Losing Their Aloha

Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. I drove up to West Virginny yesterday to visit a friend who has been nice enough to put me up over the holiday weekend. Just after we got back from clay shootin’ (yee haw!) this afternoon, I got the cranky wireless to work for me (ok, so I’m sure it was user error, but nonetheless). The weather and the mountains are be-a-utiful here.

Moving along, my co-worker Tim at Townhall reminded me in his column this week about the worst bill you’ve probably never heard of, which is likely to come up for a vote in late July– the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005.

This is a nasty little piece of legislation that may pass the Senate because no one knows enough about how nasty it is to bother stopping it. And, it goes a little something like this:

[Hawaiian Sen. Daniel] Akaka wants to extend the government’s policy of self-governance and self-determination to Native Hawaiians. He, and fellow Hawaiian Senator Inouye intend to do this by creating a race-based and racially separate government for Native Hawaiians. Under S. 147 Native Hawaiians would be under the federal Indian law system and would be designated as a “tribe.” This new race-based government would have jurisdiction over 20 percent of Hawaii’s citizens as well as 400,000 citizens nationwide.

Tim did an update on the bill in his column from this week. Looks like Sen. Inouye has succeeded in using his appropriations power to lure five Republican co-sponsors onto the bill:

Akaka and fellow Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye have successfully acquired five Republican cosponsors: Gordon Smith (R-Oregon), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Moreover, Senate insiders predict that if a vote were held on the bill today, it would pass with overwhelming margins.

Is it just me or does Lindsey keep popping up in all the wrong places lately? Anyway, I was in Hawaii on vacation in April and visited with the conservative think tank down there– the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. The qualification one must meet to be part of the new Hawaiian nation, according to the Akaka Bill, is that one must have Native Hawaiian ancestry that goes back to 1778–the year the first European, Capt. Cook, came to the islands.

But the president of the think tank, Dick Rowland, pointed out that Native Hawaiians were far from united before Europeans came to the islands. In fact, the different islands fought each other until 1810, when Kamehameha I conquered the major islands and brought them under one rule (here’s Kamehameha’s army conquering Oahu. I stood on this cliff; beautiful view). That was more than 30 years after Europeans started arriving on the islands. Since that time, though there is occasional friction, Native Hawaiians and all the other ethnic groups on the islands have been united by Kamehameha and later by statehood. Why, Rowland asks, would Akaka want to take Hawaii back to pre-1778 times, demolishing the unity Hawaiians of all colors have earned over the past 200 years?

I’m guessing it has a lot to do with federal handouts. Just thought y’all might want to hear about it, even though I know everyone’s plates are full of many other things. I’m far from an expert on Hawaiian history and culture, but from what I’ve heard, this seems like an idea that is destined to bring a lot of strife to Hawaii. I would think a Democrat like Akaka would treasure the fact that the citizens of his state have been brought together for years by something other than their skin color. Why start separating them now?

Mary Katharine blogs at the Townhall C-Log, and was pretty handy with the shotgun today, if you don’t mind her saying so.

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