Why Conservatives hated Star Trek long before Obama admitted to loving Spock
A couple days after the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the Young Turks did a little segment on conservative blogger Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon. The discussion was centered on Continetti’s dislike of Nimoy’s Star Trek Character Spock, but his opinion was based more on how President Obama viewed the Vulcan character.
“Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the centre of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.” – Barack Obama
In Continetti’s view, Spock was some kind of peacenik hippie, always too eager to use his level head and logic to negotiate out of rough situations. He suggests that Spock’s willingness to constantly negotiate with the Federation’s enemies made him weak, not unlike a certain American president currently in talks with Iran.
Continetti’s rant is amusing to be sure, but it got me thinking. How come it took Obama’s praise of the Spock character to get conservatives to hate something on Star Trek? If you look close enough, there are heaps of reasons for conservatives to loathe Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future and it has little to do with our Commander in Chief.
If I had a chance to create my own Utopia, Earth in the Star Trek Universe is probably what I would base it on. It just so happens to be the opposite of what today’s conservative would want. Roddenberry essentially created a progressive paradise.
No Money or Capitalism
“You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard
While it’s certain that money exists in some fashion in the Star Trek Universe (mostly outside the Federation), it has been suggested on multiple occasions that money on Earth went the way of the dinosaur.
We can only assume that without money, there is no capitalism. No 1%, no 99%, no classes, no greedy corporations, perhaps no corporations at all. Everyone on equal footing. It’s safe to say that without capitalism, humans gravitated to some kind of money-less socialist system.
If there was a plausible way to accomplish this type of system tomorrow, where no one is wealthy, but no one goes hungry, it wouldn’t pass the Republican controlled Congress in a million years. Just imagine what life would be like if money wasn’t a driving force in our lives. I’d guess conservatives would dismiss the idea as impossible.
A Society led by Science
“In the 24th century there will be no hunger, there will be no greed, and all the children will know how to read.” – Gene Roddenberry
The irony of a race of people relying on logic must be completely lost on some conservatives. However, if you told them about the possibility of a society led by science and exploration rather than religion and war, their heads might explode.
That’s not to say the people of the 23rd and 24th century don’t believe in god, and it’s not to say that some humans don’t like a good war. But one is no longer caused by the other, at least not on earth.
Science and development is what drives humanity, God is an afterthought. Humans no longer allow religion to cloud their judgement when it comes to research, conflict, and matters of urgency. Imagine a world where people didn’t oppose stem cell research or deny that humans are causing global warming based on a mythical book.
While Star Trek may have focused more on science than religion, it also showcased religious tolerance, multiculturalism, non-violent resolutions to conflict and a prime directive that forbid the federation from engaging with other cultures. These are all things that conservatives have been known to have a problem with.
In the end, while Star Trek can be chalked up as simple science fiction, Roddenberry’s vision should be taken seriously if we are ever to come close to achieving it. To do so however, would require a vast amount of change on our part. Something conservatives have never been willing to do, it’s in their very name.
“Perhaps we’ve never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there’s no sign of intelligent life.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson