Canceling the Moon Landing: Liner Notes

My latest column at The Federalist posted yesterday: “The Left Dumps On Apollo 11 As A White, Male Enterprise.” I was deluged by (generally good) things yesterday, so these are the bleated notes.

At the time I submitted the piece, The New York Times had not published a third piece dumping on NASA in favor of the diversity of the Soviet space program. Karol Markowicz has that one handled, as does Cathy Young:

As I note in my column, NASA had the same sorts of issues with race and sex as the rest of the culture (ask Ed Dwight, who was selected for training but ultimately rejected as an astronaut — both likely because of race). But dwelling on these stories at the 50th anniversary, rather than looking at the achievement, reflects the left’s assessment with fixing blame rather than fixing problems.

The Soviet angle would have been useful because — as my reference to Walter Mondale in my column indicates — there was always a faction of the left that opposed the space program. There were those who thought the money would be better spent on welfare programs; there were anti-anti-communists who did not like us winning a round in the Cold War.

If you watch the archival TV coverage of Apollo 11, this sentiment bleeds through into interviews where Neil Armstrong and other notables get asked whether the lessons of Apollo can be applied to domestic problems. Jerry Seinfeld later joked about how the moon landing launched a culture of complaint. But it may be that one reason the left has never liked the moon landing much is that it implicitly exposes that space engineering — as difficult as it is — remains easier than social engineering.

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