I want to know what happened to my Star Trek future. Gene Roddenberry promised us so much. We got communicator/cell phone; We got our PADD/iPad/Kindle etc; and a lot of other technologies look more possible every day. The trappings are nice, but where is my Star Trek social future? Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, likes to tell a story about a surprise visit from a fan that highlighted how important a black woman in Star Fleet was to 20th century America:
After a year with”Star Trek” as communications officer Lieutenant Uhura, she turned in her resignation. But at an NAACP event that weekend, she ran into King.
“One of the promoters came up and said someone wanted to meet me. He said he’s my greatest fan,” says Nichols, 78. “I thought it was some Trekker, some kid. I turned in my seat and there was Dr. Martin Luther King with a big smile on his face. He said, ‘I am a Trekker, I am your biggest fan.'”
At that point, Nichols thought of herself as just a cast member on the show and hadn’t fully grasped the racial implications of her part. She’d dealt with race all her life, of course, even on the set at Paramount, where a security guard hurled insults at her, but she hadn’t grasped the importance of an African-American woman having a position of respect on TV.
Nichols thanked King and told him she was leaving the show.
“He was telling me why I could not [resign],” she recalls. “He said I had the first nonstereotypical role, I had a role with honor, dignity and intelligence. He said, ‘You simply cannot abdicate, this is an important role. This is why we are marching. We never thought we’d see this on TV.'”
Nichols was at a loss for words. It was the first time the importance of being an African-American woman on television had sank in. She returned to “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry the next Monday morning and rescinded her resignation.
“He sat there and looked at me and said, ‘God bless Dr. Martin Luther King. Somebody does understand me,'” Nichols says.
This was supposed to be a society as envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, where prejudice is a thing of the past. White and black men and women can kiss now like Kirk and Uhura, and even get married but racism is far from dead, as our first black president – and Trayvon Martin - have discovered. Star Trek was full of alien species but on our Earth even human aliens can’t get respect. And where is the rest of it: the lack of prejudice, the tolerance of differing cultures, values and beliefs? And by the way, where the hell is my fact-based, scientifically-provable world?
I want to know, because right now, I’m hopping mad. We have all these wealthy and powerful corporations who should theoretically be able to give us the rest of our technology (or improve what we have) – along with a sustainable world – but they seem more interested in screwing us over in various and inventive ways while enriching themselves, and social conservatives have made Star Trek’s social reality a complete and utter balls up. Instead of science and tolerance we have superstition and prejudice. We went from enlightenment to dinosaurs and humans palling around and an angry god killing us with tornadoes and other natural disasters. In Star Trek, they had a freaking “weather control net” for crying out loud. Can’t do that here, even if we develop the tech. Why? God wouldn’t like it. Can’t piss off God. I mean if God controls the weather, how can we dare try to control it? See where this thinking gets us? Not a better future, I can tell you that much.
We’re being held back and it’s probably a good thing Roddenberry isn’t here to see it. We had such high hopes. Who’d have thunk a bunch of medieval-minded bigots would shoot our chance at Utopia in the ass? I mean, who seriously prefers superstition to science? Who? What kind of person prefers an angry God to a scientifically provable explanation and understanding of meteorological phenomenon? Let’s face it, praying isn’t going to turn away a tornado anymore than prayers turned away the Heathen Vikings, but money spent on scientifically proven technology can at least warn us one is on the way. They don’t even want to spend money on that. They’d rather give it to rich people to put in foreign bank accounts (un-taxable) while they ship our manufacturing jobs overseas, and build big fancy megachurches and fancy houses for themselves. Rather than Utopia we find ourselves in a dark dystopian 13th century redux. Reaching the stars? Be happy if you can reach the corner market or afford anything when you get there.
I always thought the corporate future highlighted in the Alien movies was too dark and grim to ever become a reality. I was naïve, I suppose, but idealism isn’t a fault, whatever corporate sharks like Mitt Romney might think. Without idealism, we revert to Gilded Age gelding of our democratic process, of science, and individual human rights. Financial oligopoly and religious superstition are the enemy. Look what they’ve done in a few short years! That rot has already set in and we are now facing the consequences. We ain’t never going to get to the moon again at this rate, let alone to Mars or out of our solar system. Star Trek be damned at this point; I’d be happy to have a survivable planetary scenario and climate scientists are saying that is increasingly unlikely.
You’d at least think where religion is found some morality would be detectable but that is clearly not the case. NASA climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen correctly identifies global warming as a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery. Not that the Christ-driven GOP cares. Poor people can go to hell, as quickly as possible thank you very much, and their God will supposedly keep the planet from drowning us when we melt the polar ice caps. You don’t see them investing in Maldives real estate, however and scientists are now saying that some global warming effects are likely irreversible. According to a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, “it still would take 1,000 years or longer for the climate changes already triggered to be reversed.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long, and neither can my kids – or their kids. But you can trust a Bible written 2000 or more years ago – before anybody knew what science was – over modern climate scientists.
I’m just saying that on the FUBAR scale, 2012 America is busting through “10” to “11” and we are dragging others down with us. What happens when the world’s one remaining superpower throws off science for superstition and the rich make the Goth’s sack of Rome in 410 CE look like a Girl Scout field trip? Let’s face it; Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan weren’t as ruthlessly avaricious as our rich, and they rich are supposed to be on our side, not foreign invaders. The Black Death, were it to come back, might kill more of us than then the Republicans but even that’s not proven yet. If they win in 2012, all bets are off. If the effects of global warming don’t get us, lack of healthcare, lack of clean drinking water, lack of breathable air, lack of jobs and therefore of nutrition will – assuming the numerous wars they propose to wage don’t do the trick. History has never seen so many people hell-bent on self-destruction as these clowns.
Speaking of which, it’s amusing that they think Obama is raising the price of gasoline but declaring war on Iran won’t.
Hard to imagine Star Fleet being guilty of a miscalculation on that scale. But maybe that’s just because Gene Roddenberry was more intelligent – or ethical – than your average Republican.
And look, I know we’re not supposed to claim that their brains are different than ours or that they’re less intelligent and/or educated, but if it’s not stupidity, then it must be that they’re a bunch of rapaciously greedy bigots who hate humanity. Take your pick. I can’t think of a third option off the top of my head. Let me know if you do. I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if you can prove it to me – and an important proviso here: not through faith, but through fact. I’m not going to buy into your “pray away” schemes for all of our world’s ills. In 2000 years it hasn’t worked once; why would I believe it will now?
So look: I’m not an atheist. I likely believe in more gods than you do. I also have eyes and ears and a functioning brain and you won’t convince me a pile of wet steaming shit is anything I want trickled down on me, or that talking points are an adequate substitute for a valid argument, or wishful thinking superior to sober reflection of the facts on the ground. You may think I’m asking for too much but by my thinking I’m being magnanimous and far too forgiving. You’re f*cking up my world, my children’s world and their children’s’ world and this has got to stop. Even if the ends justified the means, as you seem to think, your ends suck as badly as your means.
So let’s have a test of faith: you pray, we’ll vote. Let’s give it a fair shot, okay? If you’re not willing to do that much then just admit that you really don’t have any faith yourself in our God or his alleged wishes and plans for America. We’ll meet again the day after Election Day. If you’re right and I’m wrong, I’ll become a freaking Christian and renounce my gods. But I’ve got a feeling I don’t have much to worry about on that score, because we all know how strong your faith is, don’t we? If you lose, then I get my Star Trek future, and you can just go straight to that hell you seem so determined to reach. Sound good?
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.