It’s Time to Shame Astronauts

Something out of this world has happened on Twitter, and we, as progressives, can’t let this moment go unnoticed. Former astronaut and mediocre white man Scott Kelly posted a tweet he thought benign, in an attempt to urge people to come together. The only problem is that, in fact, it tore us apart. Kelly quoted one of history’s greatest monsters, Winston Churchill: “One of the greatest leaders of modern times, Sir Winston Churchill said, ‘in victory, magnanimity.’ I guess those days are over.”

Yes, those days are over, Mr. Kelly, and thank Goddess for that! When properly shamed by the progressive and enlightened community on Twitter, the veteran spaceman offered this weak-ass apology: “Did not mean to offend by quoting Churchill. My apologies. I will go and educate myself further on his atrocities, racist views which I do not support. My point was we need to come together as one nation. We are all Americans. That should transcend partisan politics.”

Not. Good. Enough. The thing is, Mr. Kelly, it doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean to offend. You did offend. Those of us with empathy and compassion have been fighting in the streets to correct the wrongs of disgusting, entitled, white men like Winston Churchill (who, as we all know, should never have had a platform in the first place). Your tweet hurt. Almost enough to make us pull over our SUVs, scream for ten minutes in fits of pure righteous rage, and then slit our wrists and let our blood flow like a river through the valley of white supremacist patriarchy that is modern life. Indeed, it is a testament to our bravery that we haven’t all killed ourselves. Somehow, we manage to persist, resist and continue tweeting.

Mr. Kelly, the pain you have caused literally millions of people all over the world cannot be undone by some empty pledge to educate yourself on Churchill’s atrocities. Everyone knows what Churchill is responsible for. While some uninformed Churchill apologists will point to his defeat of the Nazis in World War II as a point in his favor, it would be historically inaccurate and morally bankrupt to think of Churchill as anything less than a Nazi himself. He held problematic views about women and racialized folk, and he was both a Zionist and an anti-Semite. The alt right among us will say that he was a product of his time, but living in a different era is never an excuse for not knowing what we know today. And, more importantly, one mere military victory does not erase the decades of pain that Churchill caused with his consistent, violent othering. Mr. Kelly, the fact that you didn’t know all this before you tweeted is evidence enough that you do not deserve the platform of being an astronaut or the privilege of going to space. Space must be a progressive place, and only those who are properly informed should be welcome there. With one single, hateful tweet, you have proven yourself an earthling traitor.

As for other astronauts, don’t think we aren’t watching you. We are watching you very carefully. You surround yourself in whiteness and perform unspeakable acts of colonialism by planting American flags on non-consenting lunar bodies. You are literally guilty of the worst transgression imaginable in our enlightened era: you are taking up too much space.

Not a day goes by in which an astronaut doesn’t cause a marginalized community unspeakable pain. The late Neil Armstrong took the very problematic stance of being apolitical. Of course, we know that being apolitical is, in and of itself, a hateful political gesture. In response to First Man, the new movie about landing on the moon, and its brave and responsible decision to cut a scene depicting the planting of the American flag on the moon (something historians agree never should have happened), Buzz Aldrin had the gall to tweet out nationalistic dog whistles such as #proudtobeanAmerican. This brazen act galvanized and helped mobilize the alt right. More recently, Karen Nyberg revealed her reductive geocentric gaze in a tone-deaf tweet, which was, at best, irresponsible. She fetishized the earth, calling it a “beautiful, blue planet.” The earth should not be subject to outdated, traditional beauty standards. It’s reductive and cruel, plus it also fat shames the gas giants of our solar system.

One thing is for certain: the time has come to call out astronauts for their problematic and toxic behavior. I hope you will join me and my allies in a new social media hashtag campaign, #ShameAnAstronaut. If we truly want a progressive future, we need to monitor our astronauts for problematic behavior and language. If you see problematic behavior from a space bro, let us know. We must confront these NASA Nazis any chance we get. It’s the only way outer space will ever be a safe space, and it is imperative that we #MakeSpaceSafeAgain.

Astronauts may be brave enough to go to space, but, on social media, they frequently reveal the cowards they really are. The marginalized and vulnerable people who call them out on social media are the truly brave ones. The entire situation brings to mind another quotation from the monstrous Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Our astronauts should heed these words and go to hell. And then keep going.

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16 comments

  1. “Churchill apologists will point to his defeat of the Nazis in World War II” must, itself, surely be satirical. Churchill’s marginal contribution was rendered virtually null by his stupidity and arrogance. His insisting on an invasion of Italy – the “soft underbelly” – was only one of his many foolish acts in the war. But, overall, it was the Soviet Union that beat the Germans, and paid the price of at least 20 million lives.

  2. I laughed and I laughed, nearly spilled out my coffee. Thank you, Barrett Wilson. I love the inspiration at the end. When you are going through hell, keep going. Yes, we ARE going through hell. And let’s not be too hard on poor Kelly. Space is easy compared to navigating the shoals of political correctness. But we all have to find some way, some place, to take a stand.

  3. “Next time you ask me if it’s real, I’m gonna punch you in the face.”
    – Ninja

    It’s dreadful how unsubtle we’ve become. I obsess about the watershed moment when the Russian policy stance of the Obama administration interpolated Reagan: “Don’t trust, but verify.” What little nuance was in the original statement was obviously too much for today.

    These comments have become a meta-criticism of satire, but in reference to the actual content of the piece, I thought it was well put that considering men (conspicuously not people,) in their moral failings to be products of their time is becoming an alt-right characteristic. I once hard someone say, “Kipling level racism,” and thought it was pretty unfair to use him as a byword for racism when there were so many contemporaneous exponents.

    But I digress from meta-commentary. I suggest the use of this heuristic (or, “macro” as my medical friend would put it:) concentrate on the thoughts you yourself have when reading, rather than squaring off with the author, as though all literature were so many octagons.

    1. Equally terrifying is that people are increasingly losing the ability to recognize even the most obvious satire and parody as such. For an example see the post just below this one by the fellow berating the author of the piece for his “extreme” reaction. I fear the society the late Jane Jacobs’ warned about in her book ‘Dark Age Ahead’ is becoming reality.

  4. Found this to be extreme and ridiculous. It seems to be written as if it is a serious position, maybe it isn’t. Has Aero been taken over? Could only bother with sort of stuff very occasionally before I would leave.

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    1. Sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from the actual views held by the progressive Left. That’s what I think this was aiming for. Remember when humanity landed on a comet, a titanic achievement for our entire civilization and a watershed, historical moment. What was the major news story? Do you remember?

      Taylor said, “I made a big mistake and I offended many people and I am very sorry about this.”

      If you can force a rocket scientist, celebrating the accomplishment of a lifetime, to cry and grovel and beg forgiveness on international TV for wearing a shirt, you are not unempowered.

      Still, this was a dumb piece, though.

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  5. Even if this sophomoric article was written as a satire, the hyperbolic language, exaggeration, and the flaunting of an advanced ‘snowflake’ mentality disgusted me. Society doesn’t need to trash every iconic figure to level the playing field. Please Areo, no more of this kind of crap.

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