The TMT Contested Case Winds Down

We are now in March, looking back to October when the TMT contested case began. Five months of hearings endlessly repeating the same details about every aspect of the case.

Yes… My patience has run out long ago.

Retired Judge Riki May Amano
Retired Judge Riki May Amano presides over the TMT contested case hearing
After all that has been said and done it is clear that the actual substance of the case could have been thoroughly discussed in a couple weeks, not five months.

Among the endless hours of testimony there have been occasional moments of fireworks. We have heard wild theories, mangled science, inexcusable ignorance, evidence of unemployment claims fraud, and several very likely incidents of outright perjury by telescope opponents.

Along the way several of the opponents that I had respected have trashed that respect. Try as I might I just have issues with their tactics, their behaviour on and off the stand, their continued use of alternative facts.

It was Wednesday’s opening statement from Joseph Camara that drove home what is wrong with so many of the opponent’s testimony. He expressed it very clearly… Among many of the Hawaiian practitioners is a distinct dismissal of any culture other than their own.

No respect is given to any of the other cultures that share in the multiethnic stew that makes up the island community. It is a mantle of superiority wrapped about tightly. That somehow the Kanaka are an anointed race, that they have a special purpose, a destiny with the land and the mountain. This attitude belittles and dismisses, to the point of racism, any culture other than Hawaiian.

Given history this is in some part understandable. I understand taking pride in one’s culture, in celebrating the achievements of one’s ancestors. But this can so easily be taken too far, to the point that a sense of superiority and isolation becomes a significant element of one’s worldview.

I realize the issue is not with Hawaiians in general, I know too many examples of the best among Hawaiians. It is a subculture within the community, a subculture that has become so steeped in a mythical past, a re-created Hawaiian religion that blends the old traditional ways, a good helping of modern new age mysticism, and a notable element of nationalism. It is this distorted idealism that leads the opposition to astronomy upon Mauna Kea.

I have trouble with these thoughts. I love the experience living among so many cultures, so many things to learn, so many different ways of seeing the world. This just drives home the lesson that all cultures have a dark element, those so sure of their own culture that they do not see the value and knowledge of others.

Mauna Kea Protest
Protests on Mauna Kea, June 24, 2015. Photo by Dan Birchall, used with permission.
We are in an age of nationalism and extremism, where the lines of culture are drawn starkly upon our political discourse. An ugly form of nationalism has currently taken control of the US government, this is reflected in the extremism of other political movements, be they indigenous movements, religious groups, or even other idealistic movements such as environmental groups.

I look about at movements I would like to support, and find the extremism of idealogues have poisoned otherwise worthy causes. It is difficult to find reasoned discourse, careful discussion of evidence. Instead you find a dismissal of evidence to be replaced with dogma and a hardline attitude that makes compromise impossible.

As for the current issue before us? This is just the end of the hearing phase of a contested case, we have the post hearing phase yet ahead. Both sides may now advocate for a finding in their favor. It is going to be interesting to hear what Judge Amano determines. Looking forward to reading the findings.

Author: Andrew

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

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