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Old November 5 2009, 08:13 PM   #1
DevilEyes
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USS Cortez? Really?

I wasn't sure whether to post this in the DS9 subforum or here, but I decided to post it here because it concerns the politics of Federation and Star Trek in general.

In DS9, we found out that one of the Federation ships used in the Dominion War was called USS Cortez. If there is any doubt if this is really a reference to the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, there is also another ship called USS Malinche (mentioned in another DS9 episode ("For the Uniform"), a reference to Cortes's interpreter/sidekick/lover, Dona Marina aka La Malinche. According to Wikipedia, Hans Beimler (who grew up in Mexico) and Robert Hewitt Wolfe are in fact currently working on a movie called The Serpent and the Eagle, about La Malinche and Cortes.

According to Ronald D. Moore, the ship was named for La Malinche, "Cortéz' Indian lover, a brilliant woman who had a gift for languages." (AOL chat, 1997) She assisted Cortés in his conquest of Mexico.
Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented "When Hans was doing a polish on the DS9 episode "For the Uniform," he named a ship the USS Malinche. In my gringo ignorance, I thought Malinche was a made up word. Faux Vulcan maybe". [1]
http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/USS_Malinche

This is really a question I'd like to ask Beimler, and other DS9 writers, but since I don't believe they come here, I'm just going to ask if anyone is aware if any of them ever commented on the matter.

Let's see... the Federation apparently chose to honor the man who lead the conquest and colonization of another civilization in order to plunder its natural resources, destroying a civilization and committing mass murders of native population (but it was allegedly for their own good because they needed to be converted from their false religion and inferior culture)...

Am I the only one who finds this - and particularly the fact that it was seen on DS9, considering the themes on this show - both strange and extremely ironic?

Too bad I can't address the question to Ira Steven Behr in particular, because I would especially like to ask him about that, given his tendency to draw comparisons between the characters on his show and real world historical figures, and his public rants that managed to be strangely misguided in their self-righteousness and deeply offensive to the portion of the fanbase. For frak's sake, the guy actually condemned anyone who liked the fictional character of Dukat in any way and pronounced the women who find him sexy as sickos who would write to serial killers or dream about Idi Amin or Pol Pot. But apparently it's perfectly OK for his show to have "good guys" honoring a very real, historical mass murderer/colonizer. So, should I ask why there weren't any Federation ships named after Idi Amin or Pol Pot?
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Old November 5 2009, 08:40 PM   #2
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

Dude, there have been and will be more than one person with the name Cortez.

There's plenty of centuries between now and then for the swellest guy alive, who made peace with the Gorn and some other alien jerks and shoots flowers out of his butt to be named Cortez.
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Old November 5 2009, 08:44 PM   #3
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

The OP makes some good points.

However,

I imagine that you can pick any historical name for a ship in ST and someone is gonna be offended by it. Anyone who is a hero to some is inevitably a villain to others.
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Old November 5 2009, 08:45 PM   #4
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

It's one of two things, in my personal opinion: a different Cortez (certainly possible if we did not hear that the ship is the HERNANDO Cortez), or it's one of those cases where a terrestrial ship name is being carried forward out of tradition. In the latter case, I don't like it personally, but they may be carrying the name forward out of nautical tradition the way the name Enterprise carried forward.
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Old November 5 2009, 08:45 PM   #5
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

Interesting question, DevilEyes. There are lots of places named Cortez. Many/most of them in the New World were presumably named for Hernando Cortez, but I doubt if everything named Cortez was. It's not that uncommon of a name. A quick Google search turns up lots of other Cortezes.

I never really thought about it, but if I had, I would have assumed that the ship was named after the Sea of Cortez or Cortez, Colorado. Admittedly both of these were probably named for Hernando Cortez, but still, naming a ship after a place isn't the same as naming it after the person. At least it isn't to me.

Call me naive, but I can't really believe Trek writers decided it would be a dandy idea to immortalize this particular Cortez. But I see from Memory Alpha that there have been quite a few USS Cortezes in Starfleet history. So I expect subsequent USS Cortezes were simply named after the first one.
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Old November 5 2009, 08:59 PM   #6
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

Mysterion wrote: View Post
I imagine that you can pick any historical name for a ship in ST and someone is gonna be offended by it. Anyone who is a hero to some is inevitably a villain to others.
This is true, but there should be at least a reasonable standard involved, with a little common sense. Most people are going to be able to see that the names of U.S.S. Hernan Cortez, U.S.S. Adolf Hitler, and U.S.S. Whore of Babylon are going to be more offensive to more people than the names of U.S.S. Ronald McNair, U.S.S. Mohandas Gandhi, or U.S.S. Ahura Mazda.
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Old November 5 2009, 09:53 PM   #7
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

I would totally serve on the USS Whore of Babylon... I mean, dude!
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Old November 5 2009, 10:00 PM   #8
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

the USS Cortez is named after Marco Cortez, Captain Discovery NX-04.
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Old November 5 2009, 10:05 PM   #9
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

captcalhoun wrote: View Post
the USS Cortez is named after Marco Cortez, Captain Discovery NX-04.
Source?

Herkimer Jitty wrote: View Post
Dude, there have been and will be more than one person with the name Cortez.

There's plenty of centuries between now and then for the swellest guy alive, who made peace with the Gorn and some other alien jerks and shoots flowers out of his butt to be named Cortez.
I was thinking that, but the probability becomes significantly lower when another ship is named after a historical figure so closely associated with Hernan Cortes/Cortez (La Malinche).
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Old November 5 2009, 10:11 PM   #10
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

source? my fan-fic.

same as the USS Zhukov is named for the captain of the NX-08 Dedalo, not the Russian WWII general
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Old November 5 2009, 10:14 PM   #11
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

Mysterion wrote: View Post
The OP makes some good points.

However,

I imagine that you can pick any historical name for a ship in ST and someone is gonna be offended by it. Anyone who is a hero to some is inevitably a villain to others.
Well, there's a difference betyween being offended "just because" and being offended for legitimate reasons.
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Old November 5 2009, 10:15 PM   #12
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

Herkimer Jitty wrote: View Post
Dude, there have been and will be more than one person with the name Cortez.
Sure, you could apply that proviso to anything, but it's pretty obvious that the ship was named after Hernando Cortez. I mean, do you really think the U.S.S. Roosevelt, the U.S.S. Truman, and the U.S.S. Gandhi (to name just a few from the actual series) were really named after Tom Roosevelt from the 21st century, Dick Truman from the 22nd, and Harry Gandhi from the 23rd? No. They were named after who we think they're named after. Same with the Cortez.

captcalhoun wrote: View Post
source? my fan-fic.

same as the USS Zhukov is named for the captain of the NX-08 Dedalo, not the Russian WWII general
Your fan-fic has nothing to do with the U.S.S. Cortez from DS9.
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Old November 5 2009, 10:17 PM   #13
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

USS_Triumphant wrote: View Post
Mysterion wrote: View Post
I imagine that you can pick any historical name for a ship in ST and someone is gonna be offended by it. Anyone who is a hero to some is inevitably a villain to others.
This is true, but there should be at least a reasonable standard involved, with a little common sense. Most people are going to be able to see that the names of U.S.S. Hernan Cortez, U.S.S. Adolf Hitler, and U.S.S. Whore of Babylon are going to be more offensive to more people than the names of U.S.S. Ronald McNair, U.S.S. Mohandas Gandhi, or U.S.S. Ahura Mazda.
Some more extreme examples there.

How about USS Werner von Braun? Now is he the guiding force behind man's first steps on the moon or is he the Nazi who helped drop V2 rockets all over London in WW2 killing innocent civilians? You'll probably get fairly persausive arguments from either side.

Seem that Starfleet's (and the producers of ST) best bet would be to name ships after very non-specific personages and the like.

Or for folks in the audience to dial back the sensetivity meter a notch or three.
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Old November 5 2009, 10:22 PM   #14
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

My question is how far back do you go? People seem to forget that the migration from Europe to the Americas was not the first mass movement of population. History is full of incidents where the more populace, powerful and persistent groups push into new areas and become dominant. In many cases the groups they dispose (Aztecs, Egyptians) were guilty of doing the same thing in an earlier time.
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Old November 5 2009, 11:34 PM   #15
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Re: USS Cortez? Really?

captcalhoun wrote: View Post
same as the USS Zhukov is named for the captain of the NX-08 Dedalo, not the Russian WWII general
Why not? I don't recall Zhukov doing anything particularly nasty, other than enforcing Soviet rule over Eastern Europe and not preventing genocide and ethnic cleansing in western Pol... oh.

I'll take Cortez over Yamato, though. Maybe they just don't care. There's probably a USS Bismarck too.

Mysterion wrote:
USS Werner von Braun
It's conceivable. I'd use von Braun for a ship name, if for no other reason to set it into the future. As 500 years out, people care much less about Hernan Cortez, in 400 years, they might care less about von Braun's involvement in slave labor (I'm personally not very offended by the V2s) and be more interested in his assistance to the United States space program.

Then again, I think it'd be neat to see a runabout called the USS Enola Gay, so I might be somewhat insensitive.
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