Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How did the Akaka bill get this far?

America: A whole lot of bad precedents are waiting to happen these days. This is a stupid bill that goes far beyond just protecting a certain ethnic group's culture. It is a do whatever you want including forming a nation within a nation. The Indians and people with ancestory ties to southwest America would be pleased by this as it gives them a foundation for further claims.

The bill, formerly known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, would recognize a legal and political relationship between the United States and a native Hawaiian governing entity, giving native Hawaiians self-governing rights similar to those of Native American tribes. Last year, congressional leaders agreed that the bill would be brought to the Senate floor on or before Aug. 7, but the measure stalled after concerns were raised by several senators. A cloture vote was then set for Sept. 6, but tabled after lawmakers dealt with emergency measures related to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast. The bill's opponents say it will create two classes of people in Hawaii and would signal the beginning of the state's secession from the union. Opponents received two high-profile boosts in Washington recently. The conservative magazine National Review blasted the bill in a cover story with the headline "Shame" this month. And last month the Washington-based U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded in a report that the Akaka Bill would "discriminate on the basis of race or national origin, and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."
NYTIMES is in love with the bill which is always a bad sign.
It's a bill sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka that would extend federal recognition to Native Hawaiians as indigenous people. It would create a governing body for the estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians that would negotiate with the state and federal governments over land and other resources. After languishing for years, the bill is heading for a Senate vote. This has prompted outraged editorials and op-ed articles warning that a Pacific paradise will become a balkanized banana republic. Those worries are misplaced. The bill's central aim is protecting money and resources — inoculating programs for Native Hawaiians from race-based legal challenges. It is based on the entirely defensible conviction that Native Hawaiians — who make up 20 percent of the state's population but are disproportionately poor, sick, homeless and incarcerated — have a distinct identity and deserve the same rights as tribal governments on the mainland. The Akaka bill does not supersede the Constitution or permit Zimbabwe-style land grabs. It explicitly forbids casinos, a touchy subject in Hawaii. Any changes a Hawaiian government seeks would have to be negotiated with state or federal authorities. As has always been the case on those eight little islands, everyone will have to find a way to get along.
Earlier today Senator Akaka said well...we may look to secede.
And then there were 49 [Kathryn Jean Lopez] Senator Akaka, the raced-based Hawaii bill's sponsor made a big concession on the Senate floor today; in the transcript below, he talks about concerns that have been raised about native Hawaiians seceding if this bill passes. Well, he doesn't rule it out. He only says that it would have to be “negotiated,” that it would have to go through a process, but that it would be within the law. In other words, if this bill is passed, native Hawaiians could return to a monarchy, or some other separate form of government all together. June 7, 2006 4:54 p.m. Sen. Akaka (D-Hawaii) And when it was mentioned that I had mentioned that they could secede, the question that was asked of me was whether that could happen. And I pointed out that, that to secede, the Hawaiians would have to take it through this governing entity and that this entity would decide whether they should take this to be negotiated with the state government and then with the federal government.And let’s say they do decide to secede as an entity. I don’t think the state government with the state laws would agree to that. It has to be negotiated. And let’s say if—and I don’t know it, I know it won’t happen—that the state department, the state of Hawaii agrees to that. It has to go to the federal government. So this is all within the law. I’ve spoken to those in Hawaii who want to have the—Hawaii to be independent and I’ve told them, hey, you can use the governing entity to discuss it. And this is what I meant. They can bring these to the governing entity and the governing entity will make a decision as to what happens to, uh, to independence or returning to the monarchy. But all of this would be within the law of the United States, as mentioned by my senior, senior Senator.
Another claim this is not a race-based bill, the United States Commission on Civil Rights says other wise as pointed out here.
If I told you there would be a bill coming to the floor of the United States Senate this week that would create a sovereign government based on race, would you believe me? You can be forgiven for being skeptical. It sounds ridiculous. If I told you that when it comes to the floor -- most likely on Thursday of this week -- that it’s not at all unlikely that it will pass, would you believe me then? It’s time to start believing. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act comes to the floor this week. Among its goals, according to a report from the United States Commission on Civil Rights: Recognize a right of the Native Hawaiian people to reorganize the Native Hawaiian governing entity to provide for their common welfare and to adopt appropriate organic governing documents. Establish a commission to certify that the adult members of the Native Hawaiian community proposed for inclusion on the roll meet the definition of Native Hawaiian as “an individual who is one of the indigenous, native people of Hawaii.” Authorize the United States to enter into negotiations with the governing entity to lead to an agreesment addressing specified matters including the transfer of lands, natural resources, and other assets.” After a briefing in January, the commission issued a report that portrayed the Akaka bill as “discriminatory and divisive.”
Senator Alexander spells out what this means in the end.
In many ways, the constitutional and racial issues surrounding the bill have become a Rorschach test on guarantees of equality and fairness. "The question this bill poses is very fundamental to the existence of our nation," Alexander said. "If it passes, for the first time in American history ... it would establish a new sovereign nation within the United States based solely on race." Alexander and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, say the bill's requirement that those participating in a Native Hawaiian government have some Native Hawaiian blood is what makes the bill unconstitutional.
Other race groups, get your claims ready if this becomes law.

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