2006-06-02 Michael J. Yaki Fact Check
Back to Correcting Akaka
In reponse to the majority report by the USCCR which recommended against the Akaka Bill, two of the commissioners have filed dissents. In the spirit of our other fact checks, we present to you the statement of Michael J. Yaki.
Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Michael J. Yaki
Commissioner Arlan D. Melendez joins in this dissent.
As a person quite possibly with native Hawaiian blood running through his veins, it is quite possible to say that I cannot possibly be impartial when it comes to this issue. And, in truth, that may indeed be the fact. Nevertheless, even before my substantive objections are made known, from a process angle there were serious and substantial flaws in the methodology underlying the report.
First, the report relies upon a briefing from a grand total of four individuals, on an issue that has previously relied upon months of research and fact gathering that has led to two State Advisory Commission reports, one Department of Justice Report, and Congressional action (the “Apology Resolution”), not to mention testimony before the Congress on the NHGRA bill itself that was never incorporated into the record.
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Comment: Thanks to the testimony during the hearings, the facts also included a Senate Congressional investigation concluded just a year after the events in question, and the 1983 Native Hawaiians Study Commission report, both of which found the claims of U.S. involvement in the Hawaiian Revolution (as mentioned in the "Apology Reoslution") highly exaggerated.
One might ask how we can place value on the "Apology Resolution" when it was passed with a mere hour of debate in the Senate, and by voice vote with no debate in the House.
The paucity of evidence adduced is hardly the stuff upon which to make recommendations or findings. Even though the Commission, to its credit, stripped the report of all its findings for its final version, does that not itself lend strength and credence to the suggestion that the briefing was flawed from the inception? And if so flawed, how can the Commission opine so strongly upon a record that it could not even find supported now non-existent findings?
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Correction: None of the findings stripped from the report deserved to be removed. It is shameful that the two dissenting commissioners were able to bully the rest of the commission into redacting perfectly accurate findings of fact.
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Second, aside from ignoring the volumes of research and testimony that lie elsewhere and easily available to the Commission, we ignored soliciting advice and comment from our own State Advisory Commission of Hawai’i. Over the past two decades, the Hawai’i Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights (“HISAC”) has examined issues relating to federal and state relations with Native Hawaiians. As early as 1991, HISAC recommended legislation confirming federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. A mere five years ago, the HISAC found that “the lack of federal recognition for native Hawaiians appears to constitute a clear case of discrimination among the native peoples found within the borders of this nation.” The HISAC concluded “[a]bsent explicit recognition of a Native Hawaiian governing entity, or at least a process for ultimate recognition thereof, it is clear that the civil and political rights of Native Hawaiians will continue to erode.”
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Correction: It is not "civil and political rights" at risk, it is "civil and political privileges" at risk. No other racial group in Hawaii enjoys the benefits of the clearly unconstitutional race-based programs in place there, such as OHA and DHHL, and to think that a CIVIL RIGHTS commission would search for a rationale to preserve race-based special privileges is turning the entire idea of the 15th amendment and equality on its head.
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The HISAC found that “the denial of Native Hawaiian self-determination and self-governance to be a serious erosion of this group’s equal protection and human rights.”
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Correction: Equal protection is for everybody, not just one racial group. Self-determination and self-governance are individual rights we all share, not collective rights given away based on race. The HISAC should be embarassed to use such language when speaking of protecting special racial privileges.
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Echoing recommendations by the United States Departments of Justice and Interior, the HISAC “strongly recommend[ed]” that the federal government “accelerate efforts to formalize the political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the United States.” The HISAC’s long-standing position of support for legislation like S. 147 to protect the civil rights of native Hawaiians belies recent assertions that such legislation discriminates on the basis of race and causes further racial divide.
The HISAC could and would have been a key source of information, especially updated information, on the state of the record. To exclude them from the dialogue I believe was indefensible and a deliberate attempt to ensure that contrary views were not introduced into the record.
Third, the report as it stands now makes no sense. The lack of findings, the lack of any factual analysis, now makes the report the proverbial Emperor without clothes. The conclusion of the Commission stands without support, without backing, and will be looked upon, I believe, as irrelevant to the debate. Such is the risk one runs when scholarship and balance are lacking.
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Correction: The facts are clear, and the conclusion simple and commonsense:
The Commission recommends against passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (S. 147) as reported out of committee on May 16, 2005, or any other legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege.
S. 147, in its very construction, defines a racial group and sets aside special privileges for them. Any other reading is simply denial of plain facts.
Substantively, the recommendation of the Commission cannot stand either. It is not based on facts about the political status of indigenous, Native Hawaiians; nor Native Hawaiian history and governance; or facts about existing U.S. policy and law concerning Native Hawaiians. It is a misguided attempt to start a new and destructive precedent in U.S. policy toward Native Americans. The USCCR recommendation disregards the U.S. Constitution that specifically addresses the political relationship between the U.S. and the nations of Native Americans. The USCCR disregarded facts when the choice was made not to include HISAC in the January 2006 briefing on NHGRA and not utilizing the past relevant HISAC reports concerning Native Hawaiians based on significant public hearing and facts. Spring-boarding from trick phrasing and spins offered by ill informed experts, at least one of whom has filed suit to end Native Hawaiian programs established through Congress and the state constitution, the USCCR majority recommendation is an obvious attempt to treat Native Hawaiians unfairly in order to begin the process of destroying existing U.S. policy towards Native Americans.
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Correction: "Trick phrasing" is an awfully poor description of truth, and the testimony of someone who has been fighting desperately for years for equal treatment and civil rights for all in Hawaii is probably the most accurate picture you can find.
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