Conservatives Furious Over NASA Muslim 'Outreach'

Space exploration gets controversial

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recently traveled to the Middle East. That was his first mistake. His second was giving an interview to the Middle Eastern satellite news station Al Jazeera. But his third and fatal mistake came when he suggested that he traveled to the region in part to "reach out to the Muslim world." Conservatives are apoplectic over this interview. The video, key quotes, and media reaction are all below.

Bolden: I am here in the region - its sort of the first anniversary of President Barack Obama's visit to Cairo - and his speech there when he gave what has now become known as Obama's "Cairo Initiative" where he announced that he wanted this to become a new beginning of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. When I became the NASA Administrator - before I became the NASA Administrator - he charged me with three things: One was that he wanted me to re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, that 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 predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.

Question: Are you in some sort of diplomatic role ... to win hearts and minds?

Bolden: No no, not at all. Its not a diplomatic anything. What it is - is that it is trying to expand our outreach so that we get more people who can contribute to the things that we do - the international Space Station is as great as it is because we have a conglomerate of about 15 plus nations who have contributed something to that partnership that has made it what it is today.

  • Islam and Science Don't Mix  The Washington Times argues that the U.S. has nothing to gain in scientific discourse with Muslim nations. "What's unclear is what Mr. Bolden believes the United States has to gain by reaching out to a part of the world that has been technologically stagnant for centuries. The Muslim world has nothing to offer the United States as a space-faring nation. If anything, America should be discouraging Middle East space programs. ... Islam's meager contribution to human technological advancement is no accident."
  • 'Psychobabble' and 'Imperial Condescension'  The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer says on Fox News, "This is a new height in fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This idea of to feel good about their past scientific achievements, it's the worst combination of group therapy, psychobabble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy. If I didn't know that Obama had told this, I'd demand the firing of Charles Bolden the way I would Michael Steele. This is absolutely unbelievable."
  • Proves Muslims Should Love America More  Fox News host Sean Hannity professed, "look, I have a hard time with the president's, quote, 'outreach' to the Muslim community in this way. When he spoke to the Muslim world, he didn't talk about America's contributions to Kuwait. He didn't talk about America's contributions to Kosovo. He didn't talk about America's contributions to Indonesia or Iraq. Doesn't -- I don't hear America being praised enough by the Muslim world. Does the Muslim world give America the credit it's due?"
  • Bush's NASA Head Condemns  Fox News' Judson Berger reports that Bush-era NASA Administrator Michael Griffin "described as 'deeply flawed' the idea that the space exploration agency's priority should be outreach to Muslim countries. 'NASA ... represents the best of America. Its purpose is not to inspire Muslims or any other cultural entity.'"
  • 'Ravages of Islamism' Hostile to Science  National Review's Daniel Pipes writes, "Muslims at present do lag in the sciences and the way to fix this is not condescension from NASA but some deep Muslim introspection. Put differently, accomplished scientists of Muslim origin — including NASA’s Farouk El-Baz, who is of Egyptian origins — do exist. The problem lies in societies, and include everything from insufficient resources to poor education to the ravages of Islamism."
  • Waste of Tax Dollars  Reason's Michael Moynihan writes, "Poor dears, feeling bad about their underappreciated contributions to science, math, and engineering. Seems to me an entirely reasonable way to fritter away tax dollars, on the mental health of Yemeni undergraduates."
  • Explains Tolerance of Iran's Nuclear Program  Hot Air's Ed Morrissey makes the connection, "Hey, maybe that’s why Obama hasn’t taken the Iranian effort to build a nuclear bomb all that seriously until now. He just wanted Iran to make the Muslim world feel good about their achievements in science!"
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