Almost 48 years ago, on July 21, 1969, Buzz Aldrin hopped off Eagle, the Apollo 11 space mission’s lunar landing module, and joined Neil Armstrong as first humans to step foot on the moon. Experiencing the pinnacle of science, technology and human resolve, Aldrin, responding to Armstrong who had already disembarked Eagle and was slowly exploring the immediate area, described his momentous view as “magnificent desolation.” In an occasion that would leave most humans speechless, Aldrin responded with a poetic meditation on the vast emptiness of the moon’s surface and the even more immense space in which it was surrounded.
It wasn’t until a few days ago that Aldrin would find himself in another situation of vast emptiness that would leave him truly speechless. Listening to Donald Trump incompetently prattle on at the signing of an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council on Friday, Aldrin’s facial reactions shifted from affable perplexity to sneering contempt, and everything in between. If Aldrin’s expressions were translated to words, “magnificent desolation” would no doubt be chosen to describe the barren landscape of Trump’s mental capacity.
As a seated Trump signed the executive order, Aldrin interjected with “to infinity and beyond,” drawing laughter from the crowd in his reference of animated character Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movie franchise whose name and occupation drew inspiration from Aldrin.
The reference was lost on Trump. “This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something, but it could be infinity, right?” Trump incomprehensibly responded. The staggering stupidity of that statement, majestic in inept idiocy, “magnificent desolation.”
Trump is not simply stupid; his wealth of arrogance and vapidity also give his incompetence a haute grandeur. The emptiness of his critical thinking skills and communication skills are truly magnificent, splendidly exceptional.
Consequently, the phrase Aldrin uttered on the surface of the moon can now also describe the state of our republic. As we Americans celebrate our 241st year of independence, let’s revisit the words of one of our greatest heroes: Frederick Douglass. Even though Trump clearly has no idea who he was, Douglass’ words are just as relevant today as they were 165 years ago.
On July 5, 1852, Douglass delivered one of the greatest speeches in American history to a room of abolitionists at the Ladies’Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York. The speech, which is commonly referred to as “What to the Slave is the 4th of Ju