Paper Moon wrote:
It's interesting, I think the episode does indeed say this, but I think it also presents a strong case for Laas being unreasonable in his conclusions and the Starfleeters (somewhat less so the Klingons) behaving appropriately.
I agree with that. Laas makes some valid observations, but comes to some invalid conclusions. For example, Laas not being allowed to lounge around the promenade as a cloud of fog isn't a sign of oppression. If O'Brien decided to put a bean-bag in the middle of the walkway and sat there reading a book then he'd be told to move along too. There is some discrimination of Changelings on DS9, but Laas is actively looking for discrimination and finds some even where there isn't any.
Exactly. I mean, you could argue that it is a sign of minor oppression and be poetic about it, but yeah.
Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang (**½)
It turns out that Felix, the guy that has been providing Bashir with all his crazy holosuite programs, planted this surprise in Vic's program to add a little excitement to it. Not only that, but he somehow overrode the holosuite controls and prevented the program from stopping. Felix is a security risk that has messed with the normal operation of systems on a strategically vital space station, and the crew of DS9 shouldn't be treating the situation as lightly as they do. But being characters in a TV show, they decide to plan an audacious heist to save Vic from a programmer that widely overstepped his bounds.
They could shut the program down. Yeah, it would wipe Vic's memory, but there's an argument to be made that that wasn't supposed to matter, at least, in Felix's mind. So, yeah, Felix has messed with the holosuite, but that's hardly a critical system and it's easy to conceive of a way he could've done it that would keep the influence isolated to the holosuite program. And if people didn't want to play with his jack-in-the-box, they just reset the program. It's not like it's (supposed) to be a plot-based program, where you'd "save your game" regularly, it's the same thing over and over again.
"Our people" is the bit that sticks out the most. Up until this point, there have been no black people in the 24th century, just people who are black. The fact that Sisko openly refers to himself as a black person is jarring, but it does make some sense in light of Sisko's experiences as Benny Russell. As someone who experienced the sort of discrimination that black people faced around that time, it makes sense that Sisko would take personal offence to the fact that Vic's program ignores that ugly part of history. That being said, the way this was handled in the episode was ham-handed and failed to make that connection to Benny Russell. I like the idea of the scene, but it could have been executed way better.
SISKO: In 1962, the Civil Rights movement was still in its infancy. It wasn't an easy time for our people and I'm not going to pretend that it was.
I agree it was ham-handed, and there probably should've been a connection to Benny Russell. (I wonder if Avery Brooks pushed for the inclusion of this thread in the story.)
On the other hand (well, not exactly, since it doesn't invalidate the point that it's a ham-handed execution, but anyway), I believe that there is indirect evidence to support this seemingly abruptly-added aspect of Sisko's character, which I outlined here
, back during the discussion of "Far Beyond The Stars."
Quoting the most relevant bit [edited slightly for clarity]:
The setting of the pagh'tem'far is significant as well, and clearly tailored specifically to Sisko: Sisko is clearly well-read on the histories of the peoples of [Africa and the] Diaspora, as well as the histories of the 20th and 21st centuries on Earth in general. Consider:
The pagh'tem'far is crafted to be uniquely understandable and relevant to Sisko. In a way, its effect is heightened: something that was previously presumably a solely academic endeavor (the study of Africana history) is made vividly real. Quite a contrast.
- the Yoruba mask that he brought from Earth to DS9 when DS9 became "home," and that he then brought to Starbase 375 when he was assigned to Admiral Ross; the Yoruba are a major tribe in Nigeria, and Sisko's possession and admiration of a Yoruba mask suggest an awareness and appreciation of that culture (and perhaps even an identification with it, although that is a question for another time).
- Sisko's attitude in "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang"; he knows the history of the American Civil Rights Movement down to the specific years, over three centuries after the fact. The topic is clearly important to him.
- his detailed knowledge of the Bell Riots, their background and their repercussions; again, his level of knowledge suggests quite a bit more than a passing interest.
- though this is weaker evidence, it could be argued that Sisko's familiarity with the Bell Riots resulted from a careful study of African diaspora leaders, of whom Gabriel Bell would surely qualify as.
- lastly, and this is rather weak evidence, and is very subjective: Sisko's off-duty attire has always struck me as being influenced/inspired by traditional African fabric designs. Again, this is very circumstantial, but it fits into this overall image of a man who understands, values, respects and admires the histories and cultures of [Africa and the African] diaspora.
So there is precedent for Sisko's sensitivity to the romanticized history here, beyond his Benny Russell experiences alone.
It seems possible to me that Sisko is part of a particular cultural movement taking place among humans in the latter half of the 24th century, in which humans are more aware of their individual heritage among the rich diversity of backgrounds found on Earth. We only see about 14 24th-century Earth-born humans in any significant depth; it could just be that Sisko is that only adherent of this movement of those that we've seen.
But I actually think we don't even need that explanation. Kirk was born in Iowa; I could definitely see him talking about "family roots in Iowa," or values that he picked up as an Iowan
. Chekov proclaimed the glories of Russia and the Russian people on a regular basis. Chakotay identifies with his Native American ancestry. And Picard, perhaps more in conception that execution, put serious value on his French heritage. Maybe none of them would go so far as to say "I'm a Frenchman, while one of my predecessors was an Iowan," but maybe they would.
And O'Brien, too. If he were shown a holo-program that took place in Belfast in the 1970s and depicted a peaceful era of independent Irish rule (or at the very least, one that made no mention of the Troubles whatsoever), don't you think he would react a bit negatively at the revisionist history? [EDIT: It occurs to me that this comparison may be faux pas. To clarify, recall that, in the Trekverse, Ireland was united in 2024. So, presumably, O'Brien's understanding of "Irish identity" incorporates republican and unionist narratives (the way today's American identity incorporates narratives from New England, the South, the Mid-West, etc). A better comparison might be to ask if O'Brien's reaction to Voyager's "Fair Haven" program would be comparable to your own, GodBen
My point is that it's not quite so simple as
Up until this point, there have been no black people in the 24th century, just people who are black.
The "our people" phrase is a bit further than we've seen, but it's really not that far removed from the ethnic pride we see in Picard, Kirk, Chekov, Chakotay, or O'Brien.