Letters to the Editor

NASA policy has been garbled

Do you remember that child's game of "telephone"? It starts with someone whispering something in a child's ear, then it is passed on from child to child down the line. At the end, the last child is asked to tell the message, and everyone gets a good laugh when it is compared to the original message.

Based on Art Blenk's letter July 17 ("Obama keeps making bad choices"), he has been playing the game, charging that on July 8, "President Obama has destroyed one of our nation's longtime institutions - NASA."

Maybe I can clear up the confusion about this matter.

On June 30, Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator, gave an interview to Al Jazeera, an Arab-language radio and TV network. Among other things, he said that Obama "wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering."

It didn't take long for the opponents of the Obama administration to crank up their outrage. On July 5, Byron York published a column in the New York Examiner about Bolden's interview. York did not have very much criticism, but others reading his column took offense. Ed Morrissey, of the website "Hot Air," opined, "Congress needs to either get the White House to redefine its mission for NASA or cut off its funds until the self-esteem party is canceled."

Then, Fox News picked it up on July 5, allowing Charles Krauthammer to charge the Obama administration with "imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy."

On the July 6 "Fox & Friends," co-host Steve Doocy introduced video of Bolden's remarks by saying Bolden made "such an extraordinary claim." Guest host Eric Bolling asked, "Should we really go so far as to make sure that Muslims are cool with our space program?"

The same day, Glenn Beck demanded on his radio program that NASA should be shut down because of this Muslim outreach. Earlier, Beck had accused Obama of trying to "destroy America" because NASA's budget had been cut back.

On July 8, Bill O'Reilly mentioned that he had not covered Bolden's remarks to Al Jazeera because "I don't have a problem" with them, which caused Greg Gutfeld the next day to accuse O'Reilly of "being high" if he thought there was nothing wrong with NASA's Muslim outreach.

It is hard to figure out where Art Blenk was sitting in this episode of "telephone" that caused him to get upset with Obama as he was going to bed on July 8, but as usual in this game, the story had gotten a little bent by the time they ended up in his letter to the editor.

Just as a reminder, those who are offended by the contribution of the Muslim world to science and mathematics should cease using Arabic numerals in their calculations.

The writer lives in Pawleys Island.