The now-approved Thirty Meter Telescope went through years of public listening sessions and hearings.

However, recent actions from TMT protesters make clear that they still cling to false, discredited claims about TMT. They also basically claim to speak for all Hawaiians when in fact they do not, while trying to intimidate those Hawaiians who support TMT.

For instance, as seen in the recent discussion of TMT’s valid National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System water permit, many protesters repeat the ever popular — and ever wrong — claim that the TMT will pollute the aquifer. Both contested case hearings (and common sense) show that TMT, a zero-waste building on top of a dry mountain 12 miles from the nearest wells, will have no impact on the island’s drinking water.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has now twice shown in detail why TMT meets the eight criteria for building in a conservation district.

Yet protesters continue to falsely claim that TMT violates these criteria, focusing for example on its size. TMT is just barely taller than current telescopes Subaru and Gemini. The telescope’s footprint is comparable to the Keck Observatory. It will be visible to only 14% of Hawaii, smaller than the view plane of many current observatories, in part because it will be sited below the summit.

Another no less false claim repeated by other protesters is that TMT somehow disregards cultural Hawaiian practices. There have been no historical traditional, customary cultural practices on the TMT site, no burials, and no shrines.

TMT has bent over backwards in order to listen to demands of cultural practitioners and the community as a whole. Everything from the amount they’re paying in rent to the color, size, shape, and location of the observatory to the THINK fund shows TMT’s goodwill. In contrast, opponents often showed no interest in dialogue themselves.

A 3D rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope showing the telescope pointing vertically inside its enclosure.

Courtesy TMT

TMT protesters also misuse words in highly charged and offensive ways. Take for instance the mention of “genocide” in many protesters’ statements, a word that literally means the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.

My family is Hawaiian and I am speaking for my family when I say I see no “genocide” here. Instead, with TMT I see a project that has helped my community already, even before construction has started. Appropriating this term for TMT is incorrect and insulting, belittling cases of actual genocide throughout the world.

Just because you don’t agree with someone on TMT, it does not mean that person is beneath you. Many TMT opponents do not seem to understand this, especially when they are talking with Hawaiian TMT supporters.

Protesters attempt to delegitimize people like my family as “fake Hawaiians,” “paid shills,” “brainwashed” or “colonized” just because we disagree.

Embrace Nonviolence

Is it a sin to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions? Why aren’t these phrases used to describe Hawaiians that, like the queen over a century ago, go to Christian churches and do not accept the religious beliefs of many TMT opponents?

The state is gearing up for enforcement of TMT’s right to construction, and some protesters are complaining about the state using “excessive force” in part based on yet another discredited claim about equipment the state Department of Land and Natural Resources purchased long ago. Protesters may complain about getting arrested, but that’s only because of their disregard for rules that the rest of us abide by and all the threats of violence from TMT protesters that we see every day on social media.

My family is Hawaiian and I am speaking for my family when I say, I see no “genocide” here.

Go ahead. Deny it. But if you’re truly honest with yourself, can you honestly say that there are no threats of violence due from TMT opponents?

The protesters’ have issued physical threats against a high school TMT supporter, rammed vehicles into observatories, and put rocks in the road to block traffic. They also put two unpermitted ahus — which were not even constructed properly according to tradition — in the middle of the road in an obvious attempt to block the project.

If the protesters truly embrace “Kapu Aloha” they should renounce intimidation and violence and commit to protesting peacefully, without blocking TMT’s construction.

I’d like to end by saying this: There are many Hawaiians that support TMT — more than people think (the polls say up to 70%). We stay quiet due to the hostile reactions that we get when we voice our opinions.

Everyone knows the TMT opponents will keep protesting. They have a right to do that so long as their protesting does not interfere with TMT’s construction at all.

TMT has followed over a decade-long process, bent over backwards to listen to us, and shown protesters’ claims about it to be false. It deserves our support.

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