The moon landing stands as one of humanity's greatest accomplishments and a defining moment in American history, but as the world marks its 50th anniversary with awe and reverence, the American media is offering up repeated reminders that NASA wasn't diverse enough.
The New York Times even went so far as to claim that the real winner of the space race was the Soviet Union because its cosmonauts were more diverse than American astronauts.
“Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe,” author Sophie Pinkham noted in an essay laughably entitled "How the Soviets Won the Space Race for Equality." "The Cold War was fought as much on an ideological front as a military one, and the Soviet Union often emphasized the sexism and racism of its capitalist opponents — particularly the segregated United States.
"And the space race was a prime opportunity to signal the U.S.S.R.’s commitment to equality. After putting the first man in space in 1961, the Soviets went on to send the first woman, the first Asian man, and the first black man into orbit — all years before the Americans would follow suit."
And, The New York Times scolded in another piece, America's space program still isn't diverse enough.
In her screed "To Make It to the Moon, Women Have to Escape Earth’s Gender Bias," Mary Robinette Kowal observes that "if we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it."
How do we move past it, exactly? By getting better-fitting space suits or something.
"Not deliberately for men, perhaps, but women were not allowed in the astronaut program until the late 1970s…By this point, the space program was built around male bodies," she writes. "Men sweat more than comparably fit women, and the areas where they sweat the most occur in different parts of the body. In other words, when it comes to temperature-controlling garments, the needs are different for men and women."
This, she gravely intones, is akin to the overt sexism women experience in their offices here on earth...because the thermostat is set too low.
“We are already aware of this in relation to office temperatures. Temperatures are set for men, which leaves women carrying sweaters to work.”
Not to be outdone, America's other newspaper of record, The Washington Post, lamented that "the culture that put men on the moon was intense, fun, family-unfriendly, and mostly white and male."
"As NASA worked relentlessly to fulfill John F. Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon by decade’s end, it turned to the nation’s engineers," writes Karen Heller. "Many of them were fresh out of school, running the gamut from mechanical to electrical engineers, because that’s mostly what was taught in universities, and almost exclusively to white men. In archival Apollo 11 photos and footage, it’s a 'Where’s Waldo?' exercise to spot a woman or person of color."
Hilariously, Heller even bemoans the lack of hippies at NASA.
"The space program imagined the future. Yet the community of trim haircuts, shaved chins, white shirts (with contractors’ company badges emblazoned on their pockets) and pressed slacks, led by many veterans of World War II, seemed decades removed from the prevalent culture that was shaggier, angrier and sometimes stoned."
Meanwhile, Smithsonian Magazine wondered whether the billions spent on putting men on the moon might have been better spent on social justice, publishing a piece entitled "While NASA Was Landing on the Moon, Many African-Americans Sought Economic Justice Instead."
"The reception in Harlem reflects a broader truth about the Apollo 11 mission and how many black communities viewed it," Bryan Greene writes. "NASA’s moonshot was costly; author Charles Fishman called it 'the largest non-military effort in human history' in a recent interview with NPR. Black publications like the New York Amsterdam News and civil rights activists like Ralph Abernathy argued that such funds—$25.4 billion, in 1973 dollars— would be better spent alleviating the poverty facing millions of African-Americans."
The Progressive asked a similar question about the wisdom of spending so much on space exploration.
"'Nostalgia makes for a foggy lens,'" author James Jeffrey quotes "Tracy Dahlby, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism. 'It’s easy to forget that, for most of the 1960s, a majority of Americans didn’t favor Washington spending billions of dollars on the space race. After all, we had plenty of challenges to deal with at home, with issues of economic and social justice, opposition to the Vietnam War, and a tortured political scene that saw a President and other leading figures assassinated in the space of five years.'
"The Apollo space program cost about $19.4 billion, according to a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service. That’s about $116.5 billion in today’s dollars. And so the question must be asked: Was the moon landing worth it?"
Pretty much every sane person would answer with a resounding "YES!" but it seems clear that left-wing wokeness in media isn't exactly the sanest movement in the world. When even putting a man on a new world is tainted with the stain of America's race- and gender-based grievance culture and events of generations past are seen only through the filter of modern-day political correctness, it becomes impossible to properly contextualize even the most momentous of human achievements.
This was an achievement by individual humans on behalf of all of humanity. That those individual humans didn't belong to the modern media's preferred demographic groups is wholly irrelevant and serves only to minimize their accomplishment. One small step for man is still a giant leap for mankind even if it was a straight white man who took it.