Will NASA rename the James Webb Space Telescope? A space expert explains the Lavender Scare controversy.

Not open for further replies.
While this article seems to have been written in a more objective manner than some previous political articles in Space.com, it still is not the type of article that is really on-subject for objective science and space exploration - it is a political discussion.

The main thrust of this article seems to be that Webb did not champion "gay rights" in the 1950s and 1960s, rather than castigating him for being personally "homophobic". And, it seems to imply that there was no actual threat to national security due to homosexual individuals having a reason to succumb to blackmail in order to avoid being "outed" in a society that was much less sympathetic to homosexuals than it is, today. As a person who long had security clearances, I can personally attest to the government looking for any vulnerabilities to blackmail, not just sexual preferences. There is a real vulnerability concern to be dealt with for any issue that any employee might want to be kept hidden.

My recommendation is that we all stop trying to paint accomplished people as "bad" because they were not conspicuously "on our side" with respect to issues that have had changes to societal positions over the recent history. I do not want to throw out the entire U.S.. Constitution because many (not all) of its framers held slaves, and the rest did not quit the process in protest of those who did. And, I do not want to trash James Webb's reputation because he was not in the forefront of establishing "gay rights" while he was trying to put U.S. astronauts on the moon during the Cold War.

To actually accomplish great things, you almost always need to focus on those things, often to the exclusion of many other things that also need attention. Nobody can "do it all". Others worked to establish gay rights. Webb, like Von Braun, needed to work within a government system to succeed in getting done what they were interested in getting done. Neither has been accused of championing anti-Semitic or anti-homosexual policies, and Von Braun demonstrated an ability to succeed under systems as different as Nazi Germany and the U.S. post war government.

Similarly, many Russians have made great contributions to space exploration. I will not condemn individual Russian scientists, engineers and cosmonauts for working within a totalitarian government that is still homophobic, not to mention in violation of many other principles of ethical human conduct.

However, when an individual in the Russian space program starts interjecting politics into cooperation in space, as Dmitry Rogozin had been doing before he was "reassigned" by Putin, I think that is fair game for personal vilification. I would feel the same way about an American space official championing socially unacceptable positions in the U.S.

We need to recognize that for projects to actually get completed, some people just need to carry-on with their assignments under circumstances that they may not fully agree with, but have no hope for changing with their own actions. We can't all be in the streets protesting all of the time, or we would all starve to death in the cold and dark. And, when somebody succeeds in getting something important and useful done, we should not be "erasing" that person's reputation on the basis that they failed to make the whole world "perfect" in the process. We can't even agree on what "perfect" is.

So, please, Space.com, let's try to keep political haggling and reputation assassinations off this particular site. We can all get plenty of that in many other places.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Turtle and rod
Not open for further replies.


Latest posts