We've reached the 50th anniversary of an event so extraordinary that, to this day, some people refuse to believe it even happened, though it most certainly did. But never mind that human beings –- from the United States of America –- actually walked on the surface of the Moon. Reflecting with pride on Apollo 11 might tend to bring Americans together when it’s very important right now for us to be at each others’ throats. Chaos must be sown. Today, here on Planet Earth, the stream of political rhetoric is so hateful and downright crazy that I feel like getting on a rocket ship to the Moon myself. In space, no one can hear you scream.
At a time when we should marvel at the monumental scientific accomplishments of mankind --- yes, I said “MAN-kind,” as, grammatically, “man” refers to all of humanity, which includes all people --- we are being diverted by leftist idiots into a discussion of whether the space program was even legitimate in the first place because it started with white-male-only astronauts. Not kidding.
I’ve always been fascinated by the history of the space program. One of my very favorite movies (perhaps second only to Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, but I digress) is THE RIGHT STUFF, based on Tom Wolfe’s wonderful book of the same name. The book and then the movie brought the subject alive for me, not just the quest for outer space but what life was like for the people living at that time and pursuing that goal. It started with the lives of the military test pilots and their families during the 1940s, long before the first rocket had ever left the launch pad. This was even before the sound barrier had been broken.
The test pilots were men –- of almost superhuman bravery and skill. I don’t know if many women at the time were lining up to qualify as test pilots, but it’s a given: whoever did should have been given absolutely equal consideration. My understanding is that early on, some women were tested for the astronaut program and passed with flying (pun intended) colors yet were not accepted. You had to “fit the profile,” which was white, male, college-educated. This would not be the case today, thank goodness.
On the other hand, if we were “casting” the Moon shot today, diversity of race, gender and sexual orientation among the astronauts would likely be the most important thing to many –- more important even than getting the rocket off the ground. In other words, we’ve successfully overcompensated. So are we all happy now? Can we move on from the mid-20th century, PLEASE? (Answer from leftists: no, we can never be happy and never move on and must continue condemning everything about it for not being sufficiently “woke.”)
The female characters in THE RIGHT STUFF didn’t fly the jets or occupy the spacecraft, but they had to hold up under a different kind of pressure. I love what Gordon Cooper’s wife Trudy says to a group of military spouses: “I went back east to a reunion and all my friends could talk about was their husbands’ work, how dog-eat-dog and cutthroat it was on Madison Avenue, places like that. I wondered how they would’ve felt if every time their husband went in to make a deal, there was a one-in-four chance he wouldn’t come out of that meeting.” This knowledge is what both the men and the women lived with every day.
Anyway, it’s been 50 years since the first Moon landing, which naturally dominated the headlines in mid-July of 1969. So, what’s in the news today, mid-July of 2019? Well, mostly discussions of who is racist and who is even more racist than some other terribly racist person. Who is using the wrong pronoun and dares to say a man can’t be pregnant and desperately need a third-trimester abortion. Who is outraged by something chanted by justifiably fed-up people for 18 whole seconds during a campaign rally. Who thinks it’s necessary to apologize for being white and male. Who is beating up people who think differently, spitting on them and refusing to serve them in restaurants. Who is calling Americans hypocrites and laughing at the dark way we speak of al-Qaeda. Who is accusing whom of being a Nazi and/or of running “concentration camps.” Who is still trying to FIND something to impeach the President with. Who is saying with a straight face that we shouldn’t have any borders at all. Who is saying we need to spend $100 trillion dollars on boondoggles or the world will end in 12 years.
This turmoil is coming from horrible people in politics and media who spew ignorance and demonstrable lies, and it’s having a cumulative effect on me, making me ill. This isn’t Trump’s fault, as I know how much the left hated Bush --- and Reagan, too, when Reagan was quite the statesman. Still, Trump’s confrontational style and imprecise way of speaking certainly make it worse.
Fifty years ago this Saturday, America was troubled with racial issues and the Vietnam War, but we had just done something that merited enormous pride. Today, our nation is burdened and demeaned –- almost overcome –- by petty squabbles, most of them engineered. I don’t accept that there needs to be this much bickering; race and gender inequality were much, much worse fifty years ago than they are today and we should be proud of the enormous strides we have made.
Working in research and political commentary as I do, I am definitely feeling the effects of “total immersion” in the current insanity. Last night, my husband (fellow Huckabee writer/researcher Pat Reeder) and I took a needed break from it and went to see classic country artist John Conlee sing about the Friday night blues (on a Thursday night) and straightening Miss Emily’s picture. The evening was politics-free, though Conlee always takes an opportunity during his concerts to raise money for veterans’ groups and, now, police officers as well. I’d be willing to bet that the other people there were every bit as grateful as we were to spend some time away from the horror that is the current 24/7 news scene.
The anniversary of the first Moon walk falls on Saturday; I’m planning to watch (what else?) THE RIGHT STUFF, even though I already know it shot by shot (pun intended). And that’s my recommendation to you. After the movie, listen to Tony Bennett sing “Fly Me To The Moon.” Or, what the hey, just do that right now. It’ll help keep you from going crazy, take it from me.