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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, July 20, 2001

Island Voices
No real sovereignty choice offered

By Kenneth Conklin
Writer and researcher

Hawai'i stands at a crossroads. Sovereignty is for all of Hawai'i's people collectively to decide. There are three alternatives, but no choice is offered.

• Ethnic nationalism is the path to make Hawai'i an independent nation. Under this alternative, only those with Hawaiian blood would get full voting and property rights. Eighty percent of our people would become second-class citizens. The Native Hawaiian Convention and the Nation of Hawai'i give racially defined Hawaiians exclusive voting and property rights in important areas and guaranteed supremacy overall.

This path would make Hawai'i look like Zimbabwe or Fiji. Many independence activists hide their proposals, knowing the public would not approve. Some say people of Asian and European ancestry have no true homeland here unless they get "naturalized," even though many generations were born here.

• Racial separatism is the path followed by powerful Hawaiian institutions — the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Bishop Estate, Department of Hawaiian Homelands. They keep out the 80 percent of people with no Hawaiian blood.

Service providers, banks, law firms and the media must kowtow to their power or lose lucrative contracts in more than 160 federal and state racial entitlement programs. That's why both political parties and the Legislature endorse Hawaiian sovereignty. Indeed, the Akaka bill would protect all those racially separatist programs by creating an Indian tribe where there never were tribes.

It is unconstitutional. It mocks both Hawaiians and real Indians. But our Hawaiian establishment, whose wealth and power depend on claiming to speak for poor Hawaiians, have millions of dollars to spend on advertising and political lobbying.

• The third sovereignty alternative is the path of equality and unity, with aloha for all.

We are equal in the eyes of God(s) and entitled to equality under law. We are a rainbow of diverse cultures and ethnicities unified by the aloha spirit. We maintain a unified sovereignty as a single state of Hawai'i within the United States of America. We appreciate, respect and celebrate our racial and cultural differences, encouraging all to flourish under the umbrella of equal rights.

Needy people get government help based solely on need, not race. This dream of civil rights activists is closer to reality in Hawai'i than anywhere else on earth — unless we allow ethnic nationalists and racial separatists to ruin it.

There is no historical, legal, or moral justification for race-based political sovereignty in Hawai'i. (See http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/)

But setting aside historical grievances and claims of victimhood, which alternative will we choose?

Ethnic nationalists work to portray Hawai'i as a nonself-governing colony of the United States under military occupation. They want the United Nations to supervise an election where only ethnic Hawaiians could vote, to rip the 50th star off the flag. Racial separatists lobby Congress, trying to ram the Akaka bill down our throats.

Imagine having a patchwork of racial enclaves scattered everywhere, constant battles over jurisdiction and businesses exempt from taxes and regulations, forcing nearby tax-paying competitors out of business.

We, the people of Hawai'i, should assert our collective right to choose the aloha alternative of equality and unity. We must send a barrage of letters, faxes and phone calls to senators and representatives from other states (forget the Dans). We must tell them that the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill is extremely controversial, that it is unconstitutional. We must beg them to rescue us from our own pork-obsessed delegation.

We must tell them that, if Congress supports racial separatism for Hawai'i, it will set a precedent for rewarding ethnic strife in their own states.

The surest way for evil to triumph is for good people to stay silent and do nothing.

Kenneth Conklin ran unsuccessfully for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees in the 2000 elections.