Since being granted statehood in 1959, Hawaii has been viewed by most Americans simply as a tourist destination.
Which, to say, is nothing be ashamed of. By all accounts, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world, featuring some of the most vibrant people and fascinating cultural experiences. Every person I know who has traveled there say it’s a place that everyone needs to visit at least once.
So we love having Hawaii as part of the U.S. But besides its appeal to travelers, it still lacks a very specific identity in terms of the broader history of the United States.
Yes, of course the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred there in 1941 when it was still an overseas territory of the U.S., killing 2,403 Americans, and propelling the country into World War II.
One day later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called the attack “a day that will live in infamy.”
And so it has.
We have, nor will we ever, forget the events of Pearl Harbor.
But Hawaii needs some more positive memories to add to its history books. Because when the highlights of your state in the last 58 years is the birth of Manti Te’o and being the setting for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you know you need a bit more recognition.
Alright, fine. To be fair, it’s also the final resting place for iconic American Charles Lindbergh. But you get the point.
Hawaii needs something that the rest of the country can point to and say, “Yeah … Hawaii did that.”
And that time may have finally come.
Following Trump’s issuance of his revised travel ban on Monday, the state of Hawaii has already filed a lawsuit demanding an immediate freeze on the order, even before it is set to be implemented on March 16.
As you will recall, the administration’s horribly rushed and vaguely defined first travel ban was almost immediately struck down by the federal courts. But this time, they attempted to clear any language that might give it legal pause.
That includes the exemption of permanent residents, green card and visa holders, and people who have already been approved to enter the United States, and openings for exemptions for people who want to enter the U.S. for purposes of work and study, and those seeking to visit or live with family. Iraq was also removed from the list of temporarily banned Muslim-majority countries.
Hawaii is basing its argument on the fact that judges will recognize the true intent of the ban, as stated by Trump several times on the campaign trail, and that the barring of foreigners will have a harmful impact on the state’s economy, which is boosted by visitors from abroad.
Basically, Hawaii is saying that this new ban will have the same impact as the first one — which was vocally admitted by a top Trump adviser — and if that one was nixed, then this one should be too.
It’s worth noting that two leaked Homeland Security reports basically concluded that banning residents due to their lack of citizenship will have almost no impact on protecting the country from terrorism.
It’s also worth noting that the law firm representing Hawaii is headed by Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration.
So we’ll see how this plays out. It appears that there’s much less leeway for judges to be willing to strike it down right away. That being said, Hawaii is appealing in the same appellate circuit – the Ninth Circuit – that shut down Trump’s first travel ban.
But if this goes Hawaii’s way, then this will be the state’s biggest achievement since the invention of the Mai Tai.
This is Hawaii’s moment, in all of its glory.
As their state motto goes: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono.
You can google that to see if I’m lying or not.