Thursday, December 27, 2007

Democracy in Hawaii

Scott Crawford has an interesting post about democracy in Hawaii in Response to Twigg-Smith - Thurston and "Republic" = anti-democratic. In it, he deplores how the Hawaiian Kingdom ended without a democratic vote.

Crawford writes, "The truth is that the provisional government, the so-called republic, and the U.S. occupation were forced upon the people of Hawaii against their will and without their consent."

Crawford's view of Hawaiian history is one-sided. It ignores primary sources which do not support his views. It ignores that fact that the Hawaiian Kingdom was imposed upon the majority of Hawaii without the consent of Hawaiians by King Kamehameha. (I guess that means the Hawaiian Kingdom was never valid...) It ignores democracy in the 20th century because the "wrong" people voted.

Thurston Twigg-Smith, whom Crawford is attempting to rebut, notes this. If Kamehameha's conquest by non-democratic means was legitimate, why was not the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom? Twigg-Smith wrote, "The test is how things progressed from the date of illegitimacy. The 18th-century residents of Oahu and the other islands he conquered accepted Kamehameha as their new king, and the residents of 19th-century Hawaii accepted the Republic of Hawaii as their new government."

Crawford appears to miss this point entirely. Are only non-democratic events in history you retrospectively like legit? Despite this, I believe Mr. Crawford is actually speaking up for democracy and would respect a democratic vote today.

I believe in democracy as well. Governments should not be imposed upon a people without their consent. I also believe that people should not have a southern style "grandfather clause" placed upon them to determine whether or not they are "really" a citizen of a locality.

If any changes in the status of Hawaii are to ever be enacted, they must also be enacted with the consent and the will of the people of Hawaii. Any defect in how things were changed in the 19th century does not justify denying citizens their rights in the 21st century. The citizens of Hawaii have a right to determine their own fate regardless of what happened between people who lived and died long before they were born. Beware anyone who seeks to deny anyone their suffrage by trying to determine the status of their ancestors in the 19th century.

Let's not impose a government on the people of Hawaii without "their will and without their consent." Democracy can indeed work. But only if everyone votes. Excluding people based on 19th century events would assure a non-democratic process and sow the seeds of chaos and probable violence.

History is indeed informative to today. Mistakes in the democratic process in the past (as evidenced by Kamehameha and later by the rebel forces in Hawaii in 1893), need not be repeated in the future in Hawaii. Let us hope the lessons have been learned.

6 comments:

Grant Jones said...

It's been a while since I have felt like slumming and visited Crawford's site. Thanks for the update.

M said...

Grant,

I do not think slumming is a good word. I disagree with the ideas expressed but find the way they are expressed valuable. If it was not for Crawford's site, I would not be aware of the Hawaiian separatists. In addition, I watched the debate in the comment section of his blog for years and learned how to argue against his revisionist claims. Crawford turned his comments off last year after his views kept getting creamed in the ensuing debates.

This site holds no threat. The International Court of Jusice will never rule that Hawaii is anything other than American. The separatists will never win an election in Hawaii. And armed revolt is not going to happen.

This site can be very informative to students who are given the background perspective of multiple historical primary sources, are taught what legitimacy means under international law, and are encouraged to use their critical thinking skills. I have used it in class several times and it has helped to inspire many posts at this blog.

Take care,

Miland

scott said...

Miland, mahalo for the kind comments, despite our disagreements. I have my own commentary, but I put out info for people to make up their own minds, knowing that many will disagree with me. I have no idea what if anything will really happen with Hawaii's political status, but I do think it is important that people know the history and the feelings for independence.

For the record, I honestly did turn off the comments mainly because it was taking too much of my time and I wanted to focus on things that I think are more important than political arguments, like working to restore taro patches and protect the native forest in East Maui, things that I think everyone would agree are important regardless of political perspective. (See, I'm here commenting on your blog instead of writing a grant!) Secondarily, I turned off the comments because the tone had been turning less and less civil. You may feel like my views were getting creamed, but I didn't feel that way at all, so I wouldn't have turned the comments off for that reason. I know it might be hard to accept, but that is the truth. You seem to be fair minded with regards to your other comments about my blog, so I hope you'll accept that as well.

M said...

Scott,

Thanks for your comment.

Your site template has this notice, "is about Hawaii's status as an independent country under prolonged illegal occupation by the United States." Do you not think this will draw strong reactions for visitors?

As no American or international court has ever ruled that the US is illegally occupying Hawaii and the majority of Hawaiian, American, and world citizens do not hold this view, it is clear your statement is an minority (fringe?) opinion and not actually a real legal fact.

Your blog then has drawn comments and was a watering hole for different sides to vent their views. And the comments opposed to your views often did very well despite the level of nastiness which did spring up often.

Turn your comments back on. Get some volunteers who agree with your views that you trust to moderate the comments. Enforce some strong ground rules on behavior. This will take some of your time initially but will allow you to have others do the work for you long term. It will help make for a better blog and allow you to focus on more important projects too.

If you do not allow comments, I am sorry to say that it does appear that you are uninterested in debate on this issue.

"For the record, I honestly did turn off the comments mainly because it was taking too much of my time and I wanted to focus on things that I think are more important than political arguments, like working to restore taro patches and protect the native forest in East Maui, things that I think everyone would agree are important regardless of political perspective."

Good luck with your efforts with the Taro and the Hawaiian forests. Those are indeed noble and important goals.

Miland

scott said...

Of course it will draw strong reactions. When I look at the history, I happen to think occupation is the truth, and I think it is important that people know that many others in Hawaii also hold this view. Even if it isn't a majority, it is a lot more than most people realize.

(Also, for those of you who would try to argue that the overthrow was legal and the so-called annexation was done with consent, you are also arguing a position contrary to American law-the Apology-and not held by the majority of Hawaiian, American, and world citizens, making your statements an minority (fringe?) opinion and not actually a real legal fact.)

I know many will not agree with me. But for years we managed to have a lot of really good discussions in the comments, and I gave free reign to everyone to express their opinions, regardless of how much I may have disagreed with them, as long as they followed basic ground rules (e.g. incited violence, excess profanity), and on only a very few occasions did I have to remove comments because they broke those ground rules. So it is just plain wrong to say I am uninterested in debate on the issue. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who has contributed more to fostering constructive debate on the issue. But it is my blog - I chose to allow very active debate for a long time, and then I chose to turn off the comments, for my own reasons, which I stated at the time, and which I hope you take at face value, because they are honest. I have thought about having others help moderate, but have chosen not to so far. There are plenty of other places people can and do go to debate this issue. I hope you can respect that. If not, oh well.

M said...

"But it is my blog - I chose to allow very active debate for a long time, and then I chose to turn off the comments, for my own reasons, which I stated at the time, and which I hope you take at face value, because they are honest. I have thought about having others help moderate, but have chosen not to so far. There are plenty of other places people can and do go to debate this issue. I hope you can respect that."

Of course I respect that. Good luck with your future endeavors in agriculture and the environment.