Monday, October 04, 2021

Editorial: NASA embraces homophobia

Betty called it last week, "Shame on NASA."  NASA should be ashamed.

If you missed it, they've elected, in 2021, to honor a naming a telescope the James Webb Space Telescope.  MORNING EDITION (NPR) explained:

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: No one objected, so Webb got the honor. Recently, though, some scientists and historians have raised concerns that Webb was complicit in the lavender scare of the 1950s and 1960s, when gay government workers were interrogated and fired. For example, NASA employee Clifford Norton lost his job and later sued. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a cosmologist at the University of New Hampshire. She wants the telescope renamed.

CHANDA PRESCOD-WEINSTEIN: At best, Webb's record is complicated/not great. And at worst, we're basically just sending this incredible instrument into the sky with the name of a homophobe on it.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Over 1,200 astronomers and space enthusiasts signed a letter asking NASA to reconsider the name. The agency said it would investigate the matter. Now, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has put out a statement saying, quote, "we have found no evidence at this time that warrants changing the name of the James Webb Space Telescope." But NASA hasn't provided any other information about the investigation. This frustrates Prescod-Weinstein.

PRESCOD-WEINSTEIN: I really just want to see rationale, and I want to see openness. And right now we're not seeing either, and that breaks my heart.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: She says, as a black, queer scientist, this is hard to hear from the space agency she loves.

It's 2021.  People are calling for statues honoring the Confederacy to come down.  But NASA, in 2021, is going to honor a homophobe by naming a telescope after him?  

This is not minor.  This goes to what we value and what we don't value.  NASA is sending a message that they do not value the LGBTQ community.  That's not a message we want to embrace.

As Betty said, shame on NASA.

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