Saturday, October 02, 2010

NASA's Bolden Muslim Remarks In News Again

The NASA Director is in Saudi Arabia to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Muslim to go into space. The person was a member of the royal family, not an traditional astronaut, but never mind. It is all a part of the outreach tasked to John Bolden by President Obama. Obama wants the Muslim nations to "feel good" about their scientific contributions to the world. Funny, I didn't realize it was a part of the presidential job description to make other nations feel good about themselves.

It appears that those concerned about the reputation of NASA didn't think Bolden's trip was a wise move.

Bolden plans to attend an aerospace technology conference Saturday and a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the shuttle flight STS-51G, a U.S. flight that carried the first Muslim -- a member of Saudi royalty -- into space. Bolden also may hold a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that "top" NASA officials had urged Bolden not to make the trip, but NASA had no comment when asked about the claim.

Bolden's remarks created an immediate firestorm from those who were offended by the characterization of his mission as head of NASA, presidential directive or not.

The former head of NASA on Tuesday described as "deeply flawed" the idea that the space exploration agency's priority should be outreach to Muslim countries, after current Administrator Charles Bolden made that assertion in an interview last month.

"NASA ... represents the best of America. Its purpose is not to inspire Muslims or any other cultural entity," Michael Griffin, who served as NASA administrator during the latter half of the Bush administration, told

At the time of Bolden's remarks, the White House continued a pattern of throwing supporters under the bus when a pubic remark becomes uncomfortable for them - the president's spokesperson denied the intent. The White House last week sought to clarify Bolden's comment, saying Obama wanted NASA to engage with the world's best scientists and engineers from countries like Russia and Japan, Israel and many Muslim-majority countries.

Top priority is Muslim outreach or simply outreach to other scientists worldwide? Time will tell.

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