HomeScienceHow Naming the James Webb Telescope Turned Into a Fight Over Homophobia

How Naming the James Webb Telescope Turned Into a Fight Over Homophobia

This dispute has, in a completely modern style, grown harshly private. Whereas not at all times naming him, opponents in tweets and texts have assailed Dr. Oluseyi, mentioning unsubstantiated accusations of misconduct from his time as a professor at Florida Institute of Know-how.

Dr. Oluseyi, 55, rose from abject poverty to acquire a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, the primary in his household to graduate from highschool. Many college students at Florida Tech described him as an inspiring instructor, with a booming voice and an outsize character.

However the previous few years have provided a tough experience. He emphatically denied that he behaved badly as a professor and repeatedly urged a reporter to ask any query about his previous.

“The revolutionaries,” Dr. Oluseyi stated in an interview, “have grow to be the prosecutors.”

Mr. Webb, who died in 1992, reduce a sophisticated determine. He labored with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to combine NASA, bringing in Black engineers and scientists. In 1964, after George Wallace, the white segregationist governor of Alabama, tried to dam such recruitment, Mr. Webb threatened to tug prime scientists and executives out of NASA’s Marshall House Flight Middle in Huntsville.

Fifteen years earlier, nevertheless, Mr. Webb encountered totally different pressures as an below secretary on the State Division in the course of the Truman administration. The political proper, led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, sought to dismantle the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In attacking the State Division, they tried to ferret out staff they claimed had been Communists and what they referred to as “perverts” — homosexual Individuals, in what grew to become often known as the lavender scare.

“The lavender scare, just like the crimson scare itself, was an assault on the New Deal,” famous David Ok. Johnson, a historical past professor on the College of South Florida and creator of “The Lavender Scare: The Chilly Conflict Persecution of Gays and Lesbians within the Federal Authorities.”

“Then,” he added, “it became an ethical panic.”

These had been bleak occasions. In twenty years, between 5,000 and 10,000 homosexual staff had been pushed out of presidency, careers and lives wrecked.



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