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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Monday, June 05, 2006

A stupendously bad idea...

... is coming up for consideration in the Senate this week. Sen Daniel Akaka has proposed a race-based government for native Hawaiians. I'll say that again. He wants a race-based, splinter government body seperate from, but residing within the greater whole of the United States.

Um, I... I just... Words fail me. Luckily, John Fund makes up for my slack-jawed state in today's WSJ:

Pluribus Sine Unum
Will the Senate impose race-based government on Hawaii?

America's motto is "E pluribus unum," Latin for "Out of many, one." Some U.S. senators seem to be reading it backward. This week the Senate will consider legislation that would create an independent, race-based government for Native Hawaiians. If the bill becomes law, it would create a racial spoils system that would hand special privileges to up to one-fifth of the state's population--including many with only a trace of Hawaiian blood.


The Akaka bill was born out of an angry reaction to the 2000 case of Rice v. Cayetano, in which the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, declared unconstitutional a system under which non-Native Hawaiians were barred from voting for or serving as trustees of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Fearful of losing control of the rich patronage pot that the office, with its $3 billion trust fund, has become, its supporters decided to up the ante and try to skirt the 15th Amendment's mandate for equal voting rights by requiring that the federal government recognize Native Hawaiians in the same manner it recognizes separate governments for American Indians and Alaskan Eskimos.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued a report earlier this year that destroyed the notion that the Indian tribe analogy is appropriate. Native Hawaiians, who freely voted in large numbers to join the U.S. as a state in 1959, have never asked to be recognized as an Indian tribe. They not only lack their own system of laws but are dispersed throughout Hawaii and have a high rate of intermarriage with other groups. "The Akaka bill would authorize a government entity to treat people differently based on their race and ethnicity," said Gerald Reynolds, the commission's chairman. "This runs counter to the basic American value that the government should not prefer one race over another."


. Supporters of the Akaka bill refuse even to disavow the idea of secession from the United States. Last July, Rowena Akana, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, told National Public Radio that "if the majority of Hawaiian people want secession, then that's the way we'll go."

The scariest line in the whole piece is, "Despite all this, the Akaka bill is at least an even bet to win a Senate majority this week." I've written before that the very notion humans are distinct on a racial basis, and therefore merit distinct treatment based on race, is absolutely abhorrent to me. As it should be to our elected leaders in the Senate.

I'm drafting a letter to my Senators now. I'll post it here after I've sent it. In the meantime, you can read much more about this proposed giant leap backward in the quest for racial equality here.

UPDATE: My letter:

Dear Senator,

This week, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S.147) will likely come before you and your colleagues for a vote on a motion to proceed.

I write to you this evening to express my hope that you will vote to stop this nonsense cold.

I was once stationed at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and can attest to the value inherent in Hawaii’s unique culture, and its importance to Hawaii’s American success story. But S.147 would undo a larger American success story; namely, our commitment to racial equality.

Establishing a race-based government, independent from, yet residing within, the greater whole of the United States goes against the most fundamental values upon which this nation (and Hawaii) has prospered. It would be a giant step backward in our struggle for true racial equality. Please don't invalidate our hard won civil rights victories of the past by allowing this balkanization of American culture. Vote to keep America a colorblind nation, an exemplary nation as we encourage countries like Iraq and Afghanistan to create unified, democratic, nationalistic governments for themselves.



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