- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hawaiian culture

I would never attempt to debate intricacies of the U.S. Constitution with attorney Bruce Fein, an international consultant and constitutional lawyer.

However, though he may be an expert on the Constitution, he is not an expert on the history of the 50th state. Moreover, he fails to understand why there is widespread support by Hawaii’s citizens and elected officials, both liberal and conservative, for Senate Bill 147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, also known as the Akaka bill.

In a recent Op-Ed column (“The pineapple time bomb,” Commentary, March 11), Mr. Fein claims that this measure, which would recognize native Hawaiians as equals to Alaskan natives and American Indians, is unconstitutional. He also misinforms readers by describing the Akaka bill as a race-based proposal, which it is not.

Here are some important facts to keep in mind:

• Of America’s three groups of indigenous peoples, only native Hawaiians are not formally recognized by Congress. Native Hawaiians, just like Alaskan natives and American Indians, should be able to establish a political relationship with the United States within the confines of the Constitution.

• Congress has the right under the Indian Commerce Clause to recognize indigenous people. This key fact precludes any and all arguments presented in Mr. Fine’s column.

• Throughout the history of Hawaii as a sovereign country, a territory and then a state, the U.S. government has entered into treaties and adopted more than 150 pieces of legislation directly pertaining to native Hawaiians. Denying formal recognition at this point would disregard more than 100 years of work by Congress.

• The Akaka bill takes into account the illegal overthrow of Hawaii in 1893 and the fact that 40,000 native Hawaiians formally declared their opposition to the loss of sovereignty.

• The Akaka bill would not create land reservations for native Hawaiians, but it would establish a process for delivering benefits of native citizenship. These benefits could relate to trust funds, trust lands and resources for culturally appropriate education, health services and housing assistance.

• Native Hawaiians would continue using state public services and paying state taxes if the bill is approved.

These are just some of the reasons why many people in Hawaii back the Akaka bill. Residents understand the unique and sometimes sad history of our kingdom, territory and state, and they recognize the need to sustain the Hawaiian culture.

By falsely characterizing the Akaka bill as a “raced-based” proposal, Mr. Fein is making a mockery of the issue. Clearly, this measure deserves passage because it’s good for all the people of our state and it’s simply the right thing to do. Or as we say in Hawaii, it’s “pono.”

MICAH A. KANE

Chairman

Hawaiian Homes Commission

Honolulu

Restrict the flying ‘fat cats’

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport should not be closed to general aviation out of security concerns (“Time for fair flight,” Commentary, Sunday). It should be closed to general aviation because Reagan National is a slot-restricted airport. (There are limits on the numbers of takeoffs and landings.) Why should big-money fat cats flying in private jets seating two to six people consume a slot that could be allocated to a commercial airliner carrying 150 “regular” people?

STEPHEN MACK

Arlington

Bring people to God, not polls

While I agree with Patrick Buchanan (“Freedom in the Pulpit,” Op-Ed, Friday) that pastors should have the right the rest of us do to express political opinions, what a deeper and more far-reaching blessing it is when they focus on guiding their congregations to God, not to the polls.

Through their preaching, counseling and daily living, they can bring their parishioners closer to God, so that when entering the voting booth, a good choice is made as measured against the Mosaic Decalogue, and in the case of the Christian tradition, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

As an individual’s faith develops his or her dependence on God for guidance, religious leaders can trust God’s guidance to the individual rather than giving specific political directions. The words of an early religious leader, Mary Baker Eddy, are salutary in reference to the kingdom of God that is within us all: “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love.”

J. DARROW KIRKPATRICK

Washington

Is McGwire a knave?

I strongly disagree with your editorial naming Mark Mc-Gwire as the “knave of the week” (“Nobles and knaves,” Saturday) for his responses to questions by the House Government Reform Committee. These “hearings” were simply a means for some members of Congress to get their mugs on camera and their names in newspapers.

With respect to Mr. Mc-Gwire’s responses that “that’s not for me to determine,” he is correct. So far as his refusing to answer the question of whether he ever used steroids, I would have responded in the same manner.

Whether he has or has not is no business of some Washington politicians who probably have more skeletons in their closets than Mr. McGwire will ever have.

Every citizen should have the right to refuse to testify before any congressional committee that isn’t really interested in anything except publicity for a few members of Congress.

Like most congressional committees, this one will waste taxpayers’ dollars, and nothing will come of it. If professional sports will not clean up their act, to heck with professional sports. I prefer to watch a good high- school team instead of overpaid, pompous professional baseball and basketball players.

GUY RANSOM

Jonesboro, Ariz.

‘Misleading’ statements

It is stunning and shameful that editorials and articles have been written based on unsubstantiated statements by a former Pew employee (“Propaganda and the money trail” Editorial, yesterday). He has retracted the remarks, stating: “At no time in my experience with the Trusts did anyone attempt to hide, deceive or lie.”

Mr. Treglia has admitted publicly that his statements were misleading. His comments have no basis in fact and I would have expected this information to be shared with your readers.

From the beginning, the Trusts’ grants on campaign-finance reform were transparent and intended to be. Any assertion that we tried to hide our support of these grantees is false. As we do with all of our work, we have fully disclosed our support for grantees working on campaign-finance reform in a variety of forms over the last nine years.

The remarks of the former employee and these editorials have done a huge disservice to the organizations and policymakers who have been working to address this important issue for more than 30 years. In reality, opponents are trying to reverse the demonstrable, positive progress that has been made to improve campaigns in the United States.

I trust you share our commitment to transparency and accuracy.

REBECCA W. RIMEL

President and Chief Executive Officer

Pew Charitable Trusts

Philadelphia

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