Congress has set the stage for institutionalizing racism in America. In a relatively underreported act of Congress, the House passed the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which authorizes our government to give about one-third of Hawaii’s land to a sovereign entity representing Native Hawaiians. It set up a sovereign state within the state of Hawaii similar to reservations granted to Native Americans on the mainland. This act would also exempt Native Hawaiians from selected taxation and laws. This egregious act is based strictly on race and President Barack Obama promised to swiftly sign it if the Senate supports this bill.
A hundred and fifty years ago we spilled the blood of millions of Americans over the issue of slavery and equal protection for all citizens under the law. When this bloody Civil War ended, Americans passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S Constitution, which ended slavery and codified equal rights for all citizens regardless of race. Over the past 75 years, Americans gradually but unambiguously embraced the civil rights movement. As a result, Congress enacted civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, handicapped status, etc. More importantly, American society today has embraced equality among all Americans regardless of race, religion, etc.
Was the blood spilled in the Civil War and the civil rights movement in vain? This Native Hawaiian Act is a major setback to equality in the U.S. It allocates our national resources, rights and responsibilities based on race. It is anathema to our national identity. Can fair-minded members of Congress actually see and understand the hypocrisy of this legislation? If this legislation becomes law, what is to prevent our Congress from setting aside land to WASPs, granting them exemption from taxation and special treatment? Substitute WASPs for blacks, Jews, Italians, Irish, Muslims, etc. Continuing on this road will lead to the further balkanization of this country.
The civil rights groups in this country, including the NAACP, Urban League, Anti-Defamation League and Lambda, should fight this bill tooth and nail. It turns back the clock on Dr. King’s America, where Americans are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. How can President Obama, given his history and background, justify dividing Americans along racial lines? What happened to the post-racial America President Obama embodied?
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