The White House today did a 180 on the question of whether it is NASA’s job to reach out to the Muslim world, deciding after all that this should be left to, like, the State Department, and not to spacemen.
In an apparent reference to the invention of the flying carpet thousands of years ago in Persia, NASA Chief Charles Bolden late last month told Al Jazeera that President Obama’s “foremost” instruction to him was reaching out to Muslims and try to accrue some of their expert knowledge on space travel.
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.
Here’s the original interview with Al Jazeera. The question pops up right at the beginning.
The White House initially defended the remark. In comments to Fox News July 6, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said Obama “wants NASA to engage with the world’s best scientists and engineers as we work together to push the boundaries of exploration.”
Why, this could even bring Israel and its ancient enemies together, suggested the hallucinating Shapiro. “Meeting that mandate requires NASA to partner with countries around the world like Russia and Japan, as well as collaboration with Israel and with many Muslim-majority countries. The space race began as a global competition, but, today, it is a global collaboration,” he said.
This all makes so much sense.
The Iran/Hezbollah International Rocket Research Initiative of course is widely known, particularly in Israel, which is participating in the testing program by being on the receiving end of it.
Perhaps, Shapiro meant, NASA simply wants to learn from the program. If Bolden’s outreach is not allowed to continue, valuable information taken from atop Israelis’ heads – where the rockets are landing – would be lost.
Maybe even one day Hezbollah will point these rockets toward Mars instead of Israel, and put people on them, like Ahmadinejad.
Alas, today White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs walked it all back. It turns out old fashioned stuff like flying space ships is what NASA is supposed to do. From today’s briefing.
QUESTION: There were some comments that the NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, made a couple weeks back that drew some interest, specifically from conservatives who are wondering why he said that one of the charges that the president gave him when he got the job was that he had to focus on outreach to the Muslim world. Why is the NASA administrator doing that?
GIBBS: It’s an excellent question, and I don’t think – that was not his task, and that’s not the task of NASA.
QUESTION: So did he just misspeak? And has the president spoken to him about that to clear it up?
QUESTION: Anybody here at the White House?
GIBBS: I’m sure people – people at the White House here talk to NASA all the time.
Well, I’m sure they do. People like Mr. Gibbs get on the phone with people at NASA and say, “What the Hell is that jackass talking about? How many public relations crises am I supposed to deal with?”
There was no comment from Bolden, but he was privately heard to mutter, “I thought I was appointed to head the NASSER space program.”
The statements by Shapiro are no longer operative, it appears. And Islam’s secrets of space flight will remain with Islam.