Letters To The Editor
July 01, 2009 - MidWeek
Wrong on Akaka
In his column “Is It Time To Kill The Akaka Bill?” Bob Jones’ flawed understanding of the bill misrepresents facts and leads to a conclusion that is at best, faulty; at worst, ignorant.
Mr. Jones says that he can’t seem to get his sympathies wrapped around what he calls the “Native Hawaiian Government Recognition Proposal.” We are not after his sympathies, but we would appreciate him getting the facts straight, starting with the name of the bill: the Native Hawaiian
Government Reorganization Act. Mr. Jones asserts that the legislation is “clearly” race based. This is simply not the case: It is based on the political status of the indigenous people of Hawaii, the Native Hawaiians.
Neil Abercrombie has always championed this legislation in the U.S. House, long before his gubernatorial run. Our congressional delegation understands the U.S.‘s responsibility to the native people whose lands became part of the United States of America.
Agencies like the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are meant to help Hawaiians set back by a tumultuous history, which no one is trying to rewrite - we’re simply trying to mitigate the effects.
Mr. Jones’most ignorant statement is that “we’d be better off continuing to integrate Hawaiians into the fabric of the state.” Native Hawaiians have been the fabric of these islands since time immemorial. The argument is not over giving governance to a bloodline, but rather restoring some semblance of sovereignty to an indigenous people whose sovereignty was forcefully suppressed.
Mr. Jones correctly points out that American Indians and Alaska Natives have a process of federal recognition, and without the same kind of recognition for Native Hawaiians, programs that benefit Hawaiians could be struck down in the courts. Joe Garcia, a tribal leader and president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in congressional testimony in support of the Akaka Bill, “This is a matter of fundamental fairness. Like American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians deserve the right to determine their own future.”
For the latest on the federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, visit NativeHawaiians.com. All may not agree on the Akaka Bill, but we feel that it is the best way forward, affirming history by opening up a process to move forward from the injustices of the past.
Chairperson, Board of Trustees
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
It’s hate speech
Pretty arrogant, don’t you think, referring to yourself (as John L. Busekrus did in his June 24 letter) as part of a “silent majority.” I have no idea how many people agreed with my earlier letter on Jerry Coffee’s Muslim Day column. Judging from letters to MidWeek, I gather more than just a few. But I won’t be so foolish as to claim majority status.
Mr. Coffee’s column went beyond civil discussion and disagreement. It attempted to paint a large group of people as evil based on quotations from ancient religious text. As I and several other letter-writers have pointed out, the same kinds of outrageous quotations exist in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.
Hate speech is defined as speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Mr. Coffee’s “opinion” didn’t stop at just objecting to yet another special day being established by the Legislature. He attacked the day because it was for Muslims - and that constitutes hate speech. (Mr. Busekrus’ letter does the same thing.)
Our Constitution protects our right to say just about any stupid thing we want. But if we are going to rise above the self-destructive behavior of the last eight years, people of conscience need to speak out against those who abuse that right to society’s detriment. They can start with Coffee and move on up to Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Malkin and others who incite hatred for a living. I am not talking censorship here, I am talking vociferous feedback. Maybe an “outspoken majority” can keep these folks from flying too far off the handle.
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