One the best acted and written episodes in the Star Trek television franchise was “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield“, an episode directed by Jud Taylor and guest starring Frank Gorshin as ‘Bele’ and Lou Antonio as ‘Loki’, two humanoids from the planet Cheron.
Bele has been pursuing Loki who he describes as a terrorist; a member of an inferior breed; an ungrateful descendant of slaves whose demands for equity and justice from the ruling class are seen as unreasonable. Bele also argues that Loki and his people are no longer slaves, but have failed at how best to use their freedoms. Bele mocks Loki’s cries for justice; that instead of acquiescing to their cries for pity, that the universe should instead see them as a people with no self-discipline.
Loki does not consider himself a murderer but a revolutionary. He resists going back to face judgment on his home world of Cheron, calling the planet a land of oppressors. Genocide, argues Loki, was Cheron’s plan for his people, including the willingness to send his people to fight wars whose benefits would flow to his oppressors, not his people. These oppressors, argue Loki, deserved no love. Cheron, he argues further, did not give him leave to be a father, to be a man, to be free.
Writers Oliver Crawford, Gene L. Coon, and Arthur H. Singer apparently decided to be clear that this would be a story about race in America. The episode aired on 10 January 1969, and the prior twelve months likely provided the writers with some inspiration. For example, the violence in the cities of Cheron correlate with the violence in American cities that occurred after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968. The Vietnam War was at its peak in the late 1960s, a war where a disproportionate number of poor, black men went to fight in a war that made no sense politically or militarily and more importantly, did not provide any benefits for the black men that fought that war.
In addition, there was a presidential election in 1968, and America was also fighting a pandemic caused by the H3N2 virus, one that killed 100,000 people and, ironically, is still around today.
Another irony was the writers’ inclusion of a bacterial infestation that the Enterprise was on her way to reverse the spread. Whether including a bacterial infestation in the story line was influenced by the 1968 virus pandemic, I do not know, but a treatment of race and a health hazard in 1968 serving as a backdrop for what America is addressing in 2020, I could not overlook.
Mr Taylor, given the technology of the time, did a masterful job with the camera. His closeups captured the anger of Bele and Loki while displaying the incredulity on the faces of the Enterprise crew having to observe from the sidelines the irrational behavior of Bele and Loki. Their disbelief was summed up in one word by the ship’s engineer, Montgomery Scott: “disgusting.”
This episode came to mind today as I pondered what I see as an apparently long term approach being taken by the left on race relations. Using “Let That Be Your Last Battleground” as the case study, the Enterprise crew tried to convince Bele and Loki that their one of a kind physical appearance was a strength; that this apparent mutation of monotone skin coloring (Bele being black on the right side of his face and white on the left, and Loki being black on the left side, white on the right), could be a platform from which the two races go forward.
I view the term, “people of color” as an attempt to stir a political and cultural mutation where not only are different non-European ethnic groups lumped under the “people of color” banner, but black people in America see their blackness diluted where they are no longer referred to as black or even African American. This “beiging” of America may be seen by the left as a way to eliminate racial differences and mitigate the bias and violence stemming from race discussions.
America may eventually beige, but in the short term I am seeing pushback against the “people of color” phrase. Black Americans, in particular those who also see reparations as a policy for rectifying numerous wrongs perpetrated on blacks, are cooling to the term, seeing it as an attack on their lineage and culture.
Another thing to consider is that racial bias has to be addressed within the context of capital. Even if America was “mullatoed”, there would still be distinctions, in some cases severe distinctions, between people based on wealth and capital holdings, as I have alluded to before in other posts.
I don’t think, like Bele and Loki, a majority of Americans are ready for a mutation to a blended new being, politically, culturally, or otherwise.