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Mars Needs Social Justice Warriors!

'I will not be erased by cishet white male Earthlings!'

Last week I wrote a little something here about how science is being corrupted by political correctness. This morning, take a look at this article from National Geographic. Not The Onion, but National Geographic:

When discussing space exploration, people often invoke stories about the exploration of our own planet, like the European conquest and colonization of the Americas, or the march westward in the 1800s, when newly minted Americans believed it was their duty and destiny to expand across the continent.

But increasingly, government agenciesjournalists, and the space community at large are recognizing that these narratives are born from racist, sexist ideologies that historically led to the subjugation and erasure of women and indigenous cultures, creating barriers that are still pervasive today.

To ensure that humanity’s future off-world is less harmful and open to all, many of the people involved are revising the problematic ways in which space exploration is framed. Numerous conversations are taking place about the importance of using inclusive language, with scholars focusing on decolonizing humanity’s next journeys into space, as well as science in general.

Oh boy. The jargon is strong here. “Erasure,” “problematic,” “inclusive,” “decolonizing.”

Then comes an interview with Lucianne Walkowicz, an astronomer who is chair of astrobiology at the Library of Congress. You have to read this. It’s like something from the annals of the Soviet space program. For example:

Q: It seems like the language that we use when describing space exploration necessarily reflects both motivation and access to space. Do you think it’s possible for humans to progress in a way that will allow space travelers to better reflect humanity?

A: I think that one of the very first steps forward is to stop having our narratives about space only coming from people who are extremely privileged, which in this space means predominantly rich, white, male venture capitalists. That’s really who’s driving a lot of the narratives that are used, and why there’s not a lot of forethought or response to critiques about those frontier, colonialist narratives.

If there’s going to be a really inclusive effort to go beyond Earth, it has to start here on Earth. It can’t just be a tokenization of what the first crew might look like. It really has to be that people from a wider range of experiences and backgrounds—whether that means socioeconomic, racial, gender, whatever—are included in STEM in general. None of those narratives will become more inclusive until the people shaping them can become more inclusive. Otherwise, it’s just lip service.

There are much more direct examples, too. Most notably, Jeff Bezos saying that he has so much money now that he can’t think of anything to spend it on that isn’t space tourism. He lives in Seattle, a city where Amazon itself has changed people’s access to affordable housing. The city has been gentrified out of control, with large new developments that house lots of Amazon employees now sitting on community centers that I cooked food for the homeless in. Or, Elon Musk wearing an Occupy Mars shirt, which is totally and completely ridiculous when compared to what the Occupy movement is. There’s another thing you can’t take out of context.

This. Is. Not. A. Parody. This woman is a leading scientist. The article was written by Nadia Drake, a science journalist with a PhD in epigenetics. National Geographic is not (yet) Teen VogueRead the whole thing. 

As it happens, this weekend I finished re-reading the Polish philosopher and statesman Ryszard Legutko’s book The Demon In Democracy, which discusses the disquieting similarities between what communism was and liberal democracy has become. In it, Legutko talks about how under communism, authorities policed language with extreme care — as is happening now in our liberal societies:

A slight offensive remark must always be regarded as a manifestation of mortal sin. What seems a barely visible mark on the surface conceals underneath swirling currents of hatred, intolerance, racism, and hegemony. … The language discipline is the first test for loyalty to the orthodoxy just as the neglect of this discipline is the beginning of all evil.

Scientist-comrade L. Walkowicz understands quite well what she’s up to, saying, “The language we use automatically frames how we envision the things we talk about.” She knows that controlling language is key to establishing control over people, because you teach them to absorb the ideology as second nature. This woman is a hardcore ideologue. If you think science is immune to this ideologization, let Comrade Walkowicz and National Geographic, which popularizes science to the masses, disabuse you.

A little more of the insanity:

What about terms like “manned” or “frontier?”

Yes, I do find “frontier” to be problematic. The implication is not exactly the same for somewhere like space as it is for here, but it similarly draws on the same kinds of narratives that are all based around European settlement. And often, if the word “frontier” comes up, it’s not wrong—until someone spells out the narrative of those brave explorers who went West in the early Americas.

“Manned?” I don’t understand why anyone is still using “manned.” How old is the NASA style guide that says not to use “manned?” It’s been around literally for years [since 2006, to be precise].

Yet it’s all over the place, and people will defend it.

It’s so lazy. Just think about it a little bit.

There is nothing that Social Justice Warriors won’t attempt to take over, and ruin. As Legutko writes, the quest for egalitarianism, which drives progressivist ideology, can never be satisfied. Left-wing ideology is a ravenous beast that can never be sated.

One more lesson from Legutko. He points out that we might laugh at these militant crackpots, but everybody is secretly afraid that these people cannot be safely opposed.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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