Why It’s Really Hawaiian Science vs. Pro-TMT Culture

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Disclaimer: Of course the importance of Mauna Kea is “really” about so much more than this small slice of the issue. However, this tedious TMT PR trope of asking “can science and culture coexist on the mountain” is making me slightly insane. Here’s another angle–the way we should “really” be asking this question. But first, a public service announcement.

Today, October 5th, is the worldwide celebration of Aloha ʻĀina Unity Marches, with events taking place on most or all of the Hawaiian Islands and in other places besides. (Aloha ʻĀina means “love the land.”)


The controversy over the construction of a massive, ecologically destructive, 18-story building on stolen lands in a fragile “conservation district” zone–a district located on Mauna Kea, one of the most sacred mountains in the Pacific–is often presented as “Science” (white, western, mostly based on materialistic consumption) vs. “Culture” (native, oceanic, mostly based in spiritual traditions).

I am not anywhere near one of today’s marches. Instead, I will write. But in order to write about this particular aspect of the Mauna Kea struggle, I must acknowledge a mid-August phone conversation with Makana Cameron, musician and activist (hear his song, “See You on the Mauna,” featuring Lanakila). In that conversation, Makana spoke of the science community’s “weaponization of knowledge” and how the narrative of the TMT controversy was really about “Western Science dogma operating as Religion” vs. Native Science (which we understand to be informed by spiritual connection and a responsible understanding of how to get along with the natural world). I took a lot of notes during that convseration but unfortunately did not get verbatim quotes. E kala mai! (Sorry!) His eloquence exceeds my own and I hope I can do justice to the gist of the conversation while also adding further thoughts of my own. 

I’ve been letting the conversation with Makana root and grow, not sure if I was the right person to address this topic, collaboratively or otherwise. Meanwhile, just the other day, members of the astronomy community who support construction of the 18-story Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), staged a pro-TMT panel discussion at the Hawai’i “state” capitol in Honolulu. Here’s the first sentence from the Oct. 4th Hawai’i News Now article: “Thirty Meter Telescope supporters gathered at the state Capitol Friday arguing that culture and science can coexist on Mauna Kea.”

Not that “coexistence” thing again! Frankly, my stomache churned, reading this. Fuggit, those folks are shameless. It’s past time for that question, and its underlying assumptions, to be flipped.

Let’s talk about what kind of culture and what kind of science would be most likely to productively and respectfully “co-exist” on the mountain.

And let’s be clear about two things:

(1) That mode of inquiry enshrined by the general term “science” is not a pure, unbiased endeavor. It never has been. It often serves the power elite at the expense of others. And science which originates from a (mostly white) western , intrinsically colonial mindset and which is privileged over the rights and wishes of native peoples IS NOT CULTURE-FREE! The pro-TMT camp is notoriously ignorant and/or duplicitous about the impact of Western Science Culture, what it embodies and represents. Since this ignorance is whopping Moore Foundation grants (if not exactly bliss), the pro-TMT camp grants itself “the right” to do whatever the heck it wants on the mountain, regardless of the wishes, beliefs, and legal rights of native Hawaiians. In fact, their insistent “manifest astronomical destiny” to build TMT takes precedence over all other concerns, almost bordering on dogmatic religious fervor. “To the stars!” they cry, aspiring to imagined scientific heroics without realizing that they are in fact the gullible representatives of an evil empire.

(2) Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians) are not and have never been “science free.” As a brilliant people with exceptional resource management skills (e.g. the ahupua’a system), they developed sophisticated capacities for observation, inquiry, and practical applications in navigation, aquaculture, agriculture, botany,  weather observation (just to name a few) and yes…even astronomy. I hesitate to name that last one because the pro-TMT camp has so often conflated its own star-gazing with that of the Hawaiians, as a justification for its own invasive and quite illegal claims on the mountain. This is a particularly noxious form of cultural appropriation.

As just one example of advanced observational abilities, I go to a book on my shelf, Hanau Ka Ua–Hawaiian Rain Names, by Collette Leimomi Akana with Kiele Gonzalez. There are hundreds of distinct names and descriptions of different rains, such as “Kiawe’ula… Rain that streams down gracefully with a faint streak of red, as of a rainbow” (p. 80) and the “Wa’ahila rain” which “brings life to the harbour of Kou” (p. 273). So the different rains are not just described, but in some cases their importance to ecosystems is also noted.

Or how about an example from literature, when the goddess Pele recites the names and describes all the winds of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau in a chant which takes up pages 13-25 of The Epic Tale of Hi’iakaikapoliopele, as told by Ho’oulumahiehie, translated by M. Puakea Nogelmeier?

Can you imagine San Francisco urbanites taking the time to closely watch the winds and rains that visit their city? Do they intimately observe the details, direction, and timing of the “Bus Interrupting Rain” or the “Branch Scattering Wind of Golden Gate Park?” Do we know their seasons, their times of arrival, how they may spur or inhibit the growth of plants or fisheries (not to mention their effect on mass transit)? The heart of science is observation. And practical use of such observations can bring plenty or hardship to a people. Kanaka Maoli (and other native peoples) were and are adept. They had to be.

I might also mention that what we might call “social sciences” are also key to survival. You can bet that native peoples have focused their finely tuned observational capacities on the people who colonize or occupy their lands, as a matter of survival. Without presuming to speak for the Mauna Kea protectors, I would venture to guess that many know the precise nature and character of their opponents far better than the opponents know themselves.

That said, let’s get back to the idea of a “culture” that could successfully and respectfully co-exist with the kind of science and common sense stewardship of natural resources that’s embedded in native Hawaiian traditions. What kind of culture does the TMT convey and represent?

Systemic racism and personal prejudice. Here is just one example, in a quote from a Hawai’i NPR story concerning an event which happened April, 2015:

“Professor Alexei Filippenko, of the University of California Berkeley, sent out a link to a petition in support of the TMT. It included a note from Professor Sandra Faber at UC Santa Cruz and it landed in the inboxes of all the astrophysics students and faculty.

Faber wrote in part of the email that “the Thirty-Meter Telescope is in trouble, attacked by a horde of native Hawaiians who are lying about the impact of the project on the mountain and who are threatening the safety of TMT personnel.”

I lived in the San Francisco East Bay at the time. As an ally, I attended the meeting at CAL Berkeley where astronomy students confronted faculty with their anger and concerns about this incident. That the meeting was “tense” is an understatement.

Here is an excellent commentary by Janet D. Stemwedel about the ethical challenges of the TMT and the (largely white) American scientific community as a whole.

Incidently, in July 2019, hundreds of astronomers and other scientists signed a petition supporting the protectors of Mauna Kea and opposing the construction of the TMT.

Predatory philanthropy. See Mauna Kea and the Moore Foundation’s Hypocrisy for a larger version of the funding charts below. The strategy of the Moore Foundation’s grants to TMT, University of Hawai’i, and the Nature Conservancy was and is designed to influence decision-making about Mauna Kea. All information taken from websites accessible to the public.

Corruption of public agencies and processes. See What Price Mauna Kea? for more details about the relationships between the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, University of Hawai’i, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and Bureau of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and the possible skewing of the approval process in favor of the TMT. All information taken from websites accessible to the public.

You might also want to look at an interesting paper trail included in an article by Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz and Sherri Kane: Gov. Ige TMT Bribery Scandal. Ige’s office denied the allegation. I don’t know if there is any follow-up investigation.

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Entitlement and duplicity. Gosh. Where to start? From the beginning of the theft of the Hawaiian Kingdom to the present moment, representatives of the occupying power have felt entitled to “dole” out (pun intended) duplicity to the Kanaka Maoli as a matter of course. All telescope development on Mauna Kea since 1968 is the result of entitled land grabs and lies. Today, TMT public relations communications routinely spin falsehoods and half-truths.

Violence. In 2015, at least one Mauna Kea activist was nearly run over by a car heading up the access road toward the telescopes. Sacred structures have been vandalized for years. In July 2019, police arrested 38 peaceful protectors of the mountain, most of them elderly people. A community classroom at Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu was recently destroyed by authorities, who also ripped through and desecrated a Hawaiian flag. The protectors gathered at Pu’u Huluhulu have been harrassed with parking tickets as well as threatened with potentially lethal force in future police actions. Here is a video of some of the Kia’i making a statement about police harrassment and misconduct.

Paul Neves, a longtime Mauna Kea activist who is a renowned kumu hula (hula teacher) and a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, reported a recent encounter with a gun-wielding man on a street near his home in Hilo. Kumu Neves has asked for his post to be shared widely so I have copied and pasted his post here.


Please share this with everyone…

On the morning of Saturday September 28th between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, beachside across the street from Seaside Restaurant in Keaukaha, my life was threatened while walking my dog. A gun was aimed methodically and purposefully right at me, within 8 feet of my face. At that very moment, I thought I would be shot and killed. I remember his face, the barrel of the gun and his dead eyes. I will never forget.

Those of you who know me, know that I have been outspoken on political, cultural and spiritual issues all my life, and especially in Hawai’i. You also know that I am not afraid to die for what I believe in and that I will not be threatened or intimidated. I will continue to follow the call of Ke Akua and that is my refuge, purpose and mission in life.

The shooter left after my yelling and screaming back at him. After a long five seconds his car fled the scene. The police were timely and I am following up with them. I have shared this terrible incident with my ohana and close friends. I also am seeking professional help to deal with it.

I share it with you because it is healing for me and to make you aware of a danger that does exists in our community. I am asking you to pray (PULE) for me and other innocent people who have been traumatized or threatened in their lives.

Never leave your home or loved ones without saying to them, “I Love You”. I have learned that valuable lesson! I got this my friends.
God bless you…See You On The Mauna… Kumu Paul Neves


Cultural assumptions about Hawai’i and Hawaiians. From the above mentioned “angry hordes” of Sandy Farber’s imagination to the frequent characterization of Kanaka Maoli as somehow less rational and more superstitious (given their devotion to their own culture and the sacredness of their mountain), negative and insulting assumptions (often racialized) inform TMT-related policies and actions of duplicity and entitlement. To discredit Mauna Kea’s protectors, Governor Ige and other authority figures have portrayed the sacred “place of refuge” at Pu’uhuluhulu as unsafe, unsanitary, violent, drug-ridden, criminal, etc. However, there is no evidence of this at and far more evidence of a well-run, loving, safe community established to prevent desecration of Mauna Kea. Pu’uhuluhulu is informed by the principal of Kapu Aloha–a nonviolent and spirit-filled commitment to stand in dignity and peace, as appropriate to the cause and the sacredness of the place.

Superstition. By assuming (1) the mantle of a privileged intellectual elite (which must never be challenged) and (2) the values of short-sighted, profit-driven rampant consumerism (capitalism), Western Science Culture has helped to create an almost superstitious mindset among the general public. This is a mindset that looks to the Great Gods of Science to provide tech fixes to our most dire, life destroying predicaments: those of climate catastrophe, ubiquitous pollution, and rapid species extinction, a domino effect of almost total Earth ecosystem collapse. No matter that most of these predicaments are the result of science in the service of industry–creating nuclear bombs, toxic petrochemicals, plastic microbeads that fill the bellies of ocean animals, ad infinitum. Why we should expect the same mindset that created these problems to also provide solutions is beyond me. It seems to be a superstition of the most tragic and pernicious kind.

Therefore, when I “compare and contrast” the features of the TMT’s Imperial Western Science culture–and its lack of ethics and penchant for all manner of poor behavior–I do not believe that the TMT’s culture is at all compatible with the rational science and spiritual stewardship demonstrated by the Mauna Kea Kia’i, who are protecting a precious cultural and natural resource in a world imperiled by the same kind of entitlement and reckless disregard of natural balance and human rights that are at the heart of the efforts to build the TMT.

I conclude that the TMT and its proponents should not have any say at all in what happens on Mauna Kea.

Finally, here is a cogent statement from one of the leaders in the fight to preserve Mauna Kea, Kealoha Pisciotta’s discussion of a Mauna Kea “management plan” produced by the Kanaka Maoli lahui (community) some time ago. This sixteen-minute video is well worth watching, especially if you’ve been confused by this issue.

Ku Kia’i Mauna!

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The Call to be Mauna Ready is Now

Please consider donating your Hawaiian Airlines miles to Kia’i (protectors) who need to respond to this call, this kahea, below. Yesterday I did this very thing, and now a young couple from Maui will be going there later this week, using miles that were sitting in my account doing nothing. You can do this through KAHEA – The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance – and they make it easy and sweet to connect with the people who need to come over from neighbor islands to protect their beautiful, sacred — really, really SACRED — ancestor mountain. Here is the link to donate your miles. Also, the KAHEA staff are wonderful. Just sayin’.


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It’s no surprise that the authorities and pro-TMT folks are putting on the pressure now. The timing makes perfect sense as the Governor Ige/TMT conflict of interest and bribery scandal is just coming to light. This is the result of a well-researched investigation by Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz and Sherri Kane. Their article provides plenty of documentation and corporate connected dots. Naturally, the Governor (having sold his soul and what’s left of a good name to TMT interests) would like to deflect attention from his misdeeds by (1) proving that he’s worth being bribed and (2) showing the protectors that he’s still the boss. (Kind of reminds me of another prominent politician’s playbook…)

To quote from the article on the Judicial Corruption website:


<<Mauna Kea ‘Protectors’ and Kingdom of Hawaii investigators have uncovered evidence of bribery in a $3 million payment taken by Gov. David Ige’s agents through a private ‘security’ company proving conflicting interests in the planned construction of the world’s most powerful telescope–the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) opposed by millions of people worldwide.

Compelling evidence of bribery was first discovered in public records reviewed on the Facebook group ʻOnipaʻa Kākou. The records prove the Hawaii governor’s apparent ‘corporate fiction’–David and Dawn Ige Enterprises‘s–had conflicting ties to the $1.3 billion TMT construction project.>>


The governor denies it but the paper trail is pretty convincing.

It’s also not surprising that escalating aggression–from the pro-TMT authorities–has already resulted in needless vandalism and desecration. Earlier this week, a small wooden library and classroom structure for kids at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu. One officer sawed a Hawaiian Kingdom (and “state”) flag in half, a gesture of desecration and disrespect which speaks volumes about the contempt shown to Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians) and which also contrasts strongly with the Kia’i principles of Kapu Aloha.

The destruction of a community classroom also contrasts with how TMT has tried to brand itself as a champion of education for island kids and youth. As one Facebook commentor said, “So, it [TMT] never was about education, was it?” Of course, we all knew that. We can all smell PR spin…

On Sept. 6th, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) made this statement on the destruction and desecration:


<<State law enforcement’s swift dismantling today of a small wooden structure built by protectors earlier this week brings into sharp focus the longstanding and particularly abhorrent double standard the state uses to enforce land use laws against Native Hawaiians as opposed to others.

Law enforcement removed the small hale, which was located on lands controlled by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands at the base of Maunakea, because it was an unpermitted structure. Yet the state has a long history of expressly allowing unpermitted and unauthorized astronomy structures that were far larger and located in far more environmentally- and culturally-sensitive areas of the mountain.

Examples include:

The first three telescopes built on the summit of Maunakea failed to apply for a conservation district use permit and therefore were unpermitted for at least six years.

In 1976, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources discovered an additional unauthorized structure. While the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved an $85,000 fine against the building contractor, that fine appears to have never been collected.

In 1982, BLNR approved the Caltech telescope permit with an explicit requirement that no further astronomy development occur until the University of Hawaii completed a new master plan. Two months later, BLNR approved a new telescope before the master plan was completed, thereby endorsing a violation of the Caltech permit.

In 1997, BLNR approved four after-the-fact subleases for telescopes already built or in the process of being built on the summit.

This selective enforcement re-enforces the State Auditor’s finding in 1998 that the state and the University of Hawaiʻi manage Maunakea for astronomy at the expense of everything and everyone else. Moreover, the particularly offensive way todayʻs selective enforcement was carried out, which included the wholly unnecessary sawing of a Hawaiian flag, is deeply troubling, and further adds to the trauma of the Native Hawaiian people and could have escalated an already tense situation.>>


UPDATE: Here’s this morning’s latest from the good people standing for the Mauna at Pu’uhuluhulu.


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Ku Kia’i Mauna!

Ready for Reverence

Okay, so the neighborhood bear broke my favorite red flowerpot in the middle of the night and traumatized the geranium that was barely holding on. And the turkey flock who takes over my yard at least twice a day, pecking for bugs or raiding the outdoor cat’s food dish, scrapes and scratches the crab grass to bits (not that I much care). Flocks of quail skitter through as well, never any trouble. Someone spotted a family of foxes the other day, and so now I’m worried about the feral kittens I’ve just taken on…

As “difficult” as I might find my animal relatives from time to time (black widow spider, do you really need to make your web in the coil of my garden hose?) I am sure it’s nowhere near as difficult as they find me–us–humans. As a species we are clearly beyond insane and every single creature on this planet probably suffers from Post-Human Trauma Syndrome. I am not joking.

But I am pleased by my visitors, even the clumsy bear. And the earth is generous to me. I eat from this land. My neighborhood is fed by a spring–a real, living spring!–and I bless it every day. I feel emotionally held by the trees, mountain, and lake that I see from my window and greet each morning. And I believe that this act of greeting is what allows me to engage with them in a deeper way. This engagement leads to communication (I think) which engenders respect (at least on my end), which transforms into reverence (from me) for most of what’s around me. (I’m not feeling much reverence for the neighbors who were arguing loudly yesterday afternoon.)

As a child, I think I lived this way naturally. Then I forgot it for a long time. And now near the end of my life, I’m relearning and living this way again. I’m cultivating this life with devotional practices, so what I do can look a little quaint. I don’t mind. For a long time, I’ve been seeking some way to live reverently.

Yearning for Justice and an Earth-Reverent Life

Except for the uber-rich and the sociopaths who fancy themselves at the top of corporate and governmental “food chains,” I feel that many of the rest of us humans are longing for reverence. We want to get back into balance, back to a state of what the Kanaka Maoli would call “aloha ‘aina” (loving the land). We want people, plants, animals, and our planet to be treated fairly again. We need to learn how to deal fairly with all that is, ourselves.

I suspect that a yearning for an Earth-reverent life as well as justice are reasons that Mauna Kea and its Protectors (Kia’i) have become an international flashpoint this summer. Thinking and feeling people (not those who are lumpish with greed and glutted with power) see how bad it’s gotten and how much worse it can and will get. Unless… unless… unless we come together. Unless we learn how to make community again–if we live among people where such skills are rusty–and to include the Earth and its creatures in that community, as equals and stakeholders. We need a world where our mountains, forests, rivers, deserts, lakes, species, and oceans are “people” too, with legal rights. (Corporations are just golems. They shouldn’t have rights at all.)

The animists are right, you know. All matter is imbued with consciousness. Studies show…

As for justice, we also need to ensure that legal human rights are strictly observed as well, that the rights of indigenous and aboriginal peoples are upheld and strengthened. It’s a key element in the only positive future we can possibly achieve. The health and safety of every human, every creature on this planet, and the planet itself depends on our taking this very, very seriously.

And it’s imperative that those who make a request of a mountain or a lake–or an indigenous or aboriginal community–learn to take “no” for an answer, if that’s the answer that’s given. Because you know what? Consent counts. It really does. And no amount of wheedling or PR spin can change that. TMT guys are coming on like rapists, frankly, and their “you know you want it” approach to the mountain is disgusting to the rest of us.

This stunning short film, featuring Jason Momoa and a number of the Mauna Kea Kia’i, makes these issues abundantly clear, in case it wasn’t clear enough already.

Love of Place

Almost every Hawaiian mele (song) and oli (chant) is either about a beloved place, or includes references to beloved places. Almost every single one. Places aren’t “just” locations for family and community life, they ARE family. That’s as near as I can express it. I think I’ve got it nearly right.

Other examples of passionate love of place: I think of the French writer Colette, who wrote so movingly about the countryside of her childhood.

I’ve always been deeply affected by places I’ve lived, even if briefly. I attach to houses and landscape features very easily and mourn when I have to leave them.  Themes of exile and homesickness are strong in my life, and these feelings of longing are often unbearable. I still miss “Nemo’s Rock” in the Coronado tide pools and the houses on Loma Avenue and Loma Lane, not far from the beach. I deeply mourn the cottage across from La Jolla Cove (below) where I lived as a teenager (it’s now demolished). I remember the light and feel of the air in La Jolla so vividly that I’ve cried over it. Certain places where I’ve lived in San Francisco and Albany also still clutch at my heart. I dearly miss the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I used to go there in the early morning, after dropping my first kid off at preschool, and sip green tea in the teahouse. Sometimes rain would dapple the koi ponds.

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La Jolla Cove House, several decades before I lived there. Next to the Red Rest and Red Roost beach houses.
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The cinderblock apartment building in Honolulu. I’m with my little brother Patrick. 1959.

But the island of O’ahu gave me my first experience with exile and homesickness. When I was five I lived on Lipe’epe’e Street in Waikiki. Though my family was there for less than a year, the feel of the ocean water, the sand beneath my feet, flowers and trees, and the sight of the Ko’olau Range east of Honolulu, all were absorbed by my soul. Later, I must have buried my yearning for Hawai’i as surely as I squashed feelings of missing my father. I say that because my yearning roared to life when (1) I saw the Hokule’a voyaging canoe when it visited San Francisco, and (2) when I returned to the islands with a series of visits starting in 2000–first Maui, then Hawai’i island. On Maui and Hawai’i I experienced a bewildering assortment of numinous and healing experiences. These were  confusing because I have no genealogical connection to explain them. For many years, I felt like I was living with one foot in California, the other in Hawai’i.

I moved to Hawai’i Island in 2016, living on Mano Street in Pahoa for seventeen months. Even though I moved there with the expectation of being happy “at last,” it was a bad time for me. I had post-divorce crazies, terrible social anxiety and depression, frequent suicidality, and a longtime love affair gone wrong. But in that house on Mano Street, I began my inquiries into magic, refined my polytheism, and began to cultivate spirit relationships through devotional practices. It’s ironic. I’d prayed for so long to be allowed to move to Hawai’i, and once I was there, I prayed fervently for permission to leave. When I finally got my dismissal from the Powers there, I made the most costly and physically devastating move of my life.

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Mano Street, Pahoa. Hawaiian flag hung at the back of the garage. 2016.

But would it surprise you if I told you that now I miss my house and the Puna district? I miss the thirty-foot tall hibiscus trees dripping red blossoms on all three sides of my yard. I miss the ‘ohia lehua trees. I miss the spaciousness of my house, its high ceiling and large windows that looked out on jungle all around me. I miss my “difficult” and noisy neighbors: the shrill coqui frogs and gutteral cane toads. I miss picking up fallen coconuts; the “bathtubs” of morning rain dumped on my metal roof (which scared the cats until they got used to the noise); wild orchids and ti plants; the Ahalanui Warm Ponds (covered with lava now); the young coconut grove and view of the ocean from Kalapana, just across from Uncle Robert’s place. I miss driving the Red Road from Hawaiian Beaches past the “Four Corners.” I miss Mauna Loa and Kilauea. And yes, I miss Mauna Kea.

I believe it is natural for human beings to cherish the soil where they live, and to feel kinship with it.

So you see, Mauna Kea, is a cherished ancestor, as well as a beloved place, so how could the Kanaka Maoli ever consent to simply hand it over to people who have no reverent life at all? And why should the Kanaka have ever been asked this in the first place? Why should we ask them to break their hearts simply at the whim of a science that could go elsewhere?

Ku Kia’i Mauna

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Update from Mauna Kea-2nd Wild Hunt Article, Plus Music

I am happy to announce that my Update from Mauna Kea article has been published in The Wild Hunt. To learn more about how to support the Protectors and the Mauna, please go to this Mauna Kea community generated document.

A must watch! Dr. Keanu Sai’s clarification of “ceded” lands, TMT, denationalization, occupation, and annexation, August 11, 2019. Taught from Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu.

Scroll below this image for links to some of the glorious music of Mauna Kea.


 

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Jam for Mauna Kea happened on August 11th. People from all over the world sang together. Here are some of the videos. Songs featured are:

• Mele Kū Ha‘aheo e Ku‘u Hawai‘i by Kumu Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu.

Lyrics here. (See also the documentary about Kumu Hina. “Kumu” means teacher.)

• Hawai’i Loa (All Hawai’i Stands Together) by Liko Martin.

Complete lyrics here. And here is the chorus in ‘Olelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian language):

Hawai’i Loa, ku like kakou,
Ku pa’a me ka lokahi e,
Ku kala me ka wiwo’ole
‘Onipa’a kakou, ‘onipa’a kakou,
A lanakila, na kini e,
E ola, e ola, e ola na kini e


Jam for Mauna Kea: Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu at the Mauna, on August 11th:

Jam for Mauna Kea: NYC, August 11th:

Jam for Mauna Kea: Representatives from North Shore, O’ahu, at Nā Mea Kūpono Loʻi in Waialua, August 11th.

Jam for Mauna Kea: Aloha Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the Academy of Hawaiian Arts, Kumu Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu and Kumu Renee Ku’uleinani Price, August 11th.


Other Songs About Mauna Kea:

• Poli’ahu I Ke Kapu, Hāwane Rios. A beautiful mele written about one of the goddesses of Mauna Kea, Poli’ahu.

Warrior Rising (Mele Ma Ka Mauna), Hāwane Rios, 2015. Featuring Lākea Trask in this performance.

Other Important Songs of Hawaiian Resistance and Affirmation:

• Hawai’i 78, by Mickey Ioane, 1977.

Originally written as Hawai’i 77 by a high school student on Hawai’i island, then recorded by Makaha Sons of Niʻihau and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Bruddah IZ” as Hawai’i 78). Lyrics here (though attributed to Iz on this website).

Kaulana Na Pua, Ellen Keho’ohiwoakalani Wright Pendergast, 1893.

A song opposing the annexation of Hawai’i to the United States. Originally titled Mele ʻAi Pōhaku (The Stone Eating Song) and was also known as Mele Aloha ʻĀina. Lyrics here.

More songs to come. Everybody sing!

Ku Kia’i Mauna!

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Restoration Day and TMT Man

Hau’oli la Ho’iho’i Ea!

What follows is more “Lord of Misrule” than Kapu Aloha, but I hope I will be forgiven my foray into politically satirical lyrics regarding issues in Hawai’i. Years and years ago I re-wrote the lyrics to O Danny Boy as O Danny Boys, O Danner Girls with the help of Aunty Puanani Rogers. This was a reference to U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka and HI State Senator Daniel Inouye trying to ram the “Akaka Bills” through the U.S. federal government, as well as some other shenanigans. Puanani sang our song at Thomas Square for La Ho’iho’i Ea (Restoration Day) in 2004–the same day I was literally at the summit of Mauna Kea while a certain activist and his friends flew the Hawaiian Kingdom flags in the spirit of joyful and determined resistance.

Today is Restoration Day. It was celebrated in Thomas Square in Honolulu last weekend, as well as many other locations. I am sure that the upwelling of international support for the Mauna Kea Protectors (Kia’i) added zest to the occasion. La Ho’iho’i Ea celebrates a time when England “gave back” the Hawaiian Kingdom after a low-ranking military doofus “took” it for several months.

Anyway, back in 2014, after the TMT officials were confronted, and the “groundbreaking” was stopped, I wrote these lyrics to the tune of The Fugs’ CIA Man.

As I said, it’s satire–and far more “Berkeley” in spirit than anyone on the Mauna would want it to be. But every now and then, some people might want a bit of snarky humor, off mountain. So, I release these lyrics to the world. Public domain, y’all.

TMT Man-2 columns

Here’s The Fugs, CIA Man.

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Day 28: A Lokean for Mauna Kea

1920px-Ljapunow-Diagramm_05
Artist to come. Public domain.

It’s the 28th day of my Thirty Days of Devotion and the topic is “something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently.”

Well…these larger subtle-bodied beings we refer to as deities, are essentially mysterious to us. That might have more to do with our limitations rather than their desire to be opaque and so this question makes me realize I don’t even know what it is that I don’t know that I wish I knew. 

But if I have any question at all about the roles that these various beings have or have had in my life, it’s “why them (in particular) and why me (in particular)?” In other words, I don’t just have this question about my patron, the Norse Loki Laufeyjarson, I have this question about others I’ve worked with, or who have approached me.

An Unexpected Knock on the Door

For example, a few days before July 14th, when the Kia’i (Protectors) were on Mauna Kea to do ceremony at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu and establish their encampment in their sacred place of refuge, the Celtic goddess known as The Morrigan was tapping at my psyche (not for the first time). She is a battle goddess known as the “Great Queen” in Ireland. So I spent a couple of days with a book I have, and some websites, just to see if I should follow up with her. The Morrigan is known for having a fierce interest in social justice issues and I can feel drawn to her on that account. But part of me still felt hesitant. For one thing, I already have a deep, fairly time-consuming commitment to a super-intense being: Loki Laufeyjarson. When I checked in with Loki about The Morrigan, the sense I got was, “I’m not opposed, but just take your time so you know what you’d be getting into.” When I did a pendulum divination with The Morrigan and told her that I was oathed Loki, she drew back a little–odd how I could feel that–and then there was this kind of sense of “oh, well, maybe a limited contract then.” However, I have no idea what that contract might have entailed. 

But then I heard what was happening on the Mauna. I have a long history of (mostly long-distance) allyship with the fight against telescope desecration, and I felt an immediate urge to do what I could to help, even from afar (signal-boosting, blogging, etc.). It was obvious this was not the right time to “get to know” The Morrigan, as her ways of handling conflict are so very different from Kapu Aloha. I could not bring her energy with me if I engaged with this matter. And so I drew back from connecting more with The Morrigan.

But Loki, intense as he is, was fine with my sudden deep plunge into service, once again, with the deities of Hawai’i. I was “standing with Poliahu” and though she hadn’t called me directly, it was important to have that sense of “standing with” her in order to stand with her people. I know this can sound a little mad, but it’s just how it is. And then, after several days of active focus on Mauna Kea, Loki reeled me back, not to prevent any more activity on behalf of Mauna Kea, but to now have me “stand with” him, or to stand with this issue from within standing with him, in solidarity with Mauna Kea, its people and its deities, as a Lokean. Again, it is hard to explain these nuances and I am feeling my way into them.

Loki, who stands for family as well as justice, seems to resonate with this issue of protecting Mauna Kea (personal gnosis). At the very least, he encourages my engagement with it (not that he could actually stop me–he knows I’ve got a prior commitment here).

Practical Considerations

In practical terms, what does this mean to my practice and my activism? Let me see if I can break it down.

Writing: It was important to identify myself as a “polytheist oathed to Loki” in my Wild Hunt article (July 24). 

I’ll continue to write on this topic, as needed.

Devotions: Since July 15th or so there’s been a candle on my altar to represent Poliahu and Mauna Kea. And it feels pono (correct, appropriate) to once again chant E Homai as an offering to Hawai’i, to the Mauna, and to honor the work of the Kia’i. My first kumu hula (hula teacher) told me it was always appropriate to offer ka leo, the voice in a prayer or chant. E Homai is my prayer. That chant, and E Laka E, have always had a strong place in my heart.

Decolonizing Paganism: I sense that it’s important to decolonize neopaganism in order to stand appropriately in solidarity, via an inter-faith perspective as well as a human justice one. I’ve been looking at these issues already in witchery and neopaganism, but I cannot congratulate myself on being very advanced. There’s a lot of layers to this deeply planted onion. Loki, as a deity who habitually punctures hypocrisy, seems to require this kind of inner and outer work.

Back to the Lore: I also feel moved to examine the Norse lore again, for stories about Loki which speak to me of challenges to injustice and hypocrisy. Loki bound on the mountain with the entrails of one of his children, while his wife Sigyn holds the bowl to capture snake venom, resonates with me here. Perhaps the hypocrisy and cruelty of the Aesir, when confronted by Loki’s truth-telling, leads me to compare them with the pro-TMT guys. But I think there are deeper meanings than that.

Complementary Values: A general task might be to compare Hawaiian values and those held by neopagan Heathens and others in the “big tent” of modern paganism. Neopagans might find commonality in areas of animism, earth-centered spirituality, polytheism, traditions of hospitality and frith, working with ancestors, keeping oaths and acting in an honorable manner, making offerings to nurture relationships with deities and spirits, and so on.

Things to Avoid: What would be totally inappropriate (IMHO) is anything like sorcery curses on TMT, or the kind of gleeful political trolling that I so adore from The Satanic Temple when directed at U.S. government officials.

No–the imperative for this issue is to be in Kapu Aloha, out of respect for the Kia’i, who absolutely know better than anybody what is needed and what is appropriate. Those of us who are not part of the Lahui (Kanaka Maoli community) MUST take their lead and directions and respect their wishes to the utmost, in spite of any clever ideas we might have to the contrary. It’s not Berkeley over there. And it took me longer than I like to admit to figure that out.

Restraint and Curiosity: Loki, the King of Clever, who got himself into trouble one too many times by mouthing off, is actually quite good at counseling restraint in this case. However, he seems to encourage my curiousity for uncovering some of the hidden machinations surrounding the approval and promotion of the Thirty Meter Telescope. This kind of factual investigation, aimed at the foreign authorities and capitalists who want to control Hawai’i’s resources, is perfectly appropriate as long as it is done with restraint and professionalism.

For me, activism has always been part of my spiritual path and vice versa. The questions I have for and about Loki–and other deities–are tied to my wyrd. That I should have such strong ties to Hawai’i, including mystical experiences, has always been a mystery. That I am one of Loki’s “children” is another. But I am not likely to have the answers until I pass from this world. All I can do is roll with what I’m given to do, here in Midgard.

Hail Loki! And Ku Kia’i Mauna!

Warning Signs of TMT Narcissism

 


(Disclaimer: This is commentary from a layperson. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, though I am in a helping profession. I know what it’s like to support resilience and wellness in people who’ve been damaged in certain ways. And I’ve had my own personal encounters with narcissists.)

If corporations are legally “people,” why can’t they can be assessed for pathological behavior when they damage others?

The other day I created a “thought experiment” in which I discussed the impact of a fictitious golem or “Frankenstein’s monster“–called “The Abuser,” an artificial construct made of all things TMT (the project, corporation, public relations efforts, funders, strategies, actions, intentions, etc.) Though the golem is imaginary, the effects and patterns I described were all too real.

Today I’ll simply call this being “Mr. TMT.” And I’m putting him on the couch because I’m tired of watching him run amok.

Does Mr. TMT exhibit any of the nine traits of narcissism?

Narcissism is one of several diagnosable “personality disorders.” There are a plethora of books and websites to help people identify patterns of behavior for each type. The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), created by the American Psychiatry Association, lists nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), but consistent demonstration of five of them will allow a diagnosis.

Does Mr. TMT exhibit narcissistic traits? Is he diagnosable? Here are the criteria from the Psychology Today website:


Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, according to the DSM-5, exhibit five or more of the following, which are present by early adulthood and across contexts:
• A grandiose sense of self-importance
• Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions
• A need for excessive admiration
• A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)
• Exploitation of others
• A lack of empathy
• Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy
• Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes
Individuals with NPD can be easily stung by criticism or defeat and may react with disdain or anger—but social withdrawal or the false appearance of humility may also follow according to the DSM-5.
A sense of entitlement, disregard for other people, and other aspects of NPD can damage relationships.

Gosh, where to begin?

The history of the TMT project, from its inception til present day, contains persistent patterns of all of the above. Based on the following, Mr. TMT is indeed a narcissist. Whether this condition is co-morbid with sociopathy remains to be seen. If Mr. TMT decides to leave the island, maybe he’s a simple narcissist. If he insists on staying, he’s demonstrating his willingness to further damage Hawai’i’s social fabric just as much as he’s willing to damage the mountiain. That’s pretty sociopathic, the need to win no matter what.

Here are  materials or quotes from TMT sources, compared to the criteria:

• A grandiose sense of self-importance

Mr. TMT claims that what he does (astronomy) is of the utmost importance to humanity’s future, therefore the rest of us need to get out of his way. The stuff he does–because he is the one doing it–is even more important than meeting the challenges of climate change, war, poverty, species extinction, pollution, and so on. His sense of self-importance leads him to completely disregard Kanaka Maoli claims and needs regarding Mauna Kea, which is the place he has chosen as his playground. His sense of entitlement leads him to act as if the end justifies whatever means are at hand.

Note: Mr. TMT’s self-importance allows mere people to feel they are this important too.

• Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

Mr. TMT says he’s the biggest, the best, the really biggest ever…he’s essential to humanity’s future…everyone loves him except a few pesky obstructionists. Mr. TMT says that his “story is the story of the universe.” (This is starting to sound familiar…)

From a brochure called Building the Gateway to the Universe:  “(TMT) will take us on an exciting journey of discovery. The TMT will explore the origin of galaxies, reveal the birth and death of stars, probe the turbulent regions surrounding supermassive black holes, and uncover previously hidden details about planets orbiting distant stars, including the possibility of life on these alien worlds.”

Nevermind that other telescopes do this too. Or that Mr. TMT could do all this in other places besides Mauna Kea.

Note: Mr. TMT’s grandiose vision draws mere people who want to feel this grand and special also.

• Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions

Mr. TMT’s genealogy includes some very privileged and wealthy people, Betty and Gordon Moore and their foundation. He hangs out with international wealth, power, and academic elites as a matter of course. Naturally he feels special. And look how far people are willing to go to get him what he wants! He’s not what you’d call “a cheap date.”

• A need for excessive admiration

Mr. TMT’s self-glorification screams for admiration. This is reflected in the public relations spin and TMT materials.

• A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)

He’s just a boy who can’t hear “no.” Mr. TMT insists on his right to desecrate Mauna Kea no matter what anyone else says or feels.

• Exploitation of others

Exploitation of Mauna Kea as a “resource” for astronomy, rather than as a sacred place, comes to mind. And the fact that Mr. TMT does not pay for many things and resources that it uses is also exploitive. I recently heard about an equipment storage facility or space that is being used for free. I am glad that some officials are now calling for financial audits of the costs that the islands have born, especially Hawai’i Island, with regard to TMT’s operations.

• A lack of empathy

This has been demonstrated time and again. Just compare and contrast what comes from Mr. TMT with what comes from the protectors.

• Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy

I don’t know. This one is difficult to pin down. Perhaps there is a competitiveness with other telescope projects, or a belief that TMT is envied by others? Perhaps this is more at play among personnel than the project as a whole?

• Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes

The wisest elders and cultural practitioners of Hawai’i have told Mr. TMT repeatedly that Mauna Kea–the entire mountain–is a sacred place as well as a sacred being in its own right (and the home of other sacred beings), and that it is a place of paramount importance to Kanaka Maoli who do not want it desecrated. Mr. TMT is haughty and refuses to acknowedge this. Mr. TMT also does not want to acknowledge that Mauna Kea belongs to the Kanaka, who have cherished and cared for it, and observed its sacredness, keeping it kapu, for almost 2,000 years.

All actions and communication from Mr. TMT reflect this arrogant dismissal of the fundamental truths of the issue.

A Word About Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a favorite method of narcissistic manipulation. Gaslighting behavior includes the following (list quoted from another Psychology Today article).

“They tell blatant lies” to keep people off-kilter and uncertain.

Example 1. Mr. TMT says: “TMT has diligently followed the state’s laws, procedures and processes in its efforts to build TMT on Maunakea.”

Fact: State Law against desecration has been ignored, in spite of years-long, numerous expressions of concern from people in Hawai’i and around the world, which demonstrate that a “substantial segment of the population” feels “outrage” at the prospect of the TMT construction adding to the desecration of the mountain.

Fact: Kanaka Maoli have been denied full access to their sacred mountain since 2015, in violation of the state’s constitution.

“They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.”

Oh, I am sure this happens quite often. I just can’t think of an example right now.

However, given the information I’ve found (here), I think there are far deeper levels of denial at work. And behind the scenes money, donated apparently altruistically and philanthropically, could not have failed to result in pro-TMT decision-making in key agencies.

“They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.”

TMT.GetFacts.Dec1_-500x320
Source: Ads page.

The most frequent and annoying example is how some astronomers have claimed that how their astronomy (in buildings which desecrate) is sacred too, just like how the Hawaiians used to look at the stars in the old days and so they, therefore, would of course approve of the TMT.

In another example, Mr. TMT spins public relations to use the sacred and cultural practices of the Kanaka Maoli against them. By insisting that any square inch or foot that archealogists don’t recognize as having been “used” for cultural purposes is fair terrain for development, Mr. TMT promotes a disingenuous fiction that that allows him to “sell” a “we’re not doing any harm” message to the general public.

The graphic above conveniently denies Kanaka Maoli statements that the entire mountain is a sacred place and ancestor, and a home of deities, and connection to Mauna Kea is essentially wholistic in nature, not peicemeal. The map below illustrates the  “piecemeal” approach to regarding Kanaka relationship to and “use” of the mountain. The dots and triangles represent sites which archeaologists have “found” and noted, but again, the premise of the map, and the document whch contains it, does not convey the wholistic sacred nature of the place.

Mauna Kea Summit
Archaeological Monitoring Plan in Support of Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in the Astronomy Precinct on Mauna Kea, etc. for TMT Observatory Corporation, by Pacific Consulting Services, Honolulu, May 2013.

They also don’t tell you that anything that is found during bulldozing could be destroyed if inconvenient and that human remains just might end up in a box, in storage, in someone’s office (Source of page exerpts below: Same document as above).


 

 


“They wear you down over time.”

Mr. TMT, with money to burn and community to spurn, has tried very hard to wear down the protectors. At times, with individuals, there has been temporary success as some people have endured life challenges in addition to protecting their mountain. But the movement has only grown stronger and the Kia’i now enjoy world-wide support that continues to grow.

Active resistance to the proposed TMT desecration has been going on since 2009. This tactic of trying to wear people down was demonstrated over and over in the contested case hearings of 2016-2017. If I remember rightly, it began when the contested case hearings officer, Riki May Amano, arbitrarily scheduled the first hearings on dates that conflicted with the protector’s lawyer’s schedule. He had alerted officials to a prior commitment on some of the dates given. The protectors involved in the hearings were thus forced to represent themselves, do their own cross-examinations, etc. and this took far more time, and caused them great financial and emotional hardship over several months. Even so, they stood strong.

Incidently I believe Amano worked per diem, so this strategy of prolonging the process paid off handsomely for her. Taxpayers should be annoyed.

“Their actions do not match their words.”

Mr. TMT claims: “TMT…has engaged in open dialog and meaningful discussions with community members and stakeholders to better understand the island’s issues as well as the cultural and natural significance of Maunakea.to better understand the island’s issues as well as the cultural and natural significance of Maunakea.” (Source: TMT website)

Commentary: The above statement is supposed to imply endorsement of TMT’s goals or that issues have been addressed. But in any forum, any view contrary to TMT’s objective to build on Mauna Kea is ignored.

Mr. TMT shows his “understanding” in saying he will schedule “TMT observatory operations to minimize daytime activities up to four days annually in observance of Native Hawaiian cultural practices. TMT will work with the Office of Mauna Kea Management and Kahu Ku Mauna to determine days for such observances.” (Source: TMT website)

The above might sound reasonable or even generous to someone who doesn’t know any better, but the fact is, no one has the right to determine the days and times for Kanaka Maoli activity on the mountain. Practices are invidiual, family, or community-centered and do not always conform to specific calendar days. Besides, this is like telling a Christian to celebrate Christmas in July (if convenient) or a pagan to celebrate Samhain on Christmas (if convenient).

[The gall!]

“They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.”

This is where those “we only want to negotiate and reach a peaceful settlement” and the “we understand and respect you” statments belong. Fake “respect for the culture” also goes here. If Mr. TMT truly had an attitude of respect for cultural sensitivity, he would not be trying to build on Mauna Kea in the first place.

“They know confusion weakens people.”

Mr. TMT claims: “TMT will not impact the Big Island’s aquifer… Although groundwater is the primary source of drinking water in Hawaii, there are no wells extracting groundwater near the summit of Maunakea…

Counter Argument: Confusion doesn’t just weaken people, it can be dangerous. Contrary to Mr. TMT’s assertion, ground water isn’t just confined to wells and where people drill them, it goes where it will. Kealoha Pisciotta’s statement below refutes the above claim that the TMT couldn’t have an impact. If it uses as much mercury as other large telescopes do, any impact at all could be disastrous for everyone on the island.


Even though astronomy, by most standards, is considered a clean industry, it’s not without toxicity. The majority of the telescopes use quite a bit of hazardous materials. One hazardous material that we are particularly concerned about is the use of elemental mercury. We discovered that mercury was being used in quite large quantities. In one particular case, a telescope had already had three mercury spills.

The reportable quantities for mercury, according to the Health Department, is one pound. And one telescope alone uses 30 pounds. And that’s a small amount. Large monolithic telescopes use quite a bit of mercury. In one case, there’s one telescope I know uses 650 pounds of mercury.

Perhaps we’ve reached our limit of the amount of hazardous materials that can be brought up here. —Kealoha Pisciotta, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou

Another quote from Pisciotta on this same website mentions telescope use (and potential spills) of large quantities of diesel fuel and ethylene glycol.


“They project.”

Example: Governor Ige’s call for a State of Emergency and claims of drug and alcohol use at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu seems like a classic case of projection. He and other authorities can only anticipate the use of force, and thus project their propensity for violence onto the peaceful protectors. He was quickly shown how wrong his projections were.

“They try to align people against you.”

Example: Mr. TMT has made deliberate efforts to seek out native Hawaiians who are willing to speak in favor of TMT in exchange for possible construction jobs. This is an effort to pit workers against protectors, Kanaka against Kanaka.

Mr. TMT wants people to think that if the TMT leaves, there won’t be any money for STEM education, or jobs, or whatever, and that this will all be the fault of the Kia’i.

“They tell you or others that you are crazy.”

Example: Mr. TMT has enjoyed conveying the impression that “Hawaiians are against science,” thereby implying that Hawaiian insistence on the sacredness of their mauna is somehow backward or superstitious or in the way of progress and knowledge. This tactic is supposed to undermine consideration of Kanaka claims.

“They tell you everyone else is a liar.”

I don’t know of any example of this.

Mr. TMT’s Gaslighting in Action

Several examples of Mr. TMT’s gaslighting appear in the first fifteen minutes of this video (Oct. 2014). Lanakila Manguil, stops a TMT groundbreaking ceremony that was supposed to bestow a (fake) gloss of “Hawaiian-ness” on the desecration of the Mauna. On his trip to the ground-breaking site (barefoot, on sharp lava rocks), Lanakila was almost deliberately run over by a TMT-associated vehicle (see 3.09 minutes in). He is angry in this video, for that reason and others.

But observe how TMT officials deliberately lie to and contradict Lanakila about what they are doing here–groundbreaking for the desecration–even though the truth is blatantly obvious to all. Times are approximate: (3:39) TMT official denies disrespect; (4:48) TMT official says “we don’t talk circles;” (5:20) TMT officials deny desecration; (5:27) officials deny that they are there to build anything, but Lanakila points out that “groundbreaking” is the start of construction: (8:47 ) TMT official claims he “understands and respects” the reasons people are opposing the project (an example of “false humilty” that narcissists sometimes show as part of their manipulation). And so forth. But Lanakila, and the other Kia’i (Protectors) who arrive later in the video, continue to speak truth in spite of lies and dissemblng.

 

Thinking of all of the above, it is clear to me that the relationship Mr. TMT has with all of Hawai’i, and the Kanaka Maoli and Kia’i in particular, is deeply pathological. Such abusive behavior (rooted in entitlement, colonialism, and other toxic privileging) should not be allowed to continue.

Outrage 101
July 23, 2019. Public Domain.

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