Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hawaiian Statehood is not legal! Part 2

As you may recall from yesterday in part one of this post…
Most people know that Hawaii is a state, the 50th state of the United States of America. Most people, including those who live in Hawaii, accept that statement as a fact. But the reality is that our world is bound by the rule of law, and legally speaking, the truth may be quite different!
The truth is that each and every step along Hawaii's path from sovereign and independent nation, to annexed territory, to statehood, was accomplished in violation of laws and treaties then in effect, without regard to the wishes of the Hawaiian people. At the time President Grover Cleveland sent to Honolulu special commissioner James H. Blount, former chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Blount's job was to investigate the circumstances of the revolution, the role Minister Stevens and American troops played in it, and to determine the feelings of the people of Hawaii toward the provisional government. Blount immediately ordered the troops back to their ship and the American flag taken down and replaced by the Hawaiian flag. And now to conclude our post…

Blount's final report charged that Minister Stevens illegally conspired in the overthrow of the monarchy, which would not have taken place without the landing of U.S. troops. Blount recommended restoring the queen, saying... “The undoubted sentiment of the people is for the queen, against the provisional government and against annexation." He noted, "There is not an annexationist in the Islands, so far as I have been able to observe, who would be willing to submit the question of annexation to a popular vote."
Based on Blount's findings, President Cleveland decided that, in the name of justice, he would do everything in his power to reinstate the queen. Minister Stevens was recalled from Hawaii in disgrace, and replaced with Albert Willis, who expressed to the queen the president's regret that the unauthorized intervention of the United States had caused her to surrender her sovereignty
Willis next went to Sanford Dole and the provisional government, acknowledging the wrong committed by the United States in the revolution and requested them to resign power and restore the queen.
The answer, of course, was no. They repudiated the right of the American president to interfere in their domestic affairs and said that if the American forces illegally assisted the revolution, the provisional government was not responsible.
On Dec. 18, 1893, President Cleveland made an eloquent speech to Congress on the Hawaiian situation. He had harsh words for the landing of American troops at the revolutionaries' request: "This military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war; unless made either with the consent of the government of Hawaii or for the bona fide purpose of protecting the imperiled lives and property of citizens of the United States. But there is no pretense of any such consent on the part of the government of the queen ... the existing government, instead of requesting the presence of an armed force, protested against it. There is as little basis for the pretense that forces were landed for the security of American life and property. If so, they would have been stationed in the vicinity of such property and so as to protect it, instead of at a distance and so as to command the Hawaiian Government Building and palace. ... When these armed men were landed, the city of Honolulu was in its customary orderly and peaceful condition. ... "
The president continues:
"But for the notorious predilections of the United States minister for annexation, the Committee of Safety, which should have been called the Committee of Annexation, would never have existed.
"But for the landing of the United States forces upon false pretexts respecting the danger to life and property, the committee would never have exposed themselves to the plans and penalties of treason by undertaking the subversion of the queen's government.
"But for the presence of the United States forces in the immediate vicinity and in position to accord all needed protection and support, the committee would not have proclaimed the provisional government from the steps of the Government Building.
"And, finally, but for the lawless occupation of Honolulu under false pretexts by the United States forces, and but for Minister Stevens' recognition of the provisional government when the United States forces were its sole support and constituted its only military strength, the queen and her government would never have yielded to the provisional government, even for a time and for the sole purpose of submitting her case to the enlightened justice of the United States. ... "
He further stated,
"...if a feeble but friendly state is in danger of being robbed of its independence and its sovereignty by a misuse of the name and power of the United States, the United States cannot fail to vindicate its honor and its sense of justice by an earnest effort to make all possible reparation."
President Cleveland concluded by placing the matter in the hands of Congress.
The Senate hearings were conducted by the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, John Tyler Morgan, an annexationist, whose final report managed to find everyone blameless for the revolution except the queen. Many in the Senate disagreed, and the House censured Stevens and passed a resolution opposing annexation.
With their goal of annexation stalled, the leaders of the provisional government decided to form a republic, while waiting for a more opportune political climate. Meanwhile, vast tracks of Hawaiian land (including Pearl Harbor) were taken from their rightful owners without compensation by the new government and traded to the United States in exchange for a reduction of the sugar tariff. The United States Navy began to study how they would use the "Unsinkable Battleship Hawaii" in its Pacific commanding location.
The new provisional government drafted a constitution and declared it law by proclamation -- the very act for which they had forced Lili`uokalani from her throne. The new constitution required voters to swear allegiance to the republic, and thousands of Native Hawaiians refused, out of loyalty to queen and country. Foreigners who had sided with the revolution were allowed to vote. Property requirements and other qualifications were so strict that relatively few Hawaiians and absolutely no Asians could vote.
On July 4, 1894, (again pandering to the United States in the hopes of eventual annexation) Sanford Dole announced the inauguration of the Republic of Hawaii, and declared himself president.

Unwilling to give up, many Hawaiians and other royalists accumulated arms for a counterrevolution to restore the monarchy. In the January 1895 uprising, led again by Robert Wilcox, the royalists were forced by government troops to retreat into the valleys behind Honolulu, and after 10 days of fighting, most of them, including Wilcox, were captured.
The republic's prize catch was Queen Lili`uokalani. A search revealed a cache of arms buried in the flower garden of her home at Washington Place (now the state Governor's mansion). She was arrested Jan. 16, 1895, exactly two years from the date the American troops landed in support of the revolution. Imprisoned in a corner room on the second story of `Iolani Palace, she was guarded day and night, allowed only one attendant and no visitors. The windows of her room were painted over to prevent her from seeing out, and her supporters from seeing in. The paint remains on those windows to this very day. Lili`uokalani passed the long hours writing music (Lili`uokalani wrote many of Hawaii's most popular traditional tunes) and quilting.
Lili`uokalani was given a document of abdication to sign and was led to believe that, if she refused, several of her followers were to be shot for treason. She wrote, "For myself, I would have chosen death rather than to have signed it; but it was represented to me that by my signing this paper all the persons who had been arrested, all my people now in trouble by reason of their love and loyalty toward me, would be immediately released ... the stream of blood ready to flow unless it was stayed by my pen." It is worth noting that the Hawaiian Constitution did not provide a legal process for the Monarch's abdication and without the approval of the legislature, the document had no legal validity.
Despite Lili`uokalani's signing of the abdication document, Wilcox and four others were sentenced to death. Many other royalists received long prison sentences and heavy fines. Lili`uokalani noted, ''Their sentences were passed the same as though my signature had not been obtained. That they were not executed is due solely to a consideration which has been officially stated: 'Word came from the United States that the execution of captive rebels would militate against annexation.'" In other words, the Americans who had stolen the government were still lying to the queen to get what they wanted, stayed from killing Wilcox and the others only by intercession from the United States, which was still trying to figure out what its own role was in the fiasco.
The queen was charged with misprision of treason and was given the maximum sentence of five years imprisonment at hard labor and a $5,000 fine. Out of fear that seeing their Queen at hard labor would trigger yet another armed revolt among the populace, Lili`uokalani remained a prisoner in the palace for eight months, then under house arrest until 1896.
Upon gaining her freedom, Lili`uokalani went to Washington, armed with documents signed by many Hawaiians asking President Cleveland to reinstate their queen. But it was now too late for him to be of further help. His term was over and he could do no more. Grover Cleveland wrote: "I am ashamed of the whole affair."
His successor, President William McKinley, sent the annexation treaty to the Senate.
Hawaiians submitted a petition to Congress with 29,000 signatures opposing annexation, and petitions to the Republic of Hawaii, asking that annexation be put to a public vote. They were never permitted to vote on the issue.
In all, three separate Treaties of Annexation were sent to congress. All three failed. In the end, Hawaii was annexed by a joint resolution of Congress. But Congress did not have the legal authority to do so. A joint resolution of Congress has no legal standing in a foreign country, which is what Hawaii remained, even under the provisional government.
Sovereignty of Hawaii was formally transferred to the United States at ceremonies at `Iolani Palace on Aug. 12, 1898. Sanford Dole spoke as the newly appointed governor of the Territory of Hawaii. The Hawaiian anthem, ''Hawaii Pono `I" -- with words written by King Kalakaua -- was played at the Hawaiian flag was lowered, and replaced by the American flag and "The Star-Spangled Banner." The Hawaiian people had lost their land, their monarchy and now their independence. The American plantation owners were now free of the import tariffs; small matter that the Hawaiian people had lost their independence along the way.
Even this act of transfer was illegal under international, law. Beginning with Dewey's attack at Manila, the international rules of war went into effect, with Spain and the United States as belligerents and Hawaii as a neutral nation. Under the Hague convention of 1907, the United States government was required to enforce Hawaiian law rather than its own, but failed to do so.
By annexing Hawaii without a treaty, then stationing military forces on the islands, the US, while a belligerent nation in wartime, committed an unprovoked incursion into a neutral nation and established military forces there. This is what Hitler did across Europe and Japan did in China. This is an act of war under anyone's laws.
The following year saw the death of the beautiful young Princess. Ka'iulani, heir to the Hawaiian throne, at age 23. With her died the last hopes for a restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy. To this day, questions still linger as to exactly how and why such a young and healthy woman died. Lili`uokalani remained an indomitable spirit, honored and revered by her people as a queen to the end. She died in 1917, at the age of 79, still waiting for justice.
Hawaii remained a territorial possession of the United States for many years. The military presence illegally begun during the Spanish American war continued to grow, including the Naval base at Pearl Harbor. The plantation families grew richer and richer, while the original Hawaiian people were marginalized, often homeless in their own homelands. The animosity between Hawaiians and the Americans exploded into public view during the celebrated Ala Moana Rape case, in which famed lawyer Clarence Darrow argued for the defense. The thin veneer of a tropic paradise, crafted for the emerging tourist industry was shattered in moments by the anger shown on both sides.
In 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided that the best way to get a reluctant America into a war with Hitler was to "back door" a war by luring Japan into an attack against the United States. By cutting off oil exports to Japan, Roosevelt forced Japan to invade the Dutch East Indies, and by placing the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl, Roosevelt made an attack at Pearl the mandatory first move in any military move by Japan in any direction.
Following WW2, Hawaii was placed on the list of non self-governing territories by the United Nations, with the United States as trustee, under Article 73. Under Article 73 of the UN charter, the status of a territory can only be changed by a special vote, (called a plebiscite) held among the inhabitants of the territory. That plebiscite is required to have three choices on the ballot. The first choice is to become a part of the trustee nation. In Hawaii's case that meant to become a state. The second choice was to remain a territory. And the third choice, required by article 73 of the UN Charter, was the option for independence. For Hawaii, that meant no longer being a territory of the United States and returning to being an independent sovereign nation.
In 1959 Hawaii's plebiscite vote was held, and again, the United States government bent the rules. The plebiscite ballot only had the choice between statehood and remaining a territory. No option for independence appeared on the ballot as was required under the UN charter. Cheated out of their independence yet again, Hawaiians voted for the lesser of two evils and became the 50th state.
The history of Hawaii's transition from sovereign nation to a state of the United States is a history of crime after crime after crime, of policy put forward by proclamation and reinforced by American weapons of war, of military incursion, of violations of international law and treaties then in effect. None of the events which turned Hawaii from a sovereign nation into a part of the US were legal and above board. It was robbery, by anyone's definition of the word, with the justifications and excuses made up after the fact to make the affair palatable to an American public that still wanted to view its government as fair, just, and honorable.
In 1988, a study by the United States Justice Department concluded that Congress did not have the authority to annex Hawaii by joint resolution. The ersatz annexation was a cover for the military occupation of the Hawaiian islands for purposes related to the Spanish American war.

On November 23, 1993, President Clinton signed United States Public Law 103-150, which not only acknowledged the illegal actions committed by the United States in the overthrow of the legitimate government of Hawaii, but also that the Hawaiian people never surrendered their sovereignty. The latter is the most important part of United States Public Law 103-150 for it makes it quite clear that the Hawaiian people never legally ceased to be a sovereign separate independent nation. There is no argument that can change that fact.
United States Public Law 103-150, despite its polite language, is an official admission that the government of the United States illegally occupies the territory of the Hawaiian people.
In 1999, the United Nations confirmed that the plebiscite vote that led to Hawaii's statehood was in violation of article 73 of the United Nations' charter. The Hawaii statehood vote, under treaty then in effect, was illegal and non-binding. (The same, by the way, is true of the Alaska plebiscite).
In a world where nations are as governed by laws as are men, Hawaii is not and has never legally been a part of the United States. Hawaii was stolen from the Hawaiian people, and many of them want it back.
Unable to argue against these legal issues calling into question the legitimacy of the United States presence in Hawaii, supporters of the Status Quo have put forward various arguments to justify why, even if the Hawaiian people were deprived of their government and lands illegally, that things should stay just the way they are today. Most of these excuses are questionable at best.
One of the oddest excuses is that Hawaiian independence would cause the society in the islands to fall apart. But the truth is that a new government of an independent Hawaii is well motivated to NOT change anything; to keep the industry, tourism, hi-tech, indeed all of Hawaiian life pretty much as it is now, and to displace or disrupt as little as possible. Extremists and obvious fear-mongers aside, a transition of Hawaii from a state to an independent nation would change to whom rent checks and taxes are sent, and little else. Even the flag of Hawaii would likely remain the same. Hawaii would lose the massive and complex bureaucracy that connects Hawaii to the mainland, and Hawaii's citizens would be free of their shares of the $7 trillion dollar federal debt and its ruinous interest, but who would mourn that loss?
The US military bases would still be there. The United States would want that. So would the government of an independent Hawaii. People would want to continue running their businesses. The government of an independent Hawaii would want exactly the same thing. Confusion and discord harm tourism. A new government of an independent Hawaii is well motivated to keep the islands serene.

All of this having been said, I think that what it really comes down to is whether one believes in justice or not. It's easy to support justice that works to your own favor, but the true test of moral citizenship is when you uphold justice even when it is a personal inconvenience.
If one holds that the government of the United States is obliged to obey the laws and the UN charter it freely signed, then the status of the Hawaiian people as a distinct and sovereign nation is beyond debate. This makes the United States in Hawaii, as Gandhi described the British in India, acting as the masters in someone else's home.

I'm Average Joe

No comments: