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Senator Akaka calls columnist’s comments “absolutely outrageous”

By Greg Small
Honolulu, Hawaii (AP) 12-07

Washington Post columnist George F. Will’s relating of the Native Hawaiian recognition movement with one of Adolph Hitler’s most infamous Nazi followers has drawn the ire of Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Will’s column, “Social Engineers In Paradise,” takes aim at a congressional bill that would give Native Hawaiians federal recognition similar to that of American Indians.

The column begins with a 1934 quotation from Hermann Goering, Hitler’s air force chief as well as a top aide: “I decide who is a Jew around here.”

Will wrote that under the legislation, “Goering’s role would be played by a panel empowered to decide who is a ‘Native Hawaiian’ and entitled to special privileges and immunities.”

Akaka, D-Hawaii, a Native Hawaiian and the bill’s author, responded to the column, saying he was disappointed “Will would write a commentary about the quest of Native Hawaiians for the opportunity to manage their own resources based on so many complete misunderstandings and falsehoods about the situation in Hawaii.”

Akaka called it is “absolutely outrageous” that Will compared the systematic atrocities of the Nazis against Jews “to the efforts of our host culture to exercise control over their culture and their destiny.”

The House approved the so-called Akaka bill 261-153 in October, with the White House threatening a veto, saying the legislation would divide Americans “along suspect lines of race and ethnicity.” The measure is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

The bill would give the 400,000 people nationwide of Native Hawaiian ancestry the right to form a governing entity that could negotiate with state and federal governments over such issues as control of natural resources, lands and assets.

Will wrote that “when accurately described,” the bill – which he labeled “Akaka’s mockery of the Pledge of Allegiance” – is opposed by “a large majority” of Hawaii residents and supported by only “a bare majority” of Native Hawaiians.

Akaka responded that the measure, known as the Akaka bill, has the backing of nearly every elected official in Hawaii, whether Democrat or Republican. GOP Gov. Linda Lingle has lobbied Congress to pass the bill.

“He rewrites history and reinterprets the Constitution,” Akaka said of Will. “He proclaims to know what the people of Hawaii think. But he refused to speak with me or my staff before publishing the column, which is unfortunate, because we would have been eager to explain the true purpose of the bill.”

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act is “carefully crafted legislation designed to provide a framework within which Native Hawaiians can come together to develop a governing entity that will then be able to address many unresolved issues,” Akaka said.

On the Net:
Information on the bill, H.R. 505: http://thomas.loc.gov/

Will’s column:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/28/AR20 07112802053.html

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