Native Hawaiians have legit land use grievances but those have nothing to do with the Thirty Meter Telescope planned and approved twice over ten years to be built atop Mauna Kea.  Astronomers globally need to stand up for this observatory or humanity will lose big. A minority of Native Hawaiians who are opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope have relied on misinformation, defamation, lies, intimidation, appeals to celebrity, and appeals to emotion to make their point.  It is time that astronomers who want this telescope built show some backbone and stand up against this 21st century bullying.  They need to realize it is still possible to lose this fight.  In what is now a political issue the courts say may not be final.

It is time to recognize what much of the opposition to the TMT is a modern-day equivalent to the scopes monkey trial, or Galileo being taken before the inquisition.  It is a debate with creationist of a different kind.  The question is will we stand like Galileo did, or will we fail to recognize toxic religious zealotry dressed in Hula* instead of Catholic robes?   

It would help to make the scientific case for the public simple, stark, and easy to understand. 
TMT would be partially, if not totally blinded, to infrared light if built anywhere else in the Northern hemisphere.

In short it would be like taking pictures with a camera that could NEVER EVER see any of the red. Without red visible light we couldn't tell a ripe tomato from a green one. Without infrared astronomers won't really know what they are looking at. We may miss everything from sure signs of life in the universe to phenomena that will shape our understanding of fundamental physical laws. Refined understanding of the fundamental laws of nature has often only come via astronomy.  For example, right now all the evidence we have of dark matter and dark energy, which makes up 95% of the universe, comes from astronomical observations.  Our advancement from Newton to now, including the computer you are reading this on, is a child or grandchild of basic astrophysical research.

Who knows what we will miss without TMT on Mauna Kea.   One only needs to look at how different the infrared image, on the left side, is to the optical one to see how big of a loss it could be.   As odd as it may seem, 50-100 or 200 years down the line what we learn or choose to blind ourselves to right now could be the difference between having warp drive and

The thing is, this situation isn't about the scientific case and no statement of it will cut any ice.  Most people who are anti TMT either don’t care about any of that because they thought it all through and are following their emotions OR, more than anyone would like to admit, they want to be part of the, seemingly bigger, seemingly cooler,  crowd.

Loud Pushy Lies Must Be Met By Louder Pushier Truth Telling.

TMT opponents are more than willing to play the political game since their side lost in the courts of law in which they themselves filed suit. 

David Ige, Governor of Hawaii demonstrates how to push back.

Telling the loud pushy truth need not be mean. Though sometimes that is necessary to...penetrate a persons defenses so they can hear you, and maybe listen to you.

Boring facts and evidence are always going to lose to sexy lies that can boil the blood and move people.  Logic takes thought. Following a celebrity lead crowd is much easier.  Evidence needs critical thinking interpretation not instinctual reaction.   While some on the anti TMT side have certainly done that thinking to reach their position, one side thinks in a disciplined way for a living.  That is what it takes to be a scientist that's our strength. 

As proof of that assertion just look at the lies told by anti TMT.   Lies which will cause me to rant at least twice in this article.

They said said a telescope would be nuclear powered, pollute ground water.

They have  accused the governor of the state, David Ige, of being paid off an accusation with no grounding in facts or logic. 

One side sent men wearing bullet proof vest to deliver a “summons” to their court to the mayor of Hawaii County.   A move which makes sense if you really think the state is "fake", but certified mail would do the trick.

One side has used celebrity star power to gather a crowd.

(I will never be able to look at these guys the same way again.)

 With public relations skills, they make songs, an anti-TMT coloring book is in the works.  Targeting the young.  Knowing the main thing young people want is to belong to something. 

The easier, less thought requiring, and more popular, that thing is to belong to the better. (Like the 150 or so, chiefly young, evidently short sighted, graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics who signed this letter.  I warn any who sign that, University of Hawaii will lose jobs, the overall reduction in funding will have consequences for all astronomy world wide for the remainder of the 21st century if not longer.)

Rant: Colonized Science... Really?    

Capitalist mindset and colonized science.... 

She is 100% right about one thing, it IS a fact of nature that Mauna Kea IS the best and only place on the Northern Hemisphere it makes sense to attempt to build such a thing.   I guess saying that fact gets respectfully heard while I get talked down to on my own blog when I say the same thing.  (I wonder if it is my stance or my being just a bit too black or less photogenic that makes that happen.) Shows what kind of people that side is made of.

In fact it reminds me of how among the Black community those of us who studied or knew how to read, do mathematics, or work a computer it was said we "want to be white".   While those who wanted to “be black”, whatever that meant to them, tried to get into the NBA. (A lot of people from my area really did but still that's only 45 people out of thousands in Maywood and Bellwood Illinois.)  Now look how well that worked out for my community going from the 1980's to now.  

Science, and knowledge are the greatest force for equality there are.  Since you can't fake it, you can only earn it, and no one can take it from you once you have it.   I often compare it to gaining physical fitness.  Knowledge is the same in many ways.  No one can take it from you but you can loose it over time if you don’t use it.

If you reject it you sentence yourself and your children to ignorance.   Either we learn something fundamental and new ... or we insist that the only real knowledge is in the stories of the Kupuna or the Qur'an, or Bible, or Torah ...   That way darkness lies.  

Colonized thinking is thinking because of who you are advanced knowledge, beyond what the ancestors knew, is only the colonizers.   

What do I know about anything though?  Malcolm X and I are a couple of colonized and capitalist minds.  In some alternate future so many black and brown people are doing this when they look at the record of our actions with respect to TMT...

End Rant

 The anti TMT side has taken great advantage of the way the state has handled things. 

Who can blame them? Even I felt very emotional watching this building get torn down.  YET I also know politics well enough to know a stunt when I see it.  

The anti TMT side is also playing politics better than TMT.   They are playing what looks almost Chicago like politics, with Hollywood PR.  While TMT is looking like they learned politics in Mayberry and PR from watching Bewitched. 

Mismanaged Land, a Very Legitimate But Unrelated Concern. 

It is also a fact that the Department of Hawaiian Homelands has mismanaged and mishandled the real estate it was created to administer, and has had serious corruption problems.  Some of the deals they did, like trading 21 million dollar valued land near Honolulu for 5 million dollar valued land  seem criminally negligent.  That they have taken far too long to build adequate housing for all those qualified beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homelands.  The only thing that might impact TMT about this very real and serious issue is that the land the road leading up the mountain is on is some of that land taken without the mandated compensation. 

This is a very serious issue that effects Native Hawaiians, and American Indians in a way few can really understand.

It hurts me to the core to have to oppose people who are, in part, fighting for what is a type of real injustice.   I must, because as the kupuna elder talk and share their stories which have a great deal of “why truth”, the kind spiritual beliefs can give us.  They confuse their “why” truth for scientific “how” truth religious often do that.  In that sense she who speaks in that video is no different than the pope who put Galileo under house arrest. 

If you say my religion must rule or else you are a racist, bigot, colonized, colonizer, or as some followers of the anti TMT crusade have done made explicit or implied threats, yes you are just like a medieval Pope.  I’m sure Pualani KanakaÊ»ole Kanahele and Pope Urban VIII are/were nice enough people. The big difference is she does not have the power to implement what they believe and the traditional consequence for violating the Kapu system...death.  

Astronomers and scientist must recognize the anti-science when they see it.

So many astronomers seem to have let themselves be fooled.

You can’t say what was said at the end of the video just above this line, and then claim to not be anti-science and anti-scientists.   Especially if you only like the scientist who say what you want to hear.  Watching the video above there seems to be no thought towards compromise.  TMT and all the telescopes are desecrating their land.  In fact, anyone going up there at all is desecrating their land and violating the strictures of their religion.  Especially the astronomers and scientist who work at the observatories.   The only connection between this real issue and TMT is a pure appeal to emotion and spiritual belief.  

That the mountain is sacred, Kapu / forbidden and no one, especially those not of their nation, should go up there for anything.  They truly don’t want any telescopes up there at all.  It has even leaked into a generally anti telescope feeling regardless of where it is located.  Replace Kapu with Haram, and Manua Kea with the Masjid al Haram in Mecca, and no one would flinch at calling this what it is.  The difference, the Masjid al Haram isn’t the size of an island with a multitude of different people living on it.  

Yet reasonable people, who I have read a long time and know to be reasonable are also jumping on this or at least they did a few months back.

Now that argument is untenable.  Yes, the protest is anti-science.  Yes, the protest is promoting ignorance of a very profound kind of knowledge in the name of another profound kind of knowledge.  Scientist know our knowledge is not all encompassing but some religious, spiritual people ... of any faith, can't stomach that.   To tell them "for you is your religion and for me is my religion" would not be enough

Being against any and all telescopes on top of Mauna Kea, which is what many honest anti TMT people say.  Starting a movement that makes at least some Native Hawaiians feel some kind of way about modern astronomy in general. Talking about astronomers in the way the above, in the video announcing the lawsuit over the status of the homeland that road is on , did towards the end is anti-science and anti-scientists 

The gaslighting going on from non-astronomers on this is beyond words.  It is like a big bully saying stop hitting yourself.   

Speaking for myself if the choice is agreeing with the anti TMT POV or be deemed a horrible racist; then under this new and absurd definition I'm just going to have to be racist.   The word now has no real meaning. 

End Rant

What Has TMT and Astronomy Offered The Average Person Can Easily Understand And Want to Join In On?

Their version of protest has been relatively short sparsely attended "sign waving"....

Meanwhile what has TMT organized or offered that can evoke people to act to defend the “how” truth, the scientific truth they stand for? Not much that has been effective. 

They do have some videos.  This one shows two Native Hawaiian women discussing their outreach activities and the impact astronomy has had on the community.  This video as of now has 2700 views.  It shows that if we listen to the Kanaka Maoli that they cannot be pigeonholed.  Like any nation of tends if not hundreds of thousands of people, depending on what blood quantum you count. 

TMT gives us a master navigator.  Kalepa Baybayan proposing the simple easy solution.  Share the Mauna respectfully.  The astronomers would be up for that. 

Of course on social media people are trying to say he was paid off.  Like the worldwide community of astronomers is some evil Mob like corporation willing to pay people off to ... I don't even know what. He's stood up for astronomy at Mauna Kea in a way I wish more research astronomers do.  Far more than what could make being "paid off" credible.   

It's our livelihoods and yet one could conclude from how we market it we could care less.  Meanwhile "woke" astronomy students sign an open letter against their own interest and filled with lies.  Baybayan should be put in for a Nobel prize not called a crook.   

In closed Facebook groups, and shared on Instagram, Native Hawaiians in Hawaii who have spoken up on TMT's behalf have written of threats, bullying, and intimidation.  Here is a whole Instagram of screenshots about that. 

Looking around the world the Palestinians and Israelis manage to share the temple mount to a degree. There is tension but they can share what is a tiny hill compared to enormous Mauna Kea.  In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful...Are we Americans, are people in Hawaii really so inflexible that they make the Israeli Palestinian situation in holy Jerusalem look like cake?  

Sharing is the only way.    However, before you can share with someone you have to make it clear to them that they cannot just take the whole thing from you.  Right now the TMT and astronomy community have more or less signaled that they'd be willing to just lay down and take abject violation.... of their legal rights hard won in 10 years of court battles. Victories in lawsuits initiated by the side who lost, and then disregarded when that side did not get their way.   

Sharing will only come about if TMT is more assertive.   

First the TMT side needs to make it clear both that they want to share, and that they won't take abject violation of their rights either.   That does not have to be done with violence. 

Nonviolent protest against the ongoing violation of the right of TMT, and all workers, not just skeleton staff at the existing observatories, to carry on their legally permitted work , in a location within shouting distance of the anti TMT camp should be considered.   I don't know but I can speculate based on basic economics.  They can't afford to have staff sitting around just collecting a check.  There are almost certainly hourly staff up to and including those whose work is purely technical and highly skilled.  No hours no pay, and there aren't that many people with those skills in the world.  Will they not stand up for their own paycheck and their right to do what they love, to discover fundamental truths of how the universe works, in the place they are from, without getting a version of the "reading is for white people" treatment? 

I'd do it myself but I don't live in Hawaii... and it would be foolish to spend my few resources traveling there just to be colder than it is in Chicagoland right now. (Ya know... also loose my job).   Being an astrophysicist, whose career depends on having as much of the best data possible on everything from particle collisions to stars and black holes forming and dying makes this of vital interest to me. 

It is a irony of negotiation and settling disputes like this that when one side is either weaker, or unwilling to stand firm, compromise and real peace will never come.  Instead you get what we see at Mauna Kea. An unending standoff. 

If TMT has failed in a way it is that they have not comprehended the real politik of their situation. It is politics.  In politics looks matter, numbers matter, social media matters. 

They can't afford to be aloof to playing the same game as the anti TMT side because that is the game going on.  The anti TMT side lost in court, but this is three dimensional chess.   

The anti TMT side is both smarter in admitting that extra dimension exists, and in playing it far more shrewdly.  TMT seems to be too nice, or too scholarly, or maybe even too "above" playing that game of realpolitik.  That will cost them and the world dearly unless something is done. 

Ten years of court, reems of scientific study on the impact of building TMT, volumes of study by TMT with experts in Hawaiian cultural practices relevant to the site.  All of that is about to be undone by smart PR as the masses think with their emotional brain.  Then they who win are they who are more photogenic, appear in larger numbers, and have better abs. 

*FYI Hula is much more than a dance with a lot of hip motion.  When someone says they are a Hula practitioner it is saying much more than one who dances a certain way.  Among the Abrahamic religions it is like if someone tells you they are a Sufi Dervish.  A practice which also involves a characteristic style of dance, but it is not about the dance. It is very deep and meaningful. 


Governor David Ige and Hawaii state officials held a press conference decrying threats of violence against TMT supporters and Law enforcement and racist language by TMT supporters.   I've noticed and reported postings online which would mention racist old stereotypes that have brown people on welfare and the like and which use racial slurs.

What triggered this was a price put on the head of one of the law enforcement officers involved in the demolition of the building the protesters constructed. 

Passionate debate is not the same as using racial slurs.  Calling out proven lies and willful ignorance is not the same as using racial slurs or a threat of violence. 

Calling out ignorance, if done while providing correct information, is a good description of giving someone resistant an education.  History shows that educating in this way is  sometimes necessary if the ignorance is wilfulLook at the comment stream that accompanies this news conference. See what they are saying even as they are being called out by their governor.  Statistically the anti TMT crowd skews younger and so their passions may run deeper. 

So if you are either anti TMT or pro TMT, in my opinion, tough delivery of facts is ok.  There are likely people who are pro TMT out there who are ignorant of how badly things have been done to the Native Hawaiians.  Just as there are certainly anti TMT people who are simply ignorant of the entire situation.   Sadly for both sides ignorance of the wrongs done is all too common.  

The General TMT supporting public is stepping up more.

More TMT supporters among the general public are starting to wake up and stand up and put their face and name to their support.   There have also been more sign waving demonstrations.   This video is a good summary of the facts about TMT in an approachable way.