 2003 there were protest marches in Waikiki and at the federal courthouse. As many as ten thousand red-shirt marchers tried to protect their entrenched race-based institutions and racially exclusionary government handouts. They tried to intimidate the people of Hawai'i, and federal judges, to back away from lawsuits challenging racially exclusionary programs and schools. The red-shirt marchers tried to protect and harden racial separatism in Hawai'i, in opposition to those seeking unity and equality for "one Hawai'i." For news reports and photographs, see:
(5a) "We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems; optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what's right even when those around us say, "You can't do that." We choose to be inspired because we know that we can do better -- because this is America where everything is still possible. What we believe - what John Kerry and I believe -- is that you should never look down on anybody, that we should lift people up. We don't believe in tearing people apart. We believe in bringing people together. What we believe -- what I believe -- is that the family you're born into and the color of your skin in our America should never control your destiny. Join us in this cause. Let's make America stronger at home and respected in the world. Let's ensure that once again, in our one America -- our one America -- tomorrow will always be better than today."
(5b) We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems; optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what's right even when those around us say, "You can't do that." We choose to be inspired because we know that we can do better -- because this is America where everything is still possible. What we believe is that you should never look down on anybody, that we should lift people up. We don't believe in tearing people apart. We believe in bringing people together. What we believe -- what I believe -- is that the family you're born into and the color of your skin in our America should never control your destiny. Join us in this cause. Let's make Hawai'i stronger at home and respected in the world. Let's ensure that once again, in our one Hawai'i -- our one Hawai'i -- tomorrow will always be better than today.
(5c) Over the years Hawai'i has been building a wall of apartheid. Over 160 government-funded racially exclusionary programs are some of the bricks in that wall. Wealthy private institutions with racially exclusionary policies, like Kamehameha Schools, are also bricks in that wall. OHA and DHHL sit side by side as the cornerstone of that wall. As President Reagan said to President Gorbachev in Berlin, so I and my colleagues say to the people of Hawai'i: "Tear down this wall!"
As John Edwards said, "We choose hope over despair." We hope to smash that cornerstone and watch the entire wall crumble into the dustbin of history.
OHA is a state government agency that was founded on three pillars of racial discrimination: only ethnic Hawaiians could vote in OHA elections, only ethnic Hawaiians could run for OHA trustee, and only ethnic Hawaiians could receive benefits from OHA (and DHHL). The first two pillars have been destroyed, and the third is being bombarded.
The first pillar was toppled when the Supreme Court ruled in February 2000 (Rice v. Cayetano) that the 15th Amendment applies to OHA as an agency of the state government, and therefore "the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race." For Rice v. Cayetano see:
The second pillar of racial discrimination at OHA was toppled in August 2000 at the U.S. District Court in Honolulu, as upheld in December 2002 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Plaintiffs in the Arakaki1 lawsuit succeeded in overturning the Hawai'i law that placed a racial restriction on who can run for OHA trustee. Over a dozen people with no native ancestry ran for OHA in the election of November 2000, giving Hawai'i's people a full range of candidates unrestricted by race; and one of them was elected. For the Arakaki1 lawsuit webpage see:
The third pillar of racial discrimination at OHA (and DHHL) is the racial restriction on who can receive benefits from this state government agency. That racial restriction is being challenged in the Arakaki2 lawsuit which, if successful, will finally abolish both OHA and DHHL. For the Arakaki2 lawsuit webpage, see:
In an effort to save OHA, DHHL, and the plethora of racially exclusionary government and private programs in Hawai'i, advocates of racial separatism have been trying since summer of 2000 to pass the Akaka bill in Congress. The Akaka bill would authorize the creation of a phony Indian tribe for ethnic Hawaiians -- a government defined by race. Such a government would firmly establish racial apartheid in Hawai'i, and would provide a legal basis for claims by other ethnic groups across America to create their own race-based governments. The Akaka bill is the last desperate effort to cling to racial privilege and separatism in Hawai'i. In 21st Century America -- in the Hawai'i we know and love -- a government of the race, by the race, and for the race has no place.
The Akaka bill is pork barrel politics at its worst -- splintering Hawai'i's rainbow, dividing Hawai'i along racial lines, creating a race-defined government just to protect racially exclusionary programs and further balkanize Hawai'i. See:
To read a five-paragraph summary of why the Akaka bill is bad, with extensive references documenting the main points, see:
Shortly after this webpage was created, Ken Conklin received an e-mail raising some important points. That e-mail is copied below (without the name of the sender), together with the reply.
E-mail sent to Ken Conklin:
I gave this a quick read-through, and as a liberal, here's my take:
I agree with most of it. I think poor people should have access to food and health care regardless of race. Eligibility to receive aid should be determined by need, not by any other factor.
The one part that bothers this writer but not me has to do with education. I think it's a good idea to have schools that teach Hawaiian language and culture for two reasons:
1) the Hawaiians were there first, it makes sense they want to hang on to their culture.
2) it's vital to the tourism industry that this culture survive. I just got back from Maui, and in addition to the beaches and trade winds, part of the appeal of the island for tourists is to explore a native culture. Promoting Hawaiian culture is in Hawaii's economic interests, and those schools help do it.
What I find most interesting about this, is that despite all the issues he raises in his e-mail, the fact remains that native Hawaiians continue to make up the majority of the poor people in Hawaii. (I'm editing a book on Hawaii right now, and recently read that fact).
Ken Conklin's reply:
Thanks for writing. Your e-mail seemed important, and it came at a time when I can give a thorough reply. In fact, I like your message and my reply so much that I have added them (without your name and e-mail address) to the bottom of the webpage to which you were responding:
One “factual” statement you make is false. You say, “the fact remains that native Hawaiians continue to make up the majority of the poor people in Hawaii.” I’ll deal with that issue about halfway through my reply, but I do hope you’ll be more careful when writing your book.
One of the most important topics you raise I think we agree on: Hawaiian language and culture (and the spirits of the land) are the core of what defines Hawai'i as a special place. I think just about everyone who lives here agrees with that. And we are determined to preserve that language and culture. Where we might disagree is whether it is necessary to do that by reference to race.
Let me address several topics, in this order: the importance of Hawaiian culture and language; whether it's good to have two different school systems allegedly defined by culture but in practice defined by race; whether ethnic Hawaiians are in fact poor and downtrodden, and whether that would justify race-based government programs or race-based governments even if it were true; and how the Hawaiian grievance claims are used for political purposes to bolster huge, wealthy bureaucracies and to support demands for racial separatism and racial favoritism.
I believe it's good to have Hawaiian language taught in school, and it's good to have elements of the culture taught in the schools -- not just to ethnic Hawaiian students, but to all the students. The teachers of these subjects do not need to be ethnic Hawaiians either, because there are people of all races who know enough to be able to teach these subjects. As you might know from reading my essay, what I find objectionable is the effort to create an apartheid school system. The Hawaiian culture and language are being used consciously and deliberately as vehicles for promoting racial separatism, and feelings of racial entitlement and racial supremacy. Please read the blatantly anti-American and racial supremacist language contained in the philosophy and curriculum plans for the leading "host culture" charter school, which you will find in my webpage:
A Hawaiian religious legend is taught as fact in these schools, and the legend is used to assert claims of racial supremacy -- claims that ethnic Hawaiians have a family relationship with the gods and with the land, so that ethnic Hawaiians have the right to race-based political supremacy and anyone lacking a drop of the magic blood is automatically relegated to second-class status. Now, this legend is only one small part of many similar concepts which young minds are expected to embrace. And thus the schools become madrassas for religious indoctrination and related political activism, all in the name of "preserving the culture and language." In ordinary public schools it is perfectly acceptable to study the Bible as a form of literature and a part of Western civilization; it is not acceptable to use the Bible to have prayer sessions or to brainwash children into believing that Christians are guaranteed a special place in Heaven, or that Jews deserve to be persecuted "because they killed Jesus." To read more about this Hawaiian religious belief and how it is used in the schools to assert political claims to racial supremacy, see:
There are several other interconnected issues you raise.
You mention that ethnic Hawaiians were here first, and you seem to imply that somehow that entitles them to special treatment and perhaps a separate government. The claim to political rights based on (alleged) indigenous status is very troubling. First of all, ethnic Hawaiians are less "indigenous" that almost any other indigenous group in the world. See:
But also, America is in a lot of trouble if we begin carving up our country into separate fiefdoms based on race or alleged indigenous status. As you know, there are about 560 recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native groups. But there are a whole lot more banging on the door demanding to be recognized so they can have a gambling casino. And then there are millions upon millions of people who have an "indigenous" great-great-great grandfather but who currently do not belong to any tribe. You live in California. I should not need to remind you about the racial divisiveness of the recent Gubernatorial recall election in which Lieutenant Governor Bustamante was "outed" as being an active member of MEChA, which supports the creation of an independent Nation of Aztlan comprising the current States of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, based on the theory that millions of people with Aztec ancestry live there and their ancestors lived there before the white man came. If ethnic Hawaiians can form a race-based government using claims of indigenous status, then Chicanos would be far more entitled to do the same thing. Next would come the African-Americans, demanding a Nation of New Africa (as in fact some have done). All these groups want to preserve their cultures and languages. Let's hope we don't need to break apart America to do it. See my large webpage about Aztlan, Nation of New Africa, etc. at:
By the way, you might consider the fact that ethnic Hawaiians make up about 20% of Hawai'i's population. Consider the fact that Hispanics and African-Americans combines do not make up much more than that percentage of the American population. So if we in Hawai'i are forced to have a race-based government in Hawai'i for ethnic Hawaiians, the effect on our social cohesiveness, jurisdictional strife, and tax base would be comparable to the effect on America if blacks and Hispanics together were allowed to form their own government. Pure chaos.
Now for the factual issue. You say, “What I find most interesting about this, is that despite all the issues he raises in his e-mail, the fact remains that native Hawaiians continue to make up the majority of the poor people in Hawaii. (I'm editing a book on Hawaii right now, and recently read that fact).” First of all, ethnic Hawaiians make up only 20% of our population, so it would be extraordinary indeed if more than 50% of the poor people in Hawai’i are from this 20% of the population. Perhaps what you mean to say is that there is a higher percentage of poor people among ethnic Hawaiians than among any other ethnic group. But I’m not sure whether that’s true either, although you’ll hear that being said quite often -- you’ll hear it especially often from the large institutions whose bureaucrats get wealth and power for themselves by claiming to serve the needs of ethnic Hawaiians!
Are ethnic Hawaiians as a group mired in poverty, illiteracy, disease, incarceration, etc.? There are huge, powerful, well-financed bureaucracies which constantly gather data and twist the statistics to prove such claims. The "proof" is then used to get private and government grants for further study, and perhaps for social programs; and year after year the bureaucrats keep getting their big salaries and pension plans.
Are those victimhood claims true? I don't know. I know plenty of wealthy Hawaiians, poor Hawaiians, and Hawaiians in the middle. I don't have the budget or expertise (nor the desire) to do my own thorough investigations. But I have looked at a few issues more carefully than the average citizen, because these particular topics are related to things I am very interested in. Here's what I have found on those particular issues.
According to Census 2000 the annual family median income for the entire State of Hawai'i in 1999 was $56,961 compared against the Caucasian median family income of $55,543 and ethnic Hawaiian median of $49,282. (note that whites are NOT the top income group -- ethnic Japanese are at the top). But I would guess that discrepancy is mostly attributable to the differences in median age. Statewide median age is 36.2, Caucasian median age is 33.4, and ethnic Hawaiian median age is 25.3. 25 is very young to be getting big incomes, whereas 36 is an age when people are well established in a career. Also worth noting -- 13.1% of all ethnic Hawaiians are in families with incomes above $100,000 -- they surely are not poor or downtrodden, and neither are the 50% with incomes above $49,282. The data for ethnic Hawaiians, taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and reported at the State of Hawai'i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) can be found at:
"Social justice" activists demand free tuition for ethnic Hawaiian students at the University of Hawai'i, and other race-based benefits for them. One victimhood claim offered to justify these demands is that ethnic Hawaiians are under-represented in the student body. But careful study of UH student enrollment data, together with Census 2000 population data for Hawai'i, shows that ethnic Hawaiians are significantly over-represented in the UH student body, while ethnic Caucasians and ethnic Chinese are significantly or greatly under-represented. Thus, it is illegal racial discrimination to provide race-based tuition waivers and other race-based benefits to ethnic Hawaiians while failing to provide the same benefits to ethnic Caucasians and ethnic Chinese. Even under the new Supreme Court ruling allowing race-based affirmative action to promote diversity, it cannot be right for a university to provide affirmative action to a significantly over-represented racial group while failing to provide such benefits to a significantly under-represented group. To see the data and how they were analyzed, visit
One of the big victimhood grievances, repeated constantly, is that Hawaiian language was made illegal after the overthrow of the monarchy. I have studied that claim very thoroughly, and totally debunked it. It turns out that the Hawaiian monarchs, and the native government, and the ordinary native people themselves gradually embraced English and abandoned Hawaiian language, to the extent that 95% of all the public schools in the Hawaiian Kingdom used English as the medium of instruction the year before the monarchy was overthrown. And after the overthrow the Hawaiian language was NEVER made illegal, either in the society at large nor in the schools. See:
Another victimhood claim is that ethnic Hawaiian women have the highest rate of breast cancer among all Hawai'i's ethnic groups. But I recently saw in a newspaper healthcare insert section that white women in Hawai'i have a slightly higher rate of breast cancer per thousand than ethnic Hawaiian women, although Hawaiians die from the disease at a slightly higher rate than whites. Does than mean that Hawaiians get poorer treatment? Or does it mean there is something genetic that makes them less likely to be cured when treated equally? Does it really matter? The statistics show only slight racial differences in any case; and I would hope that ANY woman could get screened and treated for breast cancer regardless of race, and could get help if she is financially needy, regardless of race. I think it's criminal for government programs to provide screening and treatment for one particular ethnic group while excluding all other ethnic groups solely because of race. That's almost genocide, like imposing the death penalty on people who lack a drop of the magic blood. Did I just say something totally outrageous? Yes, the rhetoric was astounding. And that's the sort of rhetoric we hear constantly from the Hawaiian activists. I thought you should hear a small example of it so you'll know what it's like.
Another victimhood claim is that "the land was stolen." One recent book on that topic (by a Ph.D. researcher, no less) is "Kahana: How the Land Was Lost." That book does such a great job of presenting tons of data and high-sounding analysis, and is full of so much baloney, that I wrote a lengthy book review thoroughly debunking it. See:
Now, I'd like to say that it is racial stereotyping, or racial profiling, to brand all members of a racial group as poor, disease-ridden, illiterate, drug abusers merely because some members of that racial group have those characteristics or even because (if true) their racial group has a higher percentage of its members with those characteristics than other racial groups. Just because 30% of all blacks live in poverty (totally arbitrary number; I have no idea what the facts are) does not mean we should assume that the next black stranger we meet is living in poverty. The answer to poverty, disease, etc. is to provide help to the individuals who need it regardless of race -- and IF it is true that some particular racial group has a disproportionately high percentage of needy people, then it is also absolutely obvious that the afflicted racial group will get a disproportionately higher percentage of government assistance when government assistance is given on the basis of need alone. Giving help to needy people regardless of race is far more righteous than giving help to all members of a racial group regardless of their individual need. Isn't that obvious?
The Hawaiian grievance industry is BIG business. Here's what happens. There are large, powerful institutions with staffs of high-paid bureaucrats and attorneys who make tons of money and hold vast political power all because they claim to speak on behalf of an allegedly poor downtrodden group, and claim to deliver services to those in need. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has assets of nearly $400 Million, but operates on a philosophy of an elderly pensioner: "don't touch the principal." They have hoarded cash for years. Their overhead for rent, staff, political lobbying, "educating the public" (i.e., more political lobbying) is higher than the amount they give in grants to service-providing institutions; and then of course those other institutions have their own bloated staffs, etc. OHA regularly runs ads in the "help wanted" section of the Honolulu newspapers looking to hire "policy analysts" and "grant writers" and "researchers" and public relations experts.
So, what happens is that a few truly needy people actually do get some help, and then we hear all the propaganda about the fact that help was given. A few needy people are used like the March of Dimes poster child, tugging at the heartstrings and "proving" the need for keeping the "service providers" in business.
More importantly, ethnic Hawaiians have become the favorite racial group in Hawai'i. The attitude you expressed is very typical. Aw, these poor downtrodden people have suffered terribly, and have such a beautiful culture, and we should do everything possible to raise them up and preserve their culture. Like a child picks up and takes care of a wounded bird, or a little girl feels better when she hugs her ragdoll, so the people of Hawai'i have made a kind of state mascot or huggy-bear out of a racial group. This is demeaning to Hawaiians and to everyone else. See:
Perhaps the most tear-jerking Hawaiian victimhood book of all is "Then There Were None." Here's my book review:
In the end, it doesn't matter whether a particular racial group has worse statistics on average than other groups. The focus should be on individuals, not groups. The focus should be on need, not race.
You are correct that Hawaiian culture is a great treasure not only for Hawai'i but for all the world. Preserving that culture and helping it thrive includes the participation of thousands of people with no native ancestry. I speak Hawaiian far better than most ethnic Hawaiians, but I have no native ancestry. I help preserve and clean a heiau (ancient stone temple), and offer prayers there, even though none of my ancestors were involved with it. Do you think that I should be entitled to a government handout because of my help in preserving Hawaiian culture? No? Then why should someone of native ancestry be given government handouts for the same activities? Asking this question is not intended to get me praise for my efforts in preserving the culture, it is intended to show that what you're proposing is to give money to people SOLELY because of their race, and not because of their individual work (or lack of work) in preserving the culture. If you're eager to give your tax dollars or private donations to preserve the culture, then give the money directly to cultural preservation organizations, and not to a racial group, many of whose members don't actually do anything to preserve the culture. Choose the particular cultural element you'd like to help preserve (hula, language, heiau, fishponds, herbal healing, ho'oponopono, etc.) and then give money and personal service to organizations that work in the area you prefer -- but I hope that in giving the money, you will first ask for a pledge that it will not be used for political purposes and that the organization does not discriminate by race.
Hawai'i has many immigrants who preserve their Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino cultures here in Hawai'i even though they live in poverty and have diabetes or heart disease and even though they are far from their ancestral homelands. Ethnic Hawaiians have the great advantage of living in their ancestral homelands, where it is much easier for them to preserve their ancestral culture than for immigrants to do so. I remind you that the tremendous renaissance of Hawaiian language and culture that has taken place during the past 30 years has happened right here where there are all these "problems" of the poor downtrodden Hawaiians. The culture and language are not in danger -- they are thriving, regardless of whatever social ills there might be, and without any need for race-based government or race-based social service programs. I might add that about 3/4 of all ethnic Hawaiians have less than 50% Hawaiian blood. That means they are mostly something other than Hawaiian. Those who choose to pursue their Hawaiian heritage rather than their other heritages are doing so as a free choice. The fact that some of them make a "big deal" out of their Hawaiian ancestry while ignoring their other ancestries and even abandoning their non-Hawaiian names shows a lack of seriousness about respecting the ancestors and perhaps a focus on some sort of "mystique" or even a hope for wealth and power due to the Hawaiian portion of their ancestry.
Thanks again for writing. Please support unity and equality. Focus on what brings us together rather than on what pulls us apart. Next time you see a rainbow, appreciate how all the different colors are beautiful because they are together (wouldn't look so nice to have a red stripe in one part of the sky and a green stripe in a different place!) Notice that those colors keep their distinctiveness even while merging together along the edges where they meet, and the whole rainbow hangs together as a single beautiful arc. If we shatter the rainbow, then the pot of gold at the end of it will turn to a bucket of ashes.
(c) Copyright 2004 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
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