Since its inception in the 2130s, no other branch of the intergalactic military has not only innovated and pushed forward its member worlds, but has withstood the test of time and came out on top of every challenge it’s faced, like Starfleet. Originally founded as the space faring branch of the United Earth as humanity spread out into the stars, the institution quickly became much more than a bunch of faster-than-light capable ships performing experiments on alien worlds. Starfleet’s significance would be well established very early in its lifetime.
In the 2150s, Starfleet was instrumental in fending off not one but two aggressive alien civilizations; that of the Xindi and the Romulan Star Empire. The United Earth Space Probe Agency, an organization which would last well into the first century of the Federation’s existence, would adopt Starfleet as its military arm shortly after the successful campaign into the Delphic Expanse by Enterprise, NX-01. That action would successfully meld Starfleet with military assault commandos (MACOs), an experiment that would prove to be extremely valuable to protecting Earth (after the Federation, MACOs would be integrated into Starfleet Security).
Starfleet would produce heroes of legend. Normally, military commanders don’t get as much notoriety as one may think. However, since Jonathan Archer, there have been many who have become legends in and of themselves. The likes of James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard, just to name a few, come to mind.
While Kirk would be instrumental in saving the Earth on multiple occasions, it’s Picard who would shine as the one who saved the entire Federation time and time again. His good name spread as far as the Romulan Empire, of which Picard refused to let die. He, with Ambassador Spock, attempted to convince both the Federation Council and the Romulan Senate to help save the Romulan people.
It was the Federation that would attempt to rush to the aid of the Romulans. However, the so-called “rescue armada” was attacked and destroyed by so-called Synthetics, and the Federation said, “Screw you” to the Romulans.
That was the beginning of the end of Starfleet as we know it. An organization that has stood for all that is good and just in the galaxy – a military/research/exploration/peace keeping force known the entire galaxy-over. The Romulans, Klingons, Sheliak, Borg, even the Dominion came up against her and failed, miserably. Starfleet was the ultimate moral good, at least on the surface. Of course, Section 31 was their secret police, but operated separate and apart when Starfleet joined the Federation.
Or so we were led to believe…
Starfleet was seen as an image of the United States in the 1960s, which was also supposed to represent the best of what the United States was all about. Cooperation among different races (they had a Russian on the bridge for heaven’s sake – our economic-mortal enemies, and a black woman as a command officer!), freedom and democracy (going up against the Klingons, Romulans and whatever race of the week threatened them in that particular episode), religion and thought (going up against the latter, literally, on the Amusement Park Planet, taking down the Greek god Apollo, himself, etc.). Starfleet was portrayed as one who was lighting the darkened tunnel of chaos and evil, giving hope to those who aspired to be better, to be more; a hope for humanity the likes of which had never been thought of before!
That trend would continue into the second incarnation of STAR TREK on TV, that of THE NEXT GENERATION, then DEEP SPACE NINE, and even into VOYAGER and back in time to ENTERPRISE. Every child growing up in the 1970s through the 1990s wanted to find a way to time travel into the future and join Starfleet. The very idea of Starfleet itself, not just STAR TREK, had inspired JFK to go to the moon! It was the ingenuity of the technology shown each week that inspired Steve Wozniak to build the Apple I, a simple computer board that would be the very foundation of the Apple II and every personal computer from that point in time-onward. Starfleet is the inspiration President Donald Trump has taken to outline the creation of the United States Space Force, agree with him or not, it’s there.
Starfleet has stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves. THE NEXT GENERATION was one of the first to bring transgender rights to the forefront in the classic episode, “The Outcast.” In this story, Commander Riker falls for a member of the Ja’nai, a race of beings who are androgynous and have no gender (fun fact: janai in Japanese means, “is not,” and the creators and producers of STAR TREK, from Gene Roddenberry all the way through Rick Berman and Branon Bragga, took a lot of inspiration for names, places etc. from Japan). This member of the Ja’nai believed itself to be female and Riker fiercely attempted to protect her from the heart of her society that would “rehabilitate” her. In the end, she would have this “rehabilitation” and return to the core of its society.
DEEP SAPCE NINE would bring about the second LGBT theme in the episode “Rejoined.” In this adventure, Jadzia Dax is reunited with the host of Kahn (not Ricardo Montalban’s Khan but a Trill symbiant of the same name). Dax and Kahn were married in another life as a heterosexual couple in both host and symbiant. When Dax’s host died in a shuttle accident, Dax moved on to the next host. It was against Trill law to rejoin in love/marriage with hosts/symbiants from previous lives. So this time, Dax’s ex-life’s lover is in a female host. While the very nature of the Trill is pure representation of transgender individuals, the on-screen kiss between Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson caused a wildfire of reactions both positive and negative, among fans and normies alike.
The scene was one of the first non-pornographic homosexual kiss scenes on television.
In STAR TREK VOYAGER’s “Warlord,” the telepathic character of Kes was possessed by the spirit of a male warlord who sought to escape death by jumping from person to person upon the death of his host. (*Takes a breath*). He was joined to a woman, and when Kes was chosen to be his next host, again, the LGBT issue was brought to the forefront as Jennifer Lein had to play the role of a male warlord and have several tender scenes with the warlord’s “widow.”
Science and social issues will always be at the heart of STAR TREK, and within it, Starfleet has always been the one carrying the flag at the front of the parade. It’s a fictional organization that has had the most non-fictional influences in all of our mythos. Starfleet represents the best of what we can be as human beings. It has been that way for nearly 54 years!
That is, until Alex Kurtzman poisoned the well and gave us the version of Starfleet we see in STAR TREK PICARD.
Starfleet acts as though it has embraced Section 31, allowing the Romulans to die, justifying Nero’s position in ST09; enslaving an entire species of synthetic life forms, etc. The representation of Starfleet in this show is one of the most offensive and damaging ever portrayed. “This is not your house anymore,” Admiral Clancy says to a desperate Picard; a Picard who still holds the values of the Federation and what Starfleet stands for. Clancy tells us everything we need to know about this interpretation of Starfleet – and it’s disgusting!
The message of “respekt wahman” in that one scene alone is enough to turn me off, a life-long STAR TREK fan. “The sheer f–king hubris,” Clancy says to Picard who simply asked to be reactivated even at a reduced rank. Starfleet has been reduced to a feminist propaganda arm, and that, alone, betrays everything Starfleet was founded on, both in-universe and in reality. The reason why I mentioned all of those things above is because those are the things that STAR TREK inspires, and how STAR TREK tackled the issues of the times.
It was Starfleet that rescued Kes from the warlord’s evil spirit. It was Starfleet that came to Dax’s side when she was forced to decide between her heart and her duty to her people. It was Starfleet who stood up for the Ja’nai woman when no one else would. It was Starfleet that did the most good throughout the galaxy.
And now, in STAR TREK PICARD, it’s Starfleet that represents “Orange Man Bad,” and how “wahman” will take it down. How dare Alex Kurtzman and Michael Chabon do what they have done to such a beloved symbol in both science fiction and in society as a whole! That whole speech at the end of STD season 1 by Mikey Spock was completely betrayed by Kurtzman in just five minutes of STAR TREK PICARD. If this is what is to be passed for as STAR TREK canon, then I don’t see myself as wanting to have anything to do with this garbage!