TESTIMONY OF BEVERLY ANN DEEPE KEEVER,
MEMBER OF THE PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON DIVERSITY, PRESENTED
TO THE PRESIDENT'S AD HOC COMMITTEE ON PORTEUS HALL
MARCH 4, 1998
CAMPUS CENTER BALLROOM
My name is Beverly Keever. I'm
a member of the President's Commission on Diversity. In late November,
in response to the President's call for comments, I submitted
by E-mail a brief statement urging that the name of Porteus Hall
be changed. I was early on persuaded by the scholarly testimony
presented in 1974 to the Board of Regents by political science
Professor Robert Cahill.
I'd like to offer this additional
statement commenting on the recent letter of Elizabeth Porteus
to the Honolulu
Star-Bulletin  and also presenting these three brief points:
I thank the ASUH students
for raising this issue initially and for sponsoring the insightful
lecture yesterday by Dr. Barry Mehler, director of the Institute
for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State University.
These students have created a vibrant academic climate by
fostering critical thinking about a significant issue not
only on campus and in the community but also across the nation.
I thank the members of this
ad hoc committee for serving and for making such a momentous
decision in such a short time.
I urge this committee to
recommend that UH procedures be established for more public
notice and public input for the naming of future public buildings
Turning to the letter of Elizabeth
Porteus, I would like to address two of her main points. First,
she mentions that Dr. Porteus was a pro-Hawaiian witness in the
Massie case. I read the microfilmed transcripts of the Massie
trial for the murder of Joseph Kahahawai and of the earlier case
trying five young local men charged with raping Thalia Massie
. These transcripts of the trial and related
indexing materials contain no evidence of testimony by Dr. Porteus.
Second, Elizabeth Porteus defines
racist like this:
My idea of a racist
is someone with such a strong hatred of other races that it
permeates his whole life.
That is not the definition of
racist that Stanley Porteus is accused of being. Instead the work
of Dr. Porteus is criticized because it provided the supposedly
scientific framework that justified and perpetuated the superiority
of the white race at the top of a hierarchy of other races. Dr.
Mehler's lecture yesterday--and testimony from my colleagues today--dispel
the myth that all of his work that constructed such a framework
was truly scientific.
Frameworks that rank races based
on flawed scientific conclusions are tremendously important. These
flawed conclusions of scientists are sometimes accepted and relied
on by other elites--such as the courts. An example is the Korematsu
case of 1944 . In that case the U.S. Supreme
Court upheld the constitutionality of the wartime evacuation and
incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry.
The military justification for
those evacuation and imprisonment orders rested mainly upon "questionable
racial and sociological grounds" that wrongly assumed group disloyalty,
Justice Murphy wrote in his dissenting opinion .
Such faulty reasoning, Murphy warned, was used "in support of
the abhorrent and despicable treatment of minority groups by the
dictatorial tyrannies which this nation is now pledged to destroy."
The Korematsu case--which has
not been overturned -- highlights the dangerous effects of some
scientific overgeneralizations. It highlights the need for individuals
and institutions today to expose scientists' flawed arguments.
And it highlights the need for
individuals and institutions today to heed Justice Murphy's prophecy:
that the constitutional sanction approved in Korematsu provides
"one of the cruelest of the rationales used by our enemies to
destroy the dignity of the individual and to encourage and open
the door to discriminatory actions against other minority groups
in the passions of tomorrow." 
With this prophecy reminding us
what is at stake here, I urge this Committee to recommend:
that the name of Porteus
Hall be changed and
that procedures be established
to ensure more public notice about and public input into the
future naming of public spaces.
(1) See Attachment 1
(2) At the First Circuit Court,
Docket Numbers 011782 and 011891, read March 2, 1998.
(3) Korematsu v. United States,
323 U.S. 214.
(4) 323 U.S. 236.
(5) 323 U.S. 240.