Plebiscite Summarized

May 21, 2009
By

Assigning credit where credit is due, I am obliged to give Mr. Conklin his due for the development of a story based on correspondences between the U.N., the Department of State and the U.S. Congress that I’ve been discussing regarding Hawaii’s plebiscite and its controversial removal from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

In my earlier posting of the “Statehood Plebiscite,” I asserted that rather than the traditional story of how 94% of the voters voted for statehood, an alternative approach towards those numbers indicates that only 35% of eligible voters “actively sought statehood.”

In the outline, I suggested that the 1959 Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, and the Fourth Committee in charge of Non-Self-Governing Territories ignored Hawaii’s statistical data, submitted as a condition of being listed as a NSGT mandated by Chapter XI, Article 73e of the the U.N. Charter. Similar submitted data revealing demographic statistics was applied to the removal of South Africa and was rejected by the Fourth Committee and Trygvie Lie, the U.N. Secretary-General in 1949. Ten years later, in 1959, the U.N., neglecting Hawaii’s plebiscite data allowed for the removal of Hawaii from the list and suggests collaboration with the U.S. This neglect also disregards UNGAR 742, “Factors which should be taken into account in deciding whether a territory is or is not a territory whose people haven not yet attained a full measure of self government (1953).

Through key correspondence between the UN, the State Department and the Senate, specifically, between Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Francis O. Wilcox (International Organization), and Senator Knowland in 1954, but also through Arnold V. Kunst (Acting Director, Division of Information from Non-Self-Governing Territories, United Nations), Bolard More (Office of Dependent Area Affairs, Department of State, United States Mission to the United Nations, and others) another picture of Hawaii’s statehood process emerges.

What is revealed through State Department records and Congressional testimony is that during the meetings at Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco, Hawaii and Alaska were placed on a list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. This was before the United Nations had been formalized and before the election of a U.N. Secretary-General. Instead, presiding over those meetings were U.S. Secretaries of State Cordell Hull and Edward Stettenius. What we are told by Sen. Vandenberg, one of the senators observing these international discussions, is that Hawaii and Alaska were listed as “incorporated” territories, rather than “unincorporated” territories, territories that were in process of becoming states and held in different status from Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and at the time, Panama Canal Zone. The reason Hawaii and Alaska were listed was as a sign of good faith, according to John Foster Dulles, and was to show the other member nations that the United States was serious to set the example for decolonization.

The problem as described in the previous article, is that the United Nations never recognized a difference between “incorporated” and “unincorporated” territories, hence the controversy that has arisen. Also of note, is that of the seven U.S. territories listed for decolonization, Puerto Rico was the only U.S. territory as having been properly removed from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Also, out of the 72 countries listed total, more than 60 have attained independence through the United Nations decolonization process, a stark contradiction to the good example the United States had originally set out to demonstrate.

The plebiscite vote and the reading of the data simply shows two approaches toward the use of direct democracy: One being the value in which the state would ensure the greatest effect by calling for a 94% landslide victory; the other being the value in which the United Nations sought to ensure that the majority of an indigenous population participated and was properly represented.

Although there is no smoking gun proving direct collaboration between the U.S. and the U.N. in regard for its predetermined removal from the NSGT list, and no direct conversation between Henry Cabot Lodge, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., and Dag Hammarskjold, there is at least enough correspondence to suggest that the process of Hawaii’s removal was predetermined as far back as 1944. This does not seek to offer a legal dismissal of Hawaii’s claims towards decolonization, only an attempted explanation as to why there had been no discussion by the United Nations over the misrepresenting data of Hawaii’s 1959 plebiscite.

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25 Responses to Plebiscite Summarized

  1. orban_nees on May 24, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Just saw this posting, and was going to comment on that site, but could not register. However, the writer of this: http://lihinglemon.geekuniversalis.com/2009/05/23/hawaii-statehood-vote/ has a very low opinion of the role the United Nations has played on the development of the world and I would like to remind the writer that more than 60 nations of the world received their independence as a result of this United Nations resolution.

    It seems that most Americans unfamiliar with the United Nations think that the UN plays some secondary position to the United States, which it does often concede to. The problem is that internationally binding agreements are in the international courts, binding.

    It’s true that more likely than not, countries will choose not to intercede militarily because the UN was created as a international Peace Pact, and not an international police force. For example, countries did not intercede against the US with the occupation of Iraq, but the truth of the matter is that the US lost a lot of credibility in the international community. The US also lost a lot of credibility by not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. The results of these blunders are significant, and thankfully, Obama and this administration, understands the importance of a strong, cohesive United Nations.

    Anyway, in agreement, the point is not to over-determine the use of the UN, but it’s also wise not to under-estimate the legitimacy and influence of the UN.

    As a side note, one of the problems is that UN history is not really taught in schools here. It is taught in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, and probably in all the countries that received their independence as a result of the UN.

  2. Jere Krischel on May 25, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    It seems that the matter is rather cut and dried -> in 1959 there was an election, 94% voted in favor of statehood, and the U.N. correctly recognized the plebiscite as binding and removed Hawaii from the non-self governing territories list. To imply some sort of conspiracy, however lightly the implication is made, is a disservice to the native Hawaiians who fought long and hard for Statehood. Prince Kuhio, who fought in the failed 1895 counter-revolution against the Republic of Hawaii, someone who could be truly called a patriotic subject of the Kingdom of Hawaii, someone who risked life and limb for his convictions, saw Statehood as a prime goal of his political career in the Territory of Hawaii. Although there were certainly fringe voices in the community in 1959 that decried statehood, the vast majority, as evidenced by the representative ballot (note, we don’t live in a direct democracy, we have a republic with some democratic traditions), were strongly in favor of statehood…and had been for over 60 years.

    As a State of the Union, from 1959 on we have had universal suffrage for everyone 18 and over, and if there was any real political impulse on the part of the people of Hawaii to secede, it would have presented itself through the electorate. This is simply not the case, of course.

    I guess the real question is this -> take the conspiracy at face value, let us imagine for a moment that there was some back door deal at the U.N. -> what possible remedy could anyone suggest? The people of the State of Hawaii are the same people who were a part of the Territory of Hawaii, and the same people who were part of the Republic of Hawaii, and the Kingdom of Hawaii before that. Would we have another referendum, to dot the legal i’s and cross the legal t’s? Or do the people framing these questions believe that the sovereignty of the multi-racial citizens of the State of Hawaii should be subject to the whims of radical royalists and race-based sovereignty activists?

    Certainly interesting history, but I wonder what the ulterior motive is.

  3. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 8:26 am

    “Also, out of the 72 countries listed total, more than 60 have attained independence through the United Nations decolonization process, a stark contradiction to the good example the United States had originally set out to demonstrate.”

    Why is that in contradiction? The good example the United States set was that of allowing the people of a territory to determine their own fate, and to govern themselves. This happened in both Alaksa and Hawaii, even if they didn’t choose independence. Asserting that “independence” is a more desirable outcome than Statehood is a value judgment that is inappropriate to make.

  4. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 8:32 am

    “the other being the value in which the United Nations sought to ensure that the majority of an indigenous population participated and was properly represented.”

    Now you get to the race-based meat of the matter -> the definition of “indigenous” by a one-drop rule is simply a proxy for race-based nobility. The people “indigenous” to the Hawaiian Islands before annexation was a polyglot multi-racial and multi-cultural mix. The unification of the Hawaiian islands was accomplished by a multi-racial coalition. The 1840 constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii declared all people “of one blood.” Asserting that the japanese, chinese, filipino and haole people who had lived in Hawaii for generations before 1959 were somehow not “indigenous” is simply an excuse for ethnic cleansing.

    It’s also quite clear that a majority of the “indigenous” population, by whatever measure you use, did vote in favor of statehood. From as far back as the days of Prince Kuhio in the Territory of Hawaii, a vast majority of people with pre-1778 ancestry wanted Statehood. Going further back, in 1854 Kamehameha III was trying to get annexed to the United States, and had he lived to sign the treaty he negotiated, we may have been the 49th state. 1959 was the culmination of the dreams of the indigenous people of Hawaii.

  5. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

    “there is at least enough correspondence to suggest that the process of Hawaii’s removal was predetermined as far back as 1944.”

    And that’s a problem, why? Hawaii had vied for Statehood from the very beginning of annexation. You could go so far as to say that Statehood was predetermined by people like Prince Kuhio as far back as 1903 -> this does not invalidate the process, nor the final outcome.

  6. arnie on May 26, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Jere, one could argue that it is a “value judgment” to assert that independence is more desirable than statehood, but what is of discussion is that the option for independence is a “right.”

    In the discussion that frames and prioritizes the UN Charter and international law, the right to choose independence is what was missing from the plebiscite. It is not whether statehood has been good for many and poor for some–that is the value judgment–the argument that has been posed is that, “given that the statehood process did not comply with international law in 1959, doesn’t Hawai’i have the right to pursue the fulfillment of obligations granted to us under international law, today?”

  7. arnie on May 26, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Regarding issues of indigeneity, I’d like to point out that the United Nations, overwhelmingly passed the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on Sept 13th 2007.

    The vote was 143 countries in favor, four against, and 11 abstaining. The four member states that voted against were Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, each of which have significant indigenous populations. The abstaining countries were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine; and another 34 member states were absent from the vote.

    Now for you to suggest that the majority of the world upholding principles and rights of indigeneity are in favor of “ethnic cleansing” is I’m sure, meant to be hyperbole. However, the rights signified by the U.N. vote, albeit not legally binding, signifies “an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet’s 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation.”

    Now the question that begs examination is, “has statehood been good for Hawaiians?”

    That is not an answer that I am qualified to answer, but I am listening to those native Hawaiians who speak to that matter, and although there is much debate between them, the common points are binding, namely: 1893, there was an illegal overthrow; 1897, a protest by native Hawaiians to Congress against annexation; 1898, a resolution merely claiming annexation which is not the same as a legitimate Constitutional annexation; and in 1959, a statehood plebiscite, which was improperly implemented to determine the rightful options for removal from the list of the UN list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

    Now, to set the record straight because I seem to be facilitating an anti-statehood position, which I’m not, but I think it’s important to recognize what is important for all Americans to recognize.

    Junot Diaz reminds us, “There is always a cost for someone to be somewhere. I know that my presence in the United States as an immigrant is predicated on the catastrophic suffering and the catastrophic sacrifices of the indigenous community here… you don’t love a country by turning a blind eye to its crimes and to a problem, the way that you love a country is by seeing everything it’s done wrong, all of its mistakes, and still thinking that its beautiful, and that its worthy. My greatest responsibility is to ackowledge the mistakes and the short-comings of the country in which I live, to acknowledge my priviledges and to try to make it a better place. In fact, looking at the darkest sides of the United States has only made me appreciate the things that we do right, the things that we do beautifully. We are for all of our mistakes, all of our crimes, a remarkable place…”

    Here by the way, is a list of the Non-Self-Governing Territories and the result of those countries being on the list: http://statehoodhawaii.org/hist/nsgt.html

  8. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    “given that the statehood process did not comply with international law in 1959, doesn’t Hawai’i have the right to pursue the fulfillment of obligations granted to us under international law, today?”

    Of course Hawai’i has the right to pursue any course it wishes -> but it is constrained by the rights of the citizens of Hawai’i to choose that themselves, not have it foisted upon them by obscure legal scholarship. One cannot reasonably stand as a proxy for the people of Hawaii in any international venue, without being the duly elected or appointed representatives of the State of Hawaii.

    So, given that the State of Hawaii has functioned de facto as the government of the people, by the people and for the people since 1959, do any international lawyers have the right to strip them of their accepted government?

  9. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    “Regarding issues of indigineity, I’d like to point out that the United Nations, overwhelmingly passed the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on Sept 13th 2007.”

    And in doing so, has helped foster a progressive culture of racism, ethnic cleansing and rule by bloodline. We are all indigenous to this earth, and to assert that on the basis of “some small fraction of my ancient ancestors got here first” one may lay claim to special rights and privileges within a certain geographic area, is racism, pure and simple. It cannot possibly exist peaceably with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and is a stain on the institution and serves only to enshrine racism into the hearts and minds of others.

  10. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    “Now the question that begs examination is, “has statehood been good for Hawaiians?” ”

    By any definition of “Hawaiians”, be it pre-1778 one-drop ancestry, or inclusive of all the people who are truly “indigenous” to the islands (as such ethnic mixes have never existed anywhere else in the world), statehood has been wonderful. We are the only 1st world state in the entire pacific, and this is not simply a lucky coincidence -> even our most poor and downtrodden in Hawaii, of all races, creeds and colors, are much better off than most middle class islanders throughout the pacific. We enjoy better health, wealth, education and freedom than any other pacific island nation, and the threat of race-based sovereignty aside, we have been a shining example for the entire world on integration and embracing all people as equal.

  11. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    “I know that my presence in the United States as an immigrant is predicated on the catastrophic suffering and the catastrophic sacrifices of the indigenous community here”

    And this can be said of the Tahitians that conquered the original Marquesans before 1778. And of course, it can be said of any set of people who have suffered and fought for the freedoms available to us in the U.S. today.

    My only problem is when we are myopic in terms of “suffering” and “sacrifices”, and come to the conclusion that such things can be inherited by blood, and become the basis for special privileges over others. If we are truly to visit the sins of the father upon all their progeny throughout the ages, all of us are victims, and all of us are victimizers. We cannot blithely decide that the only suffering that matters is that based on one-drop blood quantum, and that such suffering entitles future generations to differential treatment under the law.

    The fact of the matter is that the Japanese, Chinese and Filipino suffered and sacrificed during the Kingdom and Territorial period, having the right to vote stripped from them in 1887, having the lowest pay scales on the plantations (underneath the “indigenous” native Hawaiians, haoles and portuguese), and being treated as 2nd class citizens until the bravery of the 442nd in WWII. The fact that the native Hawaiian royal family lost the use of the crown lands which were converted to public lands for all the people of Hawaii seems to pale in comparison to the suffering and sacrifice made by the immigrant laborers who came and helped build Hawaii into the multi-racial State it is today.

    That being said, if we are going to speak of suffering, it should be on an individual basis, not a race-based basis -> I certainly wouldn’t expect to give reparations to recent Japanese immigrants based on the suffering of specific families during the internment of Japanese in the US during WWII. If there are in fact individual families in Hawaii that have legitimate grievances that should be adjudicated, they should be done so on an individual basis -> but just because some pre-1778 immigrant suffered or sacrificed does not mean all of them did, or that all of their progeny today should have superior privileges to their neighbors, peers, cousins, aunts, uncles, wives, husbands and children.

  12. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    “the rights signified by the U.N. vote, albeit not legally binding, signifies “an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet’s 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalisation.””

    The only way you can combat “discrimination and marginalisation” is to treat people as equal under the law. You cannot combat it by discriminating or marginalizing in the other direction. To think that by eliminating the principle of individual human rights, and enshrining a concept of “group rights” that we are doing anything but creating more discrimination and marginalization is foolish.

    To think that there are 370 million people on this planet, that by the mere fact of their bloodline deserve some special status or special privileges over others in specific geographic areas (or perhaps wherever they may decide to emigrate to), is racist, pure and simple. One might as well create a “Declaration of Rights of Green Eyed people”, or a “Declaration of Rights of People with Diabetic Ancestors”.

    Let me be very clear -> this is not hyperbole at all -> stating that a specific group of humans have special privileges that other humans do not have is wrong, evil, racist, and shall be opposed by all people who believe in equality and civil rights.

  13. arnie on May 26, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I don’t know how to respond to this rose-colored outlook that statehood has only been good for Hawaii, other than by paying attention to Hawaii’s prisons, homeless and mental health statistics, drug abuse, health and wealth disparities, and history of displacement and racism. I again urge you to listen to the voices that at least try to represent the vast numbers who are marginalised and displaced. Their voices will reveal why change is necessary and that holding on to outdated paradigms and economic strategies is both desperate and fearful.

    Current state policies bode well for some, but the future as determined by this administration is not without critical examination– particularly when it comes to sustainablity, population, water, healthcare, land-use development, tourism, etc…

    Also, I do not understand how one can refer to the United Nations as “obscure legal scholarship?” Is it obscure because you’ve never ventured there, or it wasn’t taught in your high school? Information is easily accessed, fairly straightforward to read, has led to the independence of over 1 billion of the world’s population, and has been instrumental to the relative world peace and progress that we’ve lived in since WWII.

  14. Jere Krischel on May 26, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Hawaii’s prisons, homeless and mental health statistics, drug abuse, health and wealth disparities are still preferable to 3rd world conditions in other pacific nations. As for a “history of displacement,” you’d have to be more specific -> AFAIK, from the Great Mahele and Kuleana Act on, private land ownership was open to one and all, and if anyone was “displaced” it was because ali’i gave land to people like the Robinson family, or sold it to folks like Lanai. In regards to racism, given “kill haole day,” it seems we’re only stoking the flames of racism when we assert to people with a single drop of pre-1778 blood that they should not take personal responsibility, but instead can simply scapegoat white people.

    “Also, I do not understand how one can refer to the United Nations as “obscure legal scholarship?”

    I was referring to the particularly obscure notion of challenging the removal of Hawaii from the list of non-self-governing territories. The UN position on Hawaii was clear in 1959, and is clear now. The position that somehow there was a conspiracy at the UN, and that their position is either invalid or needs to be revisited, is seriously obscure, and more to the point, non-adjudicable, since there is no court, or plaintiff with any standing that could take up the case.

    “Information is easily accessed, fairly straightforward to read,”

    Yes, if one reads it straightforwardly. If one twists and angles to somehow undermine the plain meaning of words, or intents of actions, it is no longer straightforward.

    Whether or not you agree with the current state policies, or the current administration of the state, you must agree that the power is in the hands of the people -> they vote, elect, appoint, and serve as members of their own government. Nothing is stopping anyone within the State of Hawaii from challenging policy, law or procedure. However, the ability to make that challenge does not guarantee that it will change -> you have to deal with the other millions of people who may have a different opinion than your own.

    The simple fact of the matter is that from 1810 to the present day, Hawaii has continued to grow and progress forward, with the common person enjoying more rights, freedoms, wealth, health and happiness with each passing generation. If you had to trade today for being a kauwa in 1778, or a Chinese laborer in 1887, or a Japanese storeowner in 1915, or a haole in 1967, I’m sure you’d resist with all your power. The thought that some obscure conspiracy theory regarding the UN’s removal of Hawaii from a list could possibly make a material difference in the existing self-governance in Hawaii is surely tilting at windmills.

  15. arnie on May 26, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    The world is moving forward in a direction that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. The question is not how to further alienate those who are afraid of change or resistant to shifts in the political, economic or spiritual health, but to engage them in dialogue whereby change is inclusive and not exclusive.

    Unfortunately, there are many on all sides that seek punishment as a outmoded form of justice, but as an icon of righteousness, peace and forgiveness, we have as a model of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Lili’uokalani who chose peace in the belief that in time, justice would be served and her Kingdom and people would be restored.

    What that restoration is and how that will look will not be determined by simply you or me. It will not look like 1893 or 1898, it will not look like 1959. Rather it will look like the 21st century and it will be determined by the righteous efforts of those who just might prioritize justice over status, sustainability over capitalism, pono, aloha, ohana, maluhia me ka pono, laulima, priniciples that strive towards health rather than sickness. When you ask about Hawaii’s export, why not export these principles? These principles will lead to a more vibrant community and economy, and they seem more relevant than the military or commercial real estate.

    These are exciting times.

    World News
    Native rights declaration challenges ‘settler’ nations
    By Haider Rizvi
    Updated May 25, 2009 – 12:43:51 PM

    UNITED NATIONS, May 6 (IPS) – The United States is considering whether
    to endorse a major U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for the
    recognition of the rights of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples over
    their lands and resources.

    “The position on [this issue] is under review,” Patrick Ventrell,
    spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the U.N., told IPS about the Barack
    Obama administration’s stance on the non-binding U.N. Declaration on the
    Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Approved by a vast majority of the U.N. member states in September
    2007, the General Assembly resolution on the declaration was rejected by the
    George W. Bush administration over indigenous leaders’ argument that no
    economic or political power has the right to exploit their resources without
    seeking their “informed consent.”

    Three other “settler nations” of European descent, namely Canada, New
    Zealand and Australia, also voted against the declaration, which states that
    indigenous peoples have the right to maintain their cultures and remain on
    their land.

    However, last month, the new left-leaning government in Canberra
    reversed its position, announcing support for the declaration.

    “We show our respect for indigenous peoples,” said Jenny Macklin, a
    member of the Australian parliament. “We show our faith in a new era of
    relations between states and indigenous peoples in good faith.”

    The new government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has also offered an
    apology to the indigenous communities who suffered at the hands of European
    settlers for decades.

    Indigenous rights activists in the United States say they want the new
    liberal democratic government in Washington to make a similar move to
    address the grievances of native communities who have long been subjected to
    abuse and discrimination.

    “The U.S. [should] become a resolute supporter of the U.N. Declaration
    on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” argued James Polk, who writes for
    Foreign Policy in Focus, a progressive periodical published by the Institute
    for Policy Studies in Washington.

    “It’s a comprehensive document that affirms that indigenous peoples
    are equal to all other peoples, and that, in the exercise of their rights,
    they should be free from their discrimination,” he added.

    The declaration reflects growing concerns of aboriginal communities
    about the continued exploitation of their resources and suppression of their
    cultural vales and practices by commercial concerns and governments that are
    alien to their cultures.

    According to many scientists, the traditional knowledge and
    cooperation of indigenous communities are vital elements in the global fight
    against climate change and loss of biodiversity.

    During his election campaign, President Obama repeatedly said that he
    cared about the issues facing Native American communities and insisted that
    they could trust him – pledges that are now being watched closely.

    As reached out to new voter blocs last summer, Obama made a campaign
    stop at an Indian reservation in Montana, where he told the audience, that,
    as an African American, he identified with their struggles.

    “I know what it’s like to not have always been respected or to have
    been ignored and I know what it’s like to struggle and that’s how I think
    many of you understand what’s happened here on the reservation,” Obama said.

    In his speech, Obama added: “A lot of times you have been forgotten,
    just like African-Americans have been forgotten or other groups in this
    country have been forgotten.”

    In the Nov. 4 presidential elections, a vast majority of Native people
    voted for Obama, according to Frank LaMere of the Winnebago Tribe of
    Nebraska, who led the American Indian delegation to the Democratic
    Convention.

    On the campaign trail in Montana, Obama was adopted as an honorary
    member of the Crow Tribe, a ceremony that natives say is reserved for
    special guests. On that occasion, he was given a new name, “Barack Black
    Eagle.”

    Before Obama became the first-ever non-white president of the United
    States, the country faced scathing criticism from a Geneva-based U.N. rights
    body for its treatment of the indigenous communities and objectionable use
    of their traditional lands and resources.

    In March 2006 and again in 2008, a panel of U.S. experts analyzed the
    U.S. government’s treatment of indigenous citizens and ruled that it was
    guilty of racial discrimination.

    Canada, another settler-nation founded on the indigenous territories
    in North America, has also been scolded by the U.N. Committee on Elimination
    of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for its abusive and discriminatory treatment
    of acts of native communities.

    The right-wing government in Ottawa continues to justify its current
    policies towards the native population as just and fair with no indication
    whatsoever of a willingness to sign the U.N. document on indigenous peoples’
    rights.

    In the United States, there appears to be some signs of policy shift
    with regard to the U.S. government’s relations with the American Indian
    communities. Some representatives of indigenous tribes are currently working
    with Obama as advisors.

    However, it remains unclear when and if the Obama administration would
    sign the declaration. “I can’t comment further,” said Ventrell about the
    outcome of discussions on possible U.S. support.

  16. Jere Krischel on May 27, 2009 at 6:37 am

    “we have as a model of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Lili’uokalani who chose peace in the belief that in time, justice would be served and her Kingdom and people would be restored.”

    Queen Liliuokalani reconciled herself to her overthrow, and became a loyal American citizen, and those who take up the banner of the Kingdom do her memory a disservice. Two quotes from Liliuokalani:

    (1) “The best thing for [Native Hawaiians] that could have happened was to belong to the United States.”

    (2) “‘Tho’ for a moment it [the overthrow] cost me a pang of pain
    for my people it was only momentary, for the present has a hope for
    the future of my people.’ -former Queen Lili’uokalani in her diary, Sunday, September 2, 1900″

    To proclaim that any sort of radical movement to largely disenfranchise everyone in the State of Hawaii based solely on race, or a close proxy thereof, is somehow honoring the Queen is seriously misinformed.

    In regards to “Native rights declaration challenges ’settler’ nations,” let us be very clear -> Hawaii was never a “settler” nation, and never has been. Although certainly the original Marquesans settled there circa 800AD, and the Tahitians settled there and forcibly displaced the natives circa 1300AD, the multi-racial, multi-cultural nature of the Hawaiian Kingdom of 1810 was one of embrace and adaptation, not settling and colonization. To put Hawaii into the category of native peoples who were conquered and subjugated by outside forces is to stretch the definition past its breaking point.

    More importantly, the entire idea that there is a special subgroup of “natives” defined solely by bloodline, and that this special subgroup deserves superior consideration and special privileges over their neighbors, peers, family, and fellow citizens, is pernicious, dangerous and evil.

    Keoni ‘Olohana was one of the ali’i who unified the Hawaiian Islands with Kamehameha the Great. As a close advisor to the King, he was appointed as the governor of the Big Island, and today his body lies in Mauna ʻAla, the Royal Mausoleum. His son was the Kuhina Nui to King Kamehameha the third, and his grand daughter was the beloved Queen Emma.

    But the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples will not recognize Keoni as Hawaiian. Keoni, regardless of his rank, stature or accomplishments would not be allowed a place in the pantheon of great Hawaiian leaders.

    Keoni used to be called John Young, and his ancestors came from England. Although he and his family were instrumental in the creation of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples would reject him simply on the basis of his bloodline.

    He Hawai’i au; he mau Hawai’i kakou a pau. I am Hawaiian; we are all Hawaiians.

  17. Jere Krischel on May 27, 2009 at 7:02 am

    “What that restoration is and how that will look will notbe determined by simply you or me”

    The restoration has already happened, and it was called Statehood. The lands that were held in trust by the Federal government were returned to the people of Hawaii, and we were all given equal rights as citizens of the sovereign State of Hawaii and the United States. And the process of restoration continues, with the fight against race-based privileges and penalties challenging institutions like OHA. The process of restoration must also include a greater disdain for anti-haole violence and vitriol, which is rampant throughout our schools and society, stoked by the rhetoric of certain so-called “restoration” groups, and their misinformed historical narratives.

    “When you ask about Hawaii’s export, why not export these principles? These principles will lead to a more vibrant community and economy, and they seem more relevant than the military or commercial real estate.”

    Talk about rose-colored glasses. Let’s go over these principles, and see how they can be “exported” for economic benefit:

    justice over status: Should we patent justice, and charge a licensing fee to all those people who practice it? Is this something that requires a Kingdom, or can it be implemented by a State of the Union?

    sustainability over capitalism: Again, do we try to patent the idea of “sustainability” (whatever that may be), and charge people for using the idea? Do we limit family sizes and any entry into the islands to maintain a stable population? Which of your children or parents will you send away to make sure things are “sustainable”?

    pono, aloha, ohana, maluhia me ka pono, laulima: Although notably some of the greatest principled “exports” of Hawaii, what economic benefit can they bring? Can they put food on a table? Roofs over heads? Will exporting love, peace and happiness somehow inspire some group of hard working capitalists in another land to simply donate foods, goods and services to the Hawaiian Islands? More likely, this is a driver for tourism, which has also been vilified by certain “restoration” activists.

    priniciples that strive towards health rather than sickness.: Let’s take one principle -> the reduction of carbohydrate in the diet. Carbohydrates have been killing people for the past 30 years as our government has recommended low-fat and low-calorie diets. Carbohydrates increase blood sugar, which increases insulin levels, which increases fat deposition, which leads to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alzheimers, and the other chronic “diseases of civilization.” Let’s say we “export” this principle of a low-carb, high-fat and high-protein diet made mostly of kalua pig. Can we generate economic benefit by sharing this information? Will others pay us perpetual royalties? Will the people of Hawaii be able to build homes, raise families, and eat food by “exporting” this principle?

    For the definitive treatise on the economy of the islands, please read “Islands in transition” by Thomas Kemper Hitch.

    Of all the principles you state, probably the only bothersome one is the idea of “sustainability,” because it is such an ambiguous definition, and proposes a steady state system rather than a constantly changing one. Perhaps you should replace that with “adaptability,” and change your principle to “adaptability over stagnation.”

  18. arnie on May 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Jere, responding to your criticism of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, you write that it “has helped foster a progressive culture of racism, ethnic cleansing and rule by bloodline. We are all indigenous to this earth, and to assert that on the basis of “some small fraction of my ancient ancestors got here first” one may lay claim to special rights and privileges within a certain geographic area, is racism, pure and simple. It cannot possibly exist peaceably with the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and is a stain on the institution and serves only to enshrine racism into the hearts and minds of others.”

    Legislation and public opinion are but two tools used to challenge racism and oppression. To reverse the argument, specifically, to appropriate the language of the oppressed and apply that to the oppressor is to deny and ape the very real structures of power that perpetuates injustice, and frustrates social and economic progress.

    For example, when looking at the civil rights movement in the 1960s, we cannot simply acknowledge the social engagement of protests and activism and the lobbying efforts of some in Congress as merely an historical exercise of “principles of American democracy” in action. We also have to acknowledge the fact that public opinion and international debate affected the way we as a country have come to define race relations. Also, we cannot overlook the criticisms hurled at the U.S. by other U.N member nations and the actions that the State Department took to remedy those accusations of hypocrisy in U.S. foreign policy.

    International public opinion forced change upon Congress and radically changed federal legislation, even by many who were at first resistant to legislating a Civil Rights Act. Similarly, I ‘d suggest that the UNPFII will follow a similar path as the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights did with the Civil Rights Act, and that in time, national issues of indigeneity will make its way through Congressional legislation.

    While reading congressional testimony by those opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the construction of many of those arguments then, were not that different from the language used today by those challenging Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action, or challenges against Native Hawaiian entitlements.

    Conservatives, particularly those expressing the views of Heritage Foundation and other conservative policy enterprises have argued that Obama’s presidency (and perhaps Sotomayor’s Supreme Court application) is proof of EO/AA’s success and that now, the machinery that drives it can be dismantled. However, just because we have an African-American president does not mean that we can now discard EO/AA. Rather, I’d suggest that we need to remain even more vigilant to make sure that the machinery continue to operate until racial equality is firmly and in practice, entrenched.

    When Obama stated in a 2007 interview with George Stephanopolous that Affirmative Action “can’t be a quota system and it can’t be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black or white or Hispanic, male or female.” he was referring to EO/AA as “a diminishing tool to achieve racial equality in this society.” A “diminishing tool” is not the same as creating more, as you say, “discrimination and marginalization.”

    The application of the 1964 Civil Rights Act has made America a better place, and that may be as you say, a “judgment call,” but challenges to EO/AA based on racist propaganda that appropriates the language of the oppressed only strengthens the argument that race-based entitlements need protection, (and yes, so do class-based entitlements for those disenfranchised white kids).

  19. Jere Krischel on May 27, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Affirmative action is a stain on the soul of our country, birthed from white guilt but maintaining the soft bigotry of low expectations deep within the hearts of all racists. Just as you cannot fight child abuse with more child abuse, you cannot fight racial discrimination with more racial discrimination. To treat everyone equally under the law, we MUST treat everyone equally under the law.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. did not fight for African American special privilege, and the 14th and 15th amendments were not built upon the premise of inherent inequality the way affirmative action is. Knowing that civilization and culture is dynamic, one cannot possibly use discrimination to fight discrimination with any sort of accuracy or efficiency.

    If we are to fight the ills of society, of poverty, education, and health, we simply have to measure those ills -> poverty, education, and health. Asking someone what their race is before dealing with those problems is misleading, pernicious, and evil. If indeed racial inequities exist in education, for example, an education program targeted at those who are suffering lower education levels will disproportionately help that group – by exactly the right amount. Asserting that certain racial groups are uneducated, and therefore in need of racially targeted help, leads to obvious injustices like having the Obama children get scholarships and special consideration, while poor white children born in poverty and raised in a trailer park get nothing.

    Racism is never an answer, never effective, and can justifiably be called the root of all evil. We are all human, all people, all the same. If one wants to give special benefits based on socio-economic status, cool. Based on actual health condition? Great. But based on race? That’s evil. Even more evil because it is couched in such sympathetic and kind-hearted terms, allowing the racists to veil themselves in a cloak of moral superiority. The white liberals who sit so smugly in support of affirmative action, or “indigenous” privileges, are in their hearts the worst forms of racists, ones who believe that their racism is benevolent, and that if only their plans were to be followed, utopia would be forthcoming.

    I am not any other race than human. My ancestors are indigenous, native Earthans, just like yours. My mother was just as human as your mother. My grandparents, just as human as yours. Especially in a place such as Hawaii, with so many new, indigenous mixes created that exist nowhere else on the planet, the idea of affirmative action, or “indigenous” privilege, is poisonous and damaging.

    It is my sincere hope that in time, you recognize just how evil it is to believe that racism is not racist. It is a difficult thing to accept, after so many years of sincere belief, but it is nonetheless true. Together, focused on measured, functional differences of socio-economic status, education, and health, we could both do great help for the world. But until you let go of the hidden racism in your heart, we cannot move forward.

    Father Damien came to Hawai’i on March 19, 1864. Knowing full well the dangers of leprosy, he still asked to be assigned to minister to the lepers on Molokai.

    Father Damien arrived at Kalaupapa on May 10, 1873. For years he worked among the lepers, until he himself contracted the disease and died on April 15, 1889. By any measure, Father Damien was a Hawaiian hero.

    But not according to the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since Father Damien was from Belgium, the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples would not consider him “Hawaiian.” Despite all of his works, and all of his sacrifice for the most needy people of the Kingdom of Hawai’i, the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples would tell Father Damien he could not enjoy the same rights as those he ministered to.

    He Hawai’i au; he mau Hawai’i kakou a pau. I am Hawaiian; we are all Hawaiians.

  20. Jere Krischel on May 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    “The application of the 1964 Civil Rights Act has made America a better place”

    The proper application of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would have been greatly preferable to the racist legacy of affirmative action. The continuous separation of people into racial categories, the pernicious legacy of the one-drop Jim Crow rules for determining status, is an evil we are only slowly managing to rectify.

    Dropping barriers is one thing. Opening up opportunity is always acceptable. But judging someone’s worth or ability solely on the basis of ancestry is anathema to the ideals of equality. Affirmative action was the brainchild of those who did not understand the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and its pernicious application has harmed many more than it has helped.

  21. Jere Krischel on May 27, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    “While reading congressional testimony by those opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the construction of many of those arguments then, were not that different from the language used today by those challenging Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action, or challenges against Native Hawaiian entitlements.”

    An example, please. I would bet that it’s not that different from the language used today by those supporting affirmative action, or race-based entitlements.

    The 1964 Civil Rights act was supposed to be about equality under the law. Affirmative action was never supposed to be about quotas, or racial qualification -> it was supposed to ensure that equal opportunity was afforded to all, regardless of race. Instead, it was twisted into a neo-patronage system, which served to deny the self-worth of those it pitied and gave advantage to, and also served to deny the promise of equal opportunity to those more qualified, but of the wrong racial background.

    Let’s take one small example of how arbitrary and pernicious affirmative action has been, and start with a definition. Define “black.” Ancestry to africa? Libyans and egyptians are pretty white…so maybe a brown paper bag test? What about someone who has a slave ancestor, but is otherwise blonde haired and blue eyed and light skinned? Simply defining race is an exercise in futility, because it is an arbitrary social construct, not a meaningful scientific distinction. Internal identification can vary from external identification, and over time and space, even those identifications can vary. So how can you be fair with such a system, that has no real objective guidelines, and no possibility of having them?

    Simple, you can’t.

    At what point will you protest Native Hawaiian entitlements, when there are only 5000 pure native Hawaiians left, and 10 million native Hawaiians with majority Caucasian ancestry? How many generations must pass before someone is no longer “indigenous?” After all, if only 370 million people on this earth are still “indigenous,” that means somehow a good 5-6 billion somehow lost that status, right? Is a native Hawaiian still “indigenous” if he moves to New York? Is a native American still “indigenous” if he moves to Hawaii? Do either of them in those cases deserve special treatment, or is it only limited to the geographic region they’re “indigenous” to?

    Do this thought experiment -> imagine, for a moment, that every one, every last person you’ve ever known or imagined, was native Hawaiian. How would you treat everyone then?

    Once you’ve answered that question, you’ve learned the true path justice, and the true meaning of pono.

  22. arnie on May 27, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Jere writes: “Simply defining race is an exercise in futility, because it is an arbitrary social construct, not a meaningful scientific distinction. Internal identification can vary from external identification, and over time and space, even those identifications can vary. So how can you be fair with such a system that has no real objective guidelines, and no possibility of having them?”

    Race should be an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, historically, metaphorically, there is nothing arbitrary about it. As a construct, race is culturally determined and has had profound implications in the history of the world in which we live.

    If the history of metaphysics has taught us anything, it is that language has definition and structure, and that it is a fluid mechanism that is neither arbitrary nor random (except in psychotics). Post-structuralists could argue that the constructions by which we assign value and meaning have a very definite meaning that is contained in close-critical analysis. This analysis can be approached through psycho-analysis, political economy, music, anthropology, performance, etc… so many approaches!

    The discussion over race, class, gender (cultural studies in general), has a far reaching yet over-determined presence in our academies– so I am generally not one to place too much time on these issues. However, the impetus to blur the definition of race in order to defend the idea of racial equality is counter-intuitive to promoting racial justice, or as you assert, “the true meaning of pono.”

    You cannot idealize social harmony by calling those who call attention to race disparities “racist,” particularly when peoples of the world are striving for totemic identities. It is an imperative construction to assert that ethnic and cultural definition is as much a stage of human evolution as self-determination is to our political evolution, and to blur those definitions as racist leads to neither justice nor pono.

    Struggle is eternal, and the struggle for self-determination will be ongoing even after the paradigm changes, or the metaphors of race are realigned, or the will for self-determination realized.

    Upon “imagining every last person I’ve ever known to be native Hawaiian,” I don’t quite understand the experiment. However, if there were totemic struggles over self-determination between groups then the application for struggle would still be mandated, and I being the only non-native Hawaiian would feel like Oblio in Nilsson’s “The Point.”

  23. Jere Krischel on May 27, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    “Unfortunately, historically, metaphorically, there is nothing arbitrary about it.”

    I’m sure you don’t mean that. Race has always been arbitrary, it has never been objective, no matter what period of history you look at.

    “As a construct, race is culturally determined and has had profound implications in the history of the world in which we live.”

    A construct is arbitrary, not objective, and it is precisely because of the profound implications it has had in history that we must let go of the construct before we can move on. You absolutely cannot achieve equality be treating people in an unequal matter. You absolutely cannot achieve justice by treating people in an unjust manner. You MUST start by holding to your convictions, that all people are created equally, and should be treated equally under the eyes of the law.

    If we can’t even get our laws to treat people as equals, how can we ever show an example to people to treat each other as equals? Race-based identity politics is as poisonous today as it was when Walter Murray Gibson corrupted Kalakaua. Treating someone differentially simply based on bloodline, even if they have no phenological resemblance to their ancient ancestors, is the establishment of hereditary title, something that is anathema to any ideal of equality.

    “You cannot idealize social harmony by calling those who call attention to race disparities “racist,” particularly when peoples of the world are striving for totemic identities”

    Calling attention to a race disparity is one thing – it is academic, and perhaps informative. Taking that race disparity and deciding that you must therefore treat everyone in that racial group differently from their peers, family, friends, neighbors and colleagues is racism, pure and simple. If peoples of the world are striving for totemic identities that encourage them to divide into race-based groups and separate themselves from the common human identity, then we must fight that impulse with all our might. We must let go of the primitive ideals of tribalism, the foolish thoughts of “us vs. them,” and understand that unless we live by our convictions, we are not pono.

    Even a child can see the hypocrisy of declaring oneself for equality, yet treating people in an unequal manner. This basic, common sense is only abandoned when beaten out of our children by constant propaganda of victimization, and demonization of others.

    “Struggle is eternal, and the struggle for self-determination will be ongoing even after the paradigm changes, or the metaphors of race are realigned, or the will for self-determination realized.”

    Self-determination does not happen on a group level, it happens on an individual level. A group can never determine a “self,” and the artificial construct of racial groups can never replace the “self” in “self-determination.”

    “Upon “imagining every last person I’ve ever known to be native Hawaiian,” I don’t quite understand the experiment.”

    Imagine a racial group you believe deserves special privilege, in this case, “indigenous” native Hawaiians of pre-1778 immigrant ancestry. Now, imagine that everyone in the world belongs to this privileged group. How does that change the idea of “privilege?” For example, if you believe that only people of a certain bloodline should be able to vote for OHA, just pretend that everyone in the world is of that bloodline -> now my policy suggestion matches yours, and everyone gets to vote. If you believe that only people of a certain bloodline should be able to go to Kamehameha schools, just pretend that everyone in the world is of that bloodline -> now my policy suggestion matches yours, and everyone can attend. And so on. The experiment is to take away the racist preconceptions of your position, by pretending that everyone on the planet is your preferred race.

    And in the end, the experiment is not just an imaginary thing -> it is the truth. We are all of one race, the human race, and the proper way to treat people is by pretending that they are exactly like you, and exactly like everyone else, deserving of the same rights and considerations.

  24. admin on May 28, 2009 at 8:34 am

    “I’m sure you don’t mean that. Race has always been arbitrary, it has never been objective, no matter what period of history you look at.”

    I think I understand your perspective– you’re approaching race as a genetic process, as mutations in nature, random differences in evolution.

    I’m approaching race as a signifier of difference, a political term used throughout history to mark totemic differences between peoples, between communities and nations–

    From anthropology, Levi Strauss would have used a word other than race, like tribe, but nevertheless, they are the marked signifiers between peoples.

    There are other signifiers of difference, like gender, class, religion, nationality, etc… but in the United States, there has been an overdetermined emphasis– on race.

    Interesting to have been waltzing around two very different and conflicting approaches defining race.

  25. Jere Krischel on May 28, 2009 at 8:49 am

    “I think I understand your perspective– you’re approaching race as a genetic process, as mutations in nature, random differences in evolution.”

    Actually, no. I’m asserting that there is no objective genetic difference between socially arbitrary categorizations of “race.” This is a VERY important point to understand -> there is absolutely no biological basis for categorizations of “race.” It is purely an arbitrary social construct.

    “I’m approaching race as a signifier of difference, a political term used throughout history to mark totemic differences between peoples, between communities and nations”

    There are no totemic differences between peoples -> we are all human, all essentially the same. It is by grasping onto differences, and falling into the pernicious politics of identity, that we create wars, hatred, bigotry and discrimination. Insofar as communities and nations, I would suggest to you that any community or nation built on the premise of hereditary title, or racial purity or racial exclusivity, is at its core evil and corrupt.

    “Interesting to have been waltzing around two very different and conflicting approaches defining race.”

    The conversation has been very interesting, arnie, and I hope one day to meet you for a meal in the LA area (I’m up in Pasadena). Thank you very much for sharing your mana’o, and listening to mine. I believe you are well intentioned, if perhaps misled or misguided on some of your assertions. In the end, I hope that I’ve at least opened your mind to a perspective you may not have considered before, namely that the search for totemic differences has significant negative unintended consequences, and that only by staking our claim that humanity is a single “race,” and that humans are a single “people” can we even begin to hope that people will be treated justly and equally.

    Mahalo, my fellow human :)

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