muslims…in space!

This news story is getting a lot of play in the right wing islamophobic blogosphere (or perhaps more accurately, the faux news story about the al jazeera story):

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA’s orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering,” Bolden said in the interview.

While I haven’t had the change to listen to the original al Jazeera broadcast, one thing I’ve noticed in the mocking of this interview is that they seem to think it’s ludicrous that the muslim world would have anything to offer the west.

And there’s absolutely 0 mention of the muslim who played an important roll in NASA’s early days, Farouk El-Baz:

From 1967 to 1972, El-Baz participated in the Apollo Program as Supervisor of Lunar Science Planning at Bellcomm Inc., a division of AT&T that conducted systems analysis for NASA. During these six years, he was secretary of the Landing Site Selection Committee for the Apollo lunar landing missions, Principal Investigator of Visual Observations and Photography, and chairman of the Astronaut Training Group. His outstanding teaching abilities were confirmed by the Apollo astronauts. While orbiting the Moon for the first time during Apollo 15, Command Module Pilot Alfred Worden said, “After the King’s [Farouk’s nickname] training, I feel like I’ve been here before.”[3]

Also during the Apollo program, El-Baz joined NASA officials in briefing members of the press on the results of the lunar missions. His ability to simplify scientific jargon made his remarks on the program’s scientific accomplishments often quoted by the media.

Now, to give credit where credit is due, I wouldn’t be aware of him if it weren’t for AbuS’ obsessive ranting about the poor state of the Egyptian science community (probably influenced in part by similar statements by El-Baz) I wouldn’t have been aware of El-Baz’ achievements.

Despite the mockery, Obama’s directive to Bolden makes sense.  The muslim world represents a vast, undiscovered, underutilized source of intelligence and innovation that is just waiting to be tapped.  If a single Egyptian can find his way into the history books, imagine what we (the ummah) could accomplish if we actually put our minds and resources to it?  How many other potential El-Bazes are out there, who haven’t been given the opportunity to succeed?

(muslims with vast amounts of oil wealth that is currently being wasted on bling bling, are you listening?)


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