Hawaiian Independence advocates completely ignore one huge obstacle towards their goal: The United States of America
Growing up as a Hawaiian living in Hawaii, I was taught many things in life. I was taught that I am HAWAIIAN, which means that I am unique and special (I guess many Jews hear a similar story growing up). While faith in this belief has helped to convince me of the importance of striving to do more to help our people, some Hawaiians take this belief system way too far. When you grow up in, and never leave Hawaii, you begin to think that this deference to your opinion by everyone else is just the way of the world. You start to believe that even outside of Hawaii you are entitled to a certain degree of authority, by virtue of the fact that you are Hawaiian.
One year living on the mainland (or anywhere outside of Hawaii for that matter) can quickly shatter whatever preconceived beliefs you might have had about Hawaii’s place in the world. As I quickly learned, the rest of the world does not actually revolve around Hawaii. As it turns out, other places in the world have their own concerns in life that may or may not be related to Hawaiians and our concerns. Sometimes, I’ve heard, they are even more concerned with their own lives than ours!
If there is one thing that the 2016 American Presidential Election is showing me, it is that Americans are afraid. They are afraid of all kinds of imaginary threats, whether we’re taking about GMOs, immigrants, free trade, Russia, or Muslim children. Fear, it seems, is a very powerful motivator in American politics. It can propel a reality-television star to become the nominee of the Republican Party. or a “pro-science” and “progressive” US Senator and presidential hopeful to demand GMO labeling. Apparently, fear can often be more persuasive to an audience than facts, which is why Hillary Clinton’s best argument for why she should be President is the threat of Donald Trump becoming president.
Many Hawaiian Independence/Kingdom Restoration activists try not to concern themselves with affairs outside of Hawaii. As far as they are concerned, non-Hawaiian opinions are “irrelevant to Kingdom Law” or “self-determination.” They honestly believe that independence is simply a matter of “international law” or a “self-determination process.” They behave as if the most powerful nation in the world doesn’t have a say in whether or not a State of the Union with 1 million U.S. citizens gets to secede. It doesn’t matter to them that the United States Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, and that its provisions for admission of new states take precedence over Keanu Sai or Williamson Chang’s interpretation of “International Law” or “annexation.”
For some of these people, this is a simple question of fact. IF Hawaii was never “lawfully” or “legally” annexed by the United States of America, that must therefore mean that the Hawaiian Kingdom “still exists” and that it is being “unlawfully occupied” and must be “decolonized.” It doesn’t really occur to them that neither America nor the rest of the world share their view of Hawaii as an “occupied” or “colonized” country. Indeed, most residents of Hawaii don’t even share their view of Hawaii being an independent country.
Ignoring the fact that this legal theory has produced exactly zero victories in any court in the world, would it even matter if they were correct? Does America care that there was no Treaty of Annexation with Hawaii? Does the world?
The answer is……no! As far as the United States government is concerned, a statehood vote took place in 1959 and Hawaii was admitted to the Union. The Constitution makes no provisions about States being allowed to leave the Union so long as they were “unlawfully annexed.” It says nothing about that at all. As far as the US Constitution is concerned, it doesn’t really matter how the United States acquired a territory (think about how ALL of the territory of the United States was acquired — through force) because “the act which consummated her admission into the Union [statehood] was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final… …There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.” (Texas v. White)
Thus, whether or not Hawaii can be a “sovereign and independent” nation goes well beyond the Hawaiian community to decide. It even goes beyond “international law” or “the law of occupation” or “kingdom law” or “the law of nations.” The most important factor which determines whether or not Hawaii can be a sovereign and independent country is whether or not the United States agrees with that claim. For political reasons, this is basically impossible. The last time this question was decided was after the bloodiest war in American history. Simply put, America cannot allow a State of the Union to secede because it would eventually lead to the collapse of the United States itself, much like the former Soviet Union. America has a NATIONAL INTEREST in Hawaii remaining a state much like they have a national interest in Middle Eastern oil which they are willing to bomb, rape, and pillage in order to get.
If your “plan for independence” involves the United States of America “doing the right thing” and “following international law,” don’t hold your breath.
LARGER FORCES AT WORK, JUST LIKE BEFORE…
Since the Discovery of Hawaii by foreigners, Hawaii has always been coveted by world powers due to her unique location which offers tremendous strategic value for these empires. Indeed, that is one of the primary arguments that was used for why Hawaii should be annexed as a United States Territory. The same remains true today. Hawaii is and will continue to be the home of Pacific Command for the foreseeable future and it plays a crucial role in Obama’s “Asian Pivot.” Simply put, the US government is not going to abandon it’s plans for world domination because your interpretation of “international law” or “the UN” or”the Law of Nations” says so.
The best analogy I can use is that of two landowners who have a dispute over the exact boundaries of their respective properties. In this world, there is no higher court that resolves claims and disputes in an objective and neutral manner. Furthermore, the hilarious courts that do exist have a rule, and that is that you may not sue anybody in this court unless they agree to be sued by you. Finally, even if you were to somehow change the rules of this court and win an impossible victory, there is no enforcement mechanism for judgment. That means that in this world, even if you win in court, you still lose anyway because nobody can force the other party to comply with the courts ruling. To reiterate, not only is the game rigged, but even if you somehow manage to win it, you still don’t get any prize.
So in this world, one of the property owners has a gun. The other one does not. Can you guess which one of these property owners is going to be in control of the disputed territory?
What about the other people?
Asian-Americans make up the majority of Hawaii’s population, and most of them have zero interest in the restoration of a “Hawaiian Kingdom” or “Independent Hawaiian Nation.” In fact, Asians living in Hawaii, like most people, aren’t really concerned with what Hawaiians are doing so long as we don’t affect them personally. Most of them couldn’t care less about any of our “aha’s” or the international escapades of people like Keanu Sai. Instead, they seem to be more concerned with things like affordable housing, education for their children, health care for their families and preserving the environment for future generations. In a word, they are concerned with economics, not nationalism. You would think that we might be able to learn something from these Asians…
We also shouldn’t forget about the sizable minority of haoles who live in Hawaii. Many of the radical haole hippies from California who move to places like Kauai or Paia/Haiku Maui do ostensibly support Hawaiian sovereignty, but the majority of haoles clearly do not support independence. Like the rest of the world, they consider Hawaii to be the 50th State regardless of how or why Hawaii came to that position. Most of them have those same human concerns that everyone except radical Hawaiian Kingdom activists seem to have — improving their own lives, their children’s lives, and preserving Hawaii for future generations to enjoy. As it turns out, abstract legal theories don’t take precedence over economic and political realities, even in Hawaii.
Finding the Middle Ground
Because revolution without an army is unlikely to succeed against the most powerful military in the world, Hawaiians might want to consider a different path that will actually improve the chances of success for the Hawaiian community. Since we know that international law doesn’t really apply to the United States (even if all of the Kingdom activists arguments were correct — which is debatable), and the US Constitution does not allow for secession, spectacular legal theories that attempt to fundamentally redraw the boundaries of the United States of America seem to be a dead end (which explains why they have no real victories with this theory, legal or otherwise).
One path favored by many Hawaiians “in the know” is “federal recognition” or a political relationship with the United States government through the Department of the Interior (like Native American tribes). This is opposed by both the Hawaiian Nationalists who claim it “surrenders” Hawaii’s (imaginary) “independence and sovereignty” as well as the American nationalists, Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, who believe that Hawaiians are U.S. citizens just like all Americans and should be treated equally as such with no special rights, protections, or privileges.
Some Hawaiian nationalists — utterly delusional — believe that federal recognition will “extinguish” or “surrender” their “independence” and “sovereignty” from the United States (they believe they are an independent country, right here, right now). American nationalists on the other hand, aren’t stupid. They realize (as any sane person would) that the only realistic option Hawaiians have are either status quo as American citizens (Homesteads for those of 50% Hawaiian or more, State/Office of Hawaiian Affairs control of Hawaiian lands and assets, and being residents of the State of Hawaii) or Federal Recognition which would more or less create a government by Hawaiians for Hawaiians. American nationalists, generally from the conservative end of the political spectrum, are tired of all these programs and benefits for minorities and wish to end race-based discrimination (unless of course it is Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, or any other group they feel threatened by).
Only time will tell where the majority of Hawaiians, the silent majority, truly stand. Will they choose status quo or federal recognition?