Why ‘Akaka’ Should Become Law

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - July 21, 2005
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To: T. Twigg-Smith, B. Burgess, K. Conklin

Subject: Akaka Bill

Dear Twigg, Bill and Ken:

I’ve had a change of mind. I’d be OK with passage of Senate- 147, the Akaka Bill, for recognition of Native Hawaiians as a tribe entitled to some self-governance.

My legal read is unchanged. Maybe it’s legally flawed. The courts can and should wrestle with that. But what’s legally questionable and what’s politically right at any moment sometimes share common mindspace. It’s like affirmative action. Or school busing. Sometimes we embellish on the 213-year-old thoughts of the ratified Constitution because we face things unanticipated back then.

Paul Weyrich of the conservative think-tank Free Congress Foundation may be legally right decrying creation of “a race-based tribal government within the state of Hawaii.” But maybe politically out of tune.

There was a true legal and political decision in our most famous WWII case about the incarceration of AJAs (Hirabayashi v. United States), where the Supreme Court said “distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded on the doctrine of equality.”

That would seem to put Akaka-147 on fragile ground.

Still, I don’t think killing this bill in Congress — as opposed to in the courts — would be cause for celebration. Many citizens of Hawaiian ancestry have cooled their passions as they awaited something they see as their political due.

There is a rumbling, non-academic, unscientific, spirit-worldbased mythology that those of Hawaiian blood (and nobody agrees how much) share some special bonds, are people apart, somehow connecting their mana‘o and should in limited measure govern themselves.

It’s true, as Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl has said, that “it is difficult to see how a bill touted in Hawaii as a potential path to independence is going to help reconcile whatever racial divisions exist there.”

But I’m a realist who senses that every time an old-line haole family member writes an anti-Hawaiian-sovereignty treatise or dumps on Akaka-147, those who perceive themselves as entitled Native Hawaiians get more restless.

Akaka-147 is a pressure valve. Maybe it’s not pono because even many Hawaiians disagree with it and it would be imposed on us, not voted on. None of that sits well with me. But I’ve decided I can live with its passage and leaving its fate to the courts.

I’m reminded of my birthdaysharer, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who could have opposed the North by guerrilla warfare forever but told Brig. Gen. Porter Alexander when he suggested that near Appomattox Courthouse:

“We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the country years to recover from.”

Harry Kim for governor in 2006 as a Democrat? Dems should be so lucky to have a candidate of such proven ability and charisma to take on Linda Lingle.

But wait. Didn’t Harry just want one term as Big Island mayor? Not interested in serving beyond that? Oh, you meant just mayor.

Do you promise not to run for U.S. senator after you’re elected our governor?

Just needling you, Harry.

Go for it! But please keep the jeans and aloha shirt.

Congratulations to Moanalua High School students Kelli Murata, Sarah Johnson and Kiara Sakamoto of Project Graduation 2006. Their cookbook, Local Style Cooking With A Mainland Flair, is for sale at Aiea Manapua, next to Aiea Library, and Baldwin’s in the Waimalu Shopping Center.

Plenty recipes, including one from me called “Betcha You Nevah Wen’ Eat Dis One.”

But you have to buy their book to find out what it is.

If KITV-4 News wonders why it’s fast sinking into third place in the ratings, its June 11 newscast at 6 p.m. offers a clue.

Story No. 1 was a “live” report on a brush fire that was out. Story No. 2 was a reporter-package on a brush fire that was out. Story No. 3 was about a nonlife- threatening stabbing. Story No. 4 was about a Sheriff’s Office problem that comes to the conclusion that it’s not much of a problem. Story No. 5 was about a fatal moped accident of the previous night.

Then came story No. 6 — that Gov. Lingle had decided not to veto the transit tax — almost six minutes into the newscast.

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