Setting Shapiro Straight on Statehood and Iolani Palace

In the Honolulu Advertiser of March 14, 2007 columnist David Shapiro writes: "Lawmakers may convene a panel nearly as big as the Legislature itself to tackle the delicate question of how to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hawai'i's statehood in August 2009." He makes a few small errors. But his biggest boo-boo is his conclusion: "'Iolani Palace should be avoided as a venue for statehood festivities. Yes, statehood was declared there on Aug. 21, 1959, but the palace was Hawai'i's capitol then, and it isn't anymore. It has a different symbolic significance now that should be acknowledged." Shapiro's complete article is at

Mr. Shapiro needs to be set straight.

First, a correction of fact. The Statehood vote in 1959 was actually 94.3% "yes." The vote count for Hawai'i as a whole and for each island can be found at
CAUTION: That's a 5.4 Megabyte download (for a 3-page document!)

Then a correction of attitude. Mr. Shapiro refers to "bogus fears that the [Akaka bill] could lead to Hawai'i's secession from the Union." Those fears are not bogus. Some who have strongly favored independence for many years now also support the Akaka bill as a means to that end; and Senator Akaka himself has repeatedly endorsed the concept of eventual independence (as has OHA). See a large accumulation of evidence about "The Akaka Bill and Secession" at

Finally, let's look at Statehood Day and 'Iolani Palace.

King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III made two attempts to get Hawai'i annexed to the U.S. with full status as a State, in 1849 and 1854.

Contrary to the impression left by Mr. Shapiro, ethnic Hawaiians have been overwhelmingly in favor of U.S. sovereignty for more than a century, and have repeatedly urged and celebrated Statehood at 'Iolani Palace until quite recently.

Ex-Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole himself (heir-apparent to the throne if the monarchy had continued) introduced the first Statehood bill in Congress in 1919.

Some important milestones along the 110-year path to Statehood (1849-1959) can be seen in a Statehood Day resolution introduced in the Hawai'i state Senate and House in 2002:

In 1954 there was a petition for Statehood signed by 120,000 Hawai'i citizens in less than 2 weeks. That petition was given a huge sendoff from -- guess where? -- 'Iolani Palace. On February 24 1954 the 250 pound petition was wrapped and taken to the steps of 'Iolani Palace for a ceremonial sendoff including the Hawaiian civic clubs presenting chants, songs, hula, kahili and torch bearers, and the Royal Hawaiian Band playing patriotic music. The blessing of Heaven was also provided (rain). See

The vote in favor of Statehood was an even higher percentage on Moloka'i (more than 96%) than for Hawai'i as a whole, as can be seen in the document in paragraph #1 above; and Moloka'i has a higher percentage of ethnic Hawaiians than any other major island.

Today a very noisy small group of anti-American ethnic nationalists try to sabotage any effort to celebrate Hawai'i Statehood. For evidence of their anti-Americanism see photos included at For full details about their wannabe terrorism in disrupting the Statehood Day celebration in August 2006 see

Mr. Shapiro apparently wants the terrorists to win, when he supports giving in to their demands that 'Iolani Palace should be off-limits for Statehood Day celebrations. 'Iolani Palace is a period-piece museum. It is NOT the capitol of a still-living independent nation. It would be very bad public policy, and contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of ethnic Hawaiians and of all people of Hawai'i, for the State of Hawai'i to treat the Palace as anything more than a museum.

In 2001, following the September 11 destruction of the twin towers in New York, the U.S. flag was flown for one month over 'Iolani Palace as a symbol of compassion for 3,000 lives lost and of patriotism toward America. The "usual suspects" made very noisy protests against the flag flying there. The director of the "Friends of 'Iolani palace" then actually apologized for flying the U.S. flag there. Hawai'i was embarrassed in other places as news about anti-Americanism was published on the mainland (somewhat like the recent article in USA Today). The overwhelming response from Hawai'i's people was that the director had nothing to apologize for. There should never be any apology for flying the U.S. flag anywhere in Hawai'i. For details about that situation in 2001, see:

Governor Ben Cayetano reaffirmed Hawai'i's commitment to unity and equality in his brief but powerful final Statehood Day message (August, 2002). His eloquent words then ring true today: "The people of Hawaii enjoy a diversity unlike any state in the nation. We are committed to ensuring unity and equality for all of our residents. While we celebrate the differences that define and enrich our island culture, we also treasure our identity as Americans and affirm our shared commitment to a happier and more prosperous future for all." To see his complete proclamation, go to Note that our current Governor, hell-bent on passing the Akaka bill, has issued no proclamation at all in celebration of Statehood Day other than a half-hearted attempt in 2003, mostly quoting British Prime Minister Tony Blair on why Americans should be proud.

Hawai'i for too long has coddled and given deference to a movement for Hawaiian apartheid. Racial separatism and ethnic nationalism are evil scourges throughout the world, as seen most recently in Bosnia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Darfur. It's time for Hawai'i to wake up and not encourage that evil here. For a wakeup call, see:


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(c) Copyright 2007 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved