The July 17 Star-Bulletin editorial on the new appointments to the Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights correctly mentions that I am concerned that the Akaka Bill may lead to attempts by a “Re-organized” Hawaiian Government to secede from the United States. Yes, I am deeply concerned, as are many others, that the State of Hawaii could be torn apart. This is why:

1. For months the Office of Hawaiian Affairs website listed secession from the U.S. and formation of an independent nation as one of the three organizational options available to a native Hawaiian government. The secession option was only removed from the website when OHA realized it was becoming a public relations disaster and reducing support for the Akaka Bill by Non-Hawaiians.

2. OHA Trustee Rowena Akana and OHA Administrator Clyde Namuo have both been quoted in print as saying that if the majority of the native Hawaiian people want complete independence from the U.S., then OHA will comply with their wishes.

3. In his speech introducing the 2007 version of the Akaka Bill in the U.S. Senate, Senator Akaka mentioned the desire of some Hawaiians in his grandchildren’s generation to secede from the U.S. and establish a totally separate government. When he was asked about this on National Public Radio, Senator Akaka did not denounce such an outrageous idea, as we might expect from a U.S. Senator who takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the U.S.. Instead, he simply replied that he would leave the secession question for his grandchildren to decide.

4. Several native Hawaiian groups, such as Henry Noa’s “Reinstated Hawaiian Kingdom”, already publicly advocate secession from the U.S. The numbers supporting these groups currently appears to be small. But there is no way of knowing how broad support actually is. And the peculiar structure of the Akaka Bill, in which the results of its passage will only be negotiated after the Bill becomes law, allows for many unpleasant surprises after it is too late to do anything about them. A rise in secessionist sentiment between now and then could have disastrous consequences for the Aloha State.

Those are the main reasons why I think concern about a possible attempt at secession is justified. But secession possibilities are not the principal reason why I, and many others, are fighting to stop the Akaka Bill. The main reason is that Akaka would establish an unlawful privileged class based on race, in which access to taxpayer-funded benefits would be determined by skin color not by need.

Tom Macdonald