Gene Kranz, legendary NASA flight director for the Gemini and Apollo missions, had a red, white, and blue vest he wore for special occasions. For Gene, that’s what the space program was all about: flag and country, patriotism and pride, showing the world what amazing things the U.S.A. can do.
O Gene, what a falling-off was there! Nowadays the space program is about very different things. According to the San Francisco Examiner:
“When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three things,” NASA head Charles Bolden said in a recent interview with the Middle Eastern news network al-Jazeera. “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”
That’s why we have a government space program! For the kiddies! (Which means, when uttered by a Democratic politician, for the teachers’ unions and ed-biz lobbies.) For our international relationships! (Heaven forbid we should keep to ourselves, for our own nation’s benefit, the technological wonders we develop. We must share them with the whole world!) To help Muslim nations feel good about themselves! (The Muslim world’s self-esteem is in tatters. It’s up to us to repair it! All those centuries of stagnation are probably our fault anyway.)
I had supposed that there were two different approaches to government-funded space exploration.
● There was the Gene Kranz view, as stated above. In this view, it is legitimate to use government money, even in large quantities, to enhance national prestige and pride.
● And then there was the Derb view, expressed to considerable reader outrage on this site here and here. My opinion is that beyond a few legitimate military and meteorological applications, government-funded space exploration is pointless extravagance and folly (even when “a glorious, soul-stirring folly”). Leave it to private enterprise.
Now I see that there is a third view.
● Our government-funded space exploration, as embodied in NASA, can serve the great Obamanian cause of infantilizing and feminizing us. Government funds are wisely and properly used in turning us into obedient elementary-school tots being lectured at by our wise, benevolent moral superiors on the wonders of “diversity,” sensitizing us to the feelings of different-looking peoples in far-away places, softening and erasing our gross brutish impulses to inquire, discover, explore, achieve, master (!), conquer, and win.
American history was, for a couple of centuries there, a contest between the frontiersmen and the schoolmarms. Well, that’s all over. The schoolmarms have won.
Eugene, stand up, please. Who gave you permission to wear red, white, and blue to school? Don’t you understand how disrespectful that is to your classmates from other countries? Shame on you, Eugene! Go and report to the principal’s office at once!