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January 17, 1893
January 17, 2010 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Today marks the 116th anniversary of the American-backed coup d'état of Queen Liliuokalani's constitutional monarchy of Hawaii. Led by a group of American politicians, businessmen and sugar planters, the coup resulted in Hawaii's annexation five years later, to a formal apology 100 years later, and to continued controversy about Hawaii's status as a state.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 (73 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice try TEA party.

First you remove Hawaii as a state and then Obama isn't a citizen.

Well we aren't falling for that.
posted by Bonzai at 6:41 PM on January 17, 2010 [20 favorites]


Obama is not a real American...he's a Centenarian!
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on January 17, 2010


Well that's one snark/derail I had not anticipated, although it appears to have occurred to others.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:03 PM on January 17, 2010


Oh dear. Can we excuse ourselves by pointing out that if we hadn't done it, the Japanese would have?

No? Ah well, I didn't think so.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:07 PM on January 17, 2010


You guys didn't even invent a special gun for the occasion like you did with the Phillipines.
posted by Artw at 7:19 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.

As to the "controversy" about Hawaii's status, there is no legitimate controversy. Hawaii is a state. It's been a state for 50 years.

States cannot leave the Union. (See Lincoln, Abraham.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.
Right! This is why the English own Dublin.
posted by Flunkie at 7:30 PM on January 17, 2010 [21 favorites]


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.
We tried that line with the Irish, the Indians, you lot and various African nations inter alia but they weren't having it.
On preview - curse you, Flunkie!
posted by Abiezer at 7:31 PM on January 17, 2010


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.

As to the "controversy" about Hawaii's status, there is no legitimate controversy.


Um, well by your standard, it depends when "got" is. Judging by their statehood, they've got another few decades until it's no longer arguable.

Personally, I'd give them the option to go. They're ultimately a resource sink, anyway.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:31 PM on January 17, 2010


Curse me, huh? I beg to differ. Curse Cromwell.
posted by Flunkie at 7:32 PM on January 17, 2010


As to the "controversy" about Hawaii's status, there is no legitimate controversy. Hawaii is a state. It's been a state for 50 years.

That's a rather legalistic view of the situation. Perhaps there's a higher ethical standard to hold the USA to?

I agree that there is no power in the universe that could legally or physically FORCE the US government to relinquish claim to Hawaii, but that's not the prettiest moral cornerstone for an international policy.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:39 PM on January 17, 2010


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.

I do hope this is trolling.
posted by pompomtom at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps there's a higher ethical standard to hold the USA to?

Heh.

Hey, Americans, has it ever occured to you that maybe historically you've never been all that amazingly ethical?
posted by Artw at 7:45 PM on January 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.

If you own something for any length of time, it's yours.
posted by swift at 8:00 PM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Hey, Americans, has it ever occured to you that maybe historically you've never been all that amazingly ethical?

Interesting question. The trick is assessing history and yet leaving aside all the groups that were incapable of not being amazingly ethical, for historic reasons. (e.g., those that were outnumbered, cowed, or technologically outmatched.)

But, I'm game. Shoot.

Now, you might be offering an alternative to my assumptions, but I'm blanking on any.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:01 PM on January 17, 2010


Hey, Americans, has it ever occured to you that maybe historically you've never been all that amazingly ethical?

You uh dem collage boy, ain't ya?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 PM on January 17, 2010


Sociopathic manifesto aside, there's not much chance of any status change in Hawaii.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:04 PM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


> If you own something for any length of time, it's yours.

As long as you can defend it, yes. As a practical matter I think that's self-evident.

A good bit of light shed on this argument, actually. And how and why you should or do defend a particular claim become increasingly relevant.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:04 PM on January 17, 2010


Hey, Americans, has it ever occured to you that maybe historically you've never been all that amazingly ethical?

Hate to burst your bubble, but we Americans already know we've our share of historic jerkery. That's not to say there might be portions of the population who might wish otherwise.

I got to work with a native non-Islander Hawaiian a few years ago and it was interesting to hear him recount a childhood of being beat up for being the white kid (told from an entirely non-bitter perspective).

For as much as Hawaii became a territory, its residents voted overwhelmingly to become a state in '59.
posted by Atreides at 8:08 PM on January 17, 2010


"Dastardly Japs Bomb Colonially Occupied US Non-State"
posted by jcruelty at 8:18 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today marks the 116th anniversary of the American-backed coup d'état of Queen Liliuokalani's constitutional monarchy of Hawaii.

If it was backed by the anti-monarchists (as I expect they would have) then I'm all for it.
posted by Brian B. at 8:22 PM on January 17, 2010


If it was backed by the anti-monarchists (as I expect they would have) then I'm all for it.

Is this a sincere comment? If so, is the very idea of a monarch so viscerally repugnant to you that you're willing to overlook the actual actors in this scenario? Just because we're trained to hate kings and queens in US history classes doesn't mean that they can't serve their nations better than so-called democratic leaders do.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:26 PM on January 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hate to burst your bubble, but we Americans already know we've our share of historic jerkery.

I have actually met a number of Americans, you know.
posted by Artw at 8:35 PM on January 17, 2010


Oh, no, mah bubble done got bursted! Sheesh.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:37 PM on January 17, 2010


Is this a sincere comment? If so, is the very idea of a monarch so viscerally repugnant to you that you're willing to overlook the actual actors in this scenario? Just because we're trained to hate kings and queens in US history classes doesn't mean that they can't serve their nations better than so-called democratic leaders do.

Word? Defending hereditary monarchy? That's a creative view.

Is there something about the "actual actors" that would have made it better for the average resident of Hawaii circa 116 years ago to live under a monarch than a legislature/governor?
posted by Slap Factory at 8:56 PM on January 17, 2010


There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous; but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn't it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit's work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America's honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best.

-- Mark Twain
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:06 PM on January 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.

I believe Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, or Ben Franklin said this first.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:07 PM on January 17, 2010


As to the "controversy" about Hawaii's status, there is no legitimate controversy.

I'm not sure you understand the word controversy. Even if Hawaiian secessionism remains a marginal and minority viewpoint among Hawaiians, the historical case is nevertheless familiar enough to warrant being labeled a minor controversy (regardless of how one feels about it).
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:08 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there something about the "actual actors" that would have made it better for the average resident of Hawaii circa 116 years ago to live under a monarch than a legislature/governor?

Oh come on. We're not talking about a hereditary monarchy in the sense of Europe circa 1789. The Hawaiian monarchy represented cultural continuity and cohesiveness that was completely shattered by American conquest.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 PM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you own something for a hundred years, it's yours. It no longer matters how you got it.

Thus the popular adage, "Possession is 9/10ths of the imperialism."
posted by dhartung at 9:52 PM on January 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


I do hope this is trolling.

I don't; it's way funnier if it's sincere.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:14 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The legitimacy of a government lies in the support of its citizens. If it doesn't have that support, then it isn't legitimate. That support can be shown in several ways, ranging from simply obeying the law, all the way to protecting that government against usurpers. If we don't observe this rule, then no existing government is legitimate, since every one was established by, at some point, overthrowing a previous government.

Liliuokalani unsuccessfully tried to set herself up as absolute monarch on four occasions, with the help of her cousin Robert Wilcox. The third one led to her overthrow and the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii. The fourth was an attempt to overthrow that Republic.

Her multiple failures demonstrate that she did not have the support of the citizens of Hawaii, whereas the Republic did. Therefore, despite the claims of racist sovereignty advocates, the Republic was the legitimate government of the time, and therefore its annexation of Hawaii to the United States was entirely legitimate.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:10 AM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Having the biggest guns does not necessarily mean you have the support of the most citizens.

Colonizing a country, waiting until a goodly percentage of the original inhabitants are wiped out, and then eventually holding a vote that declares that what you did was just and right does not mean you are upholding the truest principles of participatory democracy.

I don't think Hawaii's going back anytime in the remotely forseeable future, but pretending that getting rid of the monarchy was anything but a naked power grab designed to throw the reins of government into the hands of the plantation owners is just silly.
posted by kyrademon at 12:50 AM on January 18, 2010


In case you missed that, Liliuokalani made FOUR attempts to impose absolute monarchy on Hawaii (including one attempt to overthrow her own brother, Kalakaua). During ONE of those attempts, a company of US Marines came ashore in support of the Legislature. The ambassador who ordered this sortie was subsequently recalled and censured, and there was no military aid rendered by the United States in putting down her other three attempts.

The constitution Liliuokalani wanted to impose on Hawaii would have given the monarch absolute power: an absolute veto over any legislation, the right to rule by edict, and immunity from any criminal prosecution whatsoever. It would also have removed the prohibition against a criminal or a feeble-minded monarch, and had no provisions for impeachment.

It isn't the biggest guns that make the difference, but rather the support or indifference of the population. The Hawaiian population was indifferent to Liliuokalani's ambitions, and failed to support her. That lack of support for the opposition endowed the Republic with its legitimacy, no matter what sort of racist arguments about who is a native and who is an invader might be made on the matter.

Incidentally, there were already Marquesan settlers on the islands when the Tahitians immigrated there. What happened to them? Why is it that the descendants of the Tahitian invaders are legitimate rulers, but the duly elected Americans are not?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:52 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


If it was backed by the anti-monarchists (as I expect they would have) then I'm all for it.

Let me get this straight -- you would support a coup d'etat in modern-day England, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, etc., no matter the plotters were, so long as they were anti-monarchists?

You know who else where anti-monarchists?
posted by creasy boy at 4:12 AM on January 18, 2010


Follow the money. Natives are something like 9 percent of the state's population. A lot of that 9 percent would of course like to kick the other 91 percent out if it meant the remaining 9 percent could divide the spoils. ("We would all be millionaires?! All of us?! Yes, I'm in favor of secession!") But that's not going to go very far unless a Hawaiian Castro appears with some very surprising and effective legal (or illegal) strategies. And then he would be shot.

If you're in favor of Hawaiian secession, you have to be in favor of all native groups seceding with their ancestral lands, and then where would you be?
posted by pracowity at 4:30 AM on January 18, 2010


I really don't see how Hawaii's statehood is any more or less controversial than California's, given that California only became a state so we would stop murdering Mexicans, or Texas, which is a state for similar reasons to Hawaii but with the added fun that the Americans there rebelled against Mexico so they could own other people, or Kansas, which is only a state because we bought it from the French even though, last I checked, none of the various Indian nations there that could legitimately claim to own it included "France."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:41 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's be honest. Hawaii has to remain part of the US. We can't have secessionists getting their way and eventually erasing the historical legacy of Magnum P.I.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:45 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Give Hawaii back to the Hawaiians. Give the American Southwest back to Mexico, and then they can give it back to the Navajo, the Pueblo, and the Anasazi. Mexico can give itself back to Spain and then Spain can give it to the Aztecs. And the Aztecs can give part of it back to the Nahua. Then we can give the Louisiana Purchase territory back to France who can return it to the assorted Native Americans that occupied it, who can figure out who owned what before their own tribal wars. Haiti can undo their whole rebellion and go back under French rule. Hey, actually they'd be under Gallic rule once the descendants of the Franks move back to Germany and return the country to the Gauls. The Normans can apologize to the Anglo-Saxons for 1066 and the Anglo-Saxons can return England to... Italy, I guess since they're the closest thing to Romans we have... but it doesn't matter since it's just going back to the Celts in the end.
posted by mpbx at 5:58 AM on January 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


I propose that this metacontroversy is itself illegitimate. What with the idiotic trolling and whatnot.
posted by converge at 6:15 AM on January 18, 2010


I would like to give myself back to the Pagans so I can run around naked, eating peyote and having ritualistic orgies. Were there ever those kinds of Pagans in Brooklyn?
posted by spicynuts at 7:31 AM on January 18, 2010


Jimmy Havok--I'm not sure we're reading the same history books. You make it sound as if Liliuokalani had no support and was simply power-hungry, but I don't think these assertions are borne out by the facts. From the fifth link in the FPP:

In 1887, the struggle for control of Hawaii was at its height as David Kalakaua was elected to the Hawaiian throne. King Kalakaua signed a reciprocity treaty with the United States making it possible for sugar to be sold to the U.S. market tax-free, but the haole - or "white" - businessmen were still distrustful of him. They criticized his ties to men they believed to be corrupt, his revival of Hawaiian traditions such as the historic Hula, and construction of the royal Iolani Palace. A scandal involving Kalakaua erupted in the very year he was crowned, and it united his opponents, a party of businessmen under the leadership of Lorrin Thurston. The opposition used the threat of violence to force the Kalakua to accept a new constitution that stripped the monarchy of executive powers and replaced the cabinet with members of the businessmen's party. The new constitution, which effectively disenfranchised most native Hawaiian voters, came to be known as the "Bayonet Constitution" because Kalakaua signed it under duress.

When King Kalakaua died in 1891, his sister Lili'uokalani succeeded him, and members of the native population persuaded the new queen to draft a new constitution in an attempt to restore native rights and powers. The move was countered by the Committee on Annexation, a small group of white businessmen and politicians who felt that annexation by the United States, the major importer of Hawaiian agricultural products, would be beneficial for the economy of Hawaii. Supported by John Stevens, the U.S. Minister to Hawaii, and a contingent of Marines from the warship, U.S.S. Boston, the Committee on Annexation overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani in a bloodless coup on January 17, 1893 and established a revolutionary regime.

Without permission from the U.S. State Department, Minister Stevens then recognized the new government and proclaimed Hawaii a U.S. protectorate. The Committee immediately proclaimed itself to be the Provisional Government. President Benjamin Harrison signed a treaty of annexation with the new government, but before the Senate could ratify it, Grover Cleveland replaced Harrison as president and subsequently withdrew the treaty.

Shortly into his presidency, Cleveland appointed James Blount as a special investigator to investigate the events in the Hawaiian Islands. Blount found that Minister Stevens had acted improperly and ordered that the American flag be lowered from Hawaiian government buildings. He also ordered that Queen Lili'uokalani be restored to power, but Sanford Dole, the president of the Provisional Government of Hawaii, refused to turn over power. Dole successfully argued that the United States had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of Hawaii. The Provisional Government then proclaimed Hawaii a republic in 1894, and soon the Republic of Hawaii was officially recognized by the United States.

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2010


Whatever the history, Hawaii's been a state for 50 years, now, with all of the benefits that that entails, from federal highway money to a large national defense. The US didn't just take Hawaii and then let it gather dust in a closet somewhere. It's a functioning part of our national unit, now, and it would take a tremendous force to break it away.
posted by chasing at 9:19 AM on January 18, 2010


You make it sound as if Liliuokalani had no support and was simply power-hungry, but I don't think these assertions are borne out by the facts.

She tried four times to overthrow the existing governments, and failed every time. So while she didn't have no support, she had less than the people she was trying to overthrow. And have you read her draft constitution? She wanted a complete autocracy, with no checks whatsoever on her power. According to her constitution, the monarch could walk down the street shooting people left and right, and there would be no legal recourse. Even reporting it in the newspaper could have been made illegal:
no law shall be enacted to restrain the liberty of speech or of the press, except such laws as may be necessary for the protection of Her Majesty, the Queen, and the royal family.
As for your "facts," there are some lies in there:
The new constitution, which effectively disenfranchised most native Hawaiian voters
The so-called "Bayonet Constitution" actually extended the franchise to more Hawaiians, by removing the income requirements for voting for the House of Representatives. The liars who tell you differently are comparing the requirements for voting for the House of Nobles under the 1887 Constitution with those for voting for the House of Representatives under the !864 Constitution. The lie is particularly transparent since the relevant articles in the two constitutions have the exact same numbers: Article 59 for the House of Nobles, Article 62 for the House of Representatives.

I note that your "facts" fail to mention the fact that Liliuokalani tried to overthrow her brother before he died, and yet she was allowed to ascend to the throne unmolested by those same evil white people who did all that other stuff. For her four attempts to overthrow the government, the only punishment she suffered was house arrest, and her chief plotter, Robert WIlcox,was eventually elected to the US Congress.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:00 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


You guys are forgetting that when Americans visit Hawaii they are greeted as liberators. The residents literally put flowers around your neck when you step off the plane!
posted by mpbx at 10:07 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ku mai! Ku mai! Ka nalu nui mai Kahiki mai,
Alo poi pu! Ku mai ka po hoehue,
Hu! Kaiko'o loa
posted by Relay at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2010


You guys are forgetting that when Americans visit Hawaii they are greeted as liberators. The residents literally put flowers around your neck when you step off the plane!
posted by mpbx at 1:07 PM on January 18


Tourist propoganda! You have to buy your own at one of the approximately 3000 ABC stores in close proximity.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2010


Yes, and the American mainland was forcibly taken from it's "rightful" owners (who were themselves immigrants). There's no point to this. All nations are created by people who want a better life, and do it by stealing land from someone else. It's institutionalized in the concept of "nation" and will continue forever.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:52 AM on January 18, 2010


If it was backed by the anti-monarchists (as I expect they would have) then I'm all for it.

Typical republican rubbish. Long live the Queen and confusion to Bonaparte.
posted by atrazine at 12:29 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it was backed by the anti-monarchists (as I expect they would have) then I'm all for it.

Effing seriously? No matter how much you disagree with (the modern perception of) Queen Liliuokalani's rule, can you not agree that it would have been better for her people than the resource-exploiting, purely capitalist interests of an expansionist power?

If you're in favor of Hawaiian secession, you have to be in favor of all native groups seceding with their ancestral lands, and then where would you be?
posted by pracowity


Where we were before you showed up, which would be great. Thanks for asking.

Whatever the history, Hawaii's been a state for 50 years, now, with all of the benefits that that entails, from federal highway money to a large national defense. The US didn't just take Hawaii and then let it gather dust in a closet somewhere. It's a functioning part of our national unit, now, and it would take a tremendous force to break it away.
posted by chasing



You're right, they didn't. They took it and allowed it to be developed by commercial real estate investors for tourism purposes. It's a functioning part of the national unit in the sense that a few tourists come here maybe once a year, stay in a resort hotel and eat "pacific rim" food and suck down maitais while clogging up the roads with rental cars and getting in the way on waves they can't handle.
posted by kaiseki at 1:02 PM on January 18, 2010


Where we were before you showed up, which would be great.

Do you really think the world would have passed Hawaii by? Or would you rather be Tonga or Fiji?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:33 PM on January 18, 2010


No matter how much you disagree with (the modern perception of) Queen Liliuokalani's rule, can you not agree that it would have been better for her people than the resource-exploiting, purely capitalist interests of an expansionist power?

There are (otherwise?) perfectly reasonable people who find monarchy, especially when it extends beyond purely ceremonial roles, deeply distressing. I really don't like it very much.

In any case, thinking about whether her people would have been better off without the coup is pointless; there is no possible way of knowing what would have happened. Maybe in that case Hawaii would be prosperous and free. Maybe it would have ended up being the personal fiefdom of the royals, like the Arabian monarchies turned into. Maybe it would have been poor and sort of fucked-up like Fiji or the Marshalls. Maybe her people would just have been enslaved or more or less exterminated in Japanese expansion sometime between 1935 and the mid/late 40s. Maybe the kingdom would have broken down and there would have been a hundred years of warfare between the different islands until we spoke of Hawaii and Bosnia in the same breath. Who the fuck knows? Unless you can hop timelines, you certainly don't, and neither do I.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:38 PM on January 18, 2010


Do you really think the world would have passed Hawaii by? Or would you rather be Tonga or Fiji?

Hawaii is enormous compared to most other Pacific island nations. Given its ideal location halfway between Asia and N. America, it's pretty much a given that it would be colonized by another established nation.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:40 PM on January 18, 2010


Do you really think the world would have passed Hawaii by? Or would you rather be Tonga or Fiji?
posted by Jimmy Havok


I don't think the world would have passed Hawai'i by at all. I do think that it would be great if all native peoples could secede their ancestral lands and govern themselves. Is that really such a bad thing?

And what is wrong with Tonga?

From the wikipedia article:

"Tonga provides for its citizens:

* free and mandatory education for all
* secondary education with only nominal fees
* and foreign-funded scholarships for post-secondary education

Tongans enjoy a relatively high level of education, with a 98% literacy rate, and higher education up to and including medical and graduate degrees (pursued mostly overseas).

Tongans also have universal access to a national health care system. The Tongan constitution protects land ownership: land cannot be sold to foreigners (although it may be leased). While there is a land shortage on the urbanized main island of Tongatapu (where 70% of the population resides), there is farm land available in the outlying islands. The majority of the population engages in some form of subsistence production of food, with approximately half producing almost all of their basic food needs through farming, sea harvesting, and animal husbandry. Women and men have equal access to education and health care, and are fairly equal in employment, but women are discriminated against in land holding, electoral politics, and government ministries. However, in Tongan tradition women enjoy a higher social status than men[citation needed], a cultural trait that is unique among the insular societies of the Pacific.
"
posted by kaiseki at 1:42 PM on January 18, 2010


Oh, and you, of course, realize that Fiji is not a monarchy? It's a parliamentary democratic republic with seperate executive, judicial and legislative branches.

Looks like that's going really well for them too.
posted by kaiseki at 1:47 PM on January 18, 2010


thinking about whether her people would have been better off without the coup is pointless

Two words: Queen Abigail.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:18 PM on January 18, 2010


Pretty much every metafilter thread that touches on issues related to race depresses the hell out of me.
posted by serazin at 3:03 PM on January 18, 2010


I don't think the world would have passed Hawai'i by at all. I do think that it would be great if all native peoples could secede their ancestral lands and govern themselves. Is that really such a bad thing?

It's not a bad thing, but it's rather naive. I'm not sure how you would determine what a group's ancestral lands would consist of or who the modern recipients of those lands would be. Many groups would claim the same parcels of land. Who would you give priority to?
posted by mpbx at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2010


Sorry if I sound like I'm beating a dead horse, but this fpp is so typical of the kind of disingenuous argument I see on the subject all the time. For example, it refers to Liliuokalani as a "constitutional monarch," but the motive for overthrowing her was her attempt to install her own constitution (I linked to it above) which would have given her autocratic powers.

The last article linked to, about a group of "Hawaiians" who took over Iolani Palace, says
The [Bayonet Constitution] dramatically reduced the authority of the monarchy and instituted voter requirements that limited voting to wealthy businessmen and Hawaiian landowners, barring 75 percent of the native Hawaiian population and all Asians.
While it did indeed reduce the authority of the monarch (by making him subject to rule of law), it also extended the franchise by removing requirements for income and property that were in the 1864 Constitution. Anyone who bothers to read the two documents themselves can see that. And yet, we see this same false argument presented over and over and over (including in the Hawaiian history classes which are required in the University of Hawaii curriculum, by people with PhDs in Hawaiian history) in a classic Big Lie fashion.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:39 PM on January 18, 2010


Sorry if I sound like I'm beating a dead horse, but this fpp is so typical of the kind of disingenuous argument I see on the subject all the time.

There is no argument to the FPP: it's about history and it's meant to be devoid of editorializing. Perhaps you think my word choice was poor, or that the US congress should not have formally apologized in 1993 for the 1893 coup. Perhaps you think the coup itself was justified. Certainly you can have your own opinion on those matters, but believe me when I say that I have no axe to grind on the issue: like most history there are a lot of complex factors. It may even be possible to think both, like Blount, that the 1893 coup itself was misguided, possibly illegal, and wrong, but also to think Liliuokalani's desire for monarchic power was unjustified and unwarranted.

it refers to Liliuokalani as a "constitutional monarch," but the motive for overthrowing her was her attempt to install her own constitution...which would have given her autocratic powers.

Both the motives of those who overthrew her, and the motives of the Queen herself, are debatable. Certainly the former was also motivated by protecting the interests of the sugar planters. There is ample evidence that the secret group that overthrew her did so b/c they wanted annexation all along, for better or worse, and would have wanted it regardless of the Queen's actions.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:51 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is no argument to the FPP: it's about history and it's meant to be devoid of editorializing.

OK, but as I pointed out, it buys into some very widely promulgated falsehoods. The canards against those who overthrew Liliuokalani are common enough that I didn't have to repeat them, but there are facts about the situation which are completely ignored in 100% of the discussions of the issue here, and if you dare to bring them up, you are attacked as some sort of racist...even though the people making the arguments are making them on 100% racist grounds.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:08 PM on January 18, 2010


attacked as some sort of racist

I think you have a chip on your shoulder, since no one in this thread has accused you of any such thing.

Your view of these complicated events and their aftermath appears to be that the 1893 coup was justified, that the motives of the Americans who undertook the coup were noble motives (presumably untainted in your eyes by fiscal gains), that the 1993 formal apology for the 1893 coup by the US Congress was a bad idea, and that misguided liberals with an axe to grind have distorted the historical record (i.e. have ignored what you see as the real potential menace of a power-mad Queen).

That's your view, as I understand it, and as I said you are free to have it. But it might have made more sense simply to defend your view without also attacking opposing views as motivated by racism.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 7:23 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not a bad thing, but it's rather naive. I'm not sure how you would determine what a group's ancestral lands would consist of or who the modern recipients of those lands would be. Many groups would claim the same parcels of land. Who would you give priority to?
posted by mpbx


Well, since you asked . . . I would think that in the case of Hawai'i, determining the ancestral lands would be simple. It's all the islands.

I think the case of American Indians would be just as simple. If it's on any of the American continents, that's their land. Everyone else came there post contact. I realize that many different tribes would claim the same parcel of land, but just as the Hawai'ians were many tribes before Kamehameha united them, I don't see why there couldn't just be a sovereign government of confederated tribes with capitals in particular areas known to be home and sacred to them.

What you call "naive" is what many indigenous people call "hope". Hope that they can one day rule their own lands again and not be subject to the whims of global powers that exploit, abuse and steal from it. And let's face it, if you know anything about what it's like on a reservation, hope is the only thing they actually have.
posted by kaiseki at 7:58 PM on January 18, 2010


Today marks the 116th anniversary of...

1893 + 116 = 2009, or am I missing something?
posted by Evilspork at 8:39 PM on January 18, 2010


Your view of these complicated events and their aftermath appears to be that the 1893 coup was justified, that the motives of the Americans who undertook the coup were noble motives (presumably untainted in your eyes by fiscal gains)

Nice telepathy there, since I said none of that.

I expressed my view of the situation above. The legitimacy of any government is its acceptance by its citizens. Liliuokalani failed that test four times, the Republic passed it. The US government likewise passes it. Even the non-elected Bush regime passed that test.

Motives don't really enter into the issue, although it's obvious that one side of the argument likes to gloss over the motives and character of Liliuokalani. Her proposed constitution would have made her an autocrat, completely above the law, and with not controls on her actions. She was placed under house arrest for her multiple attempts to take over the government. In contrast, she said if she was reinstated she would behead those who deposed her.

The Republic was indeed led by racists, since they specifically disenfranchised the entire Asian population. However, they weren't racist against Hawaiians, since their policies extended the vote to many more Hawaiians.

misguided liberals with an axe to grind have distorted the historical record

They aren't liberals at all. They're racists who think their ancestry gives them special rights. They've snowed a lot of guilty white liberals into accepting the lies I've mentioned above and into endorsing their racist agenda.

If anyone was to propose disenfranchising the Hawaiians, the outrage would be incredible. But the sovereignty advocates propose to disenfranchise 85% of the population, and everyone says "It's only justice!" (Incidentally, Asians are part of the population they are proposing to disenfranchise.)

One of the real problems I see with the Hawaiian sovereignty movement is that the Republicans will use it as the thin edge of the wedge to attack various civil rights issues in court. If they can uphold racial segregation through a Hawaiian sovereignty case, they can disassemble half a century of progress.

Most Hawaiians are poverty-stricken, and are over-represented in the prison system. But that's an effect of the way the land was divided up during the Great Mahele, not of current racial prejudices or injustices. People without property are poor, and the great mass of Hawaiians was left without property after the Great Mahele. The way to deal with it is to help anyone who is poor, not to give special privileges and a sense of entitlement to one ethnic minority, especially since there are quite a few members of that minority who are incredibly rich and who turn their backs on that poverty.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:05 PM on January 18, 2010


Incidentally, I regard monarchy as one of the most disgusting forms of government possible. I think the British had a lick of sense among them, they'd put the Queen out to work. She'd probably be a passable counter clerk, and then she'd be doing something useful.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:17 PM on January 18, 2010


Sure, let's have President Gordon Brown.
posted by atrazine at 5:55 AM on January 19, 2010


Monarchies aren't inherently evil, and I say this as a strong republican. First off, there are such things as elective monarchies in the past (the only current elective monarch is the Pope). Secondly, monarchies can provide a connection to tradition, access to a common political unification, and regality that can provide stabilizing effects to the population. The main problems with monarchies are two-fold: 1) When they go bad, they go more horrific than a failed republic usually does, and 2) while a monarchy benefits from the continuity and tradition it embodies, a republic inspires the citizenry because they are part of the government in a deep and inseperatable way.

The entire point, as much as I would like every government to be at least semi-republican, a good monarchy is better than a bad democracy. Though the Hawaiian coup of 1893 might have been horrific to the native Hawaiians, it was just as legitimate as the Monarchy's initial claim over all Hawaii—a claim founded on conquest. Today, Hawaii is a full and equal state in the Union, and this is a status of just as much pride and granduer as a royal family.

Oh, the idea of evicting all Americans with European ancestry from the New World is deeply disturbing. What about most of Latin American with much of the population of mixed blood? What of Haiti? Send them back to Africa? What of me? Split me in three and send me back to Ireland, Germany, and Italy? Though the Conquest of the Americans is one of the darker chapters in the history of the human race, the only way forward is as unified people not depending on who took what land when as the ultimate arbitrator of who can live here now. If you propose all the different tribes of American making a loose confederacy to sort things out, why don't we form that same federation with the European Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:15 AM on January 19, 2010


I think we should jam all humans back into Tanzania.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:18 PM on January 19, 2010


Oh, the idea of evicting all Americans with European ancestry from the New World is deeply disturbing. What about most of Latin American with much of the population of mixed blood? What of Haiti? Send them back to Africa? What of me? Split me in three and send me back to Ireland, Germany, and Italy? Though the Conquest of the Americans is one of the darker chapters in the history of the human race, the only way forward is as unified people not depending on who took what land when as the ultimate arbitrator of who can live here now. If you propose all the different tribes of American making a loose confederacy to sort things out, why don't we form that same federation with the European Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans?
posted by Lord Chancellor


I didn't say anything about evicting "all Americans with European ancestry".
I'm talking about giving ownership of the land back to them, not removing anyone. You're welcome to stay, but you will pay something along the order of property tax for being able to live on the land. Before you balk to much at that idea, please consider the fact that that's basically what happened to the American Indians.

I always find it funny that the people who aren't of the disenfranchised group are the ones that say "the only only way forward is as a unified people", i.e. "why don't you just get over it already? you lost, the other team won, now let's find a way to deal with it."

We're not just talking about people's land here. We're talking about a whole way of life that was supplanted by a foreign set of ideals almost diametrically opposite those of the original culture.
posted by kaiseki at 12:45 PM on January 19, 2010


I'm talking about giving ownership of the land back to them

There was no land ownership, in the modern sense, in old Hawai'i. It all belonged to the ali'i, essentially. In the Great Mahele, the land was distributed as Kamehameha saw fit. The land ownership in Hawaii today traces directly back to that. Kamehameha, as king, had the legal right to do this, therefore the current distribution of land in Hawai'i is entirely legal. There was no theft of land.

We're talking about a whole way of life that was supplanted by a foreign set of ideals almost diametrically opposite those of the original culture.

The world changes. Get used to it. There's no going back. The Tahitians did the same trick to the Marquesans who were the first settlers in Hawai'i, and the Marquesans had to shift their culture in response to the new environment they settled.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:59 PM on January 19, 2010


So, I would pay property taxes to what government? Would I be a citizen of said government? If not me, then who would be? Would my descendants? The solution to a people being second class citizens is not to make someone else the second class citizens. Of course this is all conjecture as no force on earth could reverse the damage done or create a new world order which has the indigenous population of the Americas as the only citizens and owners of America.

Of course I'm part of a privileged group that has gained much from being a white male, and I'm eternally thankful that circumstances have blessed me (however, my ancestors came at the beginning of the 20th Century—which doesn't really matter because I don't believe in ancestral guilt anyway). I say that the only way forward is as a unified people because that's the only rational way to save us all. Flogging my back doesn't bring back a single Apache from the dead or from the barren wasteland some are in today; working to common solutions does. Though we must acknowledge our common shame, I don't see how making the world more divided is going to save anyone. Ask Zimbabwe about how land ownership and vengeance for that one.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2010


If it was backed by the anti-monarchists (as I expect they would have) then I'm all for it.
posted by Brian B. at 9:22 PM on January 17 [+] [!]

Is this a sincere comment? If so, is the very idea of a monarch so viscerally repugnant to you that you're willing to overlook the actual actors in this scenario? Just because we're trained to hate kings and queens in US history classes doesn't mean that they can't serve their nations better than so-called democratic leaders do.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:26 PM on January 17 [5 favorites +] [!]


Yes, it was a sincere comment. As this thread has shown, history doesn't matter to anyone willing to "give back" something that's not even theirs, to someone else that qualifies only if they are of a certain purity of race (which exists only in the would-be giver's mind). It's romantic foolery. What's disturbing here is casually dismissing the notion of democracy as if it led to the problem. What's equally disturbing is just how shallow these debates can become when someone defends monarchy, trying to have their cake and eat it too. If clinging to past monarchy is someone's hope, then they have nothing to criticize corporate hegemony with. Monarchy is a corporation, and it is outmoded as a method of goverment. I prefer to defend democracies that were conquered by outside interests, because they succeeded thanks to so many people who clung to ancient norms and conservative traditions.

This debate would have quickly unraveled into faux liberal spittle were it not for a few cool heads. To redirect what someone else who rode the pro-monarchy wave, Tonga is not a human paradise, as painted here. People have rioted over democratic rights and many have died. Outsiders have come in to help save the remaining forests. Hawaii's GDP is probably ten times Tonga, which is a risk mentioning here because it irks those with the "everything is free, and kings too" ethos stinking up this thread.

I might suggest that rather than be dogged by subject details about how good or bad any particular king is, which disregards their corporate clan continuance, we might take history at its word and reject the oligarchy category entirely. No need for commoners to apologize for it anyway. And for all of you who would rush to give back something you don't have, you might consider the autocratic tendency there ensconced in your idealism, and maybe you might consider rejecting idealism altogether, especially the romantic kind. Please seriously consider become Georgists instead of conservative monarchists.
posted by Brian B. at 8:09 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


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