Response to Op-ed of James Kawika Riley
On Monday February 13, 2006 James Kawika Riley, a "Bureau Fellow" for OHA in Washington D.C., published a lengthy commentary in the Honolulu Advertiser trying to discredit the Morgan Report. Mr. Riley's commentary is at:
Jere Krischel, editor of the morganreport.org website, has written some detailed responses to particular points asserted by Mr. Riley (see below).
Ken Conklin, assistant editor of the morganreport.org website, wrote a commentary responding to some of the broader political issues raised by Mr. Riley. Conklin's commentary was printed in the Honolulu Advertiser on February 17, 2006. The Conklin commentrary incorrectly identified him as the editor of this website (he is assistant editor); it was not printed separately with its own URL, but was somewhat shortened and printed as the last in the series of letters-to-editor for that date, at:
Below are Jere Krischel's responses to particular points, followed by Ken Conklin's unedited commentary.
Jere Krischel's responses to particular assertions by James Riley regarding the Morgan Report:
In 1893, well-known expansionist U.S. Sen. John Tyler Morgan lobbied to give himself and his Senate committee the power to investigate the role of the United States in the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.
I would be very interested in seeing any evidence for that assertion. The matter was forwarded to Congress by Grover Cleveland on December 12, 1893, voluntarily by all accounts, given his frustration with the Queen's demands for punishment of the Committee of Safety, and subsequently by Dole's refusal to abide by his demand for her reinstatement.
In their investigation, the nine senators on the Morgan Report committee could not agree on who was to blame in the overthrow, resulting in three separate opinions.
This is a common misperception. Please see Wasn't the Morgan Report only signed by Morgan?.
Morgan's opinion was not joined by his committee, or endorsed by an act of Congress; it was just his opinion. Pretending that Morgan spoke for his committee and the U.S. Congress is inaccurate, unfair and wrong.
Morgan's opinion was joined by 4 other members of the committee, with only a difference of opinion on the blameworthiness of Blount. From the section of the 4 republicans:
"We are in entire accord with the essential findings in the exceedingly able report submitted by the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations."
Pretending that being "in entire accord with the essential findings" of Morgan does not indicate a joint opinion is inaccurate, unfair, and wrong.
The U.S. Congress also passed the Turpie Resolution on May 31, 1894, which prohibted further intervention on the part of the United States government in the affairs of the Provisional Government of Hawaii. To assert that this was not a direct result of the findings of the Morgan Report is unsustainable.
His witnesses, whom Morgan selected while working closely with the provisional government, were almost exclusively annexationists.
Given the fact that Blount had missed the testimony of this critical constituency, it made perfect sense that annexationists would be primarily called as witnesses - after all, Blount had already interviewed royalists of every stripe, and his report was entered in as evidence for the committee to consider. Blount himself testified before the committee, and seemed apologetic for his one-sided report.
It would be almost a century before Congress collectively spoke on the overthrow, passing the public law known as the Apology Resolution. Through the Apology Resolution (Public Law 103-150), passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president, the U.S. offered "an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i."
Public Law 103-150 was a symbolic law, with "whereas" clauses that cannot be taken as assertions - they are in fact conditionals which are verifiable false. Please see Doesn't the '93 Apology Resolution trump the Morgan Report?.
The Morgan Report, in comparison, is not a public law and was not passed by Congress.
Public Law 103-150 was not an investigation, nor did it examine any of the evidence available. It was a one-sided, inaccurate portrayal of events manufactured by royalists that cannot be reasonably considered either an assertion or a repudiation of previous conclusions, both with the Morgan Report in February 26, 1894 and the Native Hawaiians Study Commission Report on June 23, 1983.
We should appreciate the Morgan Report for its capacity to help our island community address, not deny, the historical wrongs that remain unresolved and affect Hawai'i today.
We need to appreciate the Morgan Report as information that must be considered when making assertions about the Hawaiian Revolution, and cannot assume that its evidence can be dismissed in order to maintain our misconceptions about the events of January 17, 1893. The greatest historical wrong done for the past 30 years has been the revisionism of royalists who refuse to acknowledge the entire body of evidence available.
The Morgan Report should help us all understand the feeble basis for the divisive notions of kanaka maoli privilege and victimization. We should not, and cannot deny the legitimacy of the State of Hawaii, and the clear, legal, and thankfully beneficial results of the Hawaiian Revolution.
Ken Conklin's response to some of the broader political issues raised by James Riley (unedited commentary):
Proposed title: Morgan Report Vindicates Hawaiian Revolution; Provides Basis for Repealing Apology Resolution
Thanks to James Kawika Riley for helping publicize the Morgan Report (Advertiser 2/13/06). That 808-page U.S. Senate report from 1894 is at http://morganreport.org plus annotated table of contents and historical commentaries.
Voluminous public testimony under oath with cross-examination proved U.S. Minister Stevens did not conspire beforehand with Honolulu residents who overthrew the monarchy. U.S. peacekeepers protected life and property while remaining scrupulously neutral. The Senate Committee headed by Morgan included 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans who were unanimous on those points. Morgan discredits a previous report by James Blount, political hatchet-man for isolationist President Cleveland. Blount collected royalist opinions secretly, not under oath. Blount wanted to challenge the revolution's legitimacy, to slow growing Congressional support for annexation. After Cleveland left office Hawai'i's renewed offer of a treaty of annexation was accepted by vote of 42-21 in the Senate and 209-91 in the House.
Mr. Riley, an OHA "Bureau Fellow" in Washington, understandably tries to discredit Morgan. OHA justifies race-based programs and the Akaka bill by pointing to Congress' 1993 resolution apologizing to "Native Hawaiians" for overthrowing the monarchy. But that resolution is based on false history, as the Morgan Report clearly proves. The U.S. did not overthrow the monarchy; armed local residents did it. The U.S. did not conspire beforehand, nor aid the revolution as it unfolded.
Native Hawaiians were already a minority in 1893. Most Kingdom cabinet members, most government executives, and many elected legislators had no Hawaiian native blood. So even if the U.S. wants to apologize for a revolution it did not cause, the apology should be addressed to all Hawai'i's people and not to a racial group.
The best "apology" -- the only kind that makes sense -- was action during the same year as the revolution. President Cleveland, Lili'uokalani's friend, immediately withdrew a proposed treaty of annexation. He then tried hard to undo the revolution. U.S. diplomats secretly conspired with Lili'uokalani. Blount torpedoed negotiations between Hawai'i President Sanford Dole and ex-queen Lili'uokalani (she offered to abdicate and support annexation in return for a government pension). Cleveland's official minister to Hawai'i "ordered" Dole to step down and restore the Queen; but Dole refused (showing the Provisional Government was not a U.S. puppet). Shortly thereafter the Morgan Report was published. Cleveland acepted the verdict of Morgan, backed away from the Blount Report, recognized the legitimacy of the Dole government, and negotiated with it regarding further implementation of Kingdom treaties.
Today OHA and other powerful institutions want to blame the U.S. for the overthrow. They demand reparations forever, including a race-based government. They don't want us to know the U.S. did nothing wrong, and actually tried to undo the revolution the same year it happened.
Former Senators Slade Gorton and Hank Brown recently published their complaint that Senator Inouye lied in 1993 when assuring his colleagues the Apology Resolution was a "simple apology" and would not be used to support demands for race-based reparations, communal land tenure, or secession. The Morgan Report repudiates the Blount Report. It shows that Senators in 1993 were negligent in not holding hearings to challenge the bogus history they naively accepted for a "make-nice" centennial commemoration.
The apology resolution should be rescinded. Let's end the victimhood mentality that fuels a wealthy Hawaiian grievance industry causing some to feel hopelessly mired in institutional dependency. The U.S. owes ethnic Hawaiians exactly what it owes us all -- protection from enemies foreign and domestic, equality under the law, unity rather than divisiveness, and help to individuals based on need rather than race.
Proposed biographical note: Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D., is assistant editor of http://morganreport.org and is an independent scholar living in Kane'ohe.