Tagged: Armin Shimerman

Glenn Hauman: Trek Against Trump

armin-shimerman-usaFifty years and one month ago, a new TV show came to the airwaves that was unlike anything ever really seen before – science fiction, but not childish stories of space cadets with their zap guns, only different from shoot-em-up westerns because they shot beams of light instead of bullets of lead. Star Trek was something different. Unique. And incredibly long lived. Star Trek has become part of the American story, with the original model of the U.S.S. Enterprise hanging in the Milestones of Flight section of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, right next to the Spirit of St. Louis.

David Gerrold, author of the episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”, recently wrote,

“From the beginning, Star Trek was a series of little morality plays. From the beginning, Star Trek was an examination of the human condition. From the beginning, Star Trek was a vision of a future that works for all of us, with no one and nothing left out. For some people, Star Trek was just another job. Okay, fine. Collect the check and go home. But for many of us, maybe even most of us – Star Trek was something special, something apart from every other job in the world. It was a vision of possibility. It was an assertion that the way things are is not the way they have to be. It was a bold assertion of hope in a decade that had fallen into despair.”

And today, half a century later, despite the dated production values, Star Trek‘s best stories are still strong statements that the future will exist with humans in it, and will be what we make it.

But it’s not easy living up to that standard of a golden future. It requires commitment to an ethos of inclusion, that the stars are not just for rich guys, or white guys, or guy guys – we’re all going to go there. All of us, in our infinite diversity and infinite combinations, boldly going forward.

It requires a commitment to science – all science, not just the stuff that reinforces what you already believe. Why guess when you can learn? When you can know?

It requires a commitment to education – not only learning new things, but letting go off old lessons learned that we cling to because of nostalgia and superstition instead of accuracy.

It requires a commitment to competence. There are times when someone’s got to take the wheel— shouldn’t it be the best driver available? Shouldn’t it at least be someone who’s driven before?

And most of all, it requires a commitment to finding a way to work together instead of against each other. We aren’t going to go anywhere if people keep tossing sand into the machinery.

To a lot of the people who work on the franchise, including at various times me and ComicMix contributors Robert Greenberger, David Mack, Peter David and others, Star Trek is more than mere entertainment— it’s a message of hope, and we make contributions to a secular mythology where we are the gods and demigods who span the heavens.

And there has never been a presidential candidate who stands in such complete opposition to the ideals of the Star Trek universe as Donald John Trump.

That’s why over 130 members (and counting) of the cast, crew, and contributors to the Star Trek universe, including myself, have added their names to a voter mobilization movement called Trek Against Trump, an effort spearheaded by Armin Shimerman – and if the most famous Ferengi in the universe tells you that Trump is a greedy, manipulative, tasteless boor who doesn’t have the brains to run a banana stand, believe him.

Do you want to live in a Star Trek future? Well, you can’t take the future for granted — we build it today by what we all do in the present. If you want a better future, you have to make it happen, and you have to act like citizens of a better future. The people who made the stories of that future are telling you how to make it happen.

There are some who have objected to the group’s explicit call not to vote for third-party candidates, and I say— get over it. The only way Donald Trump is not going to be elected is if Hillary Clinton is. You don’t like “voting for the lesser of two evils”? Then realize you’re voting against the greater of two evils. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. You might have heard that somewhere.

So: register to vote. And if you’re really passionate about it, here is your five week mission– to explore strange new neighborhoods. To seek out 18 and older lifeforms to build civilization. To boldly vote, like you’ve never voted before.

Because if you don’t– Melakon wins.

I’m giving the last word to John deLancie, Star Trek‘s “Q”:


Molly Jackson: The Ongoing Mission

Star Trek CaptainsThis past weekend I attended Star Trek Mission in New York City. Despite my Trekkie status, this was actually my very first Star Trek convention. It was a great experience to finally have and it was nice to see a whole group of people that share my love and passion for Star Trek. I got stopped on my way to and from there, with other attendees sharing the Vulcan hand symbol or asking questions. It was a great community convention, with a community all our own.

A big theme of the convention was diversity. It was echoed and praised at every panel I was in. Fans referred to it as a major point of the show in their Q&A. The writers for Star Trek Discovery made a point of mentioning it in their very vague show plans. (Seriously, they gave up nothing!) Every panelist made a point to speak about how important that legacy of diversity is to Star Trek. Even the technology panels I attended made a point to speak about it.

FerengiThat is why this exchange during the Deep Space Nine cast panel on the first day was so impactful. The cast was asked about different ways that Star Trek has been described by fans. Armin Shimerman, a.k.a. Quark, explained a recurring experience he has with fans. He explained that in America, he often gets asked “Do the Ferengi represent the Jews?”  But in England he gets asked, “Do the Ferengi represent the Irish?” and in Australia he gets asked “Do the Ferengi represent Chinese?” Hearing these questions helped him see the hate in Star Trek. Shimerman says he believes that the Ferengi represent the outcast culture, the people around you who you don’t really understand or know.

After hearing that, it made every single diversity statement during the convention that much more important but at the same time, I could not forget what he said. It made me wonder if Star Trek had impacted as much as we think that it had. If fans could ask these questions, did they really understand the show? But by the end of the weekend, I was reminded why I love this show so much.

I do truly believe that Star Trek held forth diversity when people kept minorities from any recognition. When Roddenberry put a Russian on the bridge during the Cold War, he signaled that one day we would make peace. When he put an African American woman on the bridge, he signaled that one day we would have equality. And when the producers put a woman in the captain’s chair, they showed that one day we could actually move past gender preconceptions.

As we remember everything that Star Trek has given us over the past fifty years, the best truth is that Roddenberry’s vision has only showed us the way. Entertainment can open up all of these possibilities but only in reality can changes be made. We need to take these lessons to heart if we want to evolve past hate, greed, and violence.

Tomorrow, September 8th, is the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek premiere. Take a moment to see how far we have come, and how much farther we can go if we embrace the ideals of the future.