NASA has launched a new mission to boldly go where it has never gone before: the outer reaches of wokeness.
The U.S. space agency on Thursday announced its new 'Mission Equity' initiative in a gushing promo video timed to coincide with a new push under President Joe Biden's executive order.
'At NASA, we're on a mission of equity, launching opportunity... To use science, data and technology to advance equity. To shatter boundaries, and breakdown barriers across America,' voiceovers in the video intone.
The video drew immediate mockery from critics, including retired Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, the Space Force commander for who was fired for warning of the spread of 'Critical Race Theory rooted in Marxism' throughout military.
'NASA has historically been -- I think -- a symbol of inclusion and equal opportunity,' Lohmeier said in an interview with Fox News.
'Our national leaders need to think very carefully about whether or not they want to inject tribalism into our long-trusted institutions in this country that typically have not been affected with tribal thinking, with all that entails,' he added.
NASA on Tuesday announced its new 'Mission Equity' initiative in a gushing promo video timed to coincide with a new push under President Joe Biden's executive order
Retired Space Force Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier (right) slammed the move, warning that 'equity' is not the same as 'equality' and calling it a dangerous goal
Lohmeier pointed out that the word 'equity' as it is now fashionably used has subtle but key distinctions from 'equality,' the former goal of treating all fairly regardless of background.
'It's a new term, it's used wittingly, which essentially means enforced outcomes or enforced inequality,' Lohmeier said. 'Equity is not good as it is defined, but it sounds good, that's why we use the word.'
The NASA video, which follows similar ads from the U.S. Army and CIA that drew scorn from conservatives, was released to mark a new push at the space agency pursuant to one of Biden's early executive orders.
NASA describes 'Mission Equity' as 'a comprehensive effort to assess expansion and modification of agency programs, procurements, grants, and policies, and examine what potential barriers and challenges exist for communities that are historically underrepresented and underserved.'
NASA describes 'Mission Equity' as 'a comprehensive effort to assess expansion and modification of agency programs, procurements, grants, and policies, and examine what potential barriers and challenges exist for communities that are historically underrepresented and underserved'
The new 'mission' drew praise from some quarters, and criticism in others
'NASA is a 21st century agency with 22nd century goals. To be successful, it's critical that NASA takes a comprehensive approach to address the challenges to equity we see today,' said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement.
'The agency's new Mission Equity is a bold and necessary challenge for NASA to ensure our programs are accessible to all Americans and, especially, those living in historically underserved communities across the country,' he added.
'Because when NASA opens doors to talent previously left untapped, the universe is the limit,' said Nelson.
The new 'mission' drew praise from some quarters, and criticism in others.
Susan Rice, the former Obama administration national security advisor, tweeted that NASA's push marked 'one of its most impactful missions yet.'
Rice cheered the mission as a chance to 'use NASA data to benefit underserved communities and make *space* in science and technology for everyone.'
Others disagreed, with one person tweeting: 'Equity is not equality. Be careful with that word. Equity is the goal of communist societies. NASA is a disgrace.'
'Critical space theory,' joked another Twitter users.
'To be successful, it's critical that NASA takes a comprehensive approach to address the challenges to equity we see today,' said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement
Lohmeier expressed fears that the new equity mission was part of a creeping trend of prioritizing race over all other factors, and assigning virtue or blame to people based on their racial background.
'We are starting once again to judge people by the color of their skin. Impugning guilt to other groups of people based on their group identity, not because of anything they've ever done necessarily themselves, but based on who they are accidentally, even,' said Lohmeier.
'That's a good definition of racism. We don't impugn guilt to people based on the color of their skin,' he added.
The new controversy is the latest in a string of that have drawn complaints from conservatives lawmakers that the Pentagon and other federal departments have become too focused on 'woke' culture war issues.
On Tuesday, a top Navy admiral faced tough grilling from Republican lawmakers on his inclusion of the controversial book How To Be An Antiracist on a recommended reading list for sailors, in the latest clash over 'wokeness' in the military.
Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval operations, stood his ground at the House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, defending the book's inclusion on the list.
Gilday added the 2019 book by Ibram X. Kendi, which is popular with proponents of critical race theory, to the Navy's optional reading checklist in February, listing it as a 'foundational' work for sailors.
Kendi's book proposes that any system that produces different average outcomes for people of different skin colors is racist and should be destroyed, and argues that discrimination that 'creates equity' is antiracist and should be lauded.
Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval operations, stood his ground under harsh questioning at Tuesday's House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill
Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, also lashed out at Gilday, contrasting his reading list choice with the Navy's recent vow to root out any 'extremism' in the ranks.
'Do you consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief?' Banks asked, referring to Kendi's September 2020 tweet suggesting Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a 'white colonizer' for adopting two Haitian children.
Gilday's mic was off, making his response unclear, but Banks pressed on.
'Do you personally consider advocating for the destruction of American capitalism to be extremist?' Banks asked, referring to Kendi's assertion that capitalism and racism are 'conjoined twins' that must be eliminated together to root out racism.
Gilday fired back: 'I'm not forcing anybody to read the book, it's on a recommended reading list.'
Pressed by Banks on whether he supported Kendi's controversial views, Gilday went on: 'I'd have to consider the context of the statement he made, I'm not going to sit here and defend cherry-picked quotes from somebody's book.'
'This is a bigger issue than Kendi's book, what this is really about is trying to to paint the United States military, and the United States Navy as weak, as woke,' Gilday said.
'We are not weak, we are strong,' he added. 'Our strength is in our diversity.'