skewers Akaka Bill
Lingle and Akaka say Kyl
is mistaken the bill creates a
"race-based" Hawaiian government
Senate Republican opponents are sharpening their attack on Sen. Dan Akaka's bill for native Hawaiian recognition.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., called the Akaka Bill "the creation of race-based government for native Hawaiians."
In comments submitted to the Congressional Record and reprinted by the Republican Policy Committee, Kyl warned that Akaka's bill, S-147, could lead to Hawaii leaving the union.
The Akaka Bill defines a process in which the federal government, through the Department of the Interior, would recognize a native Hawaiian governing body. Senate Republicans have agreed to allow a floor vote by early August.
"It is difficult to see how a bill touted in Hawaii as a potential path to 'total independence' is going to help reconcile whatever racial divisions exist there," Kyl wrote. "It goes without saying that Congress does not serve the nation's long-term interest by providing vehicles for its citizens to secede from the Union."
Kyl previously blocked a Senate vote on the Akaka Bill, but after meeting with Sen. Daniel Inouye earlier this year, he agreed to permit the bill to be voted on by the entire Senate this summer.
In his own comments in the Congressional Record, Akaka said Kyl is wrong.
"It is disturbing that opponents to the bill rely so heavily on mischaracterizations of the legislation to advocate their position," Akaka wrote. "It greatly saddened me that opponents to my bill feel the need to rewrite Hawaii's history, as painful as it is for those of us who have lived it.
"It is one thing to oppose my bill. It is quite another, however, to trivialize the history of Hawaii."
Gov. Linda Lingle also said yesterday that Kyl is wrong, adding that she is considering going to Washington to lobby for the bill, which is scheduled to be debated in the Senate next month.
"We are disappointed because we have worked with him and talked with him a lot," Lingle said. "He simply has a different opinion on this issue. His opinion is wrong, his facts are wrong and now it is up to us to make clear where he is mistaken."
Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said Kyl is "attempting to rewrite history."
The Akaka Bill, Apoliona said, is not based on a person's race, but instead on individuals tracing their ancestry to indigenous Hawaiians.
"The Hawaiians have been here for thousands of years before the settlers, before Westerners ever came here to settle Hawaii," Apoliona said. "A legal relationship with the United States is what we are pursuing. 'Race-based' is an easy thing to stir up fear and mistrust in the community."
Kyl says it would create "a race-based government for native Hawaiians living throughout the United States."
"To create a race-based government would be offensive to our nation's commitment to equal justice and the elimination of racial distinctions in the law."
"S-147 represents a step backwards in American history and would create far more problems -- cultural, practical and constitutional -- than it purports to solve. It must be rejected," Kyl said.
"Native Hawaiians are not geographically or culturally segregated in Hawaii. They live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same schools, worship at the same churches and participate in the same civic activities as do all Hawaiians," Kyl said.
Also, Kyl insists, there never was a "race-based Hawaiian government, so there is no native Hawaiian government to be restored."
The government of Hawaii in 1893, Kyl says, included Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Samoans, Portuguese, Scandinavians, Scots, Germans, Russians, Puerto Ricans and Greeks.
"To speak of restoring the 'native Hawaiian' government of 1893 is to ignore the fact that no such racially exclusive government or nation existed," Kyl said.