Monday, April 6, 2009

Musings: Hot Potato

Heavy rain blew in on strong winds just as the sky was brightening, causing me to wonder if our walk would be scuttled or delayed. But the squall moved out as quickly as it had moved in, and Koko and I set out in a gusty world glowing in soft, filtered golden light.

The brisk trades were invigorating, the freshly washed landscaped smelled clean and alive and the birds expressed their approval of it all by mightily singing. In the distance, rain could be seen falling from black clouds that raced across the sky and collided with the mountains.

Kanaka maoli once again collided with the mighty mountains of Babylon when Maui District Court Judge Simone Polak ruled on Friday that three members of the Reinstated Hawaiian Nation were not acting to reclaim land stolen from the Hawaiian Kingdom when they landed on Kahoolawe back on July 31, 2006, but instead were simply trespassing.

The defendants weren’t surprised. After attorney Dan Hempey put on a lengthy defense, which included testimony by an expert in international law, to prove that the Nation was a legit sovereign entity, the judge denied his motion to dismiss the charges on that basis.

“An action by this Court would, in turn, direct Congress and the State Legislature to recognize the Reinstated Nation of Hawaii as the native Hawaiian sovereign entity, and this Court cannot act where Congress and the State Legislature must,” the judge wrote in order denying the motion.

As Dan sees it, both the District Court and U.S. Supreme Court — in its decision last week in the so-called "ceded lands" case — are saying that the issues of nationhood and land ownership are political, not judicial. But even though “the state has passed all these laws that dance around the issue and say we feel so bad about what we did to the Hawaiians, the Legislature has never met to even discuss recognition of a sovereign Hawaiian entity,” he said. “It’s basically been a string-along.”

And while Gov. Lingle campaigned on the promise that reconciliation with Native Hawaiians would be a top priority of her administration, she hasn’t delivered on that promise, he noted.

The Akaka Bill, meanwhile, is not intended to recognize a sovereign nation, so “the answer ain’t gonna come from Washington,” Dan said. And with the court now saying it lacks the authority to make such a determination, the political hot potato has been passed back to the Lege.

“The Legislature will either now do something, or bite their fingernails for another 50 years while the same situation continues,” Dan said. “Who’s going to be the lawmaker who stands up and does something really big?”

He suggested Sen. Gary Hooser might have the gumption to bring the matter into the public debate, but some political observers say Gary pissed off the Japanese power block when he pushed to bring the civil union bill up for a vote, and will be stripped of power as punishment. I guess we'll see if that's true in the next legislative session.

At any rate, Dan observe, “it’s not going to change without great public pressure on the Legislature. The ugly political process has got to be done.”

34 comments:

Kolea said...

"...some political observers say Gary pissed off the Japanese power block when he pushed to bring the civil union bill up for a vote, and will be stripped of power as punishment. I guess we'll see if that's true in the next legislative session."

Gary may (or may not) lose his position, but that would not prove that he offended some "Japanese power bloc" in the Senate.

I am unsure why you think reference to this "bloc" adds anything to your readers' understanding of how the Legislature operates or why HB444 has run into trouble.

I would suggest it is more likely to reinforce crude stereotypes about Hawaii politics, already too prevalent among malihini "progressives."

Joan said...

I'm sorry if the reference offended you. I was simply repeating the exact phrase used by several political observers on Kauai, all of whom are locals, not "malihini progressives."

Andy Parx said...

I don't know Kolea. Are you saying that the era of racial politics is over – or that the era of control by politicians of Japanese decent of the Democratic Party is over? Or never existed? Are you saying the old Japanese-Hawaiian animosities no longer drive any political considerations any more?

I think if you don’t know these historical threads it’s harder to understand the context of many legislative conflicts especially the stringing along” of na kanaka. Just look at who is in the top committee spots and how leadership has been able to double or triple refer Hawaiian issue bills to assure that even if sympathetic people are on Hawaiian issue committees they can’t do anything. When, for example, Karamatsu gets veto power over anything Carroll does something is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Wake up Kolea. A Japanese power bloc DOES control the legislature and has for a long time.

Signed,
Yonsei from Kailua

Kolea said...

I don't deny there are ethnic and/or cultural dimensions of politics in Hawaii. I have often written about them myself. There are also ethnic factors affecting the perception of "political observers," whether malihini or local.

What I am challenging here is the utility of such an analysis to the struggle over HB444 in the Senate. Let's look at the six senators who voted to pull the bill: three of the six are Japanese: Kidani, Ihara and Fukunaga. Ooops!

I guess these are three "exceptions to the rule"?

The three most powerful committees in the Senate are undoubtedly, in descending order: WAM, JGO and CCP, headed up by a Filipina (Donna Mercado Kim), a Japanese (Brian Taniguchi) and a haole (Roz Baker). Kinda hard to discern a Japanese political bloc out of that data. But then, those orientals are pretty "inscrutable."

If we look at the State House, does the suggested model tell us anything? Well, the Speaker is Chinese, which is ALMOST Japanese. The last Speaker, Joe Souki, was Portuguese. Andy points out the chair of House Judiciary, Jon Riki Karamatsu is Japanese. . But, oops, the previous chair was hapa haole (Tommy Waters). And the chair before that was Korean (Sylvia Luke). The leadership in the House has been more "top down" than in the Senate. Does this reflect "Confucian" or "mandarin" tendencies in Speaker Say?

Maybe one of you can apply your "Japanese political bloc" model to the struggle for HB444 and demonstrate how it provides useful insights which would be missed by someone like myself using a different model?

I think it tends to reinforce a crude, commonplace stereotype that the Legislature and the Democratic Party is controlled by the "AJA machine." As someone who is struggling within the Party to turn it towards serving progressive values, I gotta report that such a facile, unsubtle view is a poor guide to action and does not lead to edification. Ooops, I let slip some buddhism. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Kolea, nicely done! I want to read your blog.

Anonymous said...

it usually just takes a couple of facts to dispel crude stereotypes

Anonymous said...

"I think it tends to reinforce a crude, commonplace stereotype that the Legislature and the Democratic Party is controlled by the "AJA machine."

Don't get all PC on us Kolea. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... Do you actually believe there's equal power sharing?

Signed,
Yonsei from Kailua

Anonymous said...

"If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...."

Ah yes, the old progressive canard: Even if it's not factually true, it still "reflects" the truth so it's ok. It's a lie that speaks a "greater truth". So don't hold us to any facts.

Anonymous said...

"Ah yes, the old progressive canard: Even if it's not factually true, it still "reflects" the truth so it's ok."

Right. You mean like Bush etc. claiming Iraq had WMD?

Signed,
Yonsei from Kailua

Anonymous said...

No because the Bushies flat out lied and insisted iraq had wmds. This is different. This is: "well, maybe my facts are all wrong, but since it agrees with my opinion, it's as good as true anyway"

Anonymous said...

I won't even try to argue with that "logic." My facts aren't "all wrong" and you don't know anything about this except for what Kolea is saying. Why don't you butt out and let him answer my question -- Do you actually believe there's equal power sharing? LOL

Signed,
Yonsei from Kailua

Katy Rose said...

I appreciate Kolea's comments on this. I'm no expert on Hawai'i politics, but I tend to think that a more, rather than less, nuanced analysis yields more useful results.

One book I read recently which does offer some nuanced perspectives about political power in Hawai'i is "Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai'i," edited by Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura (U of H Press, 2008.)

I think one of the most compelling issues the book interrogates is the manner in which immigrant (and descendant) struggle against racism and labor exploitation in settler-colonial states impacts the Native communities.

Obviously, there are many complex questions involved.

But the least helpful analysis, in my view, is the one that I commonly hear here from haoles, including haole progressives: that there is some kind of problem with "brown privilege" in Hawai'i.

This is where perception comes in. My observation is that continental white ideas about race, racism and privilege are often quite confused upon arrival in Hawai'i, where for the first time, many of us live in a place where there are more people of color than white people in positions of bureaucratic and political influence.

Even though it has no appreciable impact on our health, wealth or freedom in Hawai'i, we have a tendency to interpret the conditions as racist against white people.

I think this is misguided and doesn't bode well for the building of effective progressive coalitions involving haoles alongside Native Hawaiians AND non-Hawaiian people of color in Hawaii.

Anonymous said...

1. stupid me was under the impression alotta the japanese in HI tended to lean GOP. guess not

2. but id appreciate an explanation as to the operative difference between "haole" and "malihini"

Dictionary: ma·li·hi·ni
(mä'lĭ-hē'nē) pronunciation

n. Hawaii., pl. -nis.

A newcomer to Hawaii.

[Hawaiian, stranger; akin to Tahitian manihini, visitor, guest, and Maori manuhiri, all perhaps ultimately from Proto-Polynesian *manu, bird (figuratively applied to humans).]

3. the only repetitive race-based harm ive seen towards whites in HI is the occasional race driven battery. it is what it is. it is not good, but not THAT big of a deal (relative to other HI problems). there more pressing issues for sure. in the public employment context, which some seem to focus on, the "race" factor is not as important as (a) contributions, (b) campaign work, (c) having a big family voting block, and (d) residence longevity (ie, you have been around long enough to know and be friends with key people). there are many small towns around the world where "job qualifications" are not of the import they should be

bougainville rules!

Anonymous said...

I knew it. All of you really have a lot of time on your hands, severe attention deficit disorders and some severely chronic ego unbalances.

Anonymous said...

to April 6, 2009 7:39 PM

-- nice. that was almost pretty funny

this is bougainville!

Anonymous said...

My facts aren't "all wrong" and you don't know anything about this except for what Kolea is saying. Why don't you butt out and let him answer my question -- Do you actually believe there's equal power sharing? LOL

According to Kolea's facts, HB444 was not derailed by any "Japanese power block." Are you disputing Kolea's facts? If not, then you are pushing that old progressive canard wherein even if your "facts" are not factually true, as long as they reflect your opinion, then they are as good as the truth.

Do you understand that it doesn't matter if there's "equal power sharing" because even if there isn't, it doesn't explain HB444?

"LOL"

Nisei said...

Seems "Yonsei" needs to learn he can have his own opinions, but not his own facts!

Katy Rose said...

"...you are pushing that old progressive canard wherein even if your 'facts' are not factually true, as long as they reflect your opinion, then they are as good as the truth."

I don't think progressives have cornered the market on this rhetorical device.

Anonymous said...

progressives are famous for reducing all problems to a few simple formulas. "Capitalism" "racism" ... and then they can't help themselves. Everything looks like their boogie man.

Polo said...

Hawaiian have a moral claim. But consider that immigrants invited by Hawaiians to come, blend in and develop Hawaii may also have a moral claim to be treated equally by natives.

Polo said...

Hawaiian have a moral claim. But consider that immigrants invited by Hawaiians to come, blend in and develop Hawaii may also have a moral claim to be treated equally by natives.

Anonymous said...

"Hawaiian have a moral claim. But consider that immigrants invited by Hawaiians to come, blend in and develop Hawaii may also have a moral claim to be treated equally by natives."

-- well put point

line of flight said...

If Reinstated Government believe the state government is not legitimate, they ought go to prison and be a political prisoner. The conscious attempt to transgress the laws of the State of Hawai'i and then raise a technical procedural/jurisdictional issue to get out of going jail, to me seems like a major case of ambivalence about the underlying claims. Gandhi, Mandela, MLKJr, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others have all spent time in prison for their part in liberating their people -- and I doubt Gandhi ever raised a jurisdictional issue when sent to jail by the viceroy.

Now, about this Japanese bloc thing. It is possible to run a shogunate without a Japanese presiding as Shogun just as its possible to follow the English common law without the House of Lords being the court of last resort! Human beings are creatures of habit.

Dawson said...

> progressives are famous for reducing all problems to a few simple formulas. "Capitalism" "racism" ... and then they can't help themselves. Everything looks like their boogie man. <

Yeah, and Rush Limbaugh is Rene Descartes.

=P

Kolea said...

@LOF,

Your comment:

"possible to have a shogunate without a Japanese shogun" SOUNDS insightful, but I think it evades the question. What makes a Japanese term, like "shogunate," a useful term for describing Hawaii politics? That suggests there is something in Japanese culture responsible for our political problems. Are politics in the Philippines more admirable or more democratic than Japanese politics?

Are the political problems of Hawaii more comparable to pre-Meiji Japanese politics than to politics in other states on the US mainland?

This is getting ridiculous. Let it go already.

line of flight said...

Kolea, why would you immediately attack my comment about the dominant form of political organization in Hawai'i politics by comparing Japanese politics to Philippine politics or Hawai'i politics to "the mainland"?

There are many characteristics of a shogunate in Hawai'i politics -- the distribution of land and rents to loyal samurai, power is exercised at a place other than the symbolic seat of the king, etc.,. I also think Chenise Kanemoto's journal article on bushido and lawyering is an excellent way of looking at the validity of this metaphor. Your calling it silly and attempting to avoid look at how it fits and doesn't fit, is not logical and not objective. I was able to google a version of her piece:

http://www.innsofcourt.org/Content/Default.aspx?Id=975

Kolea said...

LOF,

I skimmed the article about the similarities of bushido and lawyering. I thought it was silly. The author agrees bushido and western conceptions of chivalry share some common attributes, but rather than trace the feudal origins of western lawyering to the European courts, she gets all trendy and uses the virtues of bushido instead.

This is similar to what I was grumbling about with your, and other's, talk about a Japanese power bloc. Why insist upon using Japanese cultural explanations when the problems in the Legislature can easily be explained in terms of the problems of a professional political class dependent upon financial underwriting from the private sector in an atrophied democracy?

Perhaps you are not aware of the easy tendency of haoles in Hawaii to lump all Japanese Democrats into an undifferentiated "political machine," with the companion assumption that it is haole politicians who are the antidote to the Hawaii's unhealthy "political culture." Both rightwing and "progressive" haoles tend to suffer from this mental habit and it impairs building multi-ethnic alliances.

Ms. Kanemoto's metaphor may allow her to popularize aspects of Japanese culture to an Anglo audience and impress her readership with her erudition. And a reference to bushido may help her situate herself within the legal profession by seeing legal virtues as being similar to traditional samurai virtues.

I say this as someone whose political tactics are sometimes influenced by the aikido I learned as a kid.

But to use the aesthetic appeal of her metaphor to reinforce very unsubtle racist interpretations of Hawaii's politics is not charming to me. But perhaps I will refer folks to her essay the next time I hear some haole complain that "the Japs run everything here."

Since you seem determined to not let the subject go, I will let go of my end instead.

Joan said...

Kolea wrote:
Perhaps you are not aware of the easy tendency of haoles in Hawaii to lump all Japanese Democrats into an undifferentiated "political machine," with the companion assumption that it is haole politicians who are the antidote to the Hawaii's unhealthy "political culture." Both rightwing and "progressive" haoles tend to suffer from this mental habit and it impairs building multi-ethnic alliances.

You're way off base here, Kolea, and in the process making "very unsubtle racist interpretations of Hawaii's politics" of your own. I've heard the belief in a Japanese-American political power bloc voiced by people of all races, including Japanese. And no one has ever expressed the "companion assumption" that haole politicians are the antidote. Instead, they talk about things like campaign financing reform and greater openness and transparency in the political process.

You seem determined to ignore the fact that this persistent belief was at least initially rooted in reality. Whether that has actually changed or not isn't entirely clear, despite your valiant attempts to debunk it. Denying it, and characterizing it as a racist belief held by haoles, isn't going to do much to build "multi-ethnic alliances" or turn the Party toward "progressive values."

Kolea said...

Joan, I'm sorry if I offended you, but I don't see anything I said which approaches being racist, subtle or otherwise.

Because people from different ethnic groups explain Hawaii politics by reference to ethnic power blocs does not mean such explanations are either accurate or can serve as a useful guide to practical politics.

I am fully aware a lot of our legislators are Japanese. I would agree we cannot have a complete understanding of Hanabusa, Taniguchi, Ihara, or Karamatsu is we ignore their "Japaneseness."

What I reject is that such a model provides insights which will increase our effectiveness as political activists. Look at the one attempt on this thread to apply it in this way. Andy Parx, whose blog I read regularly and who often provides sharp insights, suggests we cannot understand the way Hawaiians have been "strung along" unless we understand the historical "Japanese-Hawaiian animosities."

A couple of quick questions:

1) What actions does such a reading prescribe for us? Elect fewer Japanese? More Hawaiians?

2) If there were fewer Japanese in the legislature, maybe with more Chinese, haoles, Filipinos, Portuguese, etc, does anyone think the state would be dealing with the Hawaiians in a more forthright and fair manner?

Perhaps if there were more Hawaiians, this would be true, but I don't see how we learn anything by blaming inaction on an animosity between Japanese and Hawaiians.

Hawaii is a colonized place, where the indigenous people adopted a centralized government which was then overthrown by the largely haole merchant class in collusion with a sector of the US government. Since that overthrow, it has been populated by recent colonists from North America, but before that, by tens of thousands of Asians brought in as plantation workers.

The descendants of those plantation workers feel they have contributed to the building of Hawaii and have developed an ownership stake in their home. That is not simply a "Japanese" attitude. That is the general non-Hawaiian "local" attitude which is difficult to resolve with the strong claim of indigenous Hawaiians.

I think my explanation is more useful than Andy's proposed explanation. YMMV.

I find it interesting how several of your posters disagree with me, but seem to have very different understandings of what they are trying to say when they speak of "Japanese political power." Yonsei seems to hold the clearest view when he asks if the Japanese are willing to share power equally. That implies the Japanese are engaged in "clannish" or "exclusivist" ethnic politics, looking out for their own interests, promoting the interests (and careers?) of other Japanese, while seeking to block the interests of non-Japanese.

Line of Flight offers up the possibility of Hawaii's politics being run like a "shogunate." It is unclear if he is suggesting Japanese politicians have managed to construct social and political institutions based upon a model they have held by virtue of their Japanese culture and these structures, once established, can not be populated by non-Japanese personnel. A kind of "japonismo sin japones."

To help understand the utility of such an interpretation, he directs us to an essay written by a young Japanese American attorney(?), who finds parallels between the responsibilities of western attorneys and the old samurai code of virtues known as bushido.

I find the essay helpful, because it demonstrates so clearly that LoF and I are engaged in very different projects. I am trying to understand the various factors impacting the passage (or non-passage) of legislation and when someone says there is a "Japanese power bloc" which prevents the Lege from pursuing justice, I am looking for either Japanese politicians, or uniquely Japanese values, traditions as factors explaining behavior. If someone notices common features in western jurisprudence and medieval Japanese chivalry, while pointing out there were no Japanese people or values directly involved in the formation of western law, I would conclude there are common features in different societies and were should look for the specific factors common to comparable social formations RATHER than looking to ethnic explanations.

You object to my repeated references to haole attitudes about Japanese politicians. I don't deny other groups are also prone to ethnic-based arguments. But I am dealing with the people on your blog, on this thread and, more broadly, to those in Hawaii who write blogs on political (and environmental) issues and to those who post comments on them when I caution against "haole progressives" succumbing to such analyses.

From what I can tell, you, Andy Parx, Katy Rose and I are haoles. LoF is, I believe, part haole/part Filipino. I don't know about the anonymous others. If you have not already done so, reflect on who is writing the other political and environmental blogs. Almost all haoles. Is this significant? If there are non-haoles reading this, I don't think they are incapable of also deciding whether what i am saying is accurate or not.

Finally (yaayyy!), you say I "seem determined to ignore" the historical basis of this claim. Not at all. We can get into a very lengthy discussion of the way the haole oligarchy very early on coopted significant segments of the Hawaiian population in to the Republican ruling bloc for the first half of the 20th century. We can talk about Wilikoki, the decline of the Homerule Party and the rise of Kuhio, how the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act gave the Big Five access to cheap leases on government lands, how the Democratic Party gained most of its impetus from an alliance of the plantation workers, combined with returned AJA war veterans seeking opportunity in a haole-dominated economy and why the Hawaiians often aligned themselves with the haole oligarchs and against plantation workers. We can talk about how the successes of the labor movement and the Democratic Party has created created a "post-plantation" generation of young, often "Yonsei" people who have no appreciation of the importance of either unions or a progressive Democratic Party, preferring instead to be consumers in a globalized economy. We can talk about the post-statehood influx of haoles, some of whom have started to join the Democratic Party because of their views on national and international issues, but who have a hard time understanding or cooperating with "local" Democrats, including, most particularly, local Japanese Democrats, who the malihini too easily see as part of an "old boy" "political machine." It frustrates me when they turn to the blogoshere to better understand what is going on, only to see their prejudices reinforced.

I never claimed those who decry the "Japanese political power bloc" follow up with an explicit call for the election of haole politicians. I am speaking instead of behavior I have observed over the years. A haole politician says a few buzz words about reform and haoles vote for him, as against "the machine." Voters don't spend much time following the legislature, so I guess i cannot blame them too much for not being able to differentiate between a Les Ihara and a Cal Kawamoto, a Randy Iwase and a Roy Takumi. Too many haoles see a Japanese Democrat and reflexively assume that person is part of the problem.

And THAT interferes with building a multi-ethnic, progressive political movement.

Meanwhile, I am engaged in the practical political work trying to convince Senators to pass the Civil Unions bill and do not find the "Japanese power bloc" talk to be helpful in the least.

(If we are tired of beating up on the Japanese, maybe someone can offer some nuanced cultural insights as to why the "Filipino power bloc" in the legislature has been so consolidated in opposition to equality for gay couples. Except for Gil Keith-Agaron and Della Au Belatti, all the Filipinos have opposed the bill.)

And, no, I am not trying to inflame passions against the Filipinos.

Andy Parx said...

Alright- drag me back in. What I was getting at, more importantly than asking if the remnants of the Japanese Democratic power elite that began in the 50’s is over, is how the ethic animosities between Japanese and Hawaiian communities informs conflicts at the legislature- even if they are in some ways related to the partisan politics.

Perhaps for all you book learnin’ perhaps Kolea you don’t know about the Japanese Hawaiian relationships- not politically but person to person. It isn’t your normal cerebrate diversity” ethnic relationship in the islands. I’m wondering how much this is present in the lege. It has not seemingly diminished very much at the local level as far I as can see even though this generation probably cannot remember what their grandparents were fighting about.

For all the “mixed” marriages in the islands how many Japanese-Hawaiian do you see?

You’re painting the haole as a bloc where actually it’s a class-divided community- many haole were eventually (by the late 70’s) part of the 50’s Japanese bloc- when they became the power elite the rich haoles joined them, while the more progressive haoles- and even some young Japanese- fought them.

I’m wondering if this informs any part of the ceded lands issue. Sure there are people in both groups that have transcended it but that is a distraction from the question I’m asking so don’t paint the question as an “all” this or “all” that.

kolea said...

@Andy,

I don't pretend to know much about the dynamics of inter-racial marriage in Hawaii. If I were to comment, I'd like to have some data, both from today and from the past, before saying anything. I will share my impression that local Japanese as a group have had a tendency not to intermarry with any other group, not just Hawaiians. When it does happen, it tends to be a Japanese woman with a haole man. (I suppose we could turn the question around and ask why haole women don't seem to be dating/marrying local Japanese men?)

Given the occasional comments on this blog recognizing Hawaii as a colonized place, I am surprised you do not try on THAT paradigm to explain the inaction on ceded lands. The Hawaiian people have a unique claim as the indigenous inhabitants of these islands. It is approximately true that these islands belonged to them and were stolen from them in violation of international law, treaties between the US and the Kingdom of Hawaii and in violation of the US's own laws.

I say "approximately" because not all subjects of the Kingdom were native Hawaiians, yet I believe whatever debt is owed is to people of Hawaiian ancestry, not all descendants of Hawaiian subjects. And 2), forgive my anti-monarchist tendencies, I am not comfortable saying the Hawaiian people "owned" the Hawaiian Islands before the overthrow. I think the Hawaiian monarchy had aspects which were "benevolent" but it was also an instrument of class domination which facilitated the alienation of the land from Hawaiian commoners. Different monarchs played different roles in all this. I think the Great Mahele was a serious mistake, but I think it revealed a willingness of the King and alii to look after their own interests while sacrificing those of the people.

I have great respect for David Kalakaua's efforts to revive Hawaiian culture and resist the designs of the sugar planter/ merchant crowd to wrest more and more power from him AND the Hawaiian people.

And I respect Liliuokalani's valiant efforts to re-write the Bayonnet Constitution in favor of one more respectful of Hawaiian rights and her resistance to the Honolulu Rifle/USS Boston armed overthrow.

Having said all that, the Mahele WAS adopted by the legitimate government of Hawaii, the government of Liliuokalani was the legitimate Queen and was illegally overthrown. The moral, and legal claims, of native Hawaiians have not been distinguished by Hawaii's annexation as a territory or incorporation as the 50th State.

Non-Hawaiian residents of the islands, especially those whose families have lived and toiled in these islands, rising against some pretty oppressive conditions themselves, also feel an ownership of this place and would like a clearer idea of what remedy Hawaiians are seeking before jumping on board. This doesn't have to be rooted in an ethnic "animosity" against Hawaiians as you propose.

Hawaiians cannot provide a clear answer, because there is no clear consensus among them and the range of opinions, from complete independence under an ethnicly Hawaiian government, to a nation-within-a nation with control over 9or income from) the "ceded lands"--these proposals suggest a heck of a lot of "moving the furniture around" in contemporary life in Hawaii.

What happens to people's title to their land (usually just under their home)? Will parts of the islands be governed by political bodies controlled only by native Hawaiians? There are a lot of questions, with very few clear answers.

I happen to think the Akaka Bill, designed to set up a process to allow Hawaiians to pick their own leaders to develop and attain consensus on their demands, is the best next step for clarifying things. Obviously, some Hawaiians, and some haoles, are adamantly opposed to the bill.

So this process has not advanced through the Lege or through Congress. You think Japanese are resistant, perhaps because of this alleged animosity. Do you think other non-Hawaiian locals are more supportive? Fifth generation Chinese, Portuguese? Third generation Filipinos or Korean?

You accused me of "booklearning." But perhaps it is YOU who should get out more and talk with other local people about their feelings on justice for Native Hawaiians AND their own identification with Hawaii as their home.

Finally, you wrote:

"...many haole were eventually (by the late 70’s) part of the 50’s Japanese bloc- when they became the power elite, the rich haoles joined them...."

WOT! The Japanese became "the power elite" in Hawaii? What year did that happen? Then the "rich haoles joined THEM"?

Dude, dude, dude.

I gotta assume that was a carelessly crafted statement and doesn't reflect your real views on power in Hawaii. Perhaps you meant something different by "power elite" than what C. Wright Mills meant? Perhaps you just mean "there were a lot of elected officials of Japanese descent"?

If we measure the "power elite" by those OWNING the largest corporations, top law firms, major media, landholdings, the power did not shift from local haoles to local Japanese. Yeah, local Japanese made some inroads on the haole control, but only small ones. If anything, power shifted to outside corporate bosses and financial institutions, some from Japan, but many more from North America, plus some from Hong Kong, Australia, Europe.

More and more, the local "elite", both in the corporate world and political world, have become "errand boys" for Big Capital from outside. To the extent "local capitol" has any power, I would suggest it is probably still mostly haole controlled, but that would make a good project for Hawaii progressives:

"WHO RULES HAWAII?"

And how do we prove or disprove any claims of that sort?

We can have a project on each island. Who folks can take charge of "WHO RULES KAUAI?"

To what extend are there any vestiges of old "kamaaina haole" ownership still present? Is "ownership" the same as "power" or are there significant differences?

Who is setting the agenda for the island's future? Landowners, developers, politicians, investment huis, planning agencies, commissions, media, bloggers?

Andy Parx said...

Yup- should have said political power.

Joan said...

I suppose we could turn the question around and ask why haole women don't seem to be dating/marrying local Japanese men?As a haole woman who had one local Japanese husband and three local Japanese boyfriends, and can name at least two dozen other women who were/are similarly paired, I have to say, they are, at least on Kauai.