The original Star Trek series, though short-lived in production, has had a profound impact on the world of today. From the personal communicator (which morphed into the handheld cellphone) to the replicator (the genesis of the 3D printer), this landmark television series foresaw a number of modern inventions.
Contrary to popular opinion, though, not all of Star Trek’s predictions were well received. NBC attempted to kill the series following its second season, and it was only because of a massive letter-writing campaign by fans across the country that Star Trek received a third season. The studio then attempted to strangled the show to death by cutting its funding, resulting in low quality production for the final season’s episodes.
Yet the series refused to fade into obscurity. To receive syndication rights a TV series had to reach one hundred episodes; Star Trek produced only seventy-eight. And yet Joss Whedon’s Firefly is renowned for remaining in syndication at the astonishingly low number of fifteen episodes, but it achieved this rank only because the fans of the “Wagon Train to the stars” (the phrase Gene Roddenberry used to pitch the original series to studio execs) blazed a trail into that wilderness first. Star Trek went into syndication during the 70’s and became an even bigger hit among a much larger audience.
Using Science Fiction to Tackle Tough Issues
One of the main reasons for Star Trek’s popularity was, as actress Nichelle Nichols (who played Lt. Uhura in the original series) once stated, that the stories were actually morality plays. Developed in the 14thand 15thcenturies, morality plays portrayed virtues and vices as people whose sole purpose was to tempt the human protagonist to good or evil. They were meant to encourage the play’s viewers to live a moral life and to avoid sin. Morality plays were popular through at least the 16thcentury, but the academic and political sensibilities of the 19thand 20thcenturies started seeing them as puerile, meant only for preaching to children rather than engaging the minds of rational adults. With Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, used the genre of science fiction to prove this concept to be the manifestation of an erroneous mindset.
Star Trek tackled a variety of social, moral, and political topics head-on during its run. From showing respect for Christianity (“Bread and Circuses”) to the criticism of Robert McNamara and the State Department’s handling of the Vietnam War (“The Galileo Seven”), Roddenberry and Star Trek took on the vices of their time and (presciently so) those they imagined happening in the future. NBC, in a similar spirit that preceded the current Woke phenomenon, despised the series and tried to destroy it for this reason. In particular, one of Star Trek’s episodes from its first season, “A Taste of Armageddon,” likely infuriated them as well since it subtlety discussed a topic that is still considered taboo today: the morality of abortion.
“There is a certain scientific logic about it.”– First Officer Spock
In “A Taste of Armageddon,” the U.S.S. Enterprise is sent to the planet Eminiar VII to open diplomatic relations with the civilization there. A previous attempt at negotiations fifty years earlier was unsuccessful, believed so because the Federation ship sent to initiate contact never returned. Captain Kirk beams to the planet’s surface along with Spock and a security detachment to make certain everything is safe before allowing the ambassador aboard the Enterprise to transport down as well.
A young woman named Mea 3 greets Kirk and his detachment but warns them that they are in danger. She leads them to the Eminian High Council and introduces its head, Anan 7, who flatly rejects Kirk’s offer of diplomatic ties with the Federation. He explains that they are at war with Eminiar’s former colony world, Vendikar, and cannot allow anyone else into their system. Kirk and his people are confused; Eminiar and Vendikar are both thriving worlds where the populaces are comfortable and prosperous. They have space flight and advanced technology, all of which is intact. There is no sign of war.
Moments later, Vendikar opens fire on Eminiar. Though Mea says their enemies are using fusion bombs, the Starfleet officers are unable to detect the weapons or their impact. Spock soon realizes that the war is being waged by computers: Eminiar and Vendikar do not actually attack one another. The computer on one planet sends out notifications of a strike which the other world’s computer records, making note of the location that was hit and how many people were “killed.” In this way the civilizations of both worlds remain unaffected by the conflict – or so it seems.
The Enterprise is “hit” by Vendikar’s computer and recorded as destroyed. Anan informs Kirk that this means his crew must now beam down to die in Eminian disintegration chambers. To the Starfleet officers’ horror, it is explained that this “clean” war waged by Eminiar and Vendikar still has human casualties. Citizens living in locations that are registered as “annihilated” by the computer must report to disintegration chambers to be vaporized. If anyone refuses to report for disintegration, then the agreement that allows Eminiar and Vendikar to continue this war – which has persisted for five hundred years – will be rendered void. Both planets will then have no choice but to unleash real weapons that will cause true destruction upon one another. To avoid this outcome, Eminians and Vendikarans dutifully appear at a chamber within hours of every attack.
The result is a society of “white-washed tombs,” with the populaces of both worlds believing they have sterilized war. Although Anan and Mea state that their cultures have survived a five-hundred-year war, they have little to show for it. Both planets remain isolated from the larger galactic scene, locked in a war of attrition that “kills” three million people per year. Their claims of being enlightened ring more than a little hollow when the full implications of the death toll come home, and one realizes they do not even have any bodies to bury. To “preserve” their worlds, they have murderously denied their humanity.
These planets and their cultures practice a form of abortion that takes place well after birth. As Spock observes when the crew sees a disintegration chamber, it has only one door: “They go in, but they do not come out.” Just so, the womb has only “one door” to allow a baby to enter the world. An abortionist entering through this door makes certain that, rather than a person entering the world, only blood and body parts come out the same way smoke dissipates from the disintegration chamber after an Eminian or Vendikaran steps in. The only difference is that the abortion victims’ remains may be buried – but are often not.
“I'm a barbarian. You said so yourself.” – Captain James T. Kirk
Naturally, Kirk declines to play by the Eminians’ rules and refuses to order his people to beam down to die. This puts the agreement between Eminiar and Vendikar in jeopardy since the Enterprise crew is listed among the dead. If the five hundred men and women aboard the starship do not report to the chambers to be euthanized, the Eminians will fail to meet their quota and the Vendikarans will launch real weapons.
Anan orders Kirk and his landing party imprisoned in order to lure the crew to the surface. When that ploy fails, he commands the military to fire on the Enterprise. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, left in control of the ship while Kirk and Spock are on the planet, has kept the shields up and so protects the ship. Not long afterward, Kirk and the others escape imprisonment and destroy a disintegration chamber, saving an ungrateful Mea in the process. This slows the killing, making it harder for the Eminians to meet their quota.
From this point on, the episode offers a contrast between Kirk and Anan’s philosophies. Kirk will not allow his people to be murdered to preserve a sterile culture. Meanwhile Anan, though he wears the veneer of a civilized man, is shown by his actions to have the blackened heart of a butcher. He mocks Kirk, calling him a barbarian for his refusal to let the Eminians slay his crew to keep their wargame going. He proves that he is the worst kind of killer with his increasingly frantic attempts to murder the crew of the Enterprise, claiming all the while that his is the “higher morality” since he is “trying to save a world.”
The phrase “Trying to save a world” has a familiar ring to it. In his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Malthus stated that the number of humans would outstrip the Earth’s capacity to support them due to the population of poor people “breeding” too freely. Professor Paul R. Ehrlich restated this absurd thesis in his book The Population Bomb, published in 1968 –during Star Trek’s run. Both men advocated for the killing of the unborn, particularly those of the “great unwashed” who “bred” like so many rabbits. Both have been proven wrong as technological advancement has allowed the world’s population to grow while lessening the strain on resources, something else Star Trek predicted.
Proponents of abortion, enraptured by these men’s arguments, have turned to other means in their ongoing crude and increasingly peevish efforts to convince men and women to murder their own children to save the world. They insist women must have the power of choice to execute someone else entirely. Some present-day biology classes even equate the developing baby with cancer, dehumanizing the child and referring to it as a “tumor” in the mother’s body. Or it is asserted that the mother is too young and too financially unprepared to care for a baby. Anan’s diatribe about the horrors of war is akin to the pro-choice activist stating that letting a child be born into a world of pain and suffering – perhaps with a disability such as a club foot, cleft palate, or Down Syndrome – is cruel in the extreme. Better to stop their hearts, rip their heads off, or otherwise murder them in utero to “spare” them the potential sufferings of life, these people say. Oh, what a Brave New World that has given us!
Optimism for the Future
One of the items which made Star Trek stand out was its optimism, its hopeful portrayal of the future where mankind had “slipped the surly bonds of earth… and touched the Face of God.” The episode “A Taste of Armageddon” has a similarly positive ending. Kirk destroys the machines that enable Eminiar and Vendikar to continue their antiseptic war. This leaves Anan and the rest of the Eminian Council to negotiate with their age-old enemies to end the horrors of actual war as well as the negotiated, state-mandated murder of the citizenry.
Only God knows if we will we be so fortunate with regard to legalized abortion. With abortion becoming the leading cause of death in 2020, it is clear a reckoning is coming. Let us pray there are more Kirks in positions to lead in the aftermath rather than still more Anan 7s. The survival of civilization depends upon it.
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