(c) Copyright 2006 by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
From time to time we see newspaper commentaries signed by a few individuals who claim the right to speak on behalf of entire ethnic groups allegedly supporting the Akaka bill.
In some cases those individuals are celebrities like former Governor Ariyoshi or former Governor Cayetano. They use the prestige they gained through being elected by ALL the people to claim to speak on behalf of their particular ethnic group. Do Hawai'i's people of Japanese ancestry acknowledge that George Ariyoshi speaks on behalf of all Hawaii citizens of Japanese ancestry? Do Hawai'i's people of Filipino ancestry give Ben Cayetano the right to speak on behalf of them all?
Of course anyone -- even a celebrity -- can speak on behalf of himself and even perhaps his family. But doesn't it seem odd to imagine that anyone can be a spokesperson for an entire ethnic group with hundreds of thousands of members? Some blacks loudly proclaim that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas most certainly does NOT speak for them!
I think the people of Hawai'i are proud to be Americans, proud of their individual accomplishments, and too smart to blindly follow the opinions of a celebrity elected by others. The fact that a famous white baseball player has his face on a cereal box has never made me feel loyalty to that brand of cereal just because I share the celebrity's ethnicity.
Some recent newspaper commentaries supporting the Akaka bill were signed by heads of ethnic-focused groups like the Japanese American Citizens League, the Fil-American Citizens League, or the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. In such cases there is a measure of credibility. The claim to speak on behalf of an entire ethnic group should be measured by the percentage of members of that entire ethnic group who are also members of the organization. Anyone will quickly see that such ethnic organizations have small membership rosters. Furthermore, the loudness and frequency of advocacy by such organizations seems to be inversely proportional to their size -- small groups make big noises surprisingly often. The Napoleon complex -- little guys feel a need to strut.
In the case of the Akaka bill it must also be noted that organizations endorsing that racist bill are left-wing groups focused on affirmative action, historical grievances, and reparations for their own ethnic groups.
The OHA Akaka bill flier mass-mailed in May/June 2006 listed some groups supporting the Akaka bill -- National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), Governors' Interstate Indian Council (GIIC), Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, National Indian Education Association, Tribal Education Departments National Asasembly, Virginia Indian Tribal Alliance for Life. All these Indian tribal organizations fear that defeat of the Akaka bill would raise doubts about whether U.S. federal Indian policy might come under closer scrutiny. In particular, the Alaska Federation of Natives is worried that defeat of the Akaka bill would raise doubts about the Constitutional validity of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Several Alaska native corporations have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. There must be a reason why! Hawai'i Senators Akaka and Inouye (both Democrats) have traded votes with Alaska Senators Stevens and Murkowski (both Republicans) whereby Akaka and Inouye vote in favor of drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge in return for Stevens and Murkowski voting for the Akaka bill.
The OHA flier also lists these ethnic organizations favoring the Akaka bill -- Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, National Organization of Pacific Islanders in America, Organization of Chinese Americans. All of these are focused on race or ethnicity; all see their particular ethnic group as victims of white oppression; all see their particular ethnic group as entitled to reparations for historical grievances, so that passing the Akaka bill would smooth the way for them to get reparations for their own groups.
When government is seen as an unlimited treasure chest of money, land, and power waiting to be plundered in the name of need or grievance; then each group is happy to support other groups demanding "justice" because they imagine their own turn will soon arrive. People who focus on ethnic identity are always happy to see ethnicity being elevated to greater importance than individuality. They thrive when people are given goodies based on race or group affiliation rather than individual accomplishment or individual need. They prefer to balkanize us rather than bring us together.
Two ethnic organizations identified on the OHA flier as supporting the Akaka bill deserve our special attention. They are the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Those organizations, along with MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), have a longstanding campaign to recognize the Southwest United States as part of a Greater Mexico. They believe that people of Mexican (Aztec indigenous) ancestry should be entitled to freely enter the United States and eventually to reclaim for Mexico those lands that previously were a part of Mexico. They believe that anyone with at least one drop of indigenous Aztec blood, living in the part of Mexico which was engulfed by the United States -- "indigenous" people who never consented to become a part of the United States -- should be entitled to independence from the United States. This theory should sound familiar to the people of Hawai'i.
To pass the Akaka bill is to empower racial identity politics, balkanization, and the eventual breakup of the United States.
People with no Hawaiian ancestry who support racially exclusionary programs, the Akaka bill, and the resulting balkanization of Hawai'i, are like those Jewish businessmen who politically and financially supported Hitler's rise to power. They thought Hitler would bring Germany out of an economic depression and get Germany out of its crushing debt under the Treaty of Versailles. In supporting Hitler for short-term gain, they failed to foresee their own destruction in the holocaust that followed. Historian Bryan Mark Rigg recently published a book entitled "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military." From personal interviews and archival research, Rigg estimates there were 150,000 Jews who served in Hitler's military, including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, in return for being designated "honorary Aryans." Perhaps that's similar to non-natives joining Ka Lahui as "honorary citizens" and similar to Governor Lingle getting an OHA-issued race card (paid for with government money) identifying her as an honorary Hawaiian.
Moses had Authority to speak on behalf of God, and led his people to the Promised Land. By supporting the Akaka bill as ethnic spokesmen, former Governors Ariyoshi and Cayetano would lead "their people" down a path to second-class citizenship under a hereditary elite of a different ethnic group. They would lead "their people" to live in a shrunken and impoverished State of Hawai'i where huge pieces of land, money, and political power have been handed over to the exclusive use of an ethnic group which also continues to participate in the shrunken State. Governor Lingle, and Attorney General Bennett, should heed historical hindsight to see what happened to their own ethnic group when one race was singled out for power while their own was singled out for oppression and extermination.
Asians in Hawai'i have a proud history of overcoming economic hardship and discrimination. In the 1800s some Japanese and Chinese came to Hawai'i as crewmembers on ships, or as skilled craftsmen or businessmen. But most came as indentured servants with contracts to labor on sugar plantations. Very few became naturalized as subjects of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, with voting rights. Then, in 1887 a new Constitution proclaimed by King Kalakaua stripped even those few Asians of voting rights. That Constitution was mostly the work of white property owners who forced it on the King to limit the King's powers. But it is notable that the King signed it to save his own monarchy rather than stand on principle to defend Asian rights. In truth, both the haoles and the Hawaiians were very glad to protect their racial oligarchy against a looming Asian majority. During most of the Territorial period the laws of the United States prevented Asian immigrants from becoming citizens, although Asians born in Hawai'i were citizens and could vote when they became old enough. Eventually the laws were changed. Race became irrelevant to voting rights and property rights.
Asians have now had the same economic and political rights as whites and Hawaiians for more than 5 decades. It is unimaginable that Asians would want to relegate themselves to second-class citizenship once again under the guise of "indigenous" rights.
The OHA flier mass-mailed in May-June 2006 -- comments and corrections.
Honolulu Advertiser article (July 6, 2003) about Governor Lingle getting an OHA-issued race card (paid for with government money) identifying her as an honorary Hawaiian.
Playing Favorites -- Da Punahele Race
Pride and Prejudice -- What It Means To Be Proud of a Person, Group, Nation, or Race; Racial Profiling, Racial Prejudice, and Racial Supremacy
"Native Hawaiians as the State Pet or mascot: A Psychological Analysis of Why Hawai'i's People Tolerate and Irrationally Support Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism"
Hawaiian Nationalism, Chicano Nationalism, Black Nationalism, Indian Tribes, and Reparations -- Akaka Bill Sets a Precedent for the Balkanization of America (109th Congress: S.3064, S.147RS and H.R.309)
Fiji and Hawaii Compared -- Racial Supremacy By Law in Fiji Resembles What Hawaiian Sovereignty Activists Are Seeking (both Akaka bill and independence proposals) [Note that in Fiji the Native Fijians have racial supremacy guaranteed by law over the Asian descendants of sugar plantation workers]
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(c) Copyright 2006 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved