Home Best Of space The Eagle Has Landed
Home Best Of space The Eagle Has Landed

The Eagle Has Landed

Fifty years ago, a nation that we now know was racist, didn't care about the environment and drank too much soda, landed on the moon.

As the New York Times notes, its space program was less diverse than that of the USSR, which never did make it to the moon, but excelled at sending dogs to die in space.

Half-a-billion television viewers watched it happen live. They saw men walk on the surface of another world. They saw that human beings could break free of their world and take a first step into the rest of the universe.

And that was that.

Neil Armstrong died about the time that Obama finished gutting NASA. He lived long enough to write a saddened letter about the decline of American space exploration under Obama that everyone in the media did their best not to pay attention to. The letter was also signed by Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon.

Eugene Cernan is now 82.

No one who was born after 1935 has walked on the moon.

That period is swiftly becoming a historical relic. A thing that men did who lived long ago. A great work of other times like the building of dams and fleets, the winning of wars and the expansion of frontiers. Those are things that the men of back then did. Those are not things that we do anymore.

The youngest man to have walked on the moon, Harrison Schmitt, is 84. He was only 37 when he walked on the moon. Soon he will be one with the last of the Civil War soldiers and the last of the WW1 soldiers and then the last of the WW2 soldiers.

We like to believe that walking on the moon is still something we could do if we really wanted to. But like building all the big things, we just choose not to do it. We have more important things to worry about like social justice and figuring out the implications of the latest 1,000 page bill.

Forget exploring space. We explore the breadth of our own bureaucracy. We are the Schliemanns of Trojan horse government. We are the Neil Armstrongs of government landing on the paper moons of bills and acts by whose pale light we lead our pallid lives.

In those long lost days, we did great things. The bureaucrats took their cut and the contractors chiseled and the lobbyists lobbied and the whole great vulture pack of government swarmed and screeched and still somehow, with a billion monkeys on our back, we moved forward, because we still had great goals. Now our goal is government. There is no longer a moon. Only a paper moon.

The whole mess of bureaucrats, contractors, lobbyists, policy experts, consultants, congressmen, aides, crooks, creeps, thieves and agents is no longer a necessary evil that we put up with in order to accomplish great things. It is the great thing that we accomplish. There are no more moon landings, no more dams or tallest buildings in the world. The massive towering edifice of our own government is now our moon landing, our Hoover Dam, our Empire State Building.

Like so many decrepit civilizations before us, the massive rotting edifice of our government has become our great work. Keeping it going, keeping it from falling apart, wiping its bottom, finding the money to prevent its latest imminent failure, fighting over the last folder while the barbarians shout "Allah Akbar" and put all the paper to the torch because the Koran makes it redundant, that is what we do now.

We no more go a-roving so late into the night. Not when our own night has come. And it is late indeed.

It is not that we have no more Neil Armstrongs or Eugene Cernans or any of the other clean cut men who look back at us from those old photographs, cool and confident, knowing that they are the messengers that a civilization at its golden apex has picked to represent it at its peak moment. It is that we no longer want them.

A civilization calls forth its heroes through its conviction that they exist. And then, when they come forth, its convictions are affirmed.

That was always the secret truth of our greatness.

Like a tightrope walker crossing an impossible chasm or a man taking one small step, we believed in ourselves. We believed that there were heroes. And we understood the price that had to be paid.

We still believe in all sorts of things.

We believe that everyone's health care can be paid for without raising taxes.

We believe that the planet will end if we don't ban straws.

We believe that everything is racist.

But we don't know the cost of anything. And our heroes are the biggest whiners, the thinnest skinned tantrum throwers, and the con artists who make promises that they can't ever keep.

And don't know how.

The core element of the space program was competence. It's the same competence that allows us to still land jet planes every day, even if the rate of improvement in the technology slowed down long ago, or perform open heart surgery. But the number of professions in which competent counts has been decreasing over the years. And so has competence as a quality.

We have replaced confidence with attitude. And the difference between them is the same as the difference between a civilization and the savages outside. Confidence comes from competence. Attitude comes from rituals of pride uninformed by achievements.

Attitude is what actors, musicians and the endless swathe of reality television cretins project. And as a society, we value attitude more than competence because not everyone can have competence, but everyone can have attitude. Not everyone can walk on the moon, but everyone can work for the government.

We were going to go the moon and then to the planets beyond. We could find new frontiers, plant our flags, build colonies, jump from world to world, star to star, and turn our civilization into something more than another archeological dig. Maybe it was all just a crazy dream, but looking at the eyes of the men who did it and who died and die seeing it undone, there is that sense that they believed that it could be done.

Going to the moon was a crazy idea of course. Going beyond it would have been even crazier. Instead we settled down to the important things, like race relations, the importance of listening to music, breaking up the family, importing huge numbers of people with little use for our way of life and all the other stupid suicidal things that dying civilizations do to pass the time.

The eagle landed in a mud puddle in D.C. The last men who walked on the moon will probably be dead within a decade.

We'll tell our kids about it and they'll shake their heads because what's the big deal anyway? Everyone flies around in spaceships in all the movies. Why bother doing it in real life? They don't bother doing anything in real life. And then they'll go off to another class that will teach them how much carbon waste the space program added and how many super-hurricanes it caused and how much better off we are now that we no longer have cars, plastic bags or air conditioning.

We could have gone to the stars, but we took another road instead. Maybe we can still turn back to a time when we could do great things before it's too late.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. 

Thank you for reading.


  1. It's not what "we" believe; it's what an ever-shrinking coterie of ever more insane leftists, who shriek loudly and who have far too much control of the media, want to believe. I have hopes that they will collapse into irrelevance. Preferably during my lifetime. Just as the Klan did.

  2. The Conservative Curmudgeon22/7/19

    "Attitude is what actors, musicians and an endless swathe of REALITY TELEVISION CRETINS project. And as a society we value attitude more than competence because not everyone can have competence, but everyone can have an attitude."(capitals mine)....Daniel Greenfield in "The Eagle has Landed"

    ATTITUDE? What motivates Trump supporters is flipping the bird to the Democrats, identity politics and the ever diversifying world they see as a threat which is why morals, policy nor principles matter little to them. We have devolved in to nothing more than a demagogue with a mob behind him. Thus Trump's "Four Horsemen" of Fear, Hate, Divisiveness,and Racism make the recent North Carolina rally into a Klan rally in bib overalls. There is nothing "NORMAL" or "REAL AMERICAN" about that nor can it be white washed over. The North Carolina rally is where histories worst episodes begin.

    1. Anonymous23/7/19

      And in posting this,CC; you prove the point - which is, current society is all wrapped up in the mundane, the ridiculous... the distractions. There is very little time or thought spent on the pursuit of greatness; of adding the present generation's contributions atop that of previous generations, to further civilization and better ourselves and each other.
      Nope, all you got out of it was another take on "Orange Man bad".
      Shame on you. I pray that if you have grandchildren, they look elsewhere for their encouragement to excel. - Grandpa

  3. Anonymous22/7/19

    One of the astronauts, I believe it was Neal Armstrong, stated we would be sending men to Mars by 2000 shortly after he landed on the moon.

  4. Anonymous22/7/19

    Thorough math and science, diligent solution
    of engineering problems, skills and readiness
    to meet the unexpected. These are steps to
    the glory of space exploration. We need to
    adopt a serious commitment. Doesn’t matter
    if we feel like it on a given day.

    Deflating our purpose and motivation, Obama
    substituted issues of race, Islam, grievance,
    and other horrid divisions. He was evil and
    did us a disservice.

    Let us resume the pursuit of objective success
    with science, technology, free markets, free
    speech and competence. We’ll be too busy for
    any of that negative stuff.


  5. Good article. Note that we got to the Moon with very primitive computers, by today's standards.

    But what triggered me thinking was how a few geniuses make for the progress of civilization, and without them civilization slides downwards. I saw that in the SF Bay Area, it was Paradise when I was a kid, due to a few geniuses, including my grandfather (chief civil engineer in SF at the time). But since then the mass of mediocrities has brought the whole area down to a nightmare.

  6. Great article, Daniel! Telling us how it is now, in contrast to how it was more than a generation ago. Instead of another moon landing or an expedition to Mars, we must focus our attention on the spectacle of that political nonentity and fat mediocrity Jerry Nadler trying to coax the "truth" out of Robert Mueller. The contrast is almost too violent to grasp. Instead of aspiring to do great things, we have established as the limit of our achievement how to best boil eggs and apologize to those who achieve nothing but a vocal, nonstop litany of banality.

  7. Very perspicacious article Daniel.
    And very sad.

  8. If we don't return a human being to the moon before 2030 then the institutional knowledge & competence to get it done will be lost until a new civilization reacquires all the lost knowledge of the 1000s of micro-technical items of knowledge that makes space flight possible. It's like America is just waiting for Elon Musk to make a false step and fail in a minor way so they can shut him down. Why? B/c the left can't abide real achievement, they need government to expand and engulf the country, and thus expand their power beyond all reason. No wonder they hate Trump!

  9. Daniel, treat the fall of a civilization as a natural disaster after which there is always a renewal...

  10. Anonymous23/7/19

    Daniel, you don’t need me to elucidate your
    already clear meanings. Yet, a key point in
    your article has been misconstrued in the

    The valuable entities of competence and earned
    confidence are achieved by diligent focused
    work. Attitude is the empty result of self-
    aggrandizement and fantasy seen in Hollywood.


  11. Of all of the wisdom concentrated in this article, the most salient sentence is: "...and put all the paper to the torch because the Koran makes it redundant,..." Of all of the potential existential threats to the Republic, this one possesses the greatest potential to bring wide-scale violence to the homeland and create casualty counts far beyond Sherman's march. When threatened with extinction, hopes, dreams, and flights of fancy like conquering space become lost to far more immediate and mundane concerns. And yet, even here, presented with the facts in a most compelling way, a never-trumper manages to miss the entire point and blame the bad orange man and his trumpeteers on the impending collapse of the free world. Perhaps the battle has already been lost.

  12. Anonymous23/7/19

    I wish had your ease of prose to express it more eloquently, but I'll just say it simply: You're damn good. You are one of the best writers I have ever read.

  13. The Conservative Curmudgeon24/7/19

    Obviously from the lack of any intelligent response my synopsis of what motivates what is now known as the "Right" was spot on. There is however nothing "RIGHT" about it.

    A lot of people on the right are always where they need to be. If the Zeitgeist is being Trump supporter.....if that what it takes to be in rather than out that's where they will be. If it returns to Reaganism they'll be there also. Everybody likes the warmth of a tribe. But ideas have consequences even when they are half formed, knee jerk responses. Just as you constantly remind NeverTrumpers about binary choices during elections your choices aren't ala carte either. If you vote because of Trumps stand with Israel or that he isn't Hillary you are also voting for his racism and crude behavior. You then must attempt to justify every instance of this mindless jingoism by telling yourself if you don't agree with the President you don't love the country. Mob politics is the decline of reasoned discourse. We instead have petty advantage seekers and intellectually lazy partisan opportunism that masquerades as reality. They don't even bother making promises but deal in fear and anger and will leave your expectations as empty as the establishment did.

    Yes plf5403 the battle is lost when we make bad decisions in an attempt to rectify our problems.

  14. Hipster culture rules now. Notice how they have such disdain for success. Example: once a band makes it big and becomes successful (read competent) , and is no longer touring the small clubs, they call them sell outs. Suddenly that band is no longer cool. Every album or piece of music from before they were rich and famous is great, every album since they became famous sucks, according to them... Of course becoming rich, famous and successful was the band's goal, but don't tell the hipsters that. Something is only cool when it is unknown, and they are the only ones in on the secret. They scorn success because deep down, they are pretty much all losers, accomplishing nothing. All they can do is sit back and criticize the hard work of others. Which also describes a huge percentage of Academia. No more real research, just critique and meta analysis of other research.
    Culturally, scientifically, anyone who achieves success earns the scorn of leftists who are.... say it with me... incompetent. It is all poorly disguised envy.
    We must all be equal, no one may do better than anyone else.
    And there you have it.

  15. The Conservative Curmudgeon24/7/19

    B.T.W. What's with this "Orange man bad"?

    Could someone please explain to me why when ever you Trump supporters talk about how NeverTrumpers view the president it is always made to sound like an Indian from a bad Hollywood western? Never an answer to our comments about him only this incomprehensible response. I expect to hear "NeverTrumper speak with forked tongue" next.

  16. Anonymous24/7/19

    Dear Anon Grandpa,
    Well said to CC(Commie Curr-Mujahid).

    The great invention of written language lets
    an idea be bottled and drift the sea of time
    to inspire a future mind. The idea can evoke
    a “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” event.

    Or, as you lamented, malicious minds, with
    their zero-sum games, spew deadly memes and
    lower the signal to noise ratio. Sadly mines
    are planted at sea, land, and thought also.
    Shame on you, indeed, CC.


  17. I think you're getting sad in your old age. I know I am.

  18. Anonymous25/7/19

    CC sez, I love the pedo Bush family with their friends the Clinton Crime Family Foundation.

  19. CC: Informing everyone in the room that you're the smartest one there proves you lack, at a minimum, humility and you know what they say about the haughty. Or perhaps you don't since you lack the awareness and/or ability to conduct a basic web search. Here, this might help: https://lmgtfy.com/?q=orange+man+bad&s=d&t=w&iie=1 As for your assertion that your have god-like knowledge of what motivates (all?) Trump supporters, your crude caricatures prove otherwise. NeverTrumpers demand the morality of Ghandi, the statesmanship of Churchill, the wisdom of Solomon, and apparently the hair of Romney. As the bumper sticker so plainly states, Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president. Is he crude, artless, careless with his jibes, and occasionally crude, absolutely. I note you threw racist in the mix. Prove it. What has he ever said, or when has he ever acted in a racist manner, give me a link with audio or video, not MSNBC's interpretation of them. There will never be a perfect candidate, left or right, we all have feet of clay and a past, even Saint Romney. Do you believe Romney or any of the other GOP-approved candidates would have had a 10th of the success the Donald has had across the spectrum of influence he possesses? Could any of them have even beaten Hillary? I believe you and the others in your camp are suffering from "the perfect is enemy of the good" disease. Look it up. Step away from the myopic world-view you are currently in and imagine a world where a man can be a vulgarian, yet still accomplish tasks which promote the greater good for all of us. Just as my lack of enthusiasm for how you fornicate does NOT mean I hate you, my support for my president does not mean I condone his every action and utterance. It is you, my friend, who is placing us in that binary view, not us. Oh and one last thing, about that diversity you seem so in love with, think on this: http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=16307

  20. Addressing anyone as a "Trump supporter" is a non starter. It is not Trump. I think this would support the conversation better if you referred to those on his side of things as you Perot, not Bush, Not Clinton, pro Ron Paul, not Obama....It is not Trump. Rumsfeld stated in Congress that the war in Iraq would last a few months and at most, in the worst case, cost $80 billion, likely half that...Obama said my insurance, which now has doubled, would drop $2500, and insulin has increased nearly 1000%.....so stop with your "Trump Supporters". The scum, which lies and is never accounted, has been running the show a long time. It is nice to see someone actually punch back. Orange, hell he could be crimson and black, I just enjoy seeing him land a punch or two on these horrible humans which some people, who knows why, revere......

  21. The Conservative Curmudgeon29/7/19

    @ realitybiter:

    You're offended by being called a "Trump supporter"? You inflicted this cretin upon us yet you don't want any of the responsibility. As I said above and you confirmed in your response. What solely motivates Trump supporters is spite and flipping the bird to the Democrats, identity politics and the ever diversifying world they see as a threat.

    I totally agree with you about the scum who ran the show but a politician can side with the angels or unleash the beast. Pinning your hopes on someone who has no plan on how to reform the party just a suicide note is asinine. There is no coherent movement to Trumpism beside the man and his persona.

  22. CC sez, I love the pedo Bush family with their friends the Clinton Crime Family Foundation.



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