Hawaiian Independence, convince me

OK. I will not argue. I will not scream. I want to learn. Somebody put the best face possible on the idea of Hawaiian Independence. I honestly do not see how any serious person can support this idea.

Let me outline my objections. I will do this once, since I will not argue.

  1. Hawaii was an independent country and was annex by a bunch of White foreigners who petitioned Congress for Statehood. Statehood was illegal. OK, but it was done a long time ago. I see no way to restore the previous situation that would be fair to modern Hawaiians. (Sorry, sir, your condo now belongs to the native people, climb in the helicopter.)

  2. All discussions of Hawaiian independence seen to focus around race. Race-based arguments are creepy.

So please, explain to me. Try to convince me.

Oh I don’t know, do you know about much it would cost to re-sew all our flags? I don’t think it will happen.

True enough. But it happened 107 years ago, so I’m going to assume that everybody living in Hawaii now was born an American. So how do you decide who’s a native and who isn’t? There doesn’t seem much point in declaring independence if they’re just going to have to give the new country over to people like Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Michelle Wie, and Ron Darling.

I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to say that it was a bunch of foreigners who so petitioned. After all, weren’t those individuals made citizens of the Hawaiian kingdom?

There is another option, if both governments were to agree: Commonwealth or Free Association status.

Well, actually, many condos are stacked up on land that is held in trust for native Hawaiians. The proceeeds from the property go to fund schools that teach both modern education and traditional culture.

I lived in Hawaii for six years; moved there on a whim, knowing nothing about the place. After a couple years there, I accepted the fact that I’ll always be a haole (in the non-derogatory sense of the word) – the values and culture are just too dissimilar to my NJ upbringing. I can’t really make a case for Hawaiian Independence, for I have what I believe to be the same stumbling blocks as you – practicality, feasibility, and fairness to those who had nothing to do with the historical injustices, but are now living there.

At the same time, I recognize (now; I had no idea there was even an issue before I moved there) just how badly the Hawaiian people got screwed by the missionaries/capitalists. And it carries on to today; look into the OHA (mis)management and/or the housing situation of native Hawaiians. I should add a disclaimer that I have only cursory knowledge of Hawaiian history, picked up from the time I lived there. IOW, someone more knowledgable than I should feel free to correct or fill in any misstatements I make.

Yes, this is where I can’t see any real remedy.

While many arguments have this flavor, I’m not so sure it’s wrong in this case. It’s not as if Hawaii was a “melting pot” at the time; I believe that all the native people actually were Hawaiian. The Japanese, Portugese, and other races immigrated to work/own the plantations. There was a clear dividing line here; of course, it has been subsequently muddied over the course of time. IIRC, at the time I left, blood quanta was being used to determine heritage; a person had to be able to prove they were at least 1/16th native Hawaiian (i.e., one of their great-great-grandparents had to be pure-blood Hawaiian) to be able to claim native rights. When I moved from Hawaii, it wasn’t working out too well. There were exactly your charges of racism being made. I don’t know what the resolution was, if there was one.

From what I remember, the legal case for soveriegnty is ambiguous. There are international cases that serve as precedents for various positions, including (from US law) native Americans, Alaskans, and (from international law) a variety of south Pacific peoples. I no longer have references and what I did have are most likely out of date anyway. In a quick glance at related websites, the Hawaiian Independence Blog seems to be a decent source of information.

My final feeling on this, in case it wasn’t clear, is that the Hawaiians have a legitimate position. The overthrow was indeed illegal and immoral. If the logistics of returning sovereignty could be worked out, it would be the proper course of action. Unfortunately, I don’t see how they could be worked out, even if the US government were to make the attempt. And, since I don’t see that last ever happening, the first necessary step in the process is a show-stopper.

However, first of all, you’d have to have a majority of the citizens WANT independence. They don’t.

Next- although there can be arguments that the Annexation was ‘forced’, the Hawaiians asked for Statehood. For well over a century, it’s been “once you are a State- you can’t leave on your own.”

Then again, it would set a dangerous precedent- most of the USA could be claimed by the Native Americans.

Face it- nearly any hunk of land has changed ownership several times by force. How do you decide who is the 'real" owner? If we found a person in Eurpoe that was descended from the Neanderthal, would we have to cede all of Europe to him? :rolleyes:

If we take this to the ridiculous extreme- just about every human on earth would only be able to live in a small tribal area in Africa. :dubious:

(I am reading all this. I promised not to argue and so I am not. Still, I wanted you to know I am following the thread and hope a pro-independence person will be along.)

Again, I have to disclaim that I’m not a good representative of the pro-Hawaiian sovereignty movement. At the same time, there are obvious rebuttals to some points:

I don’t think there’s actually any argument that the overthrow was not illegal. If you look into it, I’d be interested as to what justification you might use to say that it wasn’t. At any rate, for the most part, the powers that be just ignore it. IIRC, the closest the Hawaiians got to an actual acknowledgment of impropriety was an apology by then-President Clinton (1996?). I no longer remember the extent or wording; it should be easy enough to find via google.

I believe you are correct that the majority of citizens do not want Hawaiian independence. So long as you qualify that with “now”. Is that legitimate (at least theoretically)? I don’t think so; if the whole basis for citizenship is based on an illegality, how can it be? It’s akin to (the obviously ridiculous example) of having all H1B visa holders in the US settle exclusively in Wyoming for 10 years, vote en masse for their chosen candidate for governor, and calling it legitimate. But the passage of time encroaches on the practical aspects of disentangling the situation that keeps me from thinking there can ever be a return of sovereignty.

Yes, but it’s not necessarily an all or nothing deal. I believe some Native Americans have successfully gotten land back. One option might be to give back some land. And, I believe that pro-sovereignty activists are using some of the legal decisions in favor of Native Americans to bolster their case.

Yes, I agree. There’s no rolling back time. However, the point about Neanderthals is a red herring. There is a clear point in recent history we can point to where we know who the “real” owners of Hawaii were. This itself raises a host of problems however; one issue with the blood quanta I mentioned previously is that there are few records of Hawaiian natives from that time. How does one prove one’s great-great-grandfather lived in a particular place at a particular time without records? (A rather neat beaureucratic trick used, if I recall, to deny Jews in Europe their pre-WWII belongings after they survived the concentration camps.)

I’m not sure what the exact parallels are, but I’d think there are some to be made with land issues concerning the formation of Israel. As I referred to above, what about the Aleuts? Palestinians? South Africans? The Maori? But I can only suggest these as possible debate fodder and not argue it myself, as all of this is far beyond my level of knowledge.

What I can say (and to some extent already have) is that, in my opinion, the Hawaiian people got screwed, and all in the interests of Christian zealotry and capitalist greed (which weren’t very clearly separate at the time). And it’s a great injustice that’s been done, even though I don’t see a practical means of rectifying it.

Why not just leave peaceful honest people free to pursue their own happiness in their own way?

“Imagine there’s no countries. It’s easy if you try.” — John Lennon

Nice, simplistic idea, Lib, but what if the pot has been broken and glued back together multiple times? To which state do we restore it? Which “peaceful honest people” do we “leave … free to pursue their own happiness in their own way,” the people whose ancestors had their land stolen or the people who, generations later, bought that land in good faith?

Sounds good to me. But where have there ever been peaceful honest people?

Gosh, I don’t think it’s at all difficult to construct an argument that Hawaii should regain independence. So long as (1) a majority (or perhaps, a supermajority) of the people who live there want independence, and (2) Congress and the President approve the state’s withdrawal from the union, and (3) independence is not being sought or used for the purpose of trampling on minority rights, then I see no reason why Hawaii should not seek and obtain its independence. It’s not like there aren’t already plenty of island nation-states out there in the Pacific.

So then- CITE? Under what body of law was it illegal? Who decided it was illegal? Who was arrested for the illegal act?

Even if we limited to those who are “natural born citizens’- that is to say- born in the Islands- you wouldn’t be able to get even close to a majority. If they are born there, they are legal citizens. The Kingdom of Hawaii allowed people to immigrate did they not? Thus, the fact that someone is not 'pure blood” doesn’t mean they are a citizen due to an illegal act.

Also- AFAIK, there are no 'pure blooded" natives of Hawaii anymore. Thus- *everyone *is descended from an “illegal”. Thus, by you reasoning- no one has the right to be there.

Every bit of America “belonged” to some Inidan tribe at one time, and nigh every one can claim that the "white man’ and/or the US governemtn used force or coercion to “steal” the land.

The point about neanderthals isn’t a red herring. The principle here seemt to be that the first residents of a land have claim on that land forever. The Cro-magon “took” Europe from the Neanderthal and likely by force, and certainly not be “legal agreement”. Thus, if the “natives” (defined as those who got there 1st) of Hawaii get to claim ‘their’ land back, the “natives” of Europe (the neanderthal) get Europe. :rolleyes:

Besides- unless i am wrong- most of the “natives” of Hawaii can’t be descended from the very first boatload, and in fact AFAIK there seemed to be constant ‘warfare" between various tribes and "kingdoms’ until 1795. In other words, the territory changed hands back and forth for some 1000 years or so. So- which group of Hawaiins are the 'true" natives?
What I am trying to say is that there is no “uncontested” ownership of any land. Although some Amricans may have forced a King of Hawaii to give away some soverinity, before then, the various groups of natives fought over that same land.

In any case- you have not refuted my point that the citizens of Hawaii voluntarily petitioned for Statehood some 50 years ago- they asked to join the USA.

No Hawaiian Dopers in this thread yet . . . hmmm . . .

FWIW, the Senate is debating a bill to grant native Hawaiians (i.e., not persons born in Hawaii but persons descended from indigenous pre-colonial Hawaiians) the same “sovereignty” now enjoyed by Indian nations and Inuits: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2005/07/senate-debate-on-hawaii-native.php This would require the creation of a single political entity, analogous to the Indian tribal governments, to represent the natives.

There are several Hawaiian independence organizations:

Free Hawaii – http://www.freehawaii.org/

Kingdom of Hawai’i – http://www.pixi.com/~kingdom/

Nation of Hawai’i – http://www.hawaii-nation.org/

Sovereign Hawaiian Government – http://www.sovereignhawaii.com/index.htm

Yes – as an option preferable to territorial status, not as an option preferable to independence, which was not open for discussion.

Which is what Puerto Rico has got, and they’re always fighting over whether the next step should be independence or statehood. See this thread: “Let’s debate the future of Puerto Rico” – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=315660

There was one, once. But he was beaten to death by an unruly mob of people demonstrating about the Single Transferable Vote system.

Such are the vagaries of democracy. This sort of thing wouldn’t happen in a totalitarian police state.


In any case, the “natives” are not that numerous compared to other ethnic groups in Hawaii. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii#Demographics:

Here ya go: The Apology Resolution. First link googling “clinton apology hawaii”. It just wasn’t that hard to find. Concerning illegality, see the excerpt from Grover Cleveland below.

I have to say, you seem to be espousing a “might makes right” philosophy; are you really proposing “who was arrested” as a metric of illegality?

Nor did I intend to; my only intention was to provide what little knowledge I have of the situation to promote the debate. As to the rest, as I have said multiple times, I don’t think it’s feasible to grant full Hawaiian sovereignty. You’ll not be getting an argument from me about it, for I’m not able to argue it on practical grounds and have not the knowledge for a legal argument. That doesn’t mean I can’t admit that a wrong has been done and wish I could see a means of rectifying it.

For those who are interested, this comes from an address made by then-President Grover Cleveland (linked to from the above link):