Thursday, December 11, 2008

Musings: Give Peace a Chance

At midnight, a rumble shook the bed as a thunderclap exploded overhead, and then for the next two-and-a-half hours it was Koko’s trembling that shook the bed as the sky flashed and roared and the rain came pouring down.

Finally, the storm calmed, as did Koko’s nerves, and we resumed our formerly peaceful slumber.

The topic of peace, and the decidedly Hawaiian approach to it through the practice of ho`oponopono, is the topic of an article I wrote for Honolulu Weekly that can now be viewed on-line.

It features the teachings of the Rev. Kaleo Patterson, who has been instrumental in infusing non-violence into many Hawaiian issues, including sovereignty. I like his story because it’s a good example of how people can engage in effective direct action without having hatred in their hearts or resorting to violence.

And I like the ho`oponopono aspect of it because it demonstrates how the Hawaiian culture has responded to what Kaleo terms the holocaust of Western contact.

I was thinking the other day of how the Hawaiian culture is continually co-opted and exploited for all sorts of dubious purposes. The most recent example is the strange amalgamation of park-and-ride, commercial nursery and miniature golf course that is on its way to being built along the highway in Kilauea. According to The Garden Island:

The course will have a Hawaiian heritage theme, showcasing the history of the islands and its flora. Placards numbering the holes will provide descriptions of the Hawaiian Islands, from its volcanic origins, to Polynesian discovery, to the missionary movement, Pearl Harbor, statehood, and on up to the present, the report states. The history of Kaua‘i, particularly Kilauea’s plantation heritage, will also be included.

Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first project to merge Hawaiian heritage with the decidedly un-Hawaiian game of miniature golf. I mean, why not tell the history of the islands around the loi and canoe hale and other things that were actually part of the culture? And exactly what version of the history does it plan to tell? Which hole will the overthrow be on?

Anyway, the project is being promoted as a gathering place for the community, much like the new 56,000-square-foot Safeway “lifestyle” store, which the Planning Commission approved Tuesday.

It’s not just a big Safeway, either, but essentially another whole new mall — with an astounding 1,028 parking stalls — on 23 acres near Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. I can’t imagine that we actually need another shopping mall in the Kukui Grove area, but when it comes to consumerism, it’s all about wants, not needs. And besides, the developer is promising us “a range of stores at Hokulei Village that are not now represented in the retail mix on Kaua‘i.”

Oh, joy. Aren’t we lucky.

As I inched through that heavily congested area yesterday, trying to make a 4 p.m. meeting at KCC, I wondered how it could really handle any more traffic. But perhaps it won’t attract any new motorists. Maybe the regular commuters who are already clogging the highway there will inch their way into Safeway and commune with their neighbors over the hot food take-out section before inching back onto the highway and onward to home.

The most amusing part of the project is that it’s based on the assumption that DOT will finish widening Kaumualii Highway to four lanes at just about the same time it’s supposed to open, in approximately two years. That's a good one.

Finally, in comments left on previous posts, some readers continue to assert that Hawaiians do not own the so-called “ceded lands,” claiming that they were handed over to the state in the Admissions Act.

I don’t imagine they necessarily want to be educated on the subject, but those who do may want to read a piece I wrote for the Honolulu Weekly that looks specifically at the issue of who owns the “ceded lands.”

Here’s an excerpt:

The truth is that the lands in question, while often referred to as ‘ceded,’ were actually seized from the Kingdom of Hawai’i during the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy. One hundred years later, the U.S. Congress deemed that action unlawful when it approved the ‘Apology Resolution.’

‘Our land was taken at the point of a gun and now the Hawaiians are begging and suing day in and day out to get what is rightfully ours,’ said Naliko Markel, a minister with the Reinstated Hawaiian Kingdom.

In 1898, the Republic of Hawai’i — led by those who masterminded the coup — ‘ceded’ control of 1.8 million acres of Kingdom lands to the U.S. government and sold the rest to private parties.

‘Ceded lands are stolen lands and therefore they have to be returned to their rightful owners,’ [Kekuni] Blaisdell said. ‘And the rightful owners are not the federal government, the state or OHA. It’s the people who are descendants of the subjects of the Hawaiian queen.’


I wonder if the miniature golf course is planning a restoration of sovereignty hole.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

But the Apology Resolution may not have much force of law. It may be deemed as symbolic only.

This is the crux of the SCOTUS case.

Although it can go either way, the consensus of knowledgable legal opinion I've read seems to indicate that it will fail and the land will be deemed state property.

Justice is not the only guiding light for any court. Ramifications of one decision or another also carry weight.

Often, justice takes a back seat to "reasonability" and "rationality" given preponderance of the existing situation.

Anonymous said...

Almost the entire continental U.S. was "seized" from natives "illegally." So, in a sense public lands "don't belong" to the government. But nobody thinks that because they are stolen that "therefore they have to be returned to their rightful owners." Except for pollyannas.

John Powell said...

The storm that hit Kaua'i last night just came ashore in Kona. The thunder has my little white dog on my lap.

The history of the world is basically a record of illegal seizures of property by one ethnic group from another, on every continent. Theoretically, we've moved beyond that stage, although obviously not all the way.

I certainly agree with the word "holocaust" to describe Hawaiians' contact with Europeans. On a demographic basis alone the word fits.

I wonder what Blaisdell means by "descendants of the subjects of the Hawaiian queen." If that includes descendants of all of the citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom, regardless of race, it would be logically consistent (and not race-based). But I suspect that he'd leave out the descendants of the haole and asian citizens and put in the descendants of ethnic Hawaiians who had already emigrated by the time of the overthrow and become citizens elsewhere, based on their ethnicity.

charley foster said...

Maybe it's our shared profession (rule based thinking?) but I had the same thought as John about who qualifies as a descendant of the subjects of the Hawaiian queen. At the time of the overthrow Hawaii was a multi-ethnic society and although not everyone was a subject, lots of subjects were not native. It's an interesting idea - one's claim to the ceded lands being based on lineage rather than blood quantum.

Anonymous said...

> Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first project to merge Hawaiian heritage with the decidedly un-Hawaiian game of miniature golf. I mean, why not tell the history of the islands around the loi and canoe hale and other things that were actually part of the culture? And exactly what version of the history does it plan to tell? Which hole will the overthrow be on? <

That's exploitation driven by greed. From Kokopelli on coffee mugs to sacred Shoshone rock art on T-shirts, if there's a way to make a buck shilling native heritage to tourists, there's a huckster ready to do it.

Andy Parx said...

I think their theory is that if you steal the land enough times it becomes yours, Joan

The overthrow, the annexation, the 1920 Hawaiian Homes Act, the statehood act – they were not only each illegally accomplished in one way or another but each was cited as evidence of ownership and was based on the prior illegal acts of theft.

Just because you sold stole property doesn’t mean you own it no matter who you gave or sold it to in the intervening years.

All the apology bill did was to detail and admit to much of the trail of theft. Whether that is “binding” on anything is irrelevant. It what it is- a confession... and a legally obtained one at that- they certainly knew their rights ;>

The “apology law” acknowledges and admits to the theft of a couple of million acres of land on the part of the US of A. That premise is certainly not a contested matter no matter what its relevance.

No law can be “binding” on a prior theft no matter what it says. But as a relevant document in a theft case, the 1993 act is the most important piece of evidence in the case- a full detailed confession.

And even if nine American thieves say it’s legal to steal that land, all that does is reiterate the legal and moral bankruptcy of the US justice system and its “officers” like many of those who have commented here.

Anonymous said...

Sure thing Andy. After we give Hawaii back to the Tahitians, they can give it back to the Marquesans.

Anonymous said...

And pay reparations for all those human sacrifices.

Anonymous said...

Normally a thief has to return the property he stole, after the apology. Unfortunately, the SCOTUS will almost certainly adopt the Lingle/Bennett position. There is very troubling language near the end of the SCOTUS opinion in the Rice v. Cayatano, paraphrased as "Hawaii is America now, get used to it."

It has been said that it takes 3 full generations for an overthrow of a country to cement. We're about there. Its so sad.

What really sickens me, is remembering Lingle in the debates during her first run for governor. She totally dominated on native Hawaiian issues, making heartfelt promises to stand up for Hawaiian rights, land and sovereignty. The audacity of those lies!

Her love of G.W. Bush, her deep ties to the military, her frequent trips to Israel, and her willingness to complete the theft of a nation during her lame-duck term all reveal her true self - a war monger with a manifest destiny view of America. A jewish Sara Palin with an ability to lie without remorse, born and polished in a family of car salesmen. Something like a sociopathic G.W. Bush in drag.

Anyone wanna bet she rewards Bennett with a Hawaii Supreme Court nomination after Moon is forced into retirement?

Anonymous said...

> Her love of G.W. Bush, her deep ties to the military, her frequent trips to Israel, and her willingness to complete the theft of a nation during her lame-duck term all reveal her true self - a war monger with a manifest destiny view of America. A jewish Sara Palin with an ability to lie without remorse, born and polished in a family of car salesmen. Something like a sociopathic G.W. Bush in drag. <

In the last half-decade, the media developed a small army of reporters who covered similarly self-absorbed politicians, primarily in the Republican Party. While most of Gov. Lingle's mainland comrades are keeping their heads down after the election, she's making noise. The chances that her ego and ambition won't propel her into the national media spotlight are slim and none. She wants it, and she won't stop until she gets it.

But she's not going to like the result.

Anonymous said...

Anyone wanna bet she rewards Bennett with a Hawaii Supreme Court nomination after Moon is forced into retirement?

We can hope!

Anonymous said...

"The “apology law” acknowledges and admits to the theft of a couple of million acres of land on the part of the US of A. That premise is certainly not a contested matter no matter what its relevance."

Except that it is not a couple million acres of ʻcededʻ lands in dispute, it is ALL the Hawaiian lands that were stolen.

Anonymous said...

some pretty brilliant legal minds here..

charley foster said...

The U.S. solicitor general filed an amicus brief in the ceded lands case. Here's how the gov addresses the 'stolen lands' issue:

"Respondents' purported cloud arises from the manner in which the Republic of Hawaii acquired the crown and government lands. But when the United States accepted those lands, it took absolute title, irrespective of their history, as the Newlands Resolution plainly stated. The Organic Act (as well as contemporaneous legislative and executive interpretations) confirmed that the United States' perfect title extended to the entire cession. Respondents' theory depends on the notion that if the Republic of Hawaii acquired the land illegitimately, it could not give the United States perfect title. But ever since the Louisiana Purchase, this Court has held that when the United States acquires territory, determination of the ceding sovereign's ability to pass valid title is a matter for the political Branches, bound up with the powers to recognize governments and make treaties. Neither this Court nor other court may second-guess those determinations, in a title suit or otherwise."

John Powell said...

People who think the apology resolution is a confession of theft won't be impressed by actual legal doctrine, Charley. Because their expectations are based on a fantasy resolution rather than the actual one, they're bound to be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

How does the Hawaiian get disappointed?
From what theyʻve had thrown at them, it would appear they have never had time for it.
They just keep moving forward and work with what little they can grab onto.
Wow. Weʻd be smart to take some lessons from them but then weʻre all just too damn smart for our own good, huh.

Anonymous said...

american society (call it culture if you wanna) is pretty darn good id say

Anonymous said...

" american society (call it culture if you wanna) is pretty darn good id say"

December 13, 2008 11:30 PM


What is this in correlation to?

Anonymous said...

"" american society (call it culture if you wanna) is pretty darn good id say"

December 13, 2008 11:30 PM


What is this in correlation to?"

--why in the blog entry which cited hawaiian culture did american culture come into my mind? i dunno, it just did, the things that american culture does well