Some who have an understanding of world and European history are wary of Hawaiian sovereignty because it does not seem to acknowledge the perils of nationalism. And make no mistake – it is perilous. But it may not have to be. As with religion, many invoke nationalism as the cause of wars, arbitrary detention and genocide, and rightly so. Even nonviolent national liberation movements like that in India have used right-wing economic policies that did not match their liberated political narratives.
Ours must be a mindful nationalism, and perhaps the word nationalism should be jettisoned altogether. Despite the numerous violations of Hawaiian nationality, a fundamentalist response that justifies violence (even symbolic violence) must be avoided. This avoidance will not, as some may claim, weaken the movement – it will strengthen it through the support of those who have seen the pitfalls of nationalistic fervor. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a good (but not perfect) model for a nonviolent approach.
The Commission allowed catharsis, through reenactment of Apartheid atrocities, but not revenge. It is not a perfect model, because it did not address the underlying economic disparities upon which Apartheid was based – black South Africans remain among the poor, and economic segregation replaced racial segregation.
East Timor is another example of a successful deoccupation. With a lot of help from the UN over a decade, the new country Timor Leste was able to achieve peace and stability (and even some prosperity) emerging from a violent Indonesian invasion and quarter-century occupation. Life is not perfect – they have a major spousal abuse problem and itʻs questionable whether a free press exists there, but relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste are fairly good, and Timorese are more angry at collaborators than at Indonesia itself.
It is this line of thinking that attracted me to Kaleo Patterson and Haʻaheo Guanson’s reconciliation approach. Ultimately, after all deoccupation and decolonization (if thatʻs the right term) are done, we all have to live together.