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Statement affirming respectful debate during current TMT protests

14 May 2015, 19:00 UTC
Statement affirming respectful debate during current TMT protests
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

This was submitted to the WiA blog by leaders on diversity issues from within the AAS community. There has also been a statement from AAS President Meg Urry.The last few weeks have brought to a head a confrontation between Native Hawaiian protesters and the Thirty Meter Telescope project. There are varied perspectives on all sides of this issue, amongst supporters and opponents, Hawaiians and mainlanders, astronomers and the general public, and all intersections of these groups. Events associated with the protests, including some cases of violence or threats of violence, have created significant divisions within our community, divisions which have manifested themselves in heated debates and discussions both in person and over social media. Unfortunately, recent rhetoric in our community has crossed the line into racism and hostility, with language (e.g., describing Native Hawaiian protestors as a “horde” or other people of color as “snakes”) that dehumanizes individuals who oppose the placement of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna a Wakea. This language is a painful reminder of past acts of violence perpetrated against native people and others, and only serves to inflame rather than bring about understanding and resolution. In many cases, apologies have been issued, and these have ...

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