Since NASA announced, “Fairness of the mission”, the more conservative media have warned against corruption of the space agency through identity politics. The National Review, for example, suggests that Mission Equity is “is not to explore space, to land on Mars, or to advance human understanding of the cosmos, but to promote a politics of awakened identity.”
the Information request (RFI) that NASA published asking for ideas to help the space agency foster equity of opportunity and diversity seems pretty trivial. On the one hand, the list of classes of “disadvantaged” people is mind-boggling in scope: “Blacks, Latin Americans, Indigenous and Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other people of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ +) people; People with Disabilities; people who live in rural areas; and those otherwise affected by poverty or persistent inequalities. It would be hard to find someone who couldn’t tick at least one of these boxes.
Further, the RFI concludes, “The public comments provided in response to this advisory do not bind NASA to any further action, including issuing a formal response or an agreement to initiate a recommended change. NASA will review comments and make process changes or improvements in its sole discretion. “
The document looks a lot like NASA flagging virtue, attempting to appease some in Biden’s White House by showing that it is serious about promoting diversity within its workforce and its under- treating people. However, the National Review and others are well advised to fear that such efforts could turn into a true exercise in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and all that that would entail.
The Heritage Foundation has a good track record on how the CRT went from an academic exercise on the role of race in American law and culture to an excuse to divide people by race. CRT appears to be used in government, in some businesses, and in some schools to label whites as oppressors (whether they know it or not) and people of color as victims (whether they recognize it or not).
The CRT application transformed the usually quiet school board meetings into angry debates as indignant parents of all races demand that it not be taught. Some state governments are preparing to ban this practice. The CRT is regularly denounced and defended in Congress and in the media.
The New York Post describes which can happen to an organization where CRT is introduced. One of the largest US defense contractors has instituted a program that encourages its white employees to “decolonize” their shelves, identify their “privilege”, “deconstruct their identities” and withdraw in favor of other identity groups. White employees are given a list of things they owe do not say to their black colleagues.
NASA was recently named best place to work to the federal government through the Public Service Partnership for the ninth consecutive year. The fastest way to end this streak would be for the space agency to treat its employees like the defense contractor currently does.
Truth be told, NASA has promoted diversity and maintained the excellence of its workforce for decades, since the space agency hired “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols for. recruit women and people of color in the 1970s. The recently appointed “The Artémis team” group of astronauts embodies both diversity and excellence. Any of them are as qualified to walk on the moon as were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
The group of African-American mathematicians depicted in the book and film “Hidden figures”, serves as the inspiration for their struggles to help Americans enter space and against racism in the early 1960s.
NASA’s overall mission is to explore the universe and uncover its scientific secrets. The more specific task of the space agency is to bring Americans back to the moon and eventually bring them to Mars. Yes, the next moonwalkers will be a woman and a person of color. But there will be plenty of places left for people of all races and genders.
The worst thing NASA can do is get off the mission and cause unnecessary conflict by reversing Martin Luther King’s call to judge people not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character. Such a policy would alienate the people, on whom NASA support depends, and Congress, on which it depends for funding.
Mark Whittington, who writes frequently on space and politics, published a political study on space exploration titled Why is it so hard to get back to the moon? as good as “The Moon, Mars and beyond, “and, more recently,”Why is America returning to the moon?“He blogs on Corner of the Curmudgeons. It is published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, the LA Times, and the Washington Post, among others.