I have two things to say about this brouhaha over Charles Bolden saying he was told to help Muslims feel good about their culture’s historic contributions to science, and the White House denial of such a brief.
First, the silly thing: I have trouble picturing the no-nonsense Marine on a self-esteem-building mission. When I try, my imagination comes up with something really goofy, like:
Hey, guys and how about the concept of zero? That’s a biggie! I don’t know what we’d do without it! Why, back in the Middle Ages, sports fans all over poor, benighted Europe didn’t know how to keep up with what was happening on the field when their team hadn’t scored (which is a big disadvantage when you’re soccer-crazy — you could spend the whole game in the dark!). They had to make up lame alternative words, like “zip” and “nil.” The guys who kept the medieval scoreboards would just be standing up there scratching their heads wondering what to put up until somebody finally scored… Boy, I’m glad I wasn’t trying to follow sports back then…
And that just doesn’t sound like Gen. Bolden.
Now, to my serious point: If Charles Bolden says that the White House told him it wanted him to make the Muslim world feel warm and fuzzy about itself, that’s what happened.
Charles Bolden is one heckuvan impressive guy, and a squared-away Marine. If he says those are his orders, those are his orders, and don’t get between him and his mission.
Anyone at the White House who says otherwise either isn’t in the loop, or is lying.
And that’s the name of that tune.