Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek
“It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, 31 March 1968, King Institute, Stanford University
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the reason Nichelle Nicoles stayed with Star Trek after the first season. She wanted to return to her first love – theater, and Broadway.
As it turned out, Dr. King was the self-professed biggest fan, and what ensued was life-affirming for Nichelle Nichols. When speaking to NPR, she said: “He complimented me on the manner in which I’d created the character. I thanked him, and I think I said something like, ‘Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you.’ He said, ‘no, no, no. No, you don’t understand… You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for.’”
She continued: “I said, ‘Well, I told Gene just yesterday that I’m going to leave the show after the first year because I’ve been offered…’ — and he stopped me and said: ‘You cannot do that.’ And I was stunned. He said, ‘Don’t you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen.’ He says, ‘Do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch?’ I was speechless.’”
How Martin Luther King convinced Nichelle Nichols not to quit ‘Star Trek’, Mick McStarkey, Far Out Magazine, United Kingdom (Rest in Power, Nichelle Nichols)
Star Trek is the child of Gene Roddenberry, birthed at the height of the Civil Rights movement. This time was also the period of government surveillance of those same organizations by the FBI via COINTELPRO. It was a Pollyanish vision that two centuries in the future, we would mature from our societal adolescence, our tribal factions, and mature enough to work together, across cultures and worlds. Dr. Maya Angelou said “we grew up” after the inauguration of President Obama. We hoped we had.
Gene and his scriptwriters were products of the Second World War, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Hence, in creative license, they somewhat hinted, that the utopia of the 23rd Century was preceded by a self-imposed, dystopian hellscape.
World War III was the last of Earth‘s three world wars, lasting from approximately 2026 to 2053. The conflict involved nuclear cataclysm as well as genocide and eco-terrorism. The post-atomic horror in the aftermath persisted as late as 2079.
The war was preceded by the Second Civil War and the Eugenics Wars, all of which were sometimes regarded as parts of a single escalating conflict. It resulted in the deaths of some 30% of the Human population, at least six hundred million people, and the extinction of six hundred thousand species of animals and plants. By the end, most of the major cities had been destroyed and there were few governments left.
If you follow the link for the Second Civil War, it refers to contemporary concerns about a certain twice-impeached Oval Office resident and his rabid followers. The inset of scenes from the January 6th insurrection was ominous and brilliant social commentary in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The first episode was both social commentary and warning: there are no benevolent Vulcans that will show up to clean up our nuclear mess after the discovery of a superluminal warp drive. With our luck, we’d encounter Klingons or Romulans. Social commentary and hope animated Dr. King’s remarks to Nichelle/Uhura.
Social commentary is what Star Trek has always tried to do. Gene Roddenberry appealed to our secular better angels, our shared experience as humans beyond color or culture.
Viktor Orban was in Dallas, Texas yesterday. He received a standing ovation for his remarks about race mixing, the LGBT, and taking over universities and the press. This is fascism. The Republicans in Dallas are true RINOs and should have worn their white sheets. It is the aftermath of their patron saint, Ayn Rand’s admiration of a serial killer, William Hickman: cruelty. Only a psychopath can admire a psychopath. Reagan admired Rand. What does it say about a party that makes her words the sacred scripture of apoplectic violence?
The reason fascism seems to be spreading across the globe is the same reason terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda spread across the globe: the Internet. We are now investing more in newsfeeds, tweets, and blogs that we can read on our ineptly-named “smart phones.” There have always been factions – they are encouraged by the wealthy. It’s better for the rubes to fight each other than use critical thinking on who the theaves are.
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best-colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
― Lyndon B. Johnson
People are not leaving their homes because of whims or WWII Nazi survivor George Soros (a familiar racist trope). They are leaving because of failed governments in Central America affected by US trade policies such that there is effectively no middle class. Their daughters will be the prostitutes to drug lords and their sons will be the runners and soldiers for them. They are leaving because of wars in Somalia, Chechnya, and elsewhere so-called “strongmen” punch down on weaker populations. They are leaving because of climate catastrophes that are decimating their nations with floods like those in Kentucky or fires like those in California. Colonizing the Moon or Mars is not a plan – it’s a suicide mission, and we don’t have any warp-capable starships or a Starfleet. We have a “pale blue dot” Carl Sagan said we live on together. In order to survive on it, we’re going to have to share resources and work together.
Savvy demagogues like Orban, Putin, and the criminal who previously had the nuclear codes are using the tribal “fear of the other,” the desire not to “mix races” to seize power, with no intention of relinquishing it. It allows the hoarding of resources, wealth, power, and the licensing of cruelty. Weaponizing fear of “others” is also profitable, hence Fox Propaganda and Reich Wing media promoting it. Carotin or Melanin: Every human being on the planet is from the African continent. The variations are the result of migratory patterns, the foods encountered, and the angle of incidence of the sun. We don’t need to go to another planet to know that – just pay attention in high school biology, or read a science report.
If we were to colonize the Moon or Mars (hopefully without terraforming with nukes), in a hundred years, the colonists would no longer look like Earthlings: they would be Lunarians and Martians, and due to their wildly different environments, they could not come back to Earth. One of the things Star Trek probably got right: under similar conditions – a planet in the “Goldilocks” zone, with similar gravity and atmosphere, aliens on those worlds would probably develop into similar physical structures, similar skin variations.
We are being held hostage by so-called “white” men hoarding resources to themselves in the deluded notion they could survive a full-scale collapse of civilization and life on Earth. Diversity or dystopia. A beloved community or extinction.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation. The aftermath of violence is emptiness and bitterness.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.