Questioning the Dogma

There is a pretty good article published on the Civil Beat website earlier this week. In it author Peter Apo questions many of the basic claims made by those protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. The identity of the author is of particular relevance as Mr. Apo is Hawaiian and has served the state and community in various offices. He is currently a trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, very much at the center of the controversy. I highly suggest reading the article.

An ancient ahu (shrine) atop Mauna Kea with Mauna Loa in the background
The article hit home for me as I too have been confused about some of the claims I have heard. They just do not coincide with other information on the history of the mountain that I have studied over the years I have lived here. Since the controversy started I have been reading many of the old records, from the Kumulipo to the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Yet I have many questions when modern claims seem to conflict with the records. Mr. Apo has obviously had the same questions, but is in a much better position to look hard at some of them and provide some evaluation.

It is in the comment section that the true divide in the community becomes apparent. What is disturbing to see are the truly nasty accusations flung at Mr. Apo in the comments. For questioning some of the anti-TMT movement’s basic claims, for asking valid questions, the abuse he receives is unrelenting.

Peter Apo is a sell out! How dare he question the “Traditions” of his own Kupuna? – Herbert Faima

Fuckin fake Hawaiian! – Ricky Keona Kauanui

Peter Apo the quintessential sellout and all around parasite. – Kama Ki

Fortunately there are as many positive comments, thanking Mr. Apo for publishing the article. Many of those commenting clearly understand that it took a good deal of courage to write the article, undoubtedly knowing what would occur. Seen in these comments is the split revealed in polling data, that even among the Hawaiian community opposition for the telescope is not a complete majority.

Good article, arigato Peter. We, the silent majority, decided to keep quiet as the protesters were getting violent and out of hand. Threats were made to individuals, families and businesses. Many business owners kept quiet so that no one would get hurt. – Russell Arikawa

I have to hand it to you, you’ve got the nads to speak what you feel is the truth. For that, you are to be commended. We should never be afraid of a discussion. I see that this discussion is quite healthy. Mahalo for helping light the fire of dialogue. – Tim Orden

I agree with the necessity to question dogma. In a controversy like this the facts become somewhat malleable. Often exaggeration or complete misinformation slips into the conversation, to be repeated so often that it becomes truth to those inclined to believe. In this I too must congratulate Mr. Apo in looking back to the old records to see what may have been added to the conversation, to get a little closer to the truth.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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