In There'smoreland I take a look at this opinion piece:
The Natives Are Restless from The Weekly Standard by Duncan Currie.
Of course, Gorton gave his statement as a warning, and the National Review is doing so again today, yet in doing so, they are at once acknowledging the real possibility of Hawaii's independence, and giving exposure to it.
Think about this: The National Journal is writing about Hawaii's independence.
Think about this: Stephen Kinzer's book "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq" was featured on Fresh Air, reviewed by the SF Chronicle, and recommended to Honolulu investigative reporter and political blogger Ian Lind by retired Star-Bulletin editor Chuck Frankel, who said:
I recommend "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq," a new book by Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times correspondent in Turkey, Germany and Nicaragua.
While the story of US interference and intervention in Cuba, the Philippines, Guatamala, Chile, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries is not new, the linkage to Hawaii is startling.
Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown because business interests wanted it, and they were aided and abetted by the White House, American diplomats and American troops. This pattern was repeated over the years. Kinzer writes that no nation has arranged to depose of so many foreign leaders in so many places so far from its own shores than the United States in modern history.
Alas, Hawaii showed the way it could be done.
Back to Gorton again, NR's Currie says:
He was prescient. Thirteen years later, Congress is mulling the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which would accord "Native Hawaiians" the same legal sovereignty as American Indians and Alaska Natives and allow them to create their own race-based governing structure. Would this lead to Native Hawaiian independence?
"That could be," Akaka told National Public Radio last summer. "I'm leaving it up to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
Being an octogenarian, Akaka already has four great-grandchildren, and his grandchildren are already adults. So this isn't necessarily some far distant prospect as it might sound.
Although many Hawaiians angrily accuse Akaka of conspiring to entrap them under a federal policy with a very sorry history, his bill for something much less than independence is giving exposure to the possibility of independence, thanks in large part to the conservatives' fearmongering reaction to it.
Currie later says: "These folks want outright secession."
Well, actually, no.
First, there is the fact that many who are pro-independence oppose the Akaka bill and strongly believe it is actually set up to thwart the restoration of independence and trap Hawaiian nationals under U.S. occupation, so "these folks" is vastly oversimplifying the real sentiment.
Then there is the fact that independence, as it is understood by most who are struggling for it in Hawaii, is based on nationality (aka citizenship) rather than being "Native Hawaiian" itself, so there is a basic discontinuity between federal recognition of a native domestic dependent nation and the restoration of the independent Hawaiian kingdom, in terms of the body politic.
If or probably when Hawaii's independence is effectively restored, it may well happen without or in spite of the passage of "federal recognition" for Native Hawaiians, and it is an open question whether federal recognition will actually help or hinder the move towards independence.
An important larger point is that "these folks" don't want "secession" anyway because they know there was never a cession. It's an important distinction. And the more folks actually learn the history, the more they tend to understand the distinction. Many people in Hawaii, not just Native Hawaiians, have come to conclude that at least a reasonable argument can be made that the United States has never really legitimately acquired sovereignty in Hawaii, and that there is a legal continuity (PDF) to the Hawaiian kingdom. Hawaii already is not part of the United States. There never was a cession. So there's no secession.
Of course I realize that most people, without any exposure to the history and the legal framework, share the common assumption that Hawaii is part of the United States. Duh. Geopolitical reality operates as if this is so. But geopolitical reality also changes, and is based on laws and principles as well as popular sentiments. I think that most people outside of Hawaii don't realize how totally commonplace and widely accepted is some basic sense that the islands aren't really America. There is a widespread and growing recognition of the fact that there is this other underlying legal order which has never really been extinguished. And it pops up here and there and everywhere with growing frequency. And the solution is not to try to squash every manifestation, as the "racial separatist" scaremongers would try to do, but to deal with the root cause, the source of the situation. And that is the very fact of my country's imposed presence here. The very question of U.S. occupation of Hawaii.
The irony, or odd juxtaposition, is that those who fear "secession" and those who believe Hawaii has never ceased being independent both oppose the Akaka bill.
Think about this: they want to tell Hawaiian citizens on one hand that it is a fool's dream, Hawaii will never be independent, they're a bunch of fringe radicals; then in the next rhetorical breath they will wield the specter of Hawaii's "secession" to scare their compatriots against even federal recognition of Native Hawaiians as a domestic dependent nation.
Perhaps they cynically scare up that specter to serve their true motives even if they don't really take it seriously. Or perhaps they do, and actually believe that Hawaii could relatively soon be effectively independent again. If you believe that they are acting from sincere concern, and not just rhetorical hyperbole, that means that they also believe, just like a growing number here in Hawaii, that restoring Hawaii's effective independence is a real possibility. Whether you think it is a good idea or not is one thing. But is it possible? Conservatives in the National Review and elsewhere, in using what in the context of the Akaka bill is actually the straw man of independence to argue against the bill, have already conceded this point.
Next week this whole complex issue going to get more national attention than ever before. Conservative magazines and blogs have been following it, even with unintended consequences. Progressives and Democrats would be well advised to be at least somewhat aware of the history and the political currents involved.
(Oh, and just a procedural note, Currie suggests that 45 Dems and 6 Repubs can pass the bill, and seems to have completely overlooked the fact that it is being filibustered and will required 60 votes for cloture before the bill itself can be voted on. Some senators might vote for cloture who intend to vote against the bill, but the votes for the bill itself are irrelevant if it doesn't get cloture.)