To no one’s surprise those most opposed to astronomy on Mauna Kea have reacted negatively to yesterday’s statement by Governor Ige. Released statements by the Mauna Kea Hui, Kū Kia’i Mauna and other groups offer no compromise in response to the governor’s proposals.
A number of protests have been organized around the island, including one at Church Row, just across the lawn from Keck headquarters. The protest is a very island way of doing this, a sign waving event along a major highway. This is a very typical event during political campaigns or social controversies like this.
Today’s protest is interesting compared to earlier protests, it seems less energetic, with far fewer passing vehicles honking in support. The previous protest at this location was almost constant honking. Has the community sentiment shifted away from those protesting? Are many accepting the spirit of compromise that was exemplified by the governor yesterday? The real test will be when construction resumes, and we all expect it to resume soon.
It was in walking over to check on the protest that I had a more interesting conversation. A Hawaiian gentleman was selling fresh ahi and pickled mangoes from a roadside stand. He ask why they were protesting the telescopes. It made no sense to him that anyone would oppose the TMT.
This is in line with many quiet conversations I have had. Many in the local community do support the TMT, but the support has been muted by the most strident voices of opposition. Conflict is not comfortable to many in this community, traditional Hawaiian and to a large extent traditional Asian attitudes that so many follow here have steered many away from the controversy. As we chatted he offered me a piece of ahi free, he had a big catch yesterday. I deferred and thanked him, I still have plenty of halibut to use up in the freezer.