Jon M. Van Dyke, a Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii, recently wrote an article for the Hawaii Reporter titled, “Further Thoughts on ‘Testamentary Incorrectness: A Review Essay'”. It is a response to a post on this blog reviewing a recent essay by Paul Carrington in the December 2006 (Vol. 54, No. 3) Buffalo Law Review. Several corrections are in order regarding Van Dyke’s statements.

1) Van Dyke incorrectly cites the article, Native Hawaiian Birthright Suspect as the source of his response. The review article he meant to refer to was never published in the Hawaii Reporter, but merely on this blog.

2) Although Van Dyke correctly points out that the 1887 constitution was the first to explicitly disenfranchise Asians, it is important to note that the 1864 constitution did impose a literacy requirement in article 62 that did not exist previously as per article 78 of the 1852 constitution, as well as steep property requirements that would exclude most Asians from the electorate. The property requirements were lowered in 1874 by amendment. In “Ka Ho’Oilina: Journal of Hawaiian Language Sources” 2003, it is noted that “In 1864, a small group of individuals, working with the monarch, illegally canceled the existing Constitution of 1852, ruled for a short time without any law, and then issued a new constitution without benefit of public participation or approval. This new fundamental law, established on August 20, 1864, was substantially less democratic than its predecessor, the Constitution of 1852.”

3) Van Dyke exaggerates the pertinence of “intense efforts” ascribed to anti-annexation and monarchy restoration efforts, by citing petitions that contained a significant scope of forgery, and ignoring the large body of evidence that showed a change of heart by anti-annexation and royalist forces. Our second Congressional representative was Prince Kuhio. Robert Wilcox, a two time failed rebel, friend to the queen, was our first Congressional representative. Before Wilcox’s election, on June 6, 1900, upon his return from the mainland advocating for native Hawaiian rights in the Organic Act, he spoke to a rally sponsored by Aloha ‘Aina and Hui Kalai’aina, the two main Hawaiian political clubs, and the organizers of the anti-annexation petitions. In his speech, he said, “The question of the restoration of the Monarchy is gone from us forever. We are now a people, however, who can vote. You all know we have two-thirds of the votes in this country.” He also advised against racial loyalties, saying, “We are all Americans. We should not consider personality.” On June 7, 1900, the two previously anti-annexation groups disbanded, and the Hawaiian Independent Party was established, its motto being, “Equal Rights for the People”. It is fairly clear from the historical record that although there was anti-annexation sentiment from 1893-1898, soon after our integration into the United States as a Territory, native Hawaiian leaders and the native Hawaiian people were eager and passionate participants in the most democratic system of government they had ever known. To paint them as a victim class is revisionist.

4) Van Dyke cites the 1993 “Apology Resolution” as a historical reference, apparently unaware of the thorough debunking of its whereas clauses.

Most disturbingly, Van Dyke asserts a “native” right to a “negotiated settlement” or a “claims commission”, ignoring the fact that the Hawaiian Kingdom was a multi-ethnic nation, not a mono-ethnic one. Neither was it one with race-based privileges for “natives”. This erroneous conflation of the tribal claims of certain Native American and Native Alaskan groups, to some novel and dangerous idea of racial claims for anyone with a drop of proper blood, is a poisonous notion.

One might ask if Van Dyke believes that every human should be allowed to trace fractional ancestry back through generations to assert some “native” right on some patch of land. Perhaps he would advocate every part-Japanese person to join together and place claims on Japan, or every part-Irish person to join together and place claims on Ireland. With a sufficiently mixed-race person, it may even be possible for a single individual to have native claims on every populated continent!

Or maybe, just maybe, we should embrace the idea that we are all human, all equal, and honor the race-blind Hawaiian Kingdom founded by Kamehameha, whose first constitution (before the parade of constitutions beginning in 1864) claimed, “God hath made of one blood all nations of men”.

(Jere Krischel is a Senior Fellow with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, born and raised in Hawaii and currently living in California with his wife and two young children.)