Out of One, Many: The Native Hawaiian/ Racial Separatism Bill

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jun 05, 2006 7:57 AM

I wrote about the Akaka bill on Townhall today:

If I told you there would be a bill coming to the floor of the United States Senate this week that would create a sovereign government based on race, would you believe me? You can be forgiven for being skeptical. It sounds ridiculous.

If I told you that when it comes to the floor—most likely on Thursday of this week—that it’s not at all unlikely that it will pass, would you believe me then?

It’s time to start believing. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act comes to the floor this week.

John Fund explains the bill in more detail. He points out that the Hawaiian delegation is working to split the people of its state based solely on race because it's all about the money:

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. It could inspire mainland groups such as Hispanic separatists to seek similar spoils, should they ever gain enough political leverage...

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.

That would explain why no one has bothered to ask Native Hawaiians and Hawaiian residents themselves how they feel about the idea.

I had the chance to talk to two Native Hawaiian activists opposed to the bill. They reflect the feelings of a near-majority of Native Hawaiians and a large majority of Hawaiian residents, according to polling on the issue:

That's all (Leon) Siu wants—-a say. He pointed out that no hearings have been held in Hawaii on the current or any previous version of the Akaka bill, despite the immense impact it may have on the state.

"We're not opposed to the government helping us do something," he said, "but together as a community, we should figure out what's best."

Kekumano is concerned that the racial preferences and race-based government will create "at least strong animosity between the people who have always lived together...We don't have specific barriers between race. This would create an incredible apartheid really," she said.

I can't imagine anything more counterproductive and sad than creating racial separatism where there is relative racial harmony. This is more than a Hawaiian issue. If it happens in Hawaii, it can happen elsewhere, too.

It's likely to be on the floor of the Senate Thursday.

Also blogging this is Tim Chapman-- just keep scrolling.

National Review has made it their cover story this month.