Expanded Introduction: University of Hawai'i and Hawaiian Sovereignty -- A Case Study in Political Correctness Run Amok

(c) Copyright 2002 - 2003 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

This is a story of academic freedom trampled at the University of Hawai'i. There has been recent intimidation against offering a "politically incorrect" course. In the past and at present there are threats of violence against "politically incorrect" professors, staffers, and students. The Center for Hawaiian Studies functions as a political propaganda factory, where conflicting views on history, law, and morality are not tolerated; and the CHS octopus reaches its tentacles into numerous other departments. The recently hired President of the university is going far beyond affirmative action programs (which are probably illegal anyway). He is explicitly harnessing UH as a political tool to defend racial entitlement programs and to help bring the dream (nightmare) of a Hawaiian nation into reality.

For many years the University of Hawai'i (UH) has functioned as a propaganda factory for Hawaiian racial separatism and ethnic nationalism. Does this language sound harsh? Could it possibly be true?

The “politically correct” leftist view has always been that social justice requires racial entitlement programs for poor, downtrodden ethnic Hawaiians. They are portrayed as quintessential victims: the “indigenous people” of these islands, whose nation was overthrown by a U.S. invasion in support of selfish white businessmen, whose land was stolen by an illegal annexation, whose culture and language were suppressed, and who are therefore entitled to huge reparations, self-determination, and perhaps an independent nation.

In any first-rate university one would expect to find robust debate among partisans on opposite sides of important issues. In Hawai'i there is no more important issue than Hawaiian sovereignty. The historical, legal, and moral aspects of Hawaiian sovereignty are extremely complex, providing unlimited opportunities for scholarly inquiry and debate. But at Hawai'i's flagship university there is dreary conformity to an ideology that would preserve and expand an already-established racial supremacy for all persons having a drop of native Hawaiian blood.

Is racial supremacy already established in Hawai’i? The State of Hawai’i government agency “Office of Hawaiian Affairs,” hands out government benefits only to people who are racially Hawaiian. The State Department of Hawaiian Homelands awards one-dollar-per-year leases to “homesteaders” who have 50% Hawaiian blood quantum. Kamehameha school, with a multibillion dollar endowment, has admitted only one student without Hawaiian blood in the last several decades (and huge protests erupted over that “mistake”). Ethnic Hawaiians have a plethora of special programs just for them, and also get to participate in all the other government programs that other, less entitled citizens receive. OHA has cited in court documents a list of over 160 such racial entitlement programs. A major political effort is underway, financed with government and private funds, to defend and expand such racial entitlement programs by lobbying Congress to pass the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill.

Support for this ideology of racial supremacy is the primary focus at the Center for Hawaiian Studies (CHS), and has become firmly entrenched in every other academic department or school which has relationships with CHS. Lucrative private grants, federal contracts, research projects, field activities, and academic tenure and advancement are at stake as individual professors and entire departments eagerly seek participation in collaborative projects focusing on the needs and demands of a favored racial group. Political leftists often dominate university faculties and student bodies. UH is no exception. The leftists usually protest whenever they discover powerful outside institutions using money and influence to interfere with free inquiry or to control research programs or curriculum. But at UH the leftist ideology of political correctness, social justice, and identity politics dovetails perfectly with the political power and wealth of government and private ethnic Hawaiian racial entitlement programs. For many years, dissent from this ideology has not been tolerated at UH. Recently, University of Hawai’i President Dobelle gave a major speech explicitly politicizing the university by pledging the university’s active support for racial entitlement programs and ethnic nation-building (details in section 3 below).

Many Hawaiian sovereignty activists are so strongly committed to their beliefs that they are best described as religious zealots. They refuse to listen to opposing views, easily get angry when their fundamental beliefs are challenged, and unquestioningly parrot the doctrinal views of authority figures. Like missionaries, they feel compelled to go out and “witness” for their beliefs by preaching to the ignorant or unconverted. Any who dare to dissent are cast out and shunned. Outright opponents are villified publicly as racists, their reputations being put to the torch much as medaeval heretics were burned at the stake.

The homes and personal effects of former monarchs are treated as sacred -- especially the overthrown Queen Lili’uokalani, whose spirit is said to live in ‘Iolani Palace. Her statue, behind the Palace, is treated almost as reverently as a statue of the Virgin Mary, and her tomb at the Royal Mausoleum is a frequent focus of prayer vigils and chants. ‘Iolani Palace is regarded as the Capitol of the still-living Kingdom of Hawai’i. Although the Palace is owned by the State of Hawai’i, it is operated as a propaganda factory masquerading as a museum, where only the Kingdom flag is permitted to fly. Tour guides speak in hushed voices as they enter the “imprisonment room” where the ex-queen was kept under house arrest following an attenpted counter-revolution to restore her to the throne. A film shown in the barracks stirs passions by portraying the U.S. as the evil destroyer of a noble Kingdom.

The analogy to religious zealotry is more than just an analogy. According to the most popular Hawaiian creation legend (taught in Hawaiian culture classes in the public schools and the university), the gods mated and produced the Hawaiian islands as their offspring; then in subsequent matings the gods produced the ethnic Hawaiian people. Thus the gods, the land, and the people are all related to each other as family members; but anyone lacking Hawaiian blood is an outsider. This religious belief is an important basis for racial claims to control land-use policy, and race-based (geneological) claims to political power.

A newly-hired President of the university, coming from the East Coast and with no expertise in Hawaiian history or culture, immediately pledged unlimited support for the Center for Hawaiian Studies. He has expanded that support throughout his first 14 months on the job. To the delight of both the leftist faculty and the wealthy and powerful ethnic Hawaiian institutions, he then announced his intention to further politicize the university. On September 11, 2002 (the first anniversary of the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York) he publicly pledged to enlist UH as a partner in the political struggle to establish a race-based government for ethnic Hawaiians (see section 3 below for details and documentation). Was this agenda unfolded simply because an enthusiastic and intelligent newly hired university president fell in love with Hawaiian culture? Or was the agenda one of the primary reasons he was hired in the first place?

Trouble occurred in late July or early August 2002 when a "politically incorrect" course was listed in the small catalogue of an outreach program at the flagship Manoa campus of the University of Hawai'i (UH). Intimidation began the moment the course title and instructor's name were announced: "Hawaiian Sovereignty: Another Perspective" by Ken Conklin, Ph.D.

The outreach program, "Academy for Lifelong Learning," offers non-credit courses taught by unpaid volunteer instructors to students who are mostly elderly, including "retired" scholars. For a registration fee of only $60, students may take up to three such courses each semester, with each course typically containing five weekly sessions of two hours each.

The instructor, Ken Conklin Ph.D., is well known among Hawaiian sovereignty activists as an outspoken opponent of their fundamental beliefs. Two years previously he was part of a multiethnic group of thirteen plaintiffs who won a lawsuit allowing non-ethnic-Hawaiians to run for the state government position of trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and following that court victory, he then became the first non-ethnic-Hawaiian ever to become a candidate for OHA trustee. He maintains a large website on Hawaiian sovereignty, strongly opposing both the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill and the ethnic nationalist independence movement.


As soon as the list of courses was published, there was a strong reaction. It was similar to what might happen if a naive member of a militant muslim mosque innocently announced that (in the interest of ecumenism and friendly relations with all faiths) he had invited Billy Graham to preach a sermon. Such heresy could not be tolerated.

The director of ALL, a woman of slim build and gentle disposition, was confronted in her office on several occasions over several weeks by various large-sized Hawaiian-looking men angrily demanding the course be cancelled. She also received numerous threatening telephone calls which have continued for more than two months as this essay is being written. The elderly students who had eagerly signed up for the course felt intimidated and were frightened into withdrawing. It appeared the course would be cancelled, with zero support for academic freedom from UH administration. But then the situation leaked to the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper, which published an article and follow-up editorial. Thereafter, the course was rescheduled in a (minimally) more secure location, and a dozen new students signed up plus a couple of the former ones who had been frightened away. The course then went forward. Two articles published in the UH student newspaper about the controversy, while the course is in progress, have also stimulated further controversy and threats.

Reviewing events, it turns out that when Ken Conklin had contacted ALL and offered to teach the course, the director had simply gone ahead and scheduled it as she would for any other course. She did not feel any need to seek approval from administration. Other controversial topics had been successfully handled by ALL previously, including a course on separation of state and church taught by an activist known for confronting politicians and institutions who erect religious symbols on public land or cite God in official by-laws or oaths of office. Thus, the course by Ken Conklin on Hawaiian sovereignty had been arranged, and listed in the ALL brochure, and students had registered and paid their small tuitions for it, all before administration took notice. Academic freedom was flowering. Intelligent students eager to learn and discuss were getting matched with an expert willing to share a perspective and to debate the issues.

After the ALL director was physically confronted by the first mafia-style goon with a clear intent to intimidate, she spoke about it with her administrative supervisor, Dean of Social Sciences Richard Dubanoski. The dean expressed sympathy but passed the buck while doing nothing to help with the urgent problem. According to a report later published in the student newspaper Ka Leo, here's what happened. The director of the Academy for Lifelong Learning notified her dean about the intimidation. Dean Dubanoski, for whatever reason, felt he did not want to take immediate action in the face of direct physical threats against the ALL director. He referred the matter to UH President Dobelle, Vice President for Academic Affairs Neubauer, Chancellor Englert, and Vice Chancellor Kim. One might reasonably call this "passing the buck" and "covering his backside." According to the Ka Leo article, President Dobelle confirmed receiving an e-mail about the threats but "did not respond because no direct response was required of him." And Englert did not respond because "he considered the account 'non-information' which was not followed up by a formal complaint." One might say UH administration "washed its hands" of the problem, thereby allowing the controversial Hawaiian sovereignty course to be quietly murdered without further noise. As reported in section 6 of this webpage, there were more serious incidents of intimidation in recent years against professors in various social science departments, which met with similar administrative negligence and even administrative investigations into the conduct of the professors who had been victimized. For the published report of September 30, 2002 in the student newspaper, regarding the Conklin incident, see section 5 of this webpage, or

Repeated in-person and telephone threats to the director of the Academy for Lifelong Learning were followed by repeated notification to administration, with repeated inaction. Elderly students, hearing about this, felt intimidated and were justifiably concerned for their safety. They withdrew from the course. At that point it would have been very easy to simply cancel the course and sweep the whole thing under the rug. After all, if nobody wants to take a course, there’s no point in offering it.

How should we interpret the lack of administrative support for academic freedom and the lack of administrative action up to this point to guarantee safety for the ALL administrator and for the students? Was this lack of support just carelessness? Ineptitude? Was it perhaps a typical administrative situation where nobody wants to take responsibility and the buck keeps getting passed? Or was the lack of support a calculated strategy to let the course (and academic freedom) quietly die? The interpretation of administrative inaction is complicated by two factors: (1) Under President Dobelle’s enthusiastic leadership UH has embarked on a course of active political support for racial entitlement programs and racial political supremacy for ethnic Hawaiians (see section 3 below); and (2) On December 16, 2001 President Dobelle had sent warnings to all UH administrators giving them the contractually required 1-year advance notification of termination, so that in December 2002 he can hire and fire administrators at will. In Fall 2002, as the long-anticipated Christmas massacre approaches, administrators are understandably reluctant to do anything which might offend President Dobelle and jeapordize their prestigious high-paying jobs.

On August 30, 2002, following several threats and administrative inaction, the director of ALL sent her first notification of trouble to Ken Conklin. Until then Conklin was completely unaware of any difficulties, and had been working hard to prepare lecture outlines, reading assignments, and materials to exhibit in class.

When informed of the situation by e-mail, Conklin wrote an e-mail reply including a summary of the monolithic orthodoxy of UH course content about Hawaiian sovereignty, and an explanation of the importance of academic freedom. That e-mail, and subsequent ones, stated Conklin’s view that UH administration has the obligation to ensure academic freedom as well as physical safety for students, and strongly recommending that UH administrators now had an obligation to individually contact students who had been intimidated and to assure them of their safety. Conklin encouraged the director to forward the e-mail to UH administrators and to prospective students.

At the same time, Conklin sent that e-mail to a small group of friends, and from there it found its way to an influential member of the community who sent it on to an editor at the Honolulu Advertiser. The newspaper editor assigned a reporter to cover the story, and an article was published. The following day, the Advertiser published an editorial strongly supporting academic freedom at UH. UH administrators then scurried around trying to figure out what to do, since the situation could no longer be swept under the carpet. Additional students were found and the course was rescheduled for a marginally more secure location. The course then went forward as planned and was very successful. However, the ALL director has stated that occasional angry phone calls were received even into the third week after the course began, and with renewed fury following publication of the story in the student newspaper.

Through e-mail exchanges and informal conversations with professors, staffers, and students at UH, it has become clear that this non-credit ALL course is not the first time there has been intimidation of faculty and staff at UH regarding views on Hawaiian sovereignty. The Center for Hawaiian Studies seems to control all discussion on this topic, and its zealous students intend to keep it that way. Professors, staffers, and students who disagree don’t dare to speak out. The fear is palpable. Ken Conklin had no affiliation with UH until Fall 2002. Not a student taking courses where bad grades might be given to him. No salary to lose. No rank or tenure at risk. No administrators to answer to. It will be interesting to see whether this tempest in a teapot at ALL will give courage to people who do have things at risk to step forward to complain about intimidation, to speak out against Hawaiian apartheid and racial balkanization, to lecture on facts about Hawaiian history and law which the activists cannot tolerate, to publish scholarly articles which disagree with the party line. To quote a famous leftist: “Let a thousand flowers bloom.”

At the bottom of this page are some important details, in this order: (1) A look at the racial supremacist doctrine which is the CHS party line and which President Dobelle actively supports; (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 and editorial; and the articles published in the UH student newspaper Ka Leo; (6) Other examples of threats, intimidation, property damage and career damage caused by CHS activists and timid administrators

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:


Attorney Patrick Hanifin (Arakaki1, Barrett, Arakaki2) and Ken Conklin appeared on Bob Rees' TV show "Counterpoint" on Sunday October 13, Channel 54, 5-6 PM, where this issue was discussed.

Patrick Hanifin and Ken Conklin were guests on Bob Rees' live radio program "Talk of the Town" on Hawai'i public radio Tuesday October 22.

Bob LeClair, Professor of Law at Kapiolani Community College, interviewed President Dobelle on a special 60-minute edition of his long-standing continuing TV series "You and the Law." The program was broadcast live on Friday November 8, 2002, with call-in questions. One caller asked about how President Dobelle's is using a mass letter of termination sent December 16, 2001 to all UH administrators (providing one-year contractually-required advance notice). The caller stated that Dobelle is using the mass termination, and hope of rehiring, as a method of intimidating faculty and suppressing dissent. Another caller specifically raised the issue of the the use of UH as a political tool promoting the Center For Hawaiian Studies party line, and whether that is related to Dobelle's failure to support academic freedom when staff and students were intimidated in an effort to suppress a Hawaiian sovereignty course with a different perspective. These were two out of only a handful of live questions broadcast during the program. The moderator had stated at the beginning of the program that political questions would not be welcome, so presumably the call-screeners screened out any calls about Dobelle's TV ads endorsing the losing candidate for Governor, which had resulted in the protest resignation of a UH trustee.


(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



(c) Copyright 2002 - 2003 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Email: ken_conklin@yahoo.com