Happy Feast of the Epiphany / Theophany / “Little Christmas,” Gentle Reader. It’s a big day for Christians worldwide, on which we commemorate the visit of the Magi to the newborn Christ Child. I’ve written at length about it, if you’d like a detailed rumination over it. However, for this morning I have something else in mind: an obscenity of a contemporary sort that needs to be squashed hard and at once:
[T]he President of the Navajo Nation, Buu Nygren, has filed a formal objection with NASA and the U.S. Department of Transportation over what he calls an act of desecration. “It is crucial to emphasize that the moon holds a sacred position in many Indigenous cultures, including ours,” Nygren wrote in a letter dated Dec. 21. “The act of depositing human remains and other materials, which could be perceived as discards in any other location, on the moon is tantamount to desecration of this sacred space.” Nygren has asked NASA to delay the mission until the Navajo Nation’s objections are addressed.
“Sacred position!” “Sacred space!” “Indigenous cultures!” Indigenous to what or where? Not to the Moon, which remains – as far as I know – unoccupied. This “President of the Navajo Nation” hasn’t been there; I’d have heard about it. But he condemns the ULA’s Peregrine mission as “desecration.” And to be fair, the Amerind nations and other “indigenous cultures” have been granted a wholly unwarranted degree of deference in the past, so there was a fair chance he’d get it this time around as well.
Apparently, in responding to this…person’s demand, NASA has tried to “square the circle:”
Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration at the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, acknowledged that these commercial missions could lead to further controversies.
“With these new opportunities and new ways of doing business, we recognize that some non-NASA commercial payloads can be a cause for concern to some communities,” Kearns said. “And those communities may not understand that these missions are commercial and they’re not US government missions, like the ones that we’re talking about.”
Kearns is saying that Nygren has complained to the wrong department – that he should have addressed the Astrobiotic / Celestis / Elysium Space firms that are the commercial forces behind the Peregrine launch. That invites Nygren to infer that if the launch were purely a NASA affair, NASA would have addressed and prevented the “desecration.” And who knows? Perhaps NASA has become so lily-livered that it would bend over backwards to avoid “offending” an “indigenous culture.” Given how little NASA has achieved since the decommissioning of the Space Shuttles, it isn’t hard to believe.
Amerinds have been playing the victim card for decades. This is not a departure for them. But it should be dismissed with open disdain, rather than being treated with respect as so many victimist initiatives have been.
“You say the Moon is ‘sacred’ to your ‘culture,’ Mr. Nygren? Pray tell, where on the Moon is your most important shrine? What’s that? No Amerind has ever been there? Only white Christian men? Well, in that case give us a buzz when the first Amerind expedition plants its flag on the lunar surface. Then we’ll talk about how ‘sacred’ it is to you and yours. Not before.”
What I would give for a NASA spokesman to deliver such an edict — and to slap down the ‘Native American’ BS in the same breath. It’s high time.