While I think Yglesias is fair in noting that ST09 was a very violent film even while Trek
's general philosophy is one of the desire to avoid violence and gunboat diplomacy whenever possible, I disagree with his assertion that ST09 had no distinctly Trekian themes. It was, in the form of Kirk and Spock's arcs, a movie about learning to see past our differences, cultural and personal, and learning to work together for the common good.
"Nicholas Meyer, writer and director of the best Star Trek
movies, once wrote that 'at its absolute worst, Star Trek
is a plaid-pants, golf-course Republican version of the future where white men and American values always predominate (despite blatant tokenism), and gunboat diplomacy carries the day.' And perhaps that’s true—when the show was at its worst. But at its best, the Original Series reflected not plaid-pants arrogance but Great Society optimism."
I think there's some truth to what Meyer (and, implicitly, Yglesias) say about Trek
at its worst. But I think they exaggerate too much -- to me, Trek
at its worst seems to embody more the '60s Kennedy Democratic establishment than "a golf-course Republican version of the future." Unless Meyer is thinking more Nelson Rockefeller than Ronald Reagan (or, for that matter, Sarah Palin).