Will got facts wrong on sovereignty bill
Columnist George F. Will wrote that the Akaka Bill should be cast aside as racist.
George F. Will took provocation to its outer limits this past week in a column denouncing Hawaiian sovereignty. His argument would have been stronger if it had been backed up by indisputable facts. Unfortunately, the column, which ran on the Star-Bulletin op-ed page Friday, was flawed by what he apparently assumed was correct information, but was not.
The highly regarded Washington Post columnist was so inflammatory that the sovereignty bill authored by Sen. Daniel Akaka would be unconstitutional because of racial discrimination that he compared it with Hermann Goering's 1934 statement, "I decide who is a Jew around here."
Will cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of 2000 in Rice v. Cayetano that non-Hawaiians could not be excluded from the election of Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees because that would amount to racial discrimination. The high court's decision was based on its conclusion that Hawaiians lack the sovereign status equivalent to that of Indian tribes. That is the main purpose of the Akaka Bill, to give them that status as indigenous peoples, which Congress has the plenary authority to do.
As noted by Akaka and Rep. Neil Abercrombie in a rebuttal column on the cover of this section, Will wrongly stated that the 1993 apology resolution by Congress was "for supposed U.S. duplicity -- which was neither clear nor essential" in the 1893 overthrow of the kingdom. The duplicity was as clear as can be.
Will asserts that "a large majority" of Hawaii residents oppose the bill. Will obviously was referring to the responses to loaded questions asked in a poll conducted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which opposes the bill. A more reliable poll, conducted in August by Ward Research for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, showed that 70 percent of Hawaii residents support Hawaiian sovereignty.
Will called Queen Liliuokalani "more enlightened than Akaka" by allowing immigrants to serve in her government. Attorney General Mark Bennett responded to a similar assertion by columnist Bruce Fein two years ago that "it is extremely ironic that one who opposes the Akaka Bill because it is, in his mind, racist, would use native Hawaiians' historical inclusiveness, and 'aloha' for all races, as a reason to deny native Hawaiians their deserved recognition."
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