So now that TNG's first season is out in Blu-ray, discussions will no doubt arise again about "Code of Honor" and how it is viewed by many people as racist in its portrayal of the Ligonians.
Tracy Torme said, "I felt like it was a '40s tribal African
view of blacks
Wil Wheaton said, "Code of Honor is not an especially good episode, but it's not as overtly racist as I recalled... if the Ligonians hadn't been arbitrarily determined to be entirely African American
, it wouldn't have even been an issue."
But here's the question: Are the Ligonians humans or aliens?
The core problem is revealed in Wil Wheaton's statement: the Ligonians are perceived to be "African Americans" rather than aliens.
What if the Ligonians had some sort of alien forehead makeup or something to clearly identify them as aliens? Do you think that the episode would be perceived as racist?
Or do you think this is supposed to be a human colony, whether established a few generations earlier or by, say, the Preservers many centuries or millennia earlier?
If these are humans, what makes a group of people living differently than the very Western way of the Federation "racist"?
I was 10 when this episode first aired, and I saw the Ligonians as aliens, just like all the human-looking aliens in TOS. So what is it in your view: Are the Ligonians humans or aliens?