I remember the moon landing very well. I was nine years old. I can remember too my sense of outrage and disillusion. ‘This is a blatant violation of the moon’s dignity and sovereignty,’ I told my parents, as the astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong attempted to secure the US flag to the lunar surface. ‘An act of imperialistic, Zionist barbarism and a statement of intent from the American government that it intends to export its white supremacy throughout the known galaxy. You will note that no people of colour were chosen as astronauts, nor women, nor people with fibromyalgia.’
A day or two later, when I had been let out of my bedroom, I informed them that the whole thing had not actually taken place, but was a sham filmed on a Hollywood lot for the benefit of Nasa, the industrial–military complex and Mossad. ‘Did you see the angles of the shadows cast by the astronauts? Klieg lights, you credulous fools.’ So young, and yet so woke.
Hollywood has just made another film about that moon landing and it seems to have been scripted by someone with a very similar mindset to the one I had then. It could not be otherwise, I suppose, these days. First Man purports to be a biopic of the aforementioned Armstrong, but omits entirely the second most important thing he ever did. There is footage of him landing on the moon, with Aldrin, but the film makers quite deliberately omitted to show the flag being planted on the dusty surface. This was because, according to one of the cretinous stars of the film, Ryan Gosling, the moon landings were not about American triumphalism, but something that was good for the whole of humanity. And so they excised the bit about the flag, including showing the astronauts saluting the flag, because it did not fit in with their political agenda and, being liberals, they think that what actually happened, i.e. history, isn’t important and if it offends them it can be rewritten or simply expunged.
Aside from anything else, this is cheating the moviegoers. My guess is that people who want to watch something about one of the US’s greatest triumphs probably possess a scintilla or two of patriotism. They may be the kind of people who would have enjoyed the film made of Tom Wolfe’s fabulous book The Right Stuff, which covered similar territory (and with a rather better cast, not least Ed Harris and Sam Shepard). Gosling and co clearly want the large audience which would be attracted by such a project, but wish to gloss over the inconvenient politics of the time and the political feelings of the audience.
In truth, the moonshot was quintessentially about American triumphalism and almost nothing else — the good of humanity was not a consideration, except insofar as more successful rocket technology at last put the US ahead of the Soviet Union, behind which repulsive country it had lagged alarmingly, well into the 1960s. It was two fingers to the Russkies and a reminder to the rest of the world that the US was the greatest country on earth. In short, as President Kennedy knew, it was the only thing which could trump Sputnik, Laika and Yuri Gagarin. It won the space race.
And forgive me, because now I’ve just used that word: Trump. That’s also somewhere in the mix, somewhere lurking in the muddled, murky potage these asinine liberals call a world view. It’s bad enough to be patriotic at the best of times, but to do so when that fascist is waving the Stars and Stripes around would be unconscionable. Meanwhile, the actual benefit to ‘humankind’ as a consequence of the moon landings was ephemeral, fleeting and slight. Nonstick frying pans, anyone?
We are in the Tyranny of Now. A time when the liberals in Hollywood or on our university campuses will rewrite or eradicate history according to their own manifestos, and where everything that happened in the past is subject to a Manichaean divide. In a film about slavery, the black people will be uniquely good, the whites uniquely bad, conveniently avoiding the issue that black Africans instigated the slave trade and continued it long after we’d been pricked by our honky consciences. Attempt to suggest that not everything that came from colonialism was uniformly bad, as one Oxford professor did recently, and you will be subjected to a moronic inferno of howled abuse — even though, palpably, nothing is quite so black and white as the liberals see it.
The Tyranny of Now, with its weird non-sequiturs: it is perfectly OK for a man to identify as a woman, but once his breasts have been stapled on don’t — for God’s sake — allow him to wear a kimono, because that would be cultural appropriation. It is cultural appropriation for supermarkets to sell curries, but not cultural appropriation for your local Chinese restaurant to offer pie and chips. Perhaps we in the West should cavil if the rest of the world embraces democracy, sanitation, an independent judicial system, tolerance, gender equality, decent table manners and an appreciation of fine literature, art and music — cultural appropriation! Fortunately, or otherwise, most of the rest of the world seems to have resisted these temptations so far.
More of these non-sequiturs, drawn from the Tyranny of Now. It is fine — no, more than fine, absolutely marvellous — for the new version of the BBC’s Daily Politics to kick off with six women on the panel and not a solitary man. The reverse would be unthinkable, wouldn’t it? Why is one form of gender imbalance worse than another? Why do we not worry about the scarcity of male speech therapists, but agonise over the lack of women heart surgeons?
Buzz Aldrin responded to the film I mention above by tweeting a photograph of himself saluting the American flag on the moon. ‘Proud to be an American,’ he said. Oh, you dinosaur. Die quickly, be gone.
This article was originally published in The Spectator magazine.