Entitlements for one group discriminate against us all
As an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, one would expect Boyd Mossman to attempt to defend his agency's position, but as an attorney and retired judge, his comments in "Group's lawsuit targeting OHA would erode gains made for all Hawaiians" (Star-Bulletin, April 13)
is rife with ad hominem and innuendo inexcusable for a lawyer. In his commentary, Mossman seems to believe that shooting the messenger amounts to protecting OHA as he attacks each plaintiff's motives, those of Grassroot Institute, attorney H. William Burgess, fellow native Hawaiians who are also suing OHA and the publisher of Hawaii Reporter.
This has been the tactic used by OHA for years to distract us from the facts. People are finding out what OHA has failed to accomplish even with the hundreds of millions of dollars already given it by the state and federal governments. We are learning what OHA will likely do to separate all of Hawaii by race under the wing of the Akaka Bill, which has slowly and is now more quickly eating away the fabric of the racial harmony under attack by OHA.
The facts are that the Akaka Bill would not provide any protections to the racial inequality desired by OHA by separating out those with but a single drop of native Hawaiian blood traceable to 1778, from those who do not have the correct ancestors. One only has to review the majority opinion of seven of the nine Supreme Court justices in the Rice v. Cayetano decision Feb. 23, 2000. The majority noted: "Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality" and "Ancestry can be a proxy for race." No matter the spin, Hawaiians are not a political entity to be given their own nation by a complicit Congress. They are not American Indians, nor are they like native Alaskans. They cannot meet the federal criteria for federal recognition as an Indian tribe, so OHA tries to create a "tribe" that only meets their own requirements based solely on ancestry (race).
The state of Hawaii has spent more than $1.2 billion on native Hawaiian betterment through the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and OHA; the federal government also has spent more than $1 billion over the past 10 years, to what positive result? There are still hundreds of Hawaiians living in tents on the beaches while the OHA trustees fly first class to Washington, D.C., and give millions of dollars that should go to Hawaiian beneficiaries to Washington lobbying firms to push for the Akaka Bill.
For Judge Mossman to now argue that "Hawaiians' rights are not based upon their racial but their indigenous heritage" is insulting to all, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which surely can see that indigenous as used in Hawaii is a buzzword synonym for race. It is also insulting to the vast majority of individuals with native blood who have become successful and also to the many who have become quite wealthy. Certainly he is not saying that Hawaiians are incapable of becoming successful because of prejudice or discrimination since no legal action in the history of Hawaii has ever been made in court. Courts on the mainland have ruled repeatedly that blacks were discriminated against and that such action was unconstitutional and required corrective action, but never has a court ruled such about Hawaiians.
Mossman should mahalo the plaintiffs of this case as it will permit him and OHA to once and for all prove to the courts that their actions are correct and constitutional. Surely he is not afraid of a legal system that he served honorably for so many years.
Let the courts decide.
Garry P. Smith, a retired naval officer, and Earl Arakaki, a retired police officer, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state that claims paying OHA a part of the revenues from ceded lands violates the state's trust obligations to all Hawaii residents.