Does Hawaii want to secede from the Union? That sounds like a preposterous question, but the official Office of Hawaiian Affairs reports on its Web site (www.oha.org) that legislation scheduled to be voted on soon in the U.S. Senate will give Native Hawaiians "self-determination" to choose "total independence" or any other form of government.
Hawaii is asking the U.S. Senate to create a Hawaiian race-based government for people with Native Hawaiian blood living anywhere in the United States. I'm not making this up; it's real.
According to S. 147, a Native Hawaiian is anyone of the "indigenous, native people of Hawaii" who is a "direct lineal descendant of the aboriginal, indigenous, native people" who resided in the Hawaiian Islands before 1893 and "exercised sovereignty" in that region. That convoluted definition must have been written by lawyers.
The use of the word sovereignty is peculiar because only nations and kings or queens exercise sovereignty. Hawaii was a monarchy in 1893, and Queen Liliuokalani exercised sovereignty, but the bill can't mean only her direct lineal descendants.
So, to be a Native Hawaiian, you don't need to have lived in Hawaii or ever had any affiliation with Native Hawaiian culture, language or politics. You just need to have one drop of the right kind of blood.
That reminds me of the greatest musical ever written, Jerome Kern's "Show Boat," where an essential part of the story line is that one drop of Negro blood made a man an African-American. I thought we had put all those racial notions behind us and moved on, but S. 147 is trying to bring them back.
S. 147 would create a racially separate government that would operate like an Indian tribe with its own laws and racial voting restrictions anywhere in the United States. This new "tribe" would include about 20 percent of Hawaii's residents plus some 400,000 Americans nationwide, making it the largest Indian tribe.
The people under the jurisdiction of this new government would not be defined by geography, community or cultural cohesiveness, but by race. This sort of racial division, separatism, and ethnic separation is so offensive that it's hard to see how grown-ups could be seriously considering it.
Hawaii is our pre-eminent example of the success of the melting-pot theory: people of all races have intermarried for nearly two centuries. Nearly half of all marriages in Hawaii are interracial, a figure that is 10 times higher than the rest of the United States.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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