About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat’s views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

This is part of a larger, troubling pattern of antagonistic behavior and incitement by the Hawaii State Senate.

Good Friday may be abolished in Hawaii, as a state holiday that is, if a bill introduced by Sens. Maile Shimabukuro, Stanley Chang, Kurt Fevella, Carol Fukunaga, Mike Gabbard and Joy San Buenaventura succeeds in getting passed into law this session.

Senate Bill 3319, related to state holidays, would replace Good Friday with a new state holiday dubbed Reconciliation Day, to be celebrated on the 17th day in January.

“The governor shall issue an annual proclamation recognizing Reconciliation Day as a day of reflection and remembrance, and encourage citizens to learn about and understand the history surrounding the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and the consequences of the continued illegal occupation of Hawaii,” the bill says.

I find it interesting that the bill, which asserts that Hawaii is illegally occupied by the United States, does not take the logical next step of asking to abolish Presidents’ Day (George Washington’s birthday) or even Statehood Day, which would be the obvious choices to eliminate if one believed that the U.S. was an illegitimate occupying power in Hawaii. Surely, if one thinks the U.S. government is in the wrong, the first holidays we should target would be holidays exalting U.S. federalism.

Instead, it targets Good Friday, which is revered by almost 2.6 billion Christians across the planet, not the least of which includes many hundreds of thousands of Hawaii residents and Native Hawaiians alike, for its commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.

With respect, senators, this is an unnecessary invitation to create argument, conflict and further embitter Hawaii’s already divided public.

Hawaiian flags on the lawn on opening day of the Legislature at the Capitol.
The bill would repeal Good Friday as a state holiday while creating a Reconciliation Day “as a day of reflection and remembrance” and would encourage citizens to learn about “the history surrounding the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and the consequences of the continued illegal occupation of Hawaii.” (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021)

For a bill purporting to promote reconciliation, its introducers — or at least, the people who drafted it for them — have set legislative bait to once more give the public something to be angry at each other about without actually having a productive, substantive discussion about the real reasons why Hawaiians (and Hawaii) are in so much despair in 2024.

Unnecessary Provocation

This type of bill puts Native Hawaiians at odds with Christian believers by forcing them to explain why their grievances outweigh continuing to observe Good Friday as a state holiday.

It puts Christians, who believe that Jesus — even if you don’t believe in God — is a key part of Western legal tradition and culture, in a position of arguing against agitated Native Hawaiians, to defend what they think is an important day. 

It also forces the atheists – who think that God, Jesus and holidays of a religious nature shouldn’t exist at all – into confrontations with Christians. 

If in fact you really want a Reconciliation Day as a state holiday, then do the public a favor and create it as an additional holiday, and argue the merits of doing that. Everyone loves more holidays, right? That’s how legislators are supposed to function, introducing ideas and justifying them and gathering support.

And yet, this bill has absolutely no chance of passing the Legislature, so all it does is unnecessarily make people argue, fight and distrust each other more.

It’s unnecessary virtue signaling when the power to “reconcile” Hawaii is already within the powers of state legislators.

The Chamber Of Behaving Badly

Instead, for the last three years, ever since the pandemic began, the Hawaii Senate has become increasingly out of touch, belligerent and prone to publicity stunts rather than actually doing its job. The Senate has become the chamber of behaving badly, and it reflects negatively on all of us

I see SB 3319 as less of an effort to help Native Hawaiians and more of another blip on the radar screen demonstrating that the Senate has lost its decorum and decency as the “deliberative chamber” in our legislative branch. 

I definitely recommend my readers start watching more Senate hearings. For a state that is supposed to be “the Aloha State,” the Senate hearings look more like 1990s episodes of “The Jerry Springer Show,” full of wild rants, pejorative accusations and all-around unstatesmanlike behavior.

I also know a lot of the people who read my columns are active in local politics and may be feeling intimidated when testifying before the Senate’s various committees. If that’s you, I completely understand how intimidating the legislative process already is, without all the browbeating and grandstanding making it worse. 

I know your first reaction is to say, “well, maybe I’ll just submit written testimony only, so I don’t have to see them face-to-face.” You can do that, but then they win. Remember this is the Senate, not a war crimes tribunal, and you are testifiers, not accused defendants on trial before a prosecutor. If you have to say something, say something and say it in committee for all the public to see.

If you get asked a snarky, pejorative, rude question by a committee member, don’t let them provoke you. Instead, look them squarely in the eye and respond, “I’m sorry, senator; I didn’t hear a question.” You are under no obligation to answer any question meant to abuse you, humiliate you or make you feel small. 

As for the rest of us? Whether you are a Native Hawaiian, Christian, or someone who thinks, you know, the purpose of the Senate is to be a driver for discernment, not abuse, I recommend you all contact the introducers of this bill and the Senate president and tell them to really focus on “reconciliation” by acting less hostile and more civil.

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat’s views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Latest Comments (0)

Well said. And to add to your argument, the last thing the state of Hawaii, public workers unions need is an additional holiday. They work less than any other state in the union, with the myriad of local holidays that fill the calendar. Replacing statehood day would be great idea if that is the intent of this proposal and with the constitutional separation of church and state, there shouldn't even be a "Good Friday" holiday to begin with. I've never had any private sector employer observe this religious holiday, so it had no significance to me.

wailani1961 · 3 weeks ago

It would be even better if we started some kind of process to undo the overthrow.

regina · 3 weeks ago

Danny de Gracia’s over the top rant about eliminating Good Friday is extremely disappointing. Good Friday is CHRISTIAN holiday. Hawaii has a multicultural and multi religious population. Having the state government favor one religion over all others ignores separation church and state, is an artifact of Christian colonialism and discriminates againstJews, Buddhists, Muslims, non-believers and all those who follow other faith traditions. De Gracia’s arguments are specious and parochial (no pun intended).

wmandm68 · 3 weeks ago

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