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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Eagle has Landed

Forty-four years ago, a nation that we now know was racist, didn't care about the environment and drank too much soda, landed on the moon.

Half-a-billion television viewers watched it happen live. They saw men walk on the surface of another world. They saw that human beings could break free of their world and take a first step into the rest of the universe.

And that was that.

Neil Armstrong died about the time that Obama finished gutting NASA. He lived long enough to write a saddened letter about the decline of American space exploration under Obama that everyone in the media did their best not to pay attention to. The letter was also signed by Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon.

Cernan is 79.  Of the dozen men who walked on the moon, only four are dead, a testament to their quality of their vigor.

No one who was born after 1935 has walked on the moon. That period is swiftly becoming a historical relic. A thing that men did who lived long ago. A great work of other times like the building of dams and fleets, the winning of wars and the expansion of frontiers.

Those are things that the men of back then did. Those are not things that we do anymore.

The youngest man to have walked on the moon, Harrison Schmitt, is 78. He was only 37 when he walked on the moon. Soon he will be one with the last of the Civil War soldiers and the last of the WW1 soldiers and then the last of the WW2 soldiers.

We like to believe that walking on the moon is still something we could do if we really wanted to. But like building all the big things, we just choose not to do it. We have more important things to worry about like social justice and figuring out the implications of the latest 1,000 page bill.

Forget exploring space. We explore the breadth of our own bureaucracy. We are the Schliemanns of Trojan horse government. We are the Neil Armstrongs of government landing on the paper moons of bills and acts by whose pale light we lead our pallid lives.

In those long lost days, we did great things. The bureaucrats took their cut and the contractors chiseled and the lobbyists lobbied and the whole great vulture pack of government swarmed and screeched and still somehow, with a billion monkeys on our back, we moved forward, because we still had great goals. Now our goal is government. There is no longer a moon. Only a paper moon.

The whole mess of bureaucrats, contractors, lobbyists, policy experts, consultants, congressmen, aides, crooks, creeps, thieves and agents is no longer a necessary evil that we put up with in order to accomplish great things. It is the great thing that we accomplish. There are no more moon landings, no more dams or tallest buildings in the world. The massive towering edifice of our own government is now our moon landing, our Hoover Dam, our Empire State Building.

Like so many decrepit civilizations before us, the massive rotting edifice of our government has become our great work. Keeping it going, keeping it from falling apart, wiping its bottom, finding the money to prevent its latest imminent failure, fighting over the last folder while the barbarians shout "Allah Akbar" and put all the paper to the torch because the Koran makes it redundant, that is what we do now.

We no more go a-roving so late into the night. Not when our own night has come. And it is late indeed.

It is not that we have no more Neil Armstrongs or Eugene Cernans or any of the other clean cut men who look back at us from those old photographs, cool and confident, knowing that they are the messengers that a civilization at its golden apex has picked to represent it at its peak moment. It is that we no longer want them.

The nostalgia is there, but it's every bit as transparent as a Mad Men costume party. It's all very well to ape the clothes and the styles, the fonts and the rest of the window dressing, but it's the core spirit that we have no use for.

Apollo 11 is nice and well, but we have other priorities now. We don't focus on actual achievements, but on social remedies, never realizing that our social remedies were achieved as spinoffs of achievements and that social problems can only be solved as part of the upward ascent of a civilization. There's no percentage in thinking that way. Not when there are a lot more jobs for servicing social dysfunction than there are going into space.

The core element of the space program was competence. It's the same competence that allows us to still land jet planes every day, even if the rate of improvement in the technology slowed down long ago, or perform open heart surgery. But the number of professions in which competent counts has been decreasing over the years. And so has competence as a quality.

We have replaced confidence with attitude. And the difference between them is the same as the difference between a civilization and the savages outside. Confidence comes from competence. Attitude comes from rituals of pride uninformed by achievements.

Attitude is what actors, musicians and the endless swathe of reality television cretins project. And as a society, we value attitude more than competence because not everyone can have competence, but everyone can have attitude. Not everyone can walk on the moon, but everyone can work for the government.

We could go to the moon again, but why bother, as NASA's chief, whose mission, as handed down to him by Barack Obama, was not space exploration, but the enhancement of Muslim self-esteem, told critics. And he's right. Why bother? Back then, in those ancient days when men who are now in their eighties flew, we went to the moon as part of a larger plan and statement about our place in the universe.

We were going to go the moon and then to the planets beyond. We could find new frontiers, plant our flags, build colonies, jump from world to world, star to star, and turn our civilization into something more than another archeological dig. Maybe it was all just a crazy dream, but looking at the eyes of the men who did it and who died and die seeing it undone, there is that sense that they believed that it could be done.

Going to the moon was a crazy idea of course. Going beyond it would have been even crazier. Instead we settled down to the important things, like race relations, the importance of listening to music, breaking up the family, importing huge numbers of people with little use for our way of life and all the other stupid suicidal things that dying civilizations do to pass the time.

The eagle landed in a mud puddle in D.C. The last men who walked on the moon will probably be dead within a decade.

We'll tell our kids about it and they'll shake their heads because what's the big deal anyway? Everyone flies around in spaceships in all the movies. Why bother doing it in real life? They don't bother doing anything in real life. And then they'll go off to another class that will teach them how much carbon waste the space program added and how many super-hurricanes it caused and how much better off we are now that we no longer have cars, plastic bags or air conditioning.

We could have gone to the stars, but we took another road instead. Maybe we can still turn back to a time when we could do great things before it's too late.

17 comments:

ericcs said...

My God, the truth of what you said is so sharp that it cuts like a knife and wounds just as deeply. There is nothing more to be said, but there is one more question to be asked...

Why haven't we fought back, why do we not rage rage against the dying of the light?

Dennis Latham said...

The moon landing was the stuff of dreams, and at times, I have to stop and think that many people alive today were not here to witness such an historic event. The barbarians are at the gate and new generations are too blind to see their own demise coming. They don't care, not while they can play video games and just block out reality.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

We haven't fought back because there is no organized "we", only millions of "I's" who sense something is wrong, but lack the words to express it and the program to resist it

Edward Cline said...

It's a heart-breaking essay you've written here, Daniel, and quite damning of the Left and its nose-in-the-muck agenda. Aside from the moon-landings, there are other feats of space exploration that need to be cited: our Mars landings, from the Vikings to the remote-controlled robotic rovers to the reconnaissance satellites orbiting Mars, landing a probe on an asteroid, smashing a comet head-on to see what debris was ejected, the two Mariner and Voyager planetary probes which have left or are leaving our solar system for interstellar space, launched decades ago, the Galileo probe that explored Jupiter and its moons, the Cassini-Hudgens probe of Saturn and Titan, to name a few technological and scientific feats. Not to mention the discovery of planets around other stars, once mere speculation, now verifiable evidence. Perhaps it's not too late to rediscover the road not taken. You end with the observation that we "lack the words to express" what we sense is wrong "and the program to resist it." What we need is not so much a "program" but a philosophy of reason that would enable us to raise our heads to see the stars instead of bowing our heads in humility and self-immolation, which is all our current politics wishes us to do.

John L Jordan said...

FTA: "...we value attitude more than competence because not everyone can have competence, but everyone can have attitude."

Daniel, I laughed out loud when I came to that one! Whew! A fact well-put is unforgettable. Your colleague, Mark Steyn hit the same bullseye from another angle: Public education in America is "subjecting its present population to a public “education” system that’s little more than unionized child abuse."

As long as You, Styen & others like you defend the Peace and Liberty of the United States with your words and your deeds, the Torch of Liberty will not be extinguished.

"Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"

May the Creator of The Universe bless and keep you all.

Anonymous said...

We were able to go to the moon because our immigration policy included Werner Von Braun. Our current immigration policy will have us all chewing Khat to forget we live in a failed state, just waiting for orders from our warlord.

Phyllis Blickensderfer said...

Daniel is correct - there is no un-hyphenated Americans capable of organizing. Too soon the federal government will achieve the bankruptcy that the Detroit government achieved. The true American dream of advancing frontiers was lost in the false home ownership dream that became equity to spend and retirement to enjoy.

LEL said...

Being a great nation and achieving great things would make the muslims feel bad about themselves. American exceptionalism is offensive to the rest of the world. Liberals felt guilty about American exceptionalism so they set out to destroy us.

meema said...

History buffs will understand this–success against tyranny has always been won by first determining the weakness of the enemy, usually, as it is in this case, godless arrogance, the attitude of invincibility, and then using it to advantage. Second, with little more than faith and daring, do the exact opposite of what is expected. If high tech is the enemy’s weapon, think low tech. If physical rebellion is the expectation, outsmart with spiritual/mental agility. Personally I don’t look at the numbers. If God be for us, who can be against us? God always wins with the least just to confound the self-righteous anyway. The trick, of course, is being on God's side.

There are lots of examples in history, one of my favorites is the story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Within the story there is a myth that persists, that I believe to be true (for reasons I will not elaborate on), that the abolitionists who helped the runaway slaves from safe house to safe house, used a system of carefully crafted quilts, designed with patterns and knots, read like braille to guide them along. The coded quilts were strategically placed over fences and wagons, hiding the vital navigational information in plain sight.

Gosh, I love history–so much to be learned–so much timeless wisdom for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It’s always been the Davids, the Tubmans, Shindlers, Corrie Ten-Booms, the Wind Talkers–the list is long–the least of the least who looked at the problem with a simple eye while the arrogant ones looked in the wrong direction.

LEL said...

Our current immigration policy is diversity for diversity's sake. Guilty white liberals believed this nation was too white, so they set about to bar European immigration in favor of third world immigrants.

Elizabeth said...

I remember this with great vividness and awe. Watched it on an old black & white tv with crappy reception at the cabin that summer. Even as a 12 year old I found it amazing. Keep writing about all the stuff in your head :)

Anonymous said...

As a descriptive article, this was excellent. But I must dissent from the implication that we would be a great nation again if only we would undertake some new NASA project on a massive scale, such as a mission to Mars. While the moon landing was a great achievement, it was not within the proper purview of government, and there is no real difference between it and, say, Solyndra, except for the sheer grubbiness in the latter case of having Obama campaign bundlers helping hemselves to piles of the taxpayers' cash.

The principle in both cases is that government can commandeer "society's" resources to undertake some grandiose undertaking of alleged magnificence, whether landing on the moon or developing "green" energy that will magically end the "pollution" of conventional energy sources. Arguing with the Left about which grandiose project to finance, with our side wanting to pour money into NASA and theirs wanting to flush it down the commode with yet another "great society" income redistribution scheme, is a losing proposition for us. If the majority in a Democratic society is permitted to seize and redistribute property at will, than inevitably their will be a heavy bias in favor of transfer payments to a large voting bloc (e.g. welfare recipients and public-sector workers) over scientific exploration and experimentation, which directly benefit far fewer people. It is for this reason that Western Europe, with its Welfare State in a more advanced condition (chronologically speaking), never allocated resources to space exploration, even though had the separate nations cooperated they would have had enough money, and also why by the 1960's they weren't even spending enough money on national defense to protect themselves but instead relied on the U.S.

For America to recover its greatness, we need to move away from the Obama conception of government as "the things we do together" and recognize that government is force - force to protect us against criminals and foreign armies. When we recognize that each man's life and property do not belong to the majority which wins an election, we will be great again. And that is when we'll see achievements comparable to the moon landing - although they'll be undertaken with private resources.

-- NAHALKIDES

Horace Staccato said...

It was White people who did great things like go to the Moon and build the modern world. Now White people spend all their time cringing in terror in the face of third-world invaders who are destroying that world. White people now spend all their time pandering and catering to third-world parasites. We even have an affirmative-action parasite currently defiling the White House. He was elected by the cowardly, spoiled brats of the current generation of Whites.

james wilson said...

The space program was a socialist enterprise, as is war, and it was in truth a product of the Cold War. It eventually assumed all the worst characteristics of socialism, and is best buried. We are confused by the fact that it worked for a time due to patriotism, and that it now has been buried by our enemies, but with the gorilla out of the room the way is clear now for commerce and entrepreneurs.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

nahalkides, scouting and claiming new territory through expeditions is the legitimate function of the nation state

james wilson, the way will be clear for commerce and entrepreneurs when an infrastructure is in place

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Elizabeth, so many do

John L Jordan, sadly our words alone won't turn the tide

LEL, indeed there was too much national greatness in it

David Foster said...

I just linked this in a post at Chicago Boyz

http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/37902.html

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