Kahele Gives Protesters Reason to Stonewall
Dear Editor, July 19, 2019
State Senator Kai Kahele’s recent actions haven’t helped the ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope impasse on Mauna Kea.
Firstly, he posts on social media that the TMT's conservation district use permit expires on September 26, 2019. This revelation has given the protesters additional reason to stonewall this project until then, which doesn’t help law enforcement, or the protesters, for that matter.
Senator Kahele has also advocated for a moratorium, or “cooling off period”, of 60 days on the start of construction. This moratorium would expire uncomfortably close to the 2 year end of the CDUP-mandated start of construction.
It shouldn’t be surprising though, as he is strongly opposed to astronomy on Maunakea. He’d rather let the Canary Islands get this telescope, which will slowly kill astronomy on Maunakea.
The backers of the Thirty Meter Telescope have been more than patient during the past 10 years. They’ve successful fended off all legal challenges thus far. The courts have ultimately given their authorization that construction can begin, but instead we have a repeat the 2015 protests over again. In addition, we have state senator on a mission to destroy astronomy as we know it on Maunakea.
Senator Kahele, Hawaii needs good, high paying, jobs. The telescopes on Maunakea provide those jobs, and a much-needed economic boost to the state totaling in the millions of dollars. Hawaii desperately needs that economic balance, especially when we we’re so dependent on tourism, construction, and military. If the backers of the Thirty Meter Telescope decide to relocate to the Canary Islands because of these ongoing protests, it will be devastating blow to astronomy on Maunakea, and to the State of Hawaii.
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Protester: Telescope Supporters are White Supremacists
Dear Editor, July 16, 2019
Being rooted in indigenous culture is not “anti-science” --unless your definition of science is white supremacy.
I’ve spent most of my life as an academic, and half of my working career in ecology and restoration as an assistant to environmental researchers. In my undergraduate and graduate programs I also conducted research, studied statistics and a multitude of scientific disciplines.
I’ve always been inspired by the concept of science as the pursuit of truth and knowledge. But when people say that Hawaiian sovereignty movements on Mauna Kea are “woo” or superstitious, do you know what I hear? Thinly veiled white colonial supremacy. Perhaps it feels like a solid thing to say in our data-driven, increasingly atheistic quantitative world. But the reality is if you cannot respect people praying and/or their culture –or if you’d respect them in a church but not on the mauna-- what you’re concerned about might not have anything to do with “logic” or progress but with racial discrimination. As a Hawaiian, a part-ha’ole who spends a lot of time in Western educational systems, I find it especially cringy that folks in support of TMT are framing this debate in this binary: logic vs. “woo”, progress vs. antiquities.
If you are derogatory to a culture of people whose homeland you are a guest in, that doesn’t make you a good researcher, it makes you a white supremacist. If you think our living culture is dead and has been attacked enough in the last 200 years to no longer have any life left in it for us to fight for, you are attempting to double down on our history of cultural genocide as an active participant in it. That doesn’t make you “logical”, but it may make you a bigot.
In the 50 years of telescope construction in Hawai’i there has been no improvement in our economy or job opportunities for Hawaiians. It is a gross misrepresentation of our culture to think the blowing up of ahus and landmarks for navigation and protected ecosystems would have made our ancestors proud. Hawaiians have a long cultural history of scientific observation. What we’ve observed on the mauna is unchecked unsustainable development that harms our ecosystems, and ha’ole researchers in ecology will probably tell you the same.
Would you say ecology is “superstitious” compared to astronomy? Just because there is a cultural disconnect in understanding Hawaiian Kia’i rhetoric doesn’t give permission for this group of developers and their supporters to have a monopoly on the definition of or participation in science. Science is all things: many forms of research, both qualitative and quantitative. Like the deeper spiritual practitioners I know who do not disrespect other peoples faiths, the best objective scientists I know would not uphold one discipline area over another.
That said, we are entering an era of climate catastrophe and environmental precarity during these times of unchecked development and greedy engineering. As an activist, I will say ecological awareness is often more pressing to us today than astronomy while we get our global and local environmental systems back in check.
The movement of the kia’i is about more than a telescope or romantic ideas about “space, the final frontier”, It’s about a living culture’s survival, a peoples self determination, justice for our history, and protection for our people and ecosystems. The kia’i are concerned with the safety of your water supplies too! It is possible this development could affect the ecosystems which hold all of us. To live in harmony with earth’s ecosystems, in my understanding, is both very Hawaiian, and also very logical, --rooted in the science of systems theory and environmental sanity. No one in this movement is anti-science or anti-progress and I don’t think any human can say they aren’t moved by a cool nebula photo here and there, but I’ve never heard an argument for astronomy development that is particularly urgent for our contexts here and now.
Ecology research and restoration application save lives, but I can’t say astronomers have provided us with that same level of social benefit. So please, stop saying Hawaiian people are anti-science, because for Hawaiian scientists working in Western research systems in our occupied Kingdom, you just sound bias and bigoted, and as though perhaps you haven’t done your research.
Kaikea Kaleikini Blakemore
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Kealoha joint task force needed
Dear Editor, July 4, 2019
The glaring omission in the comments on the Kealoha corruption convictions was that neither Governor Ige nor Mayor Caldwell announced the intent to form an INDEPENDENT PROACTIVE JOINT FEDERAL state and county task force to root out corruption. Obviously, as shown by the Kealoha’s years (maybe decades) of unchecked criminal conspiracies, the current state and county governments will not and/or cannot police themselves. Was this case only the tiniest tip of the corruption iceberg?
We were “lucky” this time. The whole state owes a huge debt of gratitude to Public Defender’s Alexander Silvert’s tenacious courage, who way back in 2013, was faced with being crushed by the combined power of the Honolulu Police Department, the Prosecutors office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Instead of doing the easy conventional wisdom standard plead guilty deal in what initially looked like a slam dunk for the prosecution, he decided, at great personal risk, to defend a helpless desperate innocent (Gerard Puana) against some of the greatest powers in the state. And by doing so, saved countless future innocents by uncovering the greatest criminal conspiracies in Hawaii history.