White House: NASA Isn't For Muslim Outreach
The White House on Monday denied that NASA's chief goal is to reach out to the Muslim world - something that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recently suggested.
In an interview with Middle Eastern satellite news station Al Jazeera, Bolden said one of his "foremost" charges from President Obama as NASA administrator is to "find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."
Asked about Bolden's remarks, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today, "That was not his task, and that's not the task of NASA."
Conservative commentators were outraged over Bolden's remarks.
The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News, "This is a new height in fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This idea of to feel good about their past scientific achievements, it's the worst combination of group therapy, psychobabble, imperial condescension, and adolescent diplomacy."
The conservative Washington Times argued in an editorial that the U.S. would have nothing to gain from NASA outreach to Muslim nations.
"If anything, America should be discouraging Middle East space programs," the editorial said. "Islam's meager contribution to human technological advancement is no accident."
Bolden made similar remarks earlier this year. In February, he told a group of engineering students about initiatives to connect with countries that do not have established space programs and help them conduct science missions, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
"We really like Indonesia because the State Department, the Department of Education [and] other agencies in the U.S. are reaching out to Indonesia as the largest Muslim nation in the world. We would love to establish partners there," Bolden reportedly said.
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