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Jewsweek Magazine ^ | 11-10-02 | Dr. Richard Benkin

Posted on 11/10/2002 5:07:10 PM PST by SJackson | Several Star Trek episodes are set in some historical or quasi-historical period, generally to draw some moral point. There was the Nazi episode, the ancient Rome episode, and many others. I remember one in particular that finds Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in Depression-era America, where they traveled to encounter none other than Joan Collins. "Ah," assumes anyone familiar with both the series and Ms. Collins, "another notch on Jim Kirk's intergalactic bedpost." And that assumption would be correct -- sort of.

The episode begins with the good Dr. McCoy somehow shooting himself with a drug that renders him a raving lunatic. Out of his mind, McCoy bolts to the transporter room and beams down to the nearest planet: a desolate and dark place of scrub brush and boulders, except, that is, for a mysterious arch. Quick on McCoy's heels, a landing party, led of course by Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, beam down after him. They search but to no avail. Suddenly, they spy a wild-eyed McCoy, delusional and paranoid, as he leaps through the arch and disappears. Not knowing what to do, Kirk takes out his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise. Kirk to Enterprise. Come in Enterprise." Nothing, zip, nada.

With that, a confused Kirk mugs for the camera as a booming voice informs us that the Enterprise was no more. In fact, it never was. It seems that McCoy's leap through the arch took him into the past where he did something, something that changed history. In fact, what he did erased centuries of human progress, and the crew of the Enterprise never went "boldly where no man has gone before." The authoritative-sounding disembodied voice would not say just what that action was, but Kirk knew that he and Spock had to travel back in time and prevent it at all costs. So they did, landing in Depression-era America some days ahead of McCoy.

There they find the voluptuous Ms. Collins: an angel of mercy amid the ravages of Depression-era slum life. She is a social worker, a truly remarkable individual, beloved by all and possessed, of course, of only the most noble sentiments. Single-handedly, she operates a combination soup kitchen and alcohol rehab facility. Kirk, of course, romances her, while Spock utilizes the primitive tools of that time to peer into the future. In that way, he discovers how McCoy changed history and destroyed human progress.

It seems that prior to the doctor's mad dash back in time, the wonderful and altruistic Collins was killed by a speeding motorist. The out-of-place McCoy, however, once free from the drug that propelled him into the past, saves her. As a result, she goes on to lead a peace movement that "delays the United States' entry into World War II just long enough," Spock tells us, for Germany to develop the atomic bomb. "Nazis!" exclaims Kirk in a whisper. "That's correct, sir," Spock responds. McCoy's action sets in motion a string of events that leads to Hitler's victory and to their new reality.

There can be no doubt that McCoy acted only to do the right thing -- to save a life. Nor should we doubt that the surviving Collins and her followers in the peace movement were inspired by the noblest of motives -- peace, to save lives. We would be wrong to call them either cowardly or unpatriotic.

So, too, would we misjudge today's peaceniks by assuming the vast majority of them are acting out of base motives. But they could learn a great deal from this episode Star Trek. Even the pure of heart can wreak havoc on us all. In short, calls for the United States to refrain from acting decisively against Iraq and militant Islam are, at best, trading long term peace and security for "peace in our time".

Peace in our time, the phrase made famous when the West sold out to Hitler in Munich, is just as deceptive today as it was then. There are those who argue that comparisons between Hussein and Hitler are strained, between the 1930's and today, and ignore decades of change. While there might be some truth to this argument, its adherents use it to obscure the very real danger that does exist.

One contention that scoffs at equating Saddam with Adolph points to the United States' overwhelming military superiority as rendering laughable the notion that Saddam is a threat. That certainly could not be said regarding Nazi Germany. But Saddam is a credible threat in a world populated by terrorists looking to deliver a surreptitious blow to the U.S. One need not pierce our missile defense system today, only the I.N.S. Remember, neither Hitler nor his allies ever bombed New York City. Saddam's cohorts did it twice. Imagine if one of those attacks involved chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

Those who caution against military action also point to the United Nations, and enjoin the United States to submit to the "moral authority" of that international body. There was no U.N. in the 1930's, they tell us, and we are obligated to go through it. Perhaps there was no U.N., but there was something called the League of Nations. The League stressed negotiation over war -- like the Joan Collins character in Star Trek, animated by the desire to save human lives. Yet, we saw the results of such a policy and that, in the end, it cost more lives than it spared by avoiding quick and early military action. It led to the Munich Conference that is the definitive example of appeasement, as well as to other discredited actions. (Do you know that Hitler had ordered his soldiers invading the Rhineland to turn back at the slightest sign of resistance? Of course, there was none, and it only served to embolden him and lead to more aggressive action.) Ultimately, the League's cautious approach had neither the teeth nor the unity of purpose to hold the fascist states in check, and it fell apart.

Even beyond that, the U.N. long ago forfeited any claim to a moral authority. A body that has passed scores of resolutions condemning the United States and Israel -- two great democracies -- and remains silent about mistreatment and human rights abuses by tyrannies has no claim to moral authority. A body that failed to act time and again in the face of genocide -- in Bosnia, in Sudan, in Rwanda, and elsewhere -- and in the face of government-sponsored religious prosecution has no claim to moral authority.

The United Nations, in fact, is the poster child for inaction when faced with the worst human rights abuses and threats to world peace. The U.N. honors the worst human rights violators with respected places on its human rights bodies. Even if one believes that the U.S. requires a moral authority greater than the guiding principles on which this country is based, we will not find one in the United Nations. Does anyone really believe that the political philosophy of Kofi Anan and the current Beijing government is superior to that of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?

Let's also remember that Hitler's first aggressive act was not territorial expansion but the re-arming of Germany. By terms of the treaty Germany signed at the close of the previous war, the allies ended the war in exchange for Germany's disarmament. The Nazi regime defied those terms and challenged the world to do anything about it. While there were those who recognized the threat, diplomats, journalists, and others tended to justify the re-arming as nothing more than the legitimate actions of a sovereign state. They rejected any arguments that suggested the nature of the regime made the armaments a threat to world peace.

Similarly, Iraq was bound by terms of the Gulf War cease-fire not to arm itself with weapons of mass destruction. Yet, we now know that Saddam never honored those terms, and continued to expand his chemical and biological weapons stockpile. Going beyond that, he has acquired medium range missiles. Even the usually secretive British Joint Intelligence Committee has documented at least 20 such missiles, "capable of delivering chemical and biological warheads on Israeli cities with only 45 minutes' warning." On more than one occasion, the Turkish government has seized radioactive material on its way to Iraq, which could add a nuclear component as well.

In a final similarity, Hitler ascribed responsibility for his pending war on, who else, "world Jewry." As he planned his evil deeds, he tried to divert the world's attention by blaming the Jews. Now, as Saddam builds up his own threat to world peace, he and his mouthpieces claim again and again that the United States is the real threat to peace, and only in the service of "the Zionists".

In but one respect do I disagree with the President's stated position. I do not believe that firm action is necessary because Iraq is the problem. Iraq is not the problem, but merely one component of it. The war that we are asked to continue fighting is the same war that was launched in Afghanistan last year against the coalition of international terrorists. At the time, President Bush stated that, in fact, Afghanistan was only the first operation in this life and death struggle. Think back to September 11, 2001, and the mixture of grief and determination that animated our entry into that war. When I do, I wonder how we can do anything but continue this struggle for our lives and our civilization.

We can also take as a model for action the 1981 Israeli destruction of Iraq's nuclear installation. When Menachem Begin recognized the threat that it posed, did he go hat in hand to the United Nations? Was he concerned about the possibility that dictators and detractors would condemn the action? As someone who lived through both the Shoah and the constant threat of his nation's destruction, Begin acted. Imagine the loss of American life in Desert Storm had the Israelis not taken that firm action --condemned as aggression at the time. Imagine Desert Storm against a Saddam Hussein who had nuclear capability for ten years. Imagine a Saddam Hussein today with more than 20 years of nuclear capability. If that's a frightening thought, realize that you won't have to imagine it in 20 years if we do not act now. It could be reality.

The United States and its freedom-loving allies face a large and mobilized force of radical Islam in the Middle East. This is a force that has not shrunk from placing their own children in harm's way -- as human shields and decoys, and as homicide bombers. Do we really think that such people would have scruples about not deceiving those whom they oppose. Every delay brings our enemies closer to delivering a blow with weapons of mass destruction. Every delay places millions of innocent victims in harm's way, going about their lives until a terrorist ends them.

Yes, we can learn a great deal from Star Trek. Many voyages of the starship Enterprise were metaphors for the great moral and political struggles of our time. Fans of the show know that it tackled issues of war and peace, racism and prejudice, and even the gap that was growing between children and their parents. We would do well to heed their advice.

The signs that were ignored in the 1930's are laid bare for us to see today. Self-serving diplomats, the purveyors of a false moral equivalence, and those with good intentions who naively believed there could be peace without justice, did not act then. We can act now. We must act now, or our children will pay the cost for our failure.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
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To: SevenofNine
As kids??....Some of us closet geeks are still "keeping it real" :) You should see the almost epileptic fits my better half throw when she realizes that I've flipped the TV over to a ST episode. Sometimes I do it out of sheer evil and say one of the character's lines before the character does while she's watching. It drives her nuts and amuses me to no end. I'm a bad, bad man. :)
41 posted on 11/10/2002 10:16:08 PM PST by SandfleaCSC
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To: SJackson
The writer missed the ideology factor of the current anti-war crowd. They are anti-Bush and pro-Saddam. Saddam is a Stalinist/marxist and so are they. Same is true for Nam - only in that anti-war movement they even opposed a democrat, albeit a southern populist one.

If Saddam were a "right-wing" elected President using martial law to fight a marxist/rebel insurgency in his country they would be all for taking him out, i.e. Nicaragua, Bosnia, Serbia, etc.

42 posted on 11/10/2002 10:42:19 PM PST by PeaceBeWithYou
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To: SJackson
But if the Enterprise vanished because it had never existed... how did Kirk end up on the planet?
43 posted on 11/10/2002 11:16:28 PM PST by TheLooseThread
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John
"I shall leave you as you left me--alone on a cold, dead world...buried alive...buried alive...buried alive" - Khan

44 posted on 11/10/2002 11:24:04 PM PST by Skywalk
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To: TheLooseThread
You aren't supposed to ask that. There was a Stainless Steel Rat book with the same premise.
45 posted on 11/10/2002 11:39:56 PM PST by altair
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To: MedicalMess
Remember the episode where the Nazis are back in power?

Yeah, but I forget the name. Die Zayon pig!

How about the one with the mob bosses running things?

A Piece of the Action. That was a good one. I loved the version of poker they played.

46 posted on 11/10/2002 11:43:35 PM PST by altair
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To: Sungirl
He's dead Jim.

You grab his tricorder, I'll grab his wallet.

47 posted on 11/10/2002 11:57:34 PM PST by altair
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To: strela
That movie wasn't for you. It catered to the hard core trekkies. My favorite scene was the one the reviewers didn't understand, it was that wonderfully long sequence as they slowly approach the Enterprise in a shuttle.
48 posted on 11/11/2002 12:03:23 AM PST by altair
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To: altair
"That movie wasn't for you. It catered to the hard core trekkies. My favorite scene was the one the reviewers didn't understand, it was that wonderfully long sequence as they slowly approach the Enterprise in a shuttle."

Amen to that. TMP actually nudges out TWOK for my favorite Trek film. I also had the pleasure to meet its director, none other than the legendary Robert Wise (who also directed "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music"). Having seen the previews for the upcoming Trek film, it looks like they continue to move away from what the original series was supposed to embody, and it looks to be more like a sequel to "Hellraiser" complete with a fella that looks like "Pinhead" minus the pins. *Sigh*

49 posted on 11/11/2002 12:59:02 AM PST by fieldmarshaldj
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To: altair
>Remember the episode where the Nazis are back in power?

>>Yeah, but I forget the name. Die Zayon pig!

Patterns of Force

50 posted on 11/11/2002 1:51:47 AM PST by PeaceBeWithYou
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To: SandfleaCSC
OH Sand I hear TNN bought the rights of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Voyager but it be while before they be allow show it I think first showing going be early as 2005 for Deep Space Nine and Voyager following year 2006

Does Fergeni remind you of certain Demo leader AHHH named Tom Dashule
51 posted on 11/11/2002 8:46:12 AM PST by SevenofNine
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