All posts by zaidnabulsi

The connection between education and the Space Race

My topic for the RBA is to analyze whether the Space Race resulted in meaningful and effective educational reform. In my analysis, I plan to examine multiple primary and secondary sources  in order to show how educational reform was short lived and did not live up to expectations.

First, I will explore the different pieces of legislation passed, and the effect that this legislation had. Next, will analyze both long term and short term trends and factors that help determine how the educational sector in the United States was influenced by the Space Race.

Here is my visual brainstorm:

The Dark Side of the Moon

I plan to research the legacy of the space race and how the space race has affected society with regards to education and innovation, both in the short term, and in the long term. This is applicable in today’s world because, even four decades after the climax of the space race, we face the consequences of the proxy war everyday.

There are numerous different perspectives on this matter. Some of the sources I have come across have described how education has been enriched dramatically de to the space race, and the effects of the enrichment are still felt today. On the same note, some scholars affirm that the space race fueled innovation and fundamentally revolutionized popular culture to the extent that they are all evident in today’s society. These scholars take on an optimistic stance on the legacy of the Cold War and believe that the the effects are still evident today. On the other hand, there are just as many scholars who take a negative stance on the legacy of the Cold War. For instance, many claim that following the moon landing and the Soviet Union’s collapse, space exploration’s popularity spiraled downwards. All of a sudden, the space became demystified, and with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States had no motivation to continue exploring space. As time moves forward, we must face the reality that the space industry is getting more and more privatized. However, the freedom that comes with privatization also comes with a price as the political subsidy culture of the past is on its deathbed. Many scholars assert that this makes failure more plausible, and even likely.   As can be seen, a large number of scholars hold a wide array of opinions regarding the lasting legacy of the space race.

In my RBA, I hope to demonstrate that while the space race did bring about innovative methods of exploring space, the space race itself did not live up to its potential and did not have a lasting legacy.

A Fictitous yet Genuine Critique of Reality

Throughout his article, Sarantakes analyzes and discusses the numerous allegories used in Star Trek. These allegories are used in Star Trek to relate to the international and domestic policies of the United States, and to critique them. One example of these allegories in the world of Star Trek discussed by Sarantakes is of the conflict between the Federation and the Klingons. The Federation was on the brink of war with the Klingons. Attack finally breaks out and Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock of the Federation are taken prisoners by the Klingons. The Organians are eventually able to free them, and they use their mental and psychic powers to end it all. This episode was used, in a sense, “to establish the basis for a Cold War-like confrontation: Disputes remain, but the two interstellar powers would challenge one another only through indirect means”(Sarantakes 81). Sarantakes explains that the allegory in Star Trek was used to symbolize the Cold War conflict, and to poke fun at the fact that while there were substantial disagreements between the United States and the Soviet Union, the confrontations remained indirect. The allegory is significant because it illustrates a central critique of American foreign policy.

In my opinion, both science fiction and fantasy writing serve as perfect settings to display controversial and provoking political/cultural views. This is because with fantasy and science fiction works, the criticisms of deeply seated ideologies come across as indirect. In other words, with both science fiction and fantasy, the context of the work is far away from reality. Thus, any interpretation is subjective: there is no single, definite extrapolation of the work. Outside of Star Trek, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five also self-consciously provides a cultural critique of war and American capitalism in general. The novel, published in 1969, serves to portray to the general public the paradoxical makeup of American capitalism, and how, more specifically, the history of America is a tale of greedy and inhumane actions. This novel is under the genre of science fiction, and thus is able to provide a comprehensive critique of American capitalism, power, and racism without direct ramifications. In short, science fiction and fantasy works provide quintessential outlets for critiques of controversial topics, such as political and cultural ideologies.

The (Second) Great Migration to the Suburbs

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki proved to be quintessential events that would haunt the American public for decades to come. In Matthew Farish’s “Disaster and Decentralization: American Cities and the Cold War,” Farish discusses how the bombing would create an apprehensive atmosphere throughout the world, but especially among the American people. In a thematic moment, Farish describes, “Suburbs embodied order, safety, and a deeply gendered consumerism that ‘became as solid a pillar of the United States version of cold war culture as did its remasculinized military.’” A fundamental topic that Farish addresses is the fact that Americans living in the cities were very uneasy and anxious following the nuclear attacks on Japan. Thus, many fled to the suburbs, which were seen as a bastion of safety.

The quote is climactic in the sense that it illustrates how, during the years of the Cold War and following, suburbia became a critical aspect that established itself in the roots of United States culture. Not only were the suburbs seen as a bastion of safety, but also they became a symbol of what it means to be American. This is a major point that Farish manifests throughout his paper.

Furthermore, Farish moves forward to discuss how the images of the bombings of Hiroshima gave rise to an uneasy, apprehensive sentiment regarding urban disaster throughout the Cold War period. The American public, after seeing these compelling images, became anxious, and, led by fear, fled America’s major cities to the safety and comfort of the suburbs. In the same fashion, images of the demolition of the Twin Towers during the September 11, 2001 attacks provoked the same sentiments among the American public. The images of the towers falling, which were widely publicized throughout the news and media, revived the fear of attack by a foreign enemy in an urban area. The imaginations of the American public went wild, many predicting nuclear attacks on major cities. Thus, this led to many Americans to flee to the suburbs, where there wa a sense of comfort and safety. In short, the prevalent imagery of the 9/11 attacks provoked fear and uncertainty among the American public, ultimately resulting in a predilection for the suburbs.

The Benefits and Downfalls of Two, Distinct Dichotomies

In the Lugo reading, I found the author’s central point about dichotomies very intriguing, and problematic. One quote that I feel represents this very well is: “… such ‘perceived differences’ themselves have been manufactured in the aftermath of 9/11 such that the very categories of ‘American’ and ‘un-American’ have been (re)instituted and maintained as separate and distinct.” This quote epitomizes the Lugo’s point about how, following the tragedies of 9/11, the nation and the leaders alike engineered two, mutually exclusive dichotomies of what it means to be American versus un-American.
This certainly made it easier for the leaders to target enemies and find scapegoats within the country, thus uniting the country behind a national cause. Patriotism did, therefore, increase. However, I found this to be problematic to American society as it polarized the nation domestically into two distinct groups. Homosexuals, for instance, were targeted and blamed. This would create domestic tension in an already devastated nation. In the end, I feel that the fact that the “perceived differences” were manufactured into American and un-American serves both to unite the nation behind a cause, but also to divide the nation domestically.

The Importance of Family in “That’s What I Call Home”

That’s What I Call Home

Throughout the Cold War, family served as a bastion of safety from an insecure and unstable outside world. Following the 11 September 2001 attacks on United States soil, there was a noticeable shift towards containment culture, resembling that of the cold war period. Instead of containing communism, however, it was time to contain terrorism. The culture of containment was restored and prevalent throughout society.

For instance, one example of this cold war sentiment can be seen in Blake Shelton’s “That’s What I Call Home.” The song serves to illustrate and emphasize the importance of family, and how family serves as a means of protection against the outside forces. In the song, Blake Shelton expresses the love and respect he has for his parents. He delineates how, while his home is merely nails and wood, there is true love and a sense of security. It is clear that Shelton really loves his home.

Thematically, Shelton expresses how the home serves as an escape from the outside world that is characterized by instability, insecurity, and danger. Just like the period during the cold war, the post-9/11 period was characterized by this containment culture, where people, across racial and socioeconomic lines, seeked refuge in their families. When Shelton states, “Once I get myself through that old screen door/ The world can’t touch me anymore,” he is highlighting the role of the family as a bastion of safety from terrorism. While it is not clear if this song is a direct response to this post-9/11 containment culture, it is clear that the message of the song serves to emphasize the significant role of a stable, secure family during a rather uncertain period.

Shelton’s “This is What I call Home” is a certain depiction of the re-emergence of containment culture in post-9/11 United States. The revival of the traditional familial values is a staple of uncertain times, and this song certainly encourages this. I also strongly believe that the fact that the genre of the song is country allows for a calm, serene tone – a tone that soothes a nation crumbling under the threat of terrorism.