Okay, we get it, many Americans are deeply attached to the nice round number on our national flag - fifty states, fifty stars - and the unchanging thirteen colonial stripes. We tend to celebrate, as the Fiddler on the Roof did, "Tradition!"
But over dinner the other night, some anguished, equally-colonized, indigenous Hawaiians offered a somewhat tongue-in-cheek solution to the flag issue, as a microcosm of their much larger heartbreak.
Truly, Native Hawaiians are grieved over the trade-off. Pervasive American military occupation of their sacred Islands in exchange for what? Pearl Harbor as a military target? American petrochemical companies despoiling their revered land for what? So that some of the most disenfranchised Natives can be hired to walk the Genetically Modified Corn rows as living scarecrows? American law protecting ownership where none ever existed, and outlawing Native Hawaiian cultural practice wherever it did.
The independent nation of Lahui (long before there was ever a Hawai'i) was stolen - a literal gun to the head of the Queen - to pad the pockets of the occupying sugar cane barons. A half century later, the nation was pushed into statehood by the accumulating vote tallies of American foreigners, and by the figurative gun-to-the-head of their imported Asian plantation serfs. The Native voice was silenced.
Make no mistake about it, the sovereign and internationally recognized nation of Hawai'i lives under the heavy colonial thumb of the United States of America.
And so, the dinner-table solution.
There are a people who deserve that fiftieth star - who have yearned for inclusion, for statehood, since the nation's founding. With full irony, they occupy the heart of the nation and they have no voting Congressional representation. In a sense, they too are colonized - their everyday governance lies in the hands of others.
And now the obvious. The nation of Hawai'i and it's kanaka maoli - its indigenous Hawaiians - in keeping with their deep sense of aloha, will eagerly offer the District of Columbia their fiftieth star.
Make the District of Columbia the fiftieth state. The nation of Lahui will make space for them.