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Cause it’s next

Mark Steyn writes that he expects that Americans will get through today’s tragedy, because they are tough (via LGF):

Nonetheless, this will not be as traumatisingly mesmeric as the Challenger disaster. The yellow-ribbon era died with September 11: even if their television networks haven’t quite adjusted, Americans are tougher about these things; this is a country at war and one that understands how to absorb losses and setbacks.

[ . . . ]

No doubt in the big-time mosques the A-list imams really will regard what happened as the judgment of Allah on the American-Zionist plan to seize the heavens. The rest of us will mourn the dead and urge Nasa to get on with the next flight. That’s the American way.

In a way, Steyn is right. This isn’t the end of the world, and people will mourn and move on. Israel’s space program will forge ahead. As it should, as Gerald M. Steinberg writes in the Jerusalem Post:

The exploration of space, despite the risks and tragedies, embodies the positive spirit of discovery that is essential to the human species. And when these flights resume, other Israelis will be on board, carrying on the work that Ilan Ramon began. May his memory be blessed.

As for the Americans, these thoughts were resolutely stated by President Bush in his address to the nation today:

“Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery. . . . Our journey into space will go on.”

I’m reminded of a line from one of my favourite TV shows, The West Wing, by character Sam Seaborn (played by Rob Lowe. In the episode “Galileo”, he is asked by Mallory why it’s so important to try to go to Mars. He answers:

Cause it’s next. ‘Cause we came out of the cave. And we looked over the hill, and we saw fire. And we crossed the ocean, and we pioneered the West, and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration, and this is what’s next.

Damn straight.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Colin Carroll 02.11.03, 1:19 AM

    There are many eloquent proponents for the need to continue man’s exploration of space, and you point out Sam Seaborn’s in the West Wing.

    Remember the speech that Sam rewrites for the President in that episode, for his delivery to the school children? I think that is an even more eloquent rationale for our search. I would like to see a transcript, just of that opening to the President’s remarks in that episode. Any ideas where I can find it?



  • segacs 02.11.03, 3:36 PM

    Colin – the entire transcript for the episode is available at http://communicationsoffice.tripod.com/2-09.txt and I believe the speech you’re referring to was given by CJ and it goes:

    We have, at our disposal, a captive audience of schoolchildren. Some of them don’t go to the
    black board and raise their hand ‘cause they think they’re gonna be wrong. I think you should
    say to these kids you think you get it wrong sometimes, you should come down here and see how
    the big boys do it. I think you should tell them you haven’t given up hope, and that it may
    turn up, but in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in the room, and you want
    them to start building Galileo VI. Some of them will laugh, and most of them won’t care, but
    for some, they might honestly see that it’s about going to the blackboard and raising your hand.
    [beat] And that’s the broader theme.

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