The Discriminatory Akaka Bill: ‘Infamous’ Indeed

by Hans A. von Spakovsky

Yesterday in the Corner, Roger Clegg termed the Akaka bill “infamous.” And rightly so. This odious legislation is nothing more than an attempt to institutionalize outright racial discrimination in Hawaii. How? By implementing a “Native” Hawaiian government.

U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner and Corner regular Peter Kirsanow calls it “the worst piece of proposed legislation ever reviewed by the Commission.” The purpose of the bill is to shore up the Hawaiian government’s ability to discriminate in favor of — and confer special benefits on — those it considers to be “ethnic” Hawaiians. Of course, this would all be to the detriment of Hawaiians of African, Asian, European, or other descent. (How many drops of ethnic blood must one have to be considered an eligible “Native”? The bill doesn’t stipulate, but I am sure there are some old laws from the time of the Confederacy that the “Native” Hawaiian government could use to help make that determination.)

The bill is intended to do an end-run around court decisions and preserve Hawaii’s current practice of conferring government benefits on “Native” Hawaiians, including special home loans and business loans, as well as housing and educational programs. As one witness testified at the Commission hearing, the Akaka bill would permanently segregate the state of Hawaii and its people. It would legalize discrimination between citizens of the United States based solely on ancestry.

I find it simply amazing that in 2010, such a morally indefensible bill could even be considered by the United States Congress, much less be close to passage. But Sens. Daniel Akaka and Dan Inouye (both D., Hawaii) have helped it along by short-circuiting the normal legislative process and trying to stick it into a “must pass” appropriations bill.

Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the two senatorial Dans seem hell-bent on pushing this bill through during the lame-duck session. But if truth in advertising laws applied to legislation, the bill’s sponsors would be required to begin any floor remarks about the bill by saying “Discrimination now, discrimination tomorrow, discrimination forever,” because that is exactly what the Akaka bill represents.

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