I am one Hawaiian. I am a Hawaiian. There is a difference. One is quantitative, the other qualitative.
I am a Hawaiian. My parents were Marilyn Tsukayama of Kaimuki and Hideo Tsukayama of Kalihi. I was raised in our family home in Kaneohe and at a school on Kapalama Heights. My ancestors came to Hawaii in the 20th century from a village in Okinawa and in the 19th century from Canton, China and Mansfield, Ohio. When my Hawaiian ancestors arrived here is unknowable.
I am a Hawaiian. I am an American too. I do not find these to be incompatible. Other Hawaiian patriots have not. Robert Wilcox and Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole served in the U.S. Congress after annexation as servants of all the people of Hawaii, not solely Hawaiians, as did Sen. Dan Akaka.
I am one Hawaiian. My opinion of Hawaiian matters is mine and I would never dream of determining for other Hawaiians how their Hawaiian identity should be defined or that their cultural sensibilities are not valid. It seems to me that during the last 50 years an orthodoxy of “Hawaiian-ness” has developed and been taught to our children as what it means to be Hawaiian. I reject this viewpoint. I refuse to accept that those who speak the Hawaiian language, and study hula, traditional handicrafts, or lua, have greater worth, legitimacy, or validity as Hawaiians than I, or my family.
I am frankly indifferent to the TMT; I have no particular interest in or opposition to the TMT. I am also indifferent to the specific spiritual beliefs of my fellow Hawaiians. If they want to construct a world view that is based upon any or no religion, that is their choice.
That they have the freedom to decide that choice for themselves, however, is something about which I am not indifferent. I believe that the rule of law should both protect their right to follow the spiritual path they elect and give it no greater privilege in society over others’ paths.
I believe in religious freedom, but not unlimited religious freedom. I do not believe that my position on the limits on religious expression is a cultural imposition by colonial occupiers. In this I join the thinking expressed in constitutional frameworks that have long been in place in Hawaii: “All men are free to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience; but this sacred privilege hereby secured, shall not be so construed as to justify acts of licentiousness, or practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the Kingdom.”
These words are to be found in the constitutions of the Hawaiian Kingdom of 1852, 1864, 1887, and even that Queen Liliuokalani purportedly wished to proclaim on Jan. 14, 1893. Even some modern sovereignty proponents seemingly agree. Hawaiiankingdom.org contends that the Constitution of 1864 is still in full effect. Hawaii-nation.org proclaims a constitution that describes “the right of everyone to religious freedom and spiritual practices, providing that it does not infringe on anyone’s right to life, liberty and their pursuit to happiness.”
I believe that the opinions of the Hawaiians who oppose the TMT are legitimately theirs to hold. I believe, however, that their choice to obstruct the highway in order to halt the legally recognized right of the TMT to be built is not a legitimate act. It is, in the time-honored words of the former kingdom, among “practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the Kingdom.”
It seems to me that during the last 50 years an orthodoxy of “Hawaiian-ness” has developed and been taught to our children as what it means to be Hawaiian.
The people who are hindering the TMT through a blockade do not represent most Hawaiians. They certainly do not represent me. They have artfully constructed and projected to the world that the Hawaiian viewpoint is their viewpoint, which is that of a dispossessed and oppressed people. I am not dispossessed or oppressed. They may believe that they are, but like their choice of religion or spirituality, that is their choice. They do not choose for me.
Those blockading the highway cannot be allowed to reject the rule of law that governs every person present in Hawaii. Their civil disobedience is only courageous if they are willing to risk arrest, fines, and civil suits brought by the state or other aggrieved private parties.
I, for one, applaud citizens willing to risk these things in furtherance of their beliefs. I think that the government should allow them their day in court if they prefer arrest and citation over compliance with the law. The government must also allow the TMT construction to go forward without further illegal impediment.
I am a Hawaiian. I am asking that the protestors desist from the illegal blockade. I am asking the government to preserve the rights of the rest of us Hawaiians and other citizens who rely upon the rule of law to guard our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The government should open the highway in defense of these principles.
I am a Hawaiian. I am one Hawaiian. Those occupying the highway on Mauna Kea do not speak for me.
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