John has already noted the controversy of the choice that the makers of the new film “First Man” to omit the scene of Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon, with (Canadian) star Ryan Gosling making the preposterous claim that the late Armstrong—a former military test pilot and Korean War veteran—was some kind of general cosmopolite representative for all of humanity. They might have gone with a safe route and just said that the film, like all films these days, is aimed for a global market and as such is better marketed without specifically American patriotic scenes, though that’s still pretty weak.
Now the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, has weighed in, saying Gosling’s claim is an offensive travesty. I wouldn’t want to mess with Aldrin, even if he is 88. A few years back, he smacked a person hassling him that the moon landing was faked. The police, sensibly, didn’t not charge Aldrin with anything.
But it is important to understand that the disdain liberal Hollywood has for America and American symbols is hardly new. The first moon landing 49 years ago was the occasion for liberals to complain about it. From chapter 7 of my first Age of Reagan:
The reaction to the moon landing in 1969 is a good example of national exhaustion and liberal guilt at work. The moon landing had been set out as a lofty goal by the liberals’ hero, John F. Kennedy, and the moon landing was an occasion of national pride and celebration for most Americans. Here, amidst the rubble and gloom of the 1960s, was something that had gone splendidly right. Many leading liberals, however, could only sniff that while the moon landing was undeniably impressive, the money for the moon landing would have been better spent on social problems on Earth. The popular cliché of the time went: “Any nation that can land a man on the moon can [fill in the blank].” (The total cost of the decade-long moon landing project was less than three months’ worth of federal spending for social programs in 1969.) A 25 person delegation from the Poor People’s Campaign, led by Rev. Ralph Abernathy (Martin Luther King’s successor), came to the Apollo 11 launch at Cape Canaveral “to protest America’s inability to choose human priorities,” while Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield said that “The needs of the people on earth, and especially in this country, should have priority. When we solve these problems, we can consider space efforts.” Even the brother of the man who issued the call to go to the moon, Sen. Ted Kennedy, expressed weariness with the space program: “I think after [the moon landing] the space program ought to fit into our other national priorities.”
I’ll just add that my favorite variation of the liberal cliche that “Any country that can land a man on the moon” came from my old mentor M. Stanton Evans: “Any country that can land a man on the moon can abolish the income tax.”