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Hakeem Oluseyi, Space Science Education Lead
for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
They’re coming for you next: Today’s blacklist column describes an effort to not only cancel from history the man who led NASA for almost the entire 1960s space race, but to also blackball a scientist for doing good research that proved the campaign was not based on any facts.
Shortly before the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope last year, a petition was instigated to get it renamed because of accusations that Webb had persecuted homosexuals during his term as NASA administrator in the 1960s. As is now typical of our modern bankrupt intellectual class, as soon as this petition was issued more than 1,700 people signed it, all accepting at face value its accusations against Webb without any further research.
In full disclosure, I never met James Webb, who died in 1992. I have no idea what was in his heart and mind. But what I can say conclusively is that there is zero evidence that Webb is guilty of the allegations against him.
Rather than exposing a bigot — as Webb was described in two popular articles reporting this story in 2015 — my research suggests that the purveyors of these allegations wrongly accused an innocent man who was, among more well-known achievements, a hero of diversity and inclusion in American government. He worked with Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy to use NASA facilities in America’s southern states to promote racial integration and equal opportunity in employment.
Oluseyi notes at length the facts. He also notes at length the close-mindedness of the intellectual community on this subject. Except for one person outside of himself in academia, no one was willing to research the history in detail. That one person did no research himself, merely wondered, based on the nature of the accusations presented against Webb, whether more research was needed.
Did Oluseyi’s work open the minds of this close-minded science community? Of course not. The initial campaign against Webb was instigated by physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein of the University of New Hampshire. In response to Oluseyi she and her allies immediately launched a new campaign, to get him blackballed as well.
Oluseyi was soon also tagged and said that he has been unable to have letters published in the journal that attempted to point out the allegedly flawed evidence cited by Prescod-Weinstein and others. So, not only are journals declaring the matter effectively closed, but they will not allow readers to see opposing views.
Even former colleagues publicly denounced Oluseyi. George Mason’s Peter Plavchan, who said that he welcomed Oluseyi to that school as a visiting professor, tweeted a note to Prescod-Weinstein that “I do believe [Oluseyi] owes you and LGBTQ+ astronomers an apology.”
As a space historian who has interviewed numerous people and researched extensively the early history of NASA, reviewing much of the same original source material that Oluseyi referenced, I very confidently endorse Oluseyi’s conclusions. Webb, like almost everyone at NASA at that time, was not a bigot and did whatever he could to end discrimination within the agency he headed. He was also an imperfect human being, and to demand he meet today’s standards or to condemn him for failing to achieve perfect racial/sexual harmony in his life is not only unjust, it is unrealistic and extremely hateful.
In the end, this story — like all my blacklist columns — once again highlights the close-minded, vicious, and hateful culture that now permeates today’s intellectual class. They do not think, they do not research, they do not care, and above all, they hate with an empty-minded fervor that at times can be truly horrifying.
If something does not change soon in this culture, the future they will bring us will only see even greater evils, including outright genocide. For when you refuse to consider the possibility that you are wrong, as Prescod-Weinstein and her allies are doing, the only solution in the end is the final solution, to kill your opponents so you need not face the truth.
On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News