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.