Canadian actor Ryan Gosling who stars in the biopic “First Man” as Neil Armstrong has made some large claims about the man he plays.
Gosling, talking like a guy who knew his subject matter intimately, said that the astronaut — renowned for being the first man on the moon and for adding the illustrious words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — did not consider himself a “great American” but merely part of an international project that “transcended countries and borders.”
Kind of like he was working for the U.N., you know?
Gosling’s views on the moon landing or history, in general, are of little consequence. In the era of President Donald Trump, it is fashionable in Canada — and especially for Canadian actors — to reflect a contempt for America’s current leader and any claims of American exceptionalism or even restrained declarations of patriotism. It is febrile attitude not shared by this Canadian writer, as readers of The Daily Caller are well aware.
But it is historical convictions like those of the producers and director of “First Man” that concern me the most, because they would apparently concur with Gosling’s appraisal of Armstrong’s life and legacy and the desire to minimize or even erase the fact that the Apollo moon landing was not just a great moment in history but a great moment of American history.
By failing to reproduce the historic planting of the American flag in the lunar surface in their film, “First Man” is exhibiting a new kind of historical vandalism and neo-Stalinist airbrushing of facts from history.
Historical vandalism is one of the current hobbies of the Left and it is popular on both sides of the U.S.-Canada Border.
As Americans of the resistance topple statues of Confederate war heroes and even early American slave-owning presidents, you really have to wonder who will be safe from removal. Of course, the Union generals will be next, because many of these men were insufficiently progressive with regard to their attitudes toward race — not fully promoting full equality for blacks and advocating war with the Natives.
In Canada, the liberals have turned their full animus against the nation’s founder and first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Because he failed to govern with 21st-century sensibilities, his image has been stricken from the Canadian $10 bill, his name removed from buildings and his statues vandalized or tucked away in cold storage.
But pretending that Armstrong did not place an American flag on the moon’s surface harkens back to the political habits of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who was not only fond of starving farmers, working dissidents to death and murdering opponents en masse but also of pretending that these dishonored dead never existed at all.
You can see for yourself in the “before” and “after” photographs of prominent Soviet officials who can be seen walking with the great Stalin in one picture and then — whisk! — they’re gone in the next image, with a blank piece of space replacing the person.
”First Man” accomplishes the same contemptible purpose.
The moon landing was a shining example of American exceptionalism. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy pledged, “This nation should commit itself to achieve the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to man.”
What a succinct and yet ambitious statement! How simple in design but how marvelous in scope. Kennedy and subsequent presidents kept that promise, winning the space race. It takes longer for some municipalities to find a garbage dump in today’s disordered existence. And America maintained the space program while it fought a war in Vietnam and implemented the Great Society.
America — not the U.N. — also ultimately won the Cold War.
Kennedy also said in 1962, “We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
That’s another element of American exceptionalism that pusillanimous Hollywood — where everything is easy and nothing is hard — will not only never appreciate but never even contemplate.