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sneakers
Sun, Dec 29, 2019, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

Watching this in 2019, at 33 years old, I found this episode’s allegory to be totally off the mark.

There’s a false equivalency made between Lokai’s and Bele’s people that seems totally inappropriate.

The show does not acknowledge the strong probability that Lokai’s fight for freedom may be justified, nor does the show weight the blame of the conflict on the oppressors.

It’s always been true throughout history that it is the oppressors who ultimately need to disarm, stand down, accept those once-oppressed and enslaved people as equals. The question of *how to accomplish this* is a matter of tactics, and violence is an absolutely valid option on the table.

There’s certainly a place for peaceful protests, but no amount of passive resistance would’ve saved the Jews in Nazi Germany, or countless other oppressed people in history. It is true that in some circumstances you have to fight for your freedom — a fact that Star Trek even in other episodes acknowledges.

To me, I thought the show was addressing Malcom X, who was assassinated 4 years before the release of this episode. He and MLK differed on the point of total nonviolent resistance. Malcom X thought blacks should arm themselves and defend themselves if attacked. He was, obviously, very controversial, especially at this time.

It seems unlikely that the American civil rights movement would’ve made the ground they did without defending themselves in the 50s and 60s. The movement succeeded largely because BOTH blacks were defending themselves violently, AND Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement pointed to a peaceful alternative. But it was the threat of violent resistance that enabled the peaceful option.

But the show doesn’t acknowledge these realities in this episode at all. It places the blame for Cheron’s ultimate destruction on both sides without any deep reflection. As if, for example, the Jews in Nazi Germany were just as culpable for Germany’s devastation as the Nazis, or blacks in the southern states in America in 1865 were just as culpable for the South’s devastation as racist slavers.

It’s nonsense.

I get it. I get that in the time this was made, they probably couldn’t have gotten away with a more nuanced message. Not in 1969, not among the wide audience watching Trek. But still, for a modern audience to not acknowledge the deep flaws in this episode’s allegory seems wrong to me.

1/4 stars for me.
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