back in october, we looked at him The supposed controversy over the name of the new James Webb Space Telescope. LGBT groups had been calling for a name change due to the anti-gay policies at NASA during the time Webb ran the agency. NASA looked into the claims and found nothing directly related to Webb himself, so they refused to change the name. This frustrated a self-described curious astronomer that she resigned from her position. This seemed to be the end of the controversy, but it wasn’t. (It seems fine to say “queer” now. I honestly can’t keep up with all the forbidden and permitted talk these days.) The protests have continued to this day, and now supposed “new information” has been published referring to allegations made by activists, which indicate suggests that Webb was actually involved in the persecution of gay and lesbian workers at NASA. So the activists are Renew their calls To change the name even though the telescope is already at the station and doing its job.
Since early last year, four researchers have led NASA’s mission to change the name of the main $10 billion mission, launched in December 2021, that will provide unparalleled views of the universe. The emails show that behind the scenes, NASA was well aware of Webb’s problematic legacy even as the agency’s leadership refused to withdraw his name from the project.
“Reading through the exchanges, it appears that the LGBTQ+ scientists and the concerns we raised aren’t really what they care about,” says Yao-Yuan Mao of Rutgers University, who maintains an online external astronomy and astrophysics list of LGBTQ+ researchers.
“It’s almost fun how incompetent everything is,” says Scott Gaudy, an astronomer at Ohio State University, and how little they stop to think about how important this issue is to the queer astronomical community and how important NASA is to young gay kids trying to find ambitious reasons to continue “.
The “new information” on which all of this is based was Posted in Nature Last month. They filed a Freedom of Information Act request for NASA emails from the period they were investigating the allegations. Virtually none of them reveal any new information indicating that Webb was personally involved in the “tulip scare”, as it is called. (A period when the government regularly dismissed people if they thought they were homosexuals.)
The only new item potentially of interest was Webb’s recording of a meeting with President Harry Truman in June of 1950 where there was allegedly a discussion about how the agencies could work together on the LGBT investigation. (That was before Webb took over at NASA and was a deputy at the State Department.) There is no further suggestion as to whether or not Webb was involved in any of these investigations.
The defendants again raised the case of an astronomer who was fired from NASA in the 1960s (when Webb was in charge) for “immoral, indecent and disgraceful conduct”, because he was allegedly gay. He later appealed his case and some court records exist to support that the shooting did indeed take place. But they only recount a conversation that the astronomer had with an unnamed person in the personnel office. Again, there is no indication that the NASA administrator knew this was happening, much less was directly involved in it.
There was definitely anti-gay prejudice in government in the 1950s and 1960s, just as there was a lot of the private sector. But in 2022, you obviously just had to be in some position of power during that time period to be labeled a gay and lesbian persecutor or some kind of demon. If they really want to drop the gavel on someone who appears to be directly involved, why not go after Truman? God only knows how many things still bear his name. Then again, I probably shouldn’t be feeding them any ideas.