A shorter version of  my previous post hit the Maui News on November 30th. I was in bed with a cold that morning, and it didn’t take long for a local fellow to a call and express his displeasure. Other than veiled threats, the gist of his message to me was:

  • I needed to be educated about the situation. (Done, and continuing: During the 10+ years I’ve made my home here, I’ve read widely on the subject, including a number of pro-sovereignty texts on and off line.)
  • The haoles have no aloha. (Partly true.)
  • The haoles are stealing land. (Partly true. Newcomers have played fast and loose in claiming title to land: in the past by manipulating the Hawaiian and Territorial Government, now by “buying” interest from one member of a large ohana, and making expensive-to-fight quiet title claims on the rest of the extended family).
  • The haoles aren’t even following their own rules. (False)
  • The case of Hawaiian Sovereignty is before the World Court (which will presumably straighten this whole thing out). (Half true)

A number of sovereignty activists and supporters point to the fact that the World Court has accepted papers from one or more Hawaiian groups that dispute the US “occupation” of Hawai’i as proof that an authoritative third party sees enough merit in the case to, in essence, give the complainants the time of day.

The flaw in this line of thinking is the belief that a bureaucracy accepting papers reflects a favorable view of the text they contain. Just as that one can sue anyone about anything in the US, anyone can drop off a complain with the World Court (or, at least one of its three bodies):

  • International Criminal Court: even if Thurston Twigg-Smith had  slain half of all native Hawaiians by his own hand, if he did it before the Court was formed in 2002, they won’t hear the case.
  • International Court of Justice: in addition to supplying legal opinions to the UN, the ICJ produces a binding ruling between states that agree to submit to the ruling of the court. The states must be recognized as legitimate, and both states must agree to submit if the case is to be heard. As it stands, the UN and all nations that have diplomatic relations with the US recognize Hawai’i as an integral part of the US.
  • Permanent Court of Arbitration: …”serve[s] as the registry for purposes of international arbitration and other related procedures, including commissions of enquiry and conciliation. In short, it is a permanent framework available to assist temporary arbitral tribunals or commissions.” This is probably the body referred to by activists. While they will accept complaints from just about any body that can manage to organize itself, the key word is “arbitration”. If the US declines arbitration, the PCA has no jurisdiction to force the issue.

Ultimately, this brings me back to a point I’ve previously made in letters to the editor. The legal and political status of Hawai’i as a State of the Union is firmly set. The legal distance between it and – say – Rhode Island is shorter than the text of this post. Hawai’i won’t be cut loose by the stroke of a pen, unless proceeded by war, or a process at least as arduous as amending the Federal Constitution.

The truth may hurt, but knowledge can set my morning caller free, free to seek a route that might put him closer to his goal, rather than chasing dreams.