Cultural Revolutions

Free Hawaii!

Free Hawaii! One particularly annoying aspect of "Third Wav" politics is its proponents' penchant for symbolic, feel-your-pain apologies. Tony Blair offered one to the Irish for Britain's inaction during the Potato Famine; Bill Clinton delivered another to black Americans for slavery. Surely no good can come from such empty sentimentalism.

Or can it? In 1993, Bill Clinton formally apologized to native Hawaiians for the U.S. military's role in forcibly ousting Queen Liliuokalani from power in 1893. Bill's blubbery mea culpa appears to have awakened some old grievances and sparked calls for Hawaiian independence. On September 20, the Washington Times reported that "the apology encouraged a spate of Hawaiian sovereignty movements."

Keaki Keali, a native Hawaiian living near the site of Capt. James Cook's initial landing in 1778, puts it plainly: "We should be completely independent. . . . They took it away from us by force and we should get it back."

Keali has a point. America's absorption of Hawaii is hardly a proud moment in our history. Disturbed by Queen Liliuokalani's desire for a stronger monarchy (and enticed by the benefits annexation would bring to the American-controlled Hawaiian sugar industry) a group of planter-class American expatriates formed a Committee of Public Safety and overthrew the queen in 1893. The American minister, John...

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