A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
July 6th, 2010
By Tom Carter
Now and then I come across something that makes me mutter, “Now that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of!” The latest addition to my “dumbest things” list, which has become quite long in recent years, comes from Charles F. Bolden, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This particular example of dumbness came during Bolden’s recent trip to the Middle East to mark the anniversary of President Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world. Among other things, Bolden made a speech at the American University in Cairo and was interviewed by Al Jazeera. One has to wonder why the NASA Administrator is following-up Obama’s speech to the Muslim world and being interviewed (video) by Al Jazeera. Aside from that, the real problem is what he said.
According to one report, Bolden told Al Jazeera:
When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — [President Obama] charged me with three things. One was 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 … and math and engineering.
Say what? Which historic contributions was he talking about? Even a Muslim website can’t come up with contributions in the modern era. During the past however many centuries, the only significant contributions Arabs and Muslims have made to the world have been terrorism and extreme religious intolerance. How can Bolden, a retired Marine general, look at Ground Zero and the 20 percent of the Pentagon blown away on 9/11 and say something so inane?
Another report states,
Later in the interview, Bolden discussed NASA’s goal of greater international cooperation in space exploration. He said the United States, more than 40 years after the first moon mission, cannot reach beyond earth’s orbit today without assistance from abroad:
“In his message in Cairo, [Obama] talked about expanding our international outreach, expanding our international involvement. We’re not going to go anywhere beyond low earth orbit as a single entity. The United States can’t do it, China can’t do it — no single nation is going to go to a place like Mars alone.” …
“NASA is not only a space exploration agency,” Bolden concluded, “but also an earth improvement agency.”
At the risk of repeating myself, say what? The only reason the U.S. needs other countries to be involved in space activities is because insufficient funding keeps NASA from being able to do the kind of job it did in the past. Because of that and the desire to foster international cooperation, countries with the necessary technical capabilities have worked with the U.S. Also, a few warm bodies from other countries have flown on the space shuttle essentially as passengers, mostly in the interests of diversity. That’s fine. But it’s a travesty for the NASA Administrator to claim that the U.S. can’t manage space exploration without the help of primitive Muslim societies (pardon the oxymoron).
As Charles Krauthammer said,
This is a new height in fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This [Bolden's comments] is the worst combination of group therapy, psychobabble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy.
Some might say that Bolden isn’t responsible for this latest explosion of stupidity. After all, his boss, the President, told him that his foremost priority is to “reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good.” As a Marine general, a former astronaut, and a long-time member of the NASA family, he should have stood up and told the President if that was to be his first priority then he didn’t want the job. But, on the other hand, maybe he shares the President’s feelings. In that case, all I can do is quote the great philosopher Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
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