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Maybe it is time to get out: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), which had approved the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in 2009, has formally withdrawn its support.
I think the testimony to OHA by the opponents of the telescope says it all:
Thursday’s vote followed a day of emotional testimony at OHA’s offices in Honolulu.
“We have compromised and negotiated 13 times already, and enough is enough,” said testifier Mehana Kihoi. She said scientists did not understand the significance of the mountain to Hawaiian people. “These are people with no sacred place, no connection, no culture,” she said. Kihoi had spent more than 28 days occupying the mountain with other protesters and choked back tears as she described the spiritual experience of being there. “When you place your hands and your bare feet into the soil, you feel that warmth, you feel her heart. At 3 a.m., when … you feel her breath come down and sit on your bones, you know that she is alive.” She called on trustees to oppose the project: “Money comes and goes; our aina [land] is forever.”
Longtime Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte said stopping the TMT was no longer enough and that Hawaiians needed to take a stronger stand on the mismanagement of the mountain summit. “They’ve misused it to the point that they need to get all of those telescopes off Mauna Kea,” he said. “It’s a matter of principle.” [emphasis mine]
The comments of the first woman reveal an underlying bigotry and hatred of non-Hawaiians. The comments of the second person reveal a hostility to science and the advancement of knowledge that is most striking.
My instinct is to tell them to go to hell and to pull out all the telescopes, and financial support, to the islands. Maybe a tourist boycott should be started, since they obviously find non-Hawaiians and Western culture so offensive. We’d suddenly discover that these self-righteous claims are as shallow as I’ve described, bigoted and small-minded. Suddenly Hawaiians would be begging Westerners to return to the island.
My second and stronger instinct is to also tell them to go to hell, and to push through construction so that we do not bow to this kind of bigotry.
Unfortunately, our society no longer has the courage to do either. We will bow to these demands, and bigotry will win again.