Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Muslims in Space, Part II

Here's a statement from White House spokesman Nick Shapiro regarding NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's statement concerning the agency's policy of making the Muslim world feel good about itself as per the wishes of President Obama:

The President has always said that he wants NASA to engage with the world’s best scientists and engineers as we work together to push the boundaries of exploration. 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.

Isn't it interesting that the White House should make a point of engagement with Israel on the day Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House, this time as an acknowledged guest?

As for partnering with Israel, Russia and Japan if that is what the President wanted to convey to Bolden then why didn't he?

The problem here isn't Bolden. The problem here is the President. Bolden only gaffed in that he told the truth about what the President said to him. The White House has not denied any part of Bolden's account of his conversation with him. Outreach to the Muslim world has been central tenet of President Obama's foreign policy and he has made no secret of it. If Obama considers himself a citizen of the world it isn't a stretch to say that he also considers himself a citizen of the whole universe.

But the idea that it is the job of NASA to conduct outreach to the Muslim world much less make it feel good about itself isn't going to sit well with most Americans. Especially when it is apparent that the Muslim world isn't much interested in President Obama's overtures in the first place.

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