The Hawaiian Grievance Industry – Panhandling for Race-Based Handouts and Political Power

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“Ken Conklin Image”

One of the strange things about politics in Hawaii is
the aggressiveness of racial profiling and racial
stereotyping for fun and profit.


The fun part is to zealously proclaim the past glories
of an aboriginal culture dragged into modern times by
outsiders. More fun comes from insisting that any
living person who has a drop of aboriginal blood
thereby acquires genetically all the skill, knowledge,
and wisdom of the ancestors; plus the right to
guaranteed racial supremacy in political power. The
concept is that the gods gave birth to the Hawaiian
islands as living beings, and then gave birth to the
primordial ancestor of all ethnic Hawaiians. Anyone
with a drop of Hawaiian native blood is descended from
the gods and is a brother to the land. Anyone lacking
a drop of the magic blood is forever an outsider — at
best merely a guest in the indigenous homeland of his
increasingly reluctant hosts. Thus we are all
racially profiled as having both personal
characteristics and political rights based entirely on
whether we have any Hawaiian native ancestry.

More racial profiling comes from saying that (all)
ethnic Hawaiians (as a group) are poor and
downtrodden, having the worst statistics for poverty,
disease, poor education, alcohol and drug abuse,
mental illness, family dysfunction, incarceration,
etc. Spokesmen for this racial group are extremely
zealous in embracing and publicly asserting this
derogatory stereotype!

Profit comes from race-based institutions grown
wealthy and powerful by gathering data and
manipulating statistics to “prove” the derogatory
labels. Such claims are then used to demand more
money and power to study the problems, to gather more
data, and to write reports demanding more money and
power. There is intense effort to ensure that ethnic
Hawaiians can win the economically and politically
valuable prize of being worst victim.

Greater profit comes from asserting historical
grievances about events of 107-227 years ago
(1778-1898) coupled with current victimhood
statistics. It is claimed (but never proved) that the
historical grievances actually caused the (alleged)
current victimhood conditions. Books, movies, and
newspaper articles constantly tout the historical
grievances and victimhood claims, laying a guilt trip
on Hawaii’s people of no native ancestry and on the
United States. Sometimes those same books, movies,
and articles also glorify the ancient culture and the
modern effort to revive selected portions of it. Thus
the guilt is intensified, because the people who
suffer the grievances and victimhood are exceptionally
gifted and noble.

The greatest profit of all would be the establishment
of a race-based government controlling enormous
amounts of land and money for the exclusive use of
members of the favored race. The demand to establish
such a government is asserted as a way for non-ethnic
Hawaiians to give reparations for past injustices and
help to overcome current victimhood, thereby starting
down a (very long and expensive) path to
reconciliation. But the path has no end; the shining
goal of reconciliation can never be achieved.

The greatest injustice of the Hawaiian grievance
industry is its use of racial profiling, or
stereotyping. Both common sense and data analysis
show that the variations within a racial group are far
greater than the differences between their averages.
Say what? Some ethnic Hawaiians are rich, some are
poor, and most are scattered at every level in
between. The same is true of every ethnic group.
Awarding goodies to an entire racial group while
ignoring other groups gives benefits to many members
of the favored group who do not need those benefits;
at the expense of members of the disfavored group(s)
who truly do need the benefits but are racially
excluded from getting them.

Racial stereotyping is obviously complicated by
intermarriage. In Hawaii, it is commonly said that
75% of all ethnic “Hawaiians” are each more than 75 percent
something else. How is it that someone with 1/16
Hawaiian native ancestry and 15/16 Chinese ancestry
calls herself “Native Hawaiian”?

Blood quantum percentage is clearly very important in
analyzing any medical or social claims such as “Native
Hawaiians have the highest rate of breast cancer and
the highest rate of poverty.” If the claim is that
genetics is the cause, then that woman who has 1/16
Hawaiian native ancestry should rack up only 1/16 of a
victimhood tally mark for Native Hawaiians and 15/16
of a tally mark for ethnic Chinese. If race is
claimed to be the cause or distinguishing
characteristic of a physical illness, then percentage
of racial heritage is obviously relevant to analyzing
the data.

If the claim is a social or cultural one, that people
raised with a specific type of cultural upbringing are
more likely to suffer certain health or social
problems, then of course race is not the issue. A
child who is biologically white but adopted and raised
in a Hawaiian family will grow up culturally Hawaiian
— unless the “Hawaiian” family itself has adopted all
or part of other cultural folkways.

If someone goes to jail for assault, then racial blame
for that crime should be allocated among racial groups
based on percentages of blood quantum; and the crime
should be allocated among ethnic cultural lifestyles
based on some sort of calculus for counting which
social elements or styles belong to which cultures.
Confusing, isn’t it? There is simply no way to
justify claims that “Native Hawaiians” are this (good
thing) or that (bad thing) — not biologically, and
not culturally.

Race-based government or private programs provide
goodies for every member of a group, whether they are
needy or not. Ethnic Hawaiians have more than 160
federally funded programs for healthcare, housing,
education, etc. which are ”’not”’ available to other
groups. The obvious result is that a wealthy person
of Hawaiian native ancestry has access to programs not
available to poor people of other ancestries.

For example, an impoverished Filipina woman who knows
she has breast cancer might be unable to afford
medical treatment, even while she herself is paying
taxes used to provide free breast cancer screening to
a wealthy Hawaiian woman who might not have the
disease at all. This sort of injustice happens
because there are government funded breast-exam
programs exclusively for ethnic Hawaiians; and those
programs got established because of “studies” that
showed that the average rate of breast cancer among
ethnic Hawaiians is higher than the average rate among
other ethnic groups.

The best solution is the simplest one. Forget about
race. Needy people get help based on need alone. If
it is true that ethnic Hawaiians have the worst
statistics and are the most needy among the ethnic
groups, then it is obvious that ethnic Hawaiians will
get the lion’s share of whatever help is given out
based on need alone.

If it can ever be proved that a particular gene that
produces a particular race also automatically produces
an undesirable physical or mental characteristic, then
serious consideration would need to be given to doing
genetic engineering to change the genome of that
racial group. But of course that would be politically
incorrect, and ethnic Hawaiians in particular have
strong cultural and political opposition to any
tampering with bones or DNA — there was even an
uproar recently regarding a university project to do
genetic engineering on taro, because a Hawaiian
creation legend places taro as the elder brother of
ethnic Hawaiians.

How is it possible that a group of people once so high
have been brought so low? Because outsiders brought
disease and death. Outsiders forced fundamental
changes in the religion, culture, language, and way of
life — changes which destroyed the natives’ physical
health along with their emotional drive and spiritual
connectedness to each other and to the land and the
gods. The natives are now strangers in their own
land, dispossessed and depressed, with nowhere to go
but oblivion — unless everyone pitches in to
rehabilitate them with massive reparations for
historical injustices.

No amount of factual evidence or logical reasoning
will ever persuade the “victims” to give up any of
their victimhood claims. The victims are proud of
their victimhood, and assert it ruthlessly as a weapon
to extract money and power from their generous,
kind-hearted “oppressors.” But no amount of
reparations will ever be enouugh. This is a debt
which can never be repaid. The existence of this debt
lays so much guilt at the door of Hawaii’s people and
all America, that the only solution would be to help
these poor downtrodden people create their own
government and then turn over massive amounts of
money, land, and power to them.

That’s the theory of the Akaka bill, and also of the
independence movement. The main quarrel between these
two factions concerns which tactic is more likely to
bring success. (1) Pursue independence as the only
strategy because it’s what both factions really want
in the long run, and oppose the Akaka bill. But this
strategy risks the loss of race-based programs through
court challenges in the meantime. (2) Accept tribal
status for the present in order to ensure the
preservation of race-based programs while continuing
to pursue independence. But this strategy risks the
possibility that accepting tribal status might be seen
as an exercise of self-determination — ethnic
Hawaiians making a group choice which is irrevocable,
thereby foreclosing the use of “international law” to
achieve independence.

”’Editorial note: This essay is a summary of a longer article containing numerous footnotes. The complete article can be found at:”’

”’Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D., is an independent scholar in Kaneohe, Hawaii. His Web site on Hawaiian Sovereignty is at:”’ ”’He can be contacted at:”’

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