(c) Copyright 2002 - 2003 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
Posted on: Thursday, September 5, 2002
Threats undermine activist's UH sessions
By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer
A small tempest has emerged on the University of Hawai'i campus over an invitation to outspoken anti-sovereignty activist Ken Conklin to teach a brief course to seven elder students participating in the Academy for Life-Long Learning in the College of Arts and Sciences.
After academy coordinator Rebecca Goodman said she was threatened by a man whom she described as angry, all of the students pulled out of the class and it was cancelled. The experience, Goodman said, has left her with concerns about issues of academic freedom, personal safety and freedom of speech.
"I'll fight for their chance to hear anybody they want to hear, but at this stage it's moot," said Goodman, who had turned the problem over to campus administrators.
The five Wednesday afternoon classes with Conklin — to be offered at the Campus Center — were requested by the students, who wanted to hear his views and then debate sovereignty with him, said Goodman.
Campus security personnel had planned to provide heightened security after Goodman reported being threatened.
Even though the class has been canceled, Goodman hasn't given up and is looking for an off-campus site in hopes her students -- ranging in age from 65 to 91 -- will feel safe and agree to return.
Goodman said Conklin asked that any new site not be publicized.
"I know people have strenuous objections to Dr. Conklin's views, but if you can't have some kind of civil exchange of views, then we don't have an open campus anymore," said Goodman.
Before the students withdrew, Goodman asked Conklin if he would be willing to postpone his lectures or change the meeting place, but he refused, saying that the university should not bow to intimidation and had a responsibility to protect its staff and students.
For his part, Conklin was critical of "the atmosphere at UH," which he describes as "overwhelmingly pro-sovereignty."
"Nobody ever gets to appear at UH or the Center for Hawaiian Studies who has any viewpoint opposite to those of the sovereignty activists," he said.
In response to his statements, Center for Hawaiian Studies director Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa said Conklin "is very offensive to all Hawaiians — not just radicals but conservative Hawaiians, because he makes such anti-Hawaiian statements."
But she also said that although she would not invite someone like Conklin, whom she considers a racist, to speak, other professors certainly have the right to do so.
"He's not blacklisted," she said. "It's just that it takes a lot of work to put on a forum, and I don't know anyone here that would want to put any work into increasing hatred."
Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002
Unpopular opinions must thrive on campus
One exciting aspect of university life is the spectrum of ideas that circulate. So if you only want to be around like-minded folks, you may as well stay home.
In light of that, it's truly sad that a class that was to examine an unpopular or politically incorrect view of Hawaiian nationalism and sovereignty has been
canceled because the students didn't feel safe attending it.
Apparently, a group of elder students of the University of Hawai'i's Academy for Life-Long Learning wanted to hear the views of Kenneth Conklin, a retired
teacher who opposes race-based programs and quarrels with the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
So the academy set up a five-week course to be led by Conklin at the UH-Manoa Campus Center.
But according to the academy's coordinator, Rebecca Goodman, an "angry man" didn't approve of Conklin landing a platform from which to challenge
Hawaiian sovereignty. She says the man threatened her, and when the students caught wind of the intimidation, they dropped Conklin's class.
Now, because the students don't feel safe attending Conklin's course on campus, Goodman is looking for an off-campus venue. And when she finds it, she won't be publicizing it.
Regardless of whether we agree with Conklin or not, we wouldn't dream of undermining his right to hold forth, or of discouraging those who want to listen to him.
In this case, it's the students, not the university, who bowed to intimidation. We can't fault people aged 65 to 91 for being scared. But we are disappointed that one person succeeded in suppressing their debate.
UH-Manoa has a vibrant Hawaiian studies program whose members make no secret of supporting sovereignty and condemning America's treatment of Native Hawaiians. It's their academic freedom to do so.
Moreover, people in Hawai'i have frequently called for Haunani-Kay Trask, a UH professor and Hawaiian nationalist, to be fired for what they consider
offensive statements. And the university administration has defended her academic freedom, as it should.
Conversely, we see no problem with Conklin teaching a mini-course that presents his views on the issue. If you can't debate prickly issues on a university campus, where can you feel safe?
Controversial class postponed Time, place of seminar kept secret after numerous threats
By Mary Vorsino, Ka Leo Editor-in-Chief
September 30, 2002
A seminar centering on what's being called "another perspective" of Hawaiian sovereignty has
been moved off-campus, and its meeting time, date and place have been kept confidential after
the seminar's coordinator said she was threatened in person once and by phone at least three
times a day for more than a month.
Following this summer's release of a course pamphlet that included the seminar's description,
Academy for Lifelong Learning coordinator Rebecca Goodman said she continues to receive
threatening phone calls at her office phone number.
"We're not going to let them stop us," she said in an interview last week.
The class, which would have been taught by anti-sovereignty activist Kenneth Conklin starting
Sept. 18, was canceled on the Manoa campus after "a large, middle-aged man wearing sunglasses"
entered Goodman's Gartley Hall office at around 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 28, banged on her filing
cabinet and said "bad things will happen" to her if the class is held, according to a statement
Goodman filed with Campus Security.
An employee close to the incident said many of the threatening phone calls Goodman has received
have been traced to campus prefix numbers.
Enrollment in the class, which dropped to zero immediately after the threats were made public,
has since jumped to 14 students — twice its former size — after students' interest was piqued
by local media attention, according to Goodman.
The seminar, "Hawaiian Sovereignty: Another Perspective," will review and then counterpoint
views commonly held by Hawaiian sovereignty activists, according to Conklin and a Lifelong
Learning course schedule pamphlet.
The Academy for Lifelong Learning, a program funded in 1996 by a group of emeriti professors
under the College of Social Sciences, offers about two dozen seminars each semester taught by
The program primarily caters to students aged 65 and over — although there is no age limit to
enroll in seminars — and offers courses ranging from literature to law. Students pay $60 a
semester to enroll with the academy in up to three courses, which are held primarily in the
mornings or afternoons and can last for up to five weeks.
Conklin, who speaks Hawaiian with "moderate fluency" and has lived in Hawai'i for a decade,
said the seminar will briefly cover Hawaiian history and then argue against two types of
sovereignty — one in which Native Hawaiians would have an independent nation, the other in
which Native Hawaiians would be granted "special rights."
"The separatists and the ethnic nationalists — I oppose both types of unity," Conklin said.
"(The seminar's participants) will be told about sovereignty fraud ... (and that) we should all
be equal under the law."
Goodman filed a report on Sept. 24 with Campus Security about the incident in her office,
nearly a month after it occurred. According to the report, the man who entered her office and
threatened her "banged on her cabinet numerous times in trying to make his message clear."
The report continues: "He also called her (Goodman) a 'Hitler lover' and said the speaker
(Conklin) is no better than Hitler."
After the incident, the seminar's first class, originally scheduled for Sept. 18 in the Campus
Center from 1 to 3 p.m., was canceled. Subsequent classes, scheduled for the following
Wednesdays until Oct. 16, were also canceled after Conklin's prospective students temporarily
dropped from the seminar for fear of security breaches and protest.
In a Campus Security statement detailing the incident, Goodman wrote: "I was hyperventilating
and just hoping that he (the man in her office) would leave without clobbering me. My small
counter-arguments had no effect whatsoever."
Also according to the report: Lifelong Learning students asked that Conklin's views be included
in a seminar.
Conklin, a former Boston suburb math teacher, currently teaches a remedial math course at
Windward Community College.
He drew widespread local media attention in 2000 as the first non-Hawaiian to register as a
candidate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. He was unsuccessful in his election bid.
Before filing a report with Campus Security about the incident in her office, Goodman sent an
e-mail to Dean of Social Sciences Richard Dubanoski some time between Aug. 28 and Aug. 30,
which itemized the threat, elaborated on a number of warnings and harassing phone calls she had
received throughout the summer, and put out a plea for support to keep the class sustained and
She wrote in the e-mail: "Although I am fearful for my class participants (some of them have
indicated to me that they do not want to attend if there is trouble) and for myself, I feel
that it's important to stand up to intimidation ..." Similar testimony can be found in the
statement Goodman made to Campus Security.
Dubanoski responded by forwarding the message to UH President Evan Dobelle, Vice President for
Academic Affairs Deane Neubauer, UHM Chancellor Peter Englert and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Karl Kim on Aug. 30 with a message that read in part: "The issue presented in the following message strikes at the heart of our university's fundamental values. May I suggest
that we meet and discuss how we want to address this matter?"
Dobelle, who is currently in Asia on university business, left a message with his assistant,
Kristin Blanchfield, in response to this reporter's questions about the e-mail. Dobelle said
that he received a copy of an e-mail that included the circumstances surrounding Conklin's
seminar but did not respond to the e-mail because "no direct response (was) required of him."
He added: "I don't think there is any one seminar that should not be held on any campus, no
matter how onerous it is."
Englert also said he received an electronic copy of an e-mail notifying him of the incident
late last month.
He said he did not respond to the e-mail because he considered the account "non-information,"
which was never followed up with a "formal inquiry or complaint" to back the allegations.
Dubanoski confirmed that neither Dobelle nor Englert responded to his request for a meeting,
but said the administration has followed up on the issue.
The dean, who calls himself a stringent supporter of academic freedom, said he has followed up
with Goodman on numerous occasions to keep atop of the issue.
"She (Goodman) was concerned" about the threats, "And rightfully so," he said.
"Valuable discussion can be offensive to others. But again, if we don't raise these kinds of
things we'll never come to some meaningful understanding of it all. ... I happen to believe
that the university is a free and open society."
Englert did go to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee "as a result of the debate" and asked
that the issue of academic freedom on campus be further investigated.
President of UHM Faculty Senate Michael Forman said a senate subcommittee would likely be
gathering research on possible academic freedom regulations — passed by either past
administrations or senates — on the Manoa campus for the remainder of the semester to follow upon Englert's request.
But Forman said "clearly" the American Association of University Professors' Statement of
Principles on Academic Freedom protects academic freedom on campus.
That association's document reads in part: "Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research
and in the publication of results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic
In Goodman's statement to Campus Security, she wrote "the first warning" she received that the
Conklin seminar may stir controversy on campus was "from Outreach College, where one of the
staff people who knew that Conklin was to appear at the Academy in fall term called me
(Goodman) to say that it was a 'very bad idea' (to invite Conklin to campus) and that if we did
give him the opportunity to speak on campus, our program 'might be firebombed.'"
No Outreach personnel could confirm or deny Goodman's statement.
Bonny Jean Manini, a UHM co-curricular adviser and graduate student, called Goodman after the
incident was made public and shared her concerns about the seminar's focus.
Manini said she also told Goodman that when and where the class will be held should be public —
and published on the academy's web site and in its course pamphlet — just as all of the other
classes offered by the academy are, regardless of safety concerns.
"All of us in the community should have access to the class," whether to attend or protest, she
said. Goodman could not be reached to confirm and respond to Manini's statement.
But Dubanoski said, "The course is just like (mainstream) courses that are not open to students
who don't register to UH-Manoa."
Many of the academy's seminars are restricted to 15 to 20 people per class, and those wishing
to attend would have to pay the customary enrollment fee and enroll in the course pending
space, he said.
According to Conklin, the course was not proposed to incite conflict, but to offer his point of
view to those willing to listen.
"There should be a balance of views at UH. That's part of academic freedom," he said.
"Academic freedom is also the right of students to have a balanced presentation and to hear a
variety of viewpoints."
Conklin: Tourist turned activist
By Mary Vorsino, Ka Leo Editor-in-Chief
September 30, 2002
Kenneth Conklin was one of Hawaii's tourists before he was one of Hawaii's most recognizable
He was a self-deemed shy Boston suburb math teacher with a doctorate from the University of
Illinois in philosophy and educational theory before he was one of the first non-Hawaiians to
register as a candidate for trustee in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Conklin, who speaks Hawaiian with "moderate fluency," first visited the islands 20 years ago.
He stayed in bed-and-breakfasts, "got into communities, met a lot of people, and talked to
He has lived on O'ahu for more than a decade. And for six of those years, he mulled over the
arguments for, and against, Native Hawaiian sovereignty.
"I spent six years just studying all of that. The sovereignty issue got more and more
interesting to me. I came to believe it was not morally valid (and) became more and more
unsure" that sovereignty for Native Hawaiians was the answer.
On his Web site (http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty.com), Conklin writes: There
is no historical, legal or moral basis for any race-based political sovereignty."
He reiterated similar views on sovereignty in a phone interview recently and plans to debate
the issue with 14 Academy for Lifelong Learning students in a seminar originally scheduled for
The seminar has since been postponed, and its time and place will not be made public, after the
academy's coordinator Rebecca Goodman received a number of threats because of the subject of
Conklin, who said he believes that Native Hawaiians should not be entitled to special rights or
an independent nation, decided to come forward with his views because he "thought it was
something I need to do, to step forward and try to make a difference."
Conklin, also a remedial math teacher at Windward Community College, has taught at Emory
University in Atlanta as an assistant professor and at Boston University as an associate
Related Sites http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty.com
*** Comment by Ken Conklin: The two articles above were published in the UH student newspaper "Ka Leo" on Monday September 30, 2002, which was three and a half weeks after the Honolulu Advertiser published its article and editorial. One wonders what took the students so long! There must have been considerable debate over how to handle the story. But then something interesting happened. I personally visited the Ka Leo office on Wednesday to thank the editor for writing an informative and mostly accurate pair of articles, and for including the website URL (although it had an extra ".com" at the end). To enter the office I had to walk past a group of several ethnic Hawaiians standing in the doorway, who were talking in an agitated way with Ka Leo personnel. Inside the office I was told that there had been numerous groups of Hawaiians coming to the office and calling by phone on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to complain about the articles. And a Ka Leo staffer with whom I spoke told me my thanks to the editor might be premature, because there would soon be some negative material published. I nevertheless repeated my thanks, and said that everyone has a right to express his views. Then on Thursday Ka Leo published a peculiar editorial (below), and on Friday an editorial cartoon (below), which negated much of what the articles had said. The biographical article had noted that I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and educational theory, had been an assistant professor and an associate professor at various universities, had studied Hawaiian sovereignty issues for ten years and have produced a large website on the topic, and speak Hawaiian with moderate fluency. Yet the editorial and cartoon portrayed me only as a retired high school math teacher who speaks some Hawaiian, and is therefore unqualified to teach "Hawaiian studies." The article also had noted that teachers at the Academy for Lifelong Learning are unpaid volunteers; yet the editorial repeatedly refers to me as being "hired" to teach a class. The editorial also asserts a very strange view of academic freedom: "We believe that the protection of academic freedom applies within the web of academia. That is, if the various faculties control the hiring practices for their disciplines, then academic freedom applies. If bureaucrats with no knowledge hire non-experts to teach class, then academic freedom should not apply." This raises the question whether professors of one subject should not have a right to speak on matters of public policy which affect other departments. For example, English Professor Ruth Hsu organizing protest rallies on campus against American foreign policy might be out of line, since she has no expertise in political science or military strategy. One also wonders how the professors of Hawaiian Studies got to be professors there, since none of them have degrees in Hawaiian Studies and the most outspoken one, Haunani-Kay Trask, speaks almost no Hawaiian. Here are the editorial and the cartoon.
KA LEO EDITORIAL: http://www.kaleo.org/vnews/display.v/ART/2002/10/03/3d9bd6d4369a8
The College of Social Science's Academy of Lifelong Learning has hired a retired high school
math teacher to instruct a class on Hawaiian Studies.
Math teacher not qualified to teach Hawaiian Studies
October 03, 2002
The university is a site of learning, disciplining and ordering. In academia, everything has
its place — so to speak. Political scientists teach political science in political science
classes. Anthropologists teach anthropology in anthropology classes. Actors teach acting in
The procedure for hiring lecturers, teaching assistants and professors is tightly controlled by
each academic discipline. The law school faculty has control, by majority rule, over the hiring
practices of those teaching "law." The chemistry faculty has control, by majority rule, over
the hiring practices of those teaching "chemistry."
Real classes taught through the Outreach College are also subject to the control of the
academic faculty of the respective field of study. Art professors do not decide who teaches
physics on this campus. Psychology professors do not decide who teaches library and information
Over the years, academic disciplines are generated, folded, or multiplied. The political
science department was once part of the history department. The peace studies program was once part of the political science department. The Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific languages department and the East Asian Languages and Literature department were once one.
But certainly, the political science faculty does not make hiring decisions for the history
department. The history department doesn't make hiring decisions for the peace studies program. The Japanese language faculty do not dictate the hiring policies of the Hawaiian language program.
Occasionally, academic disciplines will hire experts to teach classes that are not properly
credentialed — e.g. a Ph.D. in biology who has worked as a nuclear physicist may be hired to
Emeriti faculty established the Academy of Lifelong Learning. It is administered by the College
of Social Sciences. The Academy describes itself as "an educational program that offers courses
and special multidisciplinary projects to encourage individuals from all walks of life to
engage their minds, enrich their lives, and serve the community."
This semester they are offering courses that range from biochemistry to literature, from music
to plant physiology.
Included this semester, is a class being offered about Hawaiian Studies. It is being taught by
a retired math teacher from the mainland. His qualifications are: he has learned to speak
Hawaiian, he was a frequent tourist to Hawai'i, and he lost his race for OHA as a non-Native
candidate. Of course, he has teaching experience: he taught high school mathematics on the
continent before he retired.
The Hawaiian Studies department has objected to his hiring to teach a class on Hawaiian
Studies. While the Academy doesn't generally give deference to the various departments in
hiring decisions, it does hire experts in a particular field to teach the classes. This was not
done this time.
We believe that the Academy of Lifelong Learning egregiously erred in hiring a retired high
school math teacher with no expertise in Hawaiian studies to teach a Hawaiian Studies class.
We believe that the hiring of a non-expert in a subject does two things — against the advice of
the relevant academic discipline. First, it cheapens and lessens the prestige and seriousness
of the Academy — turning the classroom into a sort of insane asylum or kangaroo court. Second,
it suggests that the Academy is not interested in academic pursuits but partisan propaganda.
We believe the purpose of faculty control of hiring practices ensures that appropriate experts
teach the various disciplines.
We believe that the protection of academic freedom applies within the web of academia. That is,
if the various faculties control the hiring practices for their disciplines, then academic
freedom applies. If bureaucrats with no knowledge hire non-experts to teach class, then
academic freedom should not apply.
We believe that this fiasco would not have occurred had an expert in Hawaiian studies been
selected to teach Hawaiian Studies — or, if the bureaucrats of the Academy of Lifelong Learning
could not discern, then to yield to the knowledge of Math teacher not qualified to teach
Here is a complete letter to editor published in the student newspaper "Ka Leo" on October 4, 2002:
"I would like to respond to the article in Monday's Ka Leo about the seminar, another
perspective on the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. I am a Caucasian who has been living in
Hawai'i off and on for 20 years. I feel it is extremely insulting to the Hawaiian people to
have any perspectives on Hawaiian sovereignty made by non-Hawaiians; especially in an institute
of higher education which should serve to educate and better Hawaiians rather than contribute
to their further repression. I am deeply saddened and ashamed by the University of Hawaii's insensitivity to hold such a seminar which leaves perspectives on Hawaiian sovereignty and perspectives on future determination to non-Hawaiians. Sovereignty or anti-sovereignty; that determination should be made for the Hawaiian people by Hawaiian people. -- Kristen Clyne, Senior, English."
Here is a reply letter to editor published in "Ka Leo" October 9, 2002.
Sovereignty is an issue that affects every single person on these islands. It is morally unjustifiable to say that only native Hawaiians should be allowed to express a perspective on an issue that will affect all of our lives. There were many citizens of all races living in Hawai'i before the 1893 overthrow and annexation. Were they not people of Hawai'i, or was their citizenship granted to them by the monarchy a farce? I remember listening to a radio show years back, called the "Price of Paradise," hosted by law professor Randall Roth. Amongst his guests of Hawaiian sovereignty activists was a representative of Ka Lahui Hawai'i. His position was that if total independence from the United States was achieved, only Hawaiians would have the right to vote and be full citizens of the nation. (Non-Hawaiians could be honorary citizens, but not be allowed to vote). His argument was that they didn't want the same thing happening to them as they experienced before. I have news for you: Exclude others, and you are already doomed to repeat the past. Hawaiians should lead the discussion on sovereignty, reach a determination and a consensus, and be certain to include everyone. Otherwise, what you are really communicating is that your position is so feeble that even a stupid haole can shoot it down. -- Carlo Navida, Mission Viejo, CA
Here is an article published on October 15, 2002 in the UH student newspaper “Ka Leo.” The author, Pablo Wegesend, is a rare breed at UH -- a libertarian, politically centrist student activist. His excellent article confirms that the UH campus is overwhelmingly leftist, and there is little diversity of opinion among the faculty and students. Mr. Wegesend’s article was sabotaged by one of his newspaper’s editors, who gave it an outrageous title that Mr. Wegesend has told me he did not write and has subsequently protested.
UNCREDENTIALED RACISTS DESERVE ACADEMIC FREEDOM
Ka Leo Staff Columnist
October 15, 2002
Diversity — it's one of those words we frequently hear on campus. Diversity can be
a good and interesting thing. Growing up in Honolulu, I got to meet people from a
diversity of cultures, eat at a diverse group of restaurants and observe people
getting involved in diverse activities.
This diversity is good because it would be boring if everyone and everything was
the same. In some parts of the world, there is only one culture and things stay the
same year after year. People get bored of that and move to where there are
different types of cultures in the same area.
The University of Hawai'i has a student population from a diverse group of cultures
and offers many diverse activities. Where the community within UH could improve,
however, is in fostering a diversity of political opinions.
What passes for diversity on this campus is having a white leftist, a Hawaiian leftist,
an Asian leftist and a black leftist do all the talking. And it seems that a majority of the
professors here are part of the Far Left. Though I don't have the stats backing it up,
other observations do back up my assertion. When the War on Terror started, there
were some professors getting involved in anti-war protests.
But where are the professors publicly supporting the War on Terror? Do they exist?
Do the UH departments not hire intellectuals that don't toe the
Blame-America-for-Everything line when it comes to foreign policy?
When I talk to other students on this campus they tell me that some of their
professors attempt to indoctrinate them with Far Left views. When I see their
textbooks, I notice that many of the textbooks only respect left wing views.
One student showed me a syllabus from one of his classes and, in it, the teacher
recommend the students read The Nation magazine, a left wing magazine. While
there's nothing wrong with reading The Nation, why hasn't that professor also
recommended The National Review, Reason or The New Republic? In other words,
why hasn't that professor recommended that students expose themselves to a
diversity of viewpoints?
Another example of diversity of viewpoints not being respected is on the
sovereignty issue! Militant sovereignty activists like Haunani-Kay Trask teach credit
courses every semester — and the thought police rarely harasses her. Meanwhile,
Ken Conklin, an anti-sovereignty activist who wanted to teach a non-credit
workshop on his views was threatened earlier this semester.
If that's not bad enough, Rebecca Goodman, who's in charge of the Academy of
Lifelong Learning on this campus (which allowed Conklin to teach his course), was
also threatened by phone and in person. Threatened just for letting a person with
controversial views teach a class. Never mind that Goodman never even publicly
expressed whether or not she agreed with Ken Conklin on sovereignty.
Why hasn't any professor, Hawaiian or non-Hawaiian, denounced those who use
threats to intimidate Conklin or Goodman? Why didn't all the professors who
protected Trask in all the times she faced controversy protect Conklin as well? When
will someone say that BOTH Trask AND Conklin be protected? Isn't that what
diversity is about, allowing those of all views speak without fear?
UH-Manoa isn't the only campus facing the problem of having diversity of viewpoints
not being protected.
For example, at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), sociology professor Dr.
Richard Zeller found out that many of his students felt pressure to adopt politically
correct views to get a passing grade from the other professors. So Dr. Zeller
wanted to conduct a course on the tyranny of political correctness. No department
on that campus gave approval for Dr. Zeller to teach that course. Dr. Zeller, like
Conklin in Hawai'i, also faced threats just for wanting to teach a course that differs
from what is considered politically correct on campus.
Another mainland example: when conservative activist David Horowitz put an ad
opposing reparations for slavery in college newspapers throughout the mainland,
things went berzerk! At University of California-Berkeley, Brown University, Duke
University and University of Wisconsin, radical left-wing activists threatened the
college newspaper editors for allowing the ad to be printed. Even left-wing liberal
editorialists like Joan Walsh of Salon.com and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff of Village
Voice have been disgusted by the hatred of ideological diversity shown by these
Situations like the ones I've mentioned, where people get threatened just for allowing
politically incorrect views to be expressed, is a direct threat to freedom. To allow
freedom to flourish, we ought to allow the diversity of ideas to flourish on campus.
On November 4, 2002 writer Bob Rees published an article in the Honolulu Advertiser summarizing what happened with the sovereignty course and expressing his opinion about the lack of administrative support for academic freedom. Mr. Rees incorrectly stated that Conklin earned his Ph.D. at Boston University (the Ph.D. was earned at University of Illinois, and Boston University was where Conklin taught for three years at the rank of Associate Professor). Rees also sees Dean Dubanoski as a hero for calling the attention of his bosses to the problem of academic freedom posed by the threats against the course. But perhaps a more accurate way of looking at Dean Dubanoski’s role is to wonder why he did not immediately take action to support Rebecca Goodman and the students, and why he basically “passed the buck.” It may well be that for any course on any other topic the dean might have simply taken appropriate action to deal with threats and support academic freedom, but with a course on Hawaiian sovereignty he knew he had better be careful not to offend Dobelle, Englert, and Kim, all of whom are strongly pro-sovereignty and have committed the UH to serve as a political weapon in service to the sovereignty activists. Here is the Bob Rees article.
Posted on: Monday, November 4, 2002
So much for academic freedom
By Robert M. Rees
Moderator of 'Olelo Television's "counterpoint" and Hawai'i Public Radio's "Talk of the Islands"
University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle and Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert have worked hard to provide a vision of great things to come. Yet, when they came across a genuine test of a great university, both covered their eyes while the UH distinguished itself as a closed and even backward society.
The incident began when Ken Conklin, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University, and who has been vehemently aggressive in his opposition to what he sees as race-based special programs for Hawaiians, was signed on as a pro bono teacher by a UH outreach program, the Academy for Lifelong Learning. Conklin, at the request of the elderly students, was invited to teach a non-credit course — "Hawaiian Sovereignty: Another Perspective" — on a weekly basis for five weeks beginning Sept. 18.
When the course was announced, academy coordinator Rebecca Goodman began to receive threatening calls. On Aug. 28, according to her report to campus security, a man visited her office. He called her "a Hitler lover," and informed her that "bad things" would happen to the students if the class wasn't canceled.
The class was canceled, but Goodman contacted the dean of social sciences, Richard Dubanoski, for help. Wrote Goodman: "I am fearful ... (but) I feel it's important to stand up to intimidation."
Dubanoski, who along with Goodman and the elderly students is one of the heroes of this story, sent Goodman's e-mail to the Bachman Hall triumvirate of Dobelle, Englert and Karl Kim, the vice chancellor for academic affairs. Noted Dubanoski: "The issue presented (here) strikes at the heart of our university's values. May I suggest that we meet to discuss how we want to address this matter."
The reactions of the recipients were less than stalwart. Dobelle did not respond. A month later, he explained to Ka Leo O Hawai'i, the student newspaper, that "no direct response" had been required of him. Englert also failed to respond, and later described Dubanoski's e-mail as "non-information." Englert has explained to this writer that there seemed no "urgency" to the matter. Besides, added Englert in what became a recurring mantra, "With the class canceled, there was no reason to do anything."
Kim did do something. Whereas Englert had detected no urgency or even information in Dubanoski's e-mail, it prompted Kim to call campus security.
After that, however, Kim, too, closed his eyes. "The class got canceled," he explains. "If it had been a regular class, I would have gotten more involved."
The event would have been rationalized out of existence had not The Honolulu Advertiser gotten wind of it. It published an account of the incident, followed by a Sept. 6 editorial, "Unpopular opinions must thrive on campus."
Englert states that he did not see The Advertiser story or editorial. It was on his own accord, he says, and "within a week or so" of receiving Dubanoski's e-mail that he turned the issue over to the senate faculty executive committee with a request that the senate faculty develop a presentation on academic freedom for "toward the end of the semester."
The president of the senate faculty, Michael Forman, recalls there was concern on Englert's part, but "no feeling of immediacy because the course was canceled."
In spite of all these heads in the sand and the mantra of "course canceled," the Academy for Lifelong Learning, prompted by The Advertiser's editorial and the pleadings of Conklin, did take action on its own. In a decision that Englert only learned of a month later, the course was quietly reinstated.
A student in Conklin's class reports that the students, who gather at an undisclosed location on campus for safety, have done something almost unheard of. Excited by what they were learning, they asked their volunteer professor to extend his course for another two weeks.
Apparently President Dobelle has recently signed an advertisement published in the New York Times, signed by 300 past and present university presidents, strongly supporting academic freedom on campus and pledging to protect people against threats and intimidation. The advertisement says in part: “We will maintain academic standards in the classroom and we will sustain an intimidation-free campus. These two concepts are at the core of our profession. Our classrooms will be open to all students, and classroom discussions must be based on sound ideas. Our campus debates will be
conducted without threats, taunts or intimidation. We will take appropriate steps to insure these standards. In doing so, we uphold the best of American democratic principles. We are concerned that recent examples of classroom and on-campus debate have crossed the line into intimidation and hatred, neither of which have any place on university campuses.”
What an amazing development! Unfortunately President Dobelle was not talking about threats and intimidation on his own campus against politically incorrect views regarding Hawaiian sovereignty. The New York Times pledge was made regarding protecting the rights of Jewish people who are increasingly threatened on campuses because of the campus climate opposing the actions of Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians.
But the basic principle endorsed by President Dobelle should be applied by President Dobelle to his own campus. The editors of the UH student newspaper “Ka Leo” did not apparently see any connection between Dobelle’s statement and the controversy over intimidation at UH on Hawaiian sovereignty issues. The newspaper editors only chose to criticize Dobelle for signing a one-sided statement favorable to protecting the rights of Jewish students on American campuses, and the editors criticize Dobelle for failing to also support the rights of homosexuals, transgendered persons, women, and Native Hawaiians!!!
The following commentary was published in the UH student newspaper “Ka Leo” on October 15, 2002.
Dobelle admonished for McCarthy-esque
pledge on idea limits
by Luke Artiaga
October 15, 2002
An advertisement in the New York Times, titled "College Presidents Decry Intimidation
on Campuses," was signed by some 300 current and past university presidents
including UH President Evan Dobelle. It read:
"In the current period of worldwide political
turmoil that threatens to damage one of our
country's greatest treasures — colleges and
universities — we commit ourselves to
academic integrity in two ways. We will
maintain academic standards in the classroom
and we will sustain an intimidation-free
campus. These two concepts are at the core
of our profession.
Our classrooms will be open to all students,
and classroom discussions must be based on
sound ideas. Our campus debates will be
conducted without threats, taunts or
intimidation. We will take appropriate steps to insure these standards. In doing so,
we uphold the best of American democratic principles.
We are concerned that recent examples of classroom and on-campus debate have
crossed the line into intimidation and hatred, neither of which have any place on
In the past few months, students who are Jewish or supporters of Israel's right to
exist — Zionists — have received death threats and threats of violence. Property
connected to Jewish organizations has been defaced or destroyed. Posters and
Web sites displaying libelous information or images have been widely circulated,
creating an atmosphere of intimidation.
These practices and others, directed against any person, group or cause, will not be
tolerated on campuses. All instances will be investigated and acted upon so that the
campus will remain devoted to ideas based on rational consideration.
We call on the American public and all members of the academic community to join
Justice Holmes, in his oft-quoted remarks about free speech, wrote:
"Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you
have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all
your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all
opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the
speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do
not care whole-heartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your
premises. But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they
may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own
conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that
the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the
competition of the market, and that truth is only ground upon which their wishes
safely can be carried out."
We believe that Evan Dobelle erred in signing the American Jewish Committee's New
York Times advertisement. We believe that the university must never foreclose the
right to speak ideas "based on rational consideration" or not. Historically, attempts at
foreclosing speech have always been followed by fascist violence.
We believe that Evan Dobelle must never sponsor or pledge support for statements
which cartograph limits in the realm of speech.
We admonish Evan Dobelle for speaking against violence for Zionists but remaining
silent about violence against Native Hawaiians, minority and white women,
homosexuals and transgendered persons.
Editorial comment by Ken Conklin: On November 25, 2002 Professor Emeritus Anthony Lenzer published a letter to editor in the Honolulu Advertiser. Professor Lenzer's letter "hits the nail squarely on the head" when he says, "What makes a university unique among all social institutions is that it encourages — not merely permits — the expression of diverse and often unpopular opinions." Professor Lenzer's expression of personal shame for "not raising hell about this issue sooner" is a remarkable testimonial to his own commitment to academic freedom after a lifetime of service in teaching and research. Thank you sir! I have no idea whether Professor Lenzer supports or opposes my views on Hawaiian sovereignty, or is perhaps uninterested in the topic. But if enough people have his kind of inner moral compass, and the courage to go where it points, perhaps the University of Hawai'i and indeed, all of Hawai'i, can avoid what happened to universities and society in Russia in the 1920s and Germany in the 1930s and 40s.
Posted on: Monday, November 25, 2002
Letters to the Editor
Academic freedom must be preserved
Bob Rees' Nov. 4 column tells how UH administrators utterly failed to support academic freedom when someone tried to prevent Ken Conklin from teaching a noncredit course on Hawaiian sovereignty at UH-Manoa.
Rees hit the nail squarely on the head, and I, as a retired professor, am ashamed of myself for not raising hell about this issue sooner.
What makes a university unique among all social institutions is that it encourages — not merely permits — the expression of diverse and often unpopular opinions. Students need to understand that there are many ways to look at issues and that sorting through conflicting points of view is a critical part of their learning experience. This is why "academic freedom" is so important for students, as well as professors.
I am upset that our university administrators, and even the Faculty Senate, dismissed this matter so lightly. Yes, I know, it was "only" a noncredit course for older students, so why get excited?
The reason is clear: Any attempt to suppress discussion and dissent on campus weakens the foundations of the university and makes the next attack on academic freedom that much more acceptable.
Professor emeritus, University of Hawai'i
A full year after Dr. Conklin's course on Hawaiian sovereignty was successfully taught at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (six two-hour classes), the university president and his henchmen continued to waffle on whether the course was cancelled, whether there were threats and intimidation, and whether the university did anything at the time or since then to support academic freedom on the topic of Hawaiian sovereignty. The university remains a hostile work environment for anyone who opposes the dogmas of the Center for Hawaiian Studies. That continuing hostility at the highest level is demonstrated by President Dobelle's attempt to smear the reputation of Dr. Conklin by stating in September 2003 that Conklin doesn't really have a Ph.D. Even if true, that assertion would be irrelevant to the fact that the university allowed political goons to intimidate a program administrator and a group of students for daring to offer a course they didn't like. But Dr. Conklin does indeed have a Ph.D., as President Dobelle could easily have verified by asking the Dean of Instruction at University of Hawai'i -- Windward, one of the branch campuses that functions under Dobelle's own authority. Dr. Conklin's official transcripts were on file there (and remain on file there) because he was teaching two courses at the Windward campus at the same time he was teaching the Hawaiian sovereignty course at Manoa. An article by reporter Bob Rees was published in The Honolulu Weekly newspaper for October 15-21, 2003 following his own research on the university's continuing failure to admit its errors. Thank goodness this reporter takes academic freedom seriously, and has the integrity and persistence to pursue a year-long inquiry despite stonewalling and obfuscation by powerful university administrators. For the Rees article, see:
The article by Bob Rees in the Honolulu Weekly of October 15-21, 2003 stimulated a followup letter to editor by four of the students who took Dr. Conklin’s course. The following letter to editor was published in the Honolulu Weekly, Vol 13, No 47, November 19-25, 2003, page 3.
Apparently the controversy surrounding Ken Conklin's UH class "Hawaiian Sovereignty: An Alternative View " will not go away. Robert Rees Alleges in his column: "Veritas at the UH" (HW, 10/15) that both President Evan Dobelle and Director of External Affairs Paul Costello stated that the class had been cancelled due to lack of student interest.
We, students who attended Conklin's class, would like to set the record straight. When the class was listed in the catalog, the program administrator of the Academy for Lifelong Learning (ALL) stated that she was harassed and threatened, and told that bad things would happen to anyone taking the classes. Since the university would provide no additional security for the classes, the administrator moved the class to a different room to avoid those whom she felt had threatened her and the students.
Not all of us agreed with everything that Conklin had to say, and there were many lively discussions. But the classes were so interesting that we asked Conklin whether he would consider having an additional session so that we could invite someone who disagreed with him to come and present another point of view. Conklin readily agreed, and we had the privilege of hearing another side of the issue.
This was a stimulating educational experience, and we are grateful to the academy and its administrator for making it possible. We hope that the harassment and threats surrounding Conklin's class do not keep ALL from offering, and the UH administration from supporting, other controversial courses.
Peter Knerr, Mary Ann Knerr, Candy Irvine, Bob Cole.
You may now visit any of the following:
Expanded introduction explaining how all the below-listed pieces fit into the big picture at the University of Hawai'i
(1) A look at the racial supremacist doctrine which is the CHS party line and which President Dobelle actively supports; and a comparison with the fundamental democratic principles of unity, equality, and aloha for all.
(2) A discussion of the UH propaganda factory known as the Center for Hawaiian Studies, and why its monolithic party line in support of racial supremacy has become the unchallenged orthodoxy in every academic department that shares students and curriculum with CHS
(3) A review of the short history of President Dobelle’s tenure as President at UH, focusing on his aggressiveness in pushing the CHS agenda and his recent pledge to politicize UH even further, harnessing UH as a partner in bringing about a racial supremacist government entity
(4) The first exchange of e-mails between the director of the Academy for Lifelong Learning and Dr. Conklin which then resulted in the newspaper article and editorial
(5) The Honolulu Advertiser article of Thursday September 5, 2002, the Advertiser editorial of September 6, 2002, and the articles published in the UH student newspaper “Ka Leo” September 30, 2002.
(6) Other examples of threats, intimidation, property damage and career damage caused by CHS activists and timid administrators
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