Opinion | NASA Refused to Cancel James Webb. Good.

February 17, 2023 ☼ james-webnasa

Source: POLITICO (Link)

In March 2021, NASA assigned its chief historian to investigate the claim that Webb was responsible for the firing of gay employees. In an 89-page report released late last year, for which he surveyed some 50,000 documents spanning a 20-year period, the historian found no evidence to substantiate this allegation. On the contrary, at least during his tenure at State, Webb could actually be credited with reducing the damage wreaked by the Lavender Scare. The crusade to cleanse the federal government of “sexual deviants” was led by Senator Joe McCarthy, who blamed “communists and queers” at the State Department for a series of early Cold War setbacks. According to the report, as under secretary of state, Webb’s “main involvement” in this episode “was in attempting to limit Congressional access to the personnel records of the Department of State” by claiming executive branch privilege over personnel matters. As for his time at NASA, though Webb presided over the agency when a budget analyst fired on account of his homosexuality, Clifford Norton, sued the Civil Service Commission, according to the NASA historian, “No evidence has been located showing Webb knew of Norton’s firing at the time.” Citing this study, the Royal Astronomical Society announced last month that it would no longer require authors to use the abbreviation “JWST.”