is on full display, I learn thru Matthew Vadum, in Hawaii.
AP’s Mark Niesse reported […], “Native Hawaiian sovereignty advocates” who are members of the group known as the Hawaiian Kingdom Government occupied the grounds of the palace of Hawaii’s final monarch, Queen Lili`uokalani. “Hawaiian activists have long used the palace as the site for protests of what they call the United States’ occupation of the islands, but never before had they physically taken control,” wrote Niesse.
Pacific Business News reported that the “protesters” surrounded the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, chained palace gates, posted no-trespassing signs, and told “palace officials that the palace is their rightful seat of government.” The PBN story noted that “Only those with Hawaiian blood, as well as news media, were initially allowed onto palace grounds.”
That’s my emphasis. I don’t know if that howler is quite as ominously arbitrary as George Will’s preferred comparison — the classic Goering line “I decide who is a Jew around here” — but it does nicely reveal how Hawaiian ethnonationalism has chosen to violate its own precepts in order to enforce them.
Or should I say advertise them? What gains adherents in America today is a deconstructed version of petty nationalism that’s enchanted in a much different way from the original. ‘Ethnonationalist’ Americans don’t want an entitlement to a bloodright but to an experience, one that can be put on and taken off like a ceremonial hat and carried around as a pleasant feeling. I think this is far better than real nationalism. Completely uncaptivated by time-intensive and socially costly true ethnonationalism, Americans prefer the socially productive joys of defanged and domesticated group affinity celebrations. See e.g. Tartan Day on the one hand and La Raza on the other. It’s like what Wilde is said to have remarked about Socialism — great idea, but it takes up too much time on Friday nights.
But this posture has its costs, too, and one of them comes in indulging the more serious ethnonationalists — those who provide their movements with a somewhat embarrassing but fortifying dose of seriousness. Among the products of this tension is the absurdity of contemporary nationalism: None of impure blood can set foot on this sacred ground — except the press! An ideological contortion of this profundity is a throwback to a sillier and more serious time of Volk and Party, and a pompous, ponderous farce from the practical and ironic point of view of the modern American character.
Nonetheless, the broader question is how indulgent of ‘fatherlandishness’ we can be without indulging true nationalism? The Native Hawaiian movement is a test case. The Hawaiian Blood Government knows its silliness factor plunges if and when its agitations become federal law. Sure enough, race laws are one handy indicator of whether we’ve crossed the line of benign indulgence.