I'm usually wary of essays that mix politics and entertainment, especially ones that try to divine the philosophical underpinnings of cult favorites. But I found this one, as Spock would say, fascinating: "How Star Trek Explains the Decline of Liberalism."Gene Rodenberry and his cohorts were veterans of World War II, and when they created Star Trek in the early 60s, liberalism still meant fighting the evils of totalitarianism and liberals still believed in freedom as a universal yearning. There were clear-cut good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains:
The best expression of their spirit was John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, with its proud promise to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
By the time The Next Generation came along, though, liberalism had been transformed into a philosophy of tolerant, nonjudgmental multi-culturalism and a moral relativism that sometimes meant no morality at all. And TNG reflected that change:
"Next Generation’s" Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) was more committed to coexistence and non-intervention than to universal liberty and anti-totalitarianism. Following Spock’s lead, Picard would elevate the Prime Directive into a morally obtuse dogma and would seek ways to evade the responsibility of moral judgment. Time and again, the show featured false equivalency on a grand scale, coupled with the hands-off attitude that the Kirk of "The Apple" had dismissed as complicity with evil.
Now, let's jump back in time, to present-day Afghanistan, and this truly jarring headline: "US soldiers disciplined for stopping rape of children by Afghan police."
Our "Afghan allies" have been engaged in a sick practice referred to as "boy play" in the common parlance. This essentially translates into abducting, imprisoning and raping young boys, keeping them as sex slaves. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, it’s apparently been standing policy for some time now that US soldiers were told to turn a blind eye to the practice (even when it takes place on our bases) and some of them have even been disciplined and removed from the service for trying to intervene.That's the Prime Directive in real life, isn't it? Non-intervention and cultural relativism. Hey, if raping young boys is part of their culture, who are we to judge?And if they want to stone homosexuals to death and throw women in jail for sassing their husbands, well, that's not really our business.
But we shouldn't be fighting and dying for them, either and demanding our people look the other way when they confront true evil. There are all kinds of criteria various people use for deciding when and under what conditions we should go to war. Try this one: If the people we are supporting are no better than the ones we're helping them fight, maybe that's a good reason to stay home. If freedom isn't the prize at the end of the fighting — if, instead, we are supporting one brand of totalitarianism over another, then maybe that shouldn't be our fight.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS:
Just pee in this cup, senator: Eighty-six percent of Republicans, 77 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents said they want drug testing for members of Congress. Finally, we're united on something. I'd even give them a field sobriety test. An intelligence test would probably be pointless.
And she's authentic, too! Hillary Clinton was asked to define herself in three words, and the best she could come up with was five "I am a real person." Whew! Glad to know that, we've had too many fake persons in politics. To be fair, that wasn't all she said, which was: "I mean, look, I am a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that. And I've been in the public eye for so long that I think, you know, it's like the feature that you see in some magazines sometimes, 'Real people actually go shopping,' you know?" That's actually a pretty good answer to what was an utterly stupid Baba Wawa "What kind of tree would you be" kind of question.
Another "well, duh" moment: Democrats have a sense that Bernie Sanders would be unelectable in the general election. Democrats are smarter than they seem, huh? But, hey, nominating unelectable candidates is the GOP's job!
Speaking of Bernie, did you know that if he wins the primary, "centrist liberals are morally obligated to support him"? What the heck is a "centrist liberal"? Is that like "moderate extremist"?
Finally, if it's true that sports writers should not expound on politics, (and, God, it certainly is!), then religious leaders should stay away from economics (and climate science, too, but that's for another post). The fact that Raul Castro has praise for the pope's "anti-capitalist" stance speaks volumes. And here's George Will, explaining why the pope's preferred policies would lead to poverty on a global scale, so bad it would be like living in medieval times again. And here's an article explaining why George Will is full of it. You decide.
WORD OF THE DAY
hegemony (huh-JEM-uh-knee), n. — leadership or predominant influence exercised by one nation over others, as in a confederation; leadership; predominance; (especially among smaller nations) aggression or expansionism by large nations in an effort to achieve world domination, as in: "When warring factions both seek regional hegemony, the United States should be very careful in choosing one side to support."