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I thought Langer's article was very well researched. I'd have to quibble with a couple of things, however. I do not believe that the population of the Islands at the time of Captain Cook's "discovery" was 800,000. I lived in Hawai'i from 1968 to 1977, and the figure most often used "back in the day" was 300,000. I find that more plausible than the much larger figure. It's extremely hard to believe that almost 700,000 Hawaiians died in forty-two years, the time from 1778 to 1820 when the population is said to have dwindled to approximately 120,000. No matter how devastating German Measles and venereal diseases were, the larger figure is bordering on the ridiculous, or the absolutely horrific if it was accurate.

While I generally agree with the description of the rebirth of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement in the 1970s, I would start it not with the Protect Kaho'olawe Ohana in 1976 but with the formation of Hawai'i's version of the Black Panther Party, Kokua Hawai'i, in approximately 1971. Also with the formation and struggle to establish and maintain the Ethnic Studies program at the University of Hawai'i's Mano'a campus a year or two later. Kokua Hawai'i's symbol was a brown arm holding a poi pounder and the word "Huli!" ("Overturn!"). As far as the Ethnic Studies program went, I remember around 4 o'clock in the morning of the fourth day of the second occupation of Bachman Hall for the Ethnic Studies program, the first ES chair, Larry Kamakawiwo'ole, getting up from our side of the negotiating table and saying something in Hawaiian, directed at the administration's side, for about two minutes before sitting back down. Dean Richard Contois of the College of Arts & Sciences demanded that Larry translate what he had just said. Larry refused, saying he was "through with dealing with missionaries." The Ethnic Studies program was established and continued, and exists to this day. I consider the struggle of the Hawaiian people to be similar in many ways to that of my own ancestors, the Irish. The British acted toward the Irish no better than generations of white missionaries, pineapple planters and sugar barons acted toward the Hawaiians. In any case, I liked Langer's article very much.

Maluhia (Peace),

Greg King

Boston, MA

Apr 23 2008 - 7:33am

Web Letter

I thought Langer's article provided a thoughtful overview of the historical and cultural context within which we must view the modern Hawaiian Sovereignty movement.

Unfortunately, many people are ignorant--sometimes willingly--of that context. It's inconvenient, especially when a reactionary conservative stance is so much easier. You will see little to no reference to the historical details Langer addresses here in last year's article by George Will in the Washington Post.

Kanawai Pono

Honolulu, HI

Apr 14 2008 - 4:52pm

Web Letter

I think Langer's right. We were big bad imperialists and we should just give Hawaii back. After all, race is our bane, our shame, our disgrace, at least now that the Lousiest Generation had made it so, and to repent we should just plain give it back.

In fact, let's give the West back too, since we stole that also, or better yet, the East Coast, especially Manhatten, since that deal was obviously an example of an unfair business practice resulting in excessive profit.

You know what? What the hell, let's just all go back to Europe, where we belong. You know, back with the barbarians who drove us here in the first with their kings and religious persections and failed revolutions and bloody coups and wars and conquests and pograms. Damn us for daring to come here and make a better life for us and people around us. How dare we!

Charles Thornton

Reisterstown, MD

Apr 11 2008 - 8:33am