Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Affirmative Action Astronaut

The pusillanimous Jack Kennedy was for Affirmative Action when Affirmative Action wasn't cool. Like a lot of people my age, I think of LBJ as the worst President ever, and I don't think even Obama will manage to surpass him, try as he might. Of course, as the Quibcag suggests, LBJ had it easy. Seldom has a President had such an opportunity for evil. He had Congress by the short hairs, partly because of his own arm-twisting skills, and partly because of the momentum of sentimentality created by Kennedy's assassination. It's almost as though JFK was a martyr to evil, enabling Johnson to act as all twelve disciples and push through almost every horrible idea the Kennedy Administration could come up with, from the Civil Rights Bill to the Vietnam war to massive Third-World immigration. All of the self-destructive stuff that has some up since the Johnson Administration has been based, more or less, on LBJ's untiring sprint towards decadence, and Johnson, from his perch in Hell, is probably kicking himself that he didn't think of gay marriage, wars in the Middle East, and mass amnesty for illegal aliens.

But one of Kennedy's screwier ideas actually was dropped by Johnson.  Whether deliberately or accidentally, I have no idea.  First a cute video, and then the reality, from SPBDL:

THIS is a joke:


This is not a joke:

The Wrong Stuff -- The Ed Dwight Story: John F. Kennedy's Crusade to Find and Promote a "Negro Astronaut"...

Had John F. Kennedy not been assassinated, one of the first men to walk on the moon might have been a negro astronaut deliberately picked by his administration to be part of the astronaut training programing because he was a black man.

His name was Ed Dwight.
Had John F. Kennedy not been assassinated, his magical negro astronaut candidate, Capt. Ed Dwight, would have been the first man on the moon.

Sure, he had logged flight time and had an aeronautical engineering degree, but Capt. Ed Dwight's primary skill-set was being one of the few qualified black men the Kennedy Administration could quickly promote into NASA astronaut candidate program.

His name was Ed Dwight.

His black skin qualified him for immediate promotion into the merit-based astronaut-training program that had been exclusively the hunting of white men who had earned their way there.

J. Alfred Phelps book They Had a Dream: The Story of African American Astronauts, includes a look at just how aggressive the Kennedy Administration was in promoting a negro astronaut:

It all began with a telephone call from the White House to the Department of Defense. There was no arrogance in the callers voice; only a simple question:
"Does the Air Force have any Negroes in the new aerospace research pilots' course being set up at Edwards Air Force Baser in California?"
After what was probably an extended pause came the answer: "No, there aren't any."
 
It was an ordinary enough question, but the call came from an extraordinary source 
Had it come from an ordinary White House, the reaction might have been mild, nothing more than grist for a workday tale some government employee could tell at a weekend gathering. But this call came from theKennedy White House, that place called "Camelot," which had seen the beginning of civil rights"sit-ins" and had sent troops to get a black man into a university in the Deep South. it was a White House that had used its influence to gain Martin Luther King's release from jail. perhaps the recipient of the call knew all of this and felt a bit like a person in a closed garage slowly filling with carbon monoxide. In any event, the reaction was predictable: something had better be done- and rather quickly. The innocuous-sounding call thus became something of an edict.  
The air force swiftly launched a search for a black pilot with the right amount of flying time, the "right academic background, and one would could meet all the other stringent requirements." Fortunately, air force personnel officers didn't have to look too far, for it was about that time that Capt. Ed Dwight's application reached them. (p. 6)

When you go looking for something, you can usually find it: even if it means passing over more qualified opportunities or individuals.

(Read the rest HERE, and do read the comments. Some good stuff there.)
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Quibcag: Hinagiku Katsura (桂 ヒナギク Katsura Hinagiku) from Hayate the Combat Butler (ハヤテのごとく!, Hayate no Gotoku!), stands in for Alice in Wonderland.

2 comments:

  1. I don't if I posted this to you before or not, but here goes:

    http://mackwhite.com/lbj.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9Do3dz9TR0

    ReplyDelete