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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old October 22 2013, 03:30 PM   #31
David Brennon
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
It's also equally irritating when they use Euro-centric names for starships that really have no more business being on a 24th century ship. Robert E Lee? Zhukov? Tirpitz? Cortez? I mean come the fuck on. I suppose we should be happy there's not a USS Pol Pot or a USS Hideki Tojo, right?
How are decorated and celebrated generals from our history any less acceptable than calling a Federation ship the Shran or Shakaar? Is it only acceptable for us to put names of people we today like on the Starship? General Lee has several high schools named after him today and had an American sub named after him. Alfred von Tirpitz was obviously the namesake of of the battleship in his homeland. Georgy Zhukov was a tireless servant of the Soviet Union. What have they done to not be remembered?

Also, I don't think lumping Robert E. Lee and Georgy Zhukov in with Pol Pot and Hideki Tojo are really apt comparisons. If that's not what you're doing I apologize for reading it that way.

Let me ask you a question. Are you pissed that the Janus Gate novel Future Imperfect has a ship named after Andrew Jackson?
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Old October 22 2013, 04:45 PM   #32
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

David Mack wrote: View Post
That's not a mistake; that's authorial choice. You don't have to like it, but you don't get to call it a mistake.

The next time you decide to call me out for a mistake, try having your facts straight first.
Mr. Mack, the reason I classified the naming convention as a mistake is because it's a common mistake put forth by both westerners and even native Japanese: That the original warships of the name were named for the swordsman rather than the province name. Given as you say that it was an authorial choice, then I retract my statement that you made an error. That said, please understand where I'm coming from.

Also, I don't think lumping Robert E. Lee and Georgy Zhukov in with Pol Pot and Hideki Tojo are really apt comparisons. If that's not what you're doing I apologize for reading it that way.
Robert E. Lee was the commanding general of a state created for the explicit purpose of furthering human chattel slavery. Alfred von Tirpitz was an admiral who helped the naval modernization of Imperial Germany whose name was then also used by a state that is renowned for cruelty and genocide. Georgy Zhukov was the servant of a state that killed tens of millions of its own people.

The Soviet Union, the Confederacy and the German Reichs aren't all that much better than the Khmer Rouge or Imperial Japan.

As a Brit, It's interesting to me to see Star Trek described as "Eurocentric" when I think that most Europeans would consider it to be "Americentric"; but I guess that's a matter of perspective...

I know it's not the same thing, but I deliberately wrote a Welsh Starfleet officer into Day of the Vipers because that was the only part of the British Isles that hadn't been represented in a Star Trek show.

But as for casting a wider net, it's a fair point. I put an Arab Muslim officer in The Poisoned Chalice, although I never got into specifics about where she's actually from.
Mr. Swallow, my apologies as I seemed a little unclear on the Sugihara example. I meant it was a good example of what I was talking about, rather than a wistful desire to see such a ship.

I can see what you mean about Americentric, I suppose my general point was that it was pretty much very Euro-American centric in that even the Americanness is a very distinct middle to upper-middle class white American sensibility. Whether it's their choice of theater or music, there's definitely a tendency to overplay the old European stuff at the expense of nigh everything else.

In general, my point is that TrekLit has been a tremendous improvement over the tv shows or movies. But I wanted to ask the question if it could be better than it is now.
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Old October 22 2013, 04:47 PM   #33
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Relayer1 wrote: View Post
With Firefly the culture portrayed does have a mixed Chino-American flavour and is to be applauded for that, but it is really window dressing - the show is still pretty American. After all, how many people will subconsciously embrace a show that is lacking familiar touchstones and seems alien to them ?
The funny thing about the "Sino-American"ism of Firefly was that...there were 0 Chinese (or really Asian) people in the show at all!
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Old October 22 2013, 05:16 PM   #34
David Brennon
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Robert E. Lee was the commanding general of a state created for the explicit purpose of furthering human chattel slavery. Alfred von Tirpitz was an admiral who helped the naval modernization of Imperial Germany whose name was then also used by a state that is renowned for cruelty and genocide. Georgy Zhukov was the servant of a state that killed tens of millions of its own people.

The Soviet Union, the Confederacy and the German Reichs aren't all that much better than the Khmer Rouge or Imperial Japan.
By your logic neither is the United States or the United Kingdom and so we shouldn't have a USS Enterprise as the headliner for three of the Star Trek franchises. You didn't answer my question about Andrew Jackson. There is controversy over Davy Crockett's legacy, does a ship being named after him offend you? Should they never have named a ship after Yuri Gagarin because he was a Soviet? Your looking at this issue from one side and not being receptive to another view.

Let me put it another way. These ships we've both mentioned, they are named after people from Earth's history. A United Earth's history. Because by this point we're a unified people with a varied history, we have to accept that the villains of one group may be considered heroes to another. Lee, Tirpitz, Zhukov, Jackson, Crockett, Gagarin. These are names that deserve remembering because they were all important to their people, the people who make up a united earth. From a real life perspective, is it really that offensive to you that the writers settled on these names? Why isn't Enterprise bothersome? Seriously, I want to know why, because if you're going to say Robert E. Lee shouldn't be have a namesake because of what his country did, not what he did but his country, then why do we want to glorify the misdeeds of American and British past by using one of our ship names in Star Trek?
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Old October 22 2013, 05:18 PM   #35
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Robert E. Lee was the commanding general of a state created for the explicit purpose of furthering human chattel slavery.
Well, that's not entirely true. It was a state created in order to preserve the cultural identity of the rural Southern states that saw themselves as a distinct society from the industrial North and felt they were in danger of losing that culture. Slavery was one of the principles they wanted to defend, there's no denying that, but it wasn't the only one.


Georgy Zhukov was the servant of a state that killed tens of millions of its own people.
But he also played a key role in defeating Nazi Germany.

The problem is, every historical state has its evils. Prior to the late 18th century, you'd be hard-pressed to find any state that didn't practice slavery. The United States was slaughtering and persecuting Native Americans even while it was pioneering freedom and equality and freeing its slaves. Thomas Jefferson kept slaves. And so on. When it comes to history, if you're too unforgiving, you can't honor anyone. Sometimes you have to acknowledge the good people did while being aware that they weren't saints. It's hard to find a pure white hat or black hat in history.
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Old October 22 2013, 05:26 PM   #36
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Well said, Christopher.
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Old October 22 2013, 05:30 PM   #37
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

David Brennon wrote: View Post
Seriously, I want to know why, because if you're going to say Robert E. Lee shouldn't be have a namesake because of what his country did, not what he did but his country, then why do we want to glorify the misdeeds of American and British past by using one of our ship names in Star Trek?
Zhukov and Lee are different from Gagarin in that they were military men, who led their respective militaries. Lee in particular is different because he willingly chose to side with secessionists who loudly and constantly proclaimed the inferiority of slaves and demanded the right to keep people as chattel. What he chose to do was become the ultimate military leader of that group, and fought and commanded the war for that purpose.

I realize that there are a lot of mixed messages in history, but I think there's sufficient good or preferable examples than the ones that are more ambiguous that we don't have to turn and use those names when they might offend people more broadly. Look, Stalin is still considered a national hero in Russia. Do we really want a USS Iosef Stalin? Of course not. Andrew Jackson is an edge case. I would say that I would much rather have a USS John Quincy Adams than a USS Andrew Jackson for sure, just as I would prefer a USS Wilberforce to a USS Ruyard Kipling.
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Old October 22 2013, 05:52 PM   #38
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

David Brennon wrote: View Post
Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
It's also equally irritating when they use Euro-centric names for starships that really have no more business being on a 24th century ship. Robert E Lee? Zhukov? Tirpitz? Cortez? I mean come the fuck on. I suppose we should be happy there's not a USS Pol Pot or a USS Hideki Tojo, right?
How are decorated and celebrated generals from our history any less acceptable than calling a Federation ship the Shran or Shakaar? Is it only acceptable for us to put names of people we today like on the Starship? General Lee has several high schools named after him today and had an American sub named after him. Alfred von Tirpitz was obviously the namesake of of the battleship in his homeland. Georgy Zhukov was a tireless servant of the Soviet Union. What have they done to not be remembered?

Also, I don't think lumping Robert E. Lee and Georgy Zhukov in with Pol Pot and Hideki Tojo are really apt comparisons. If that's not what you're doing I apologize for reading it that way.
Robert E. Lee may not have been a slaveowner, but the man fought for a government that was founded with the specific purpose of preserving and expanding the slave system against what it perceived as an abolitionist threat from Abraham Lincoln. The Confederacy's purpose for existing was slavery, and no man who led the Confederate Army deserves to have a ship named after him in Star Trek's egalitarian future.

Let me ask you a question. Are you pissed that the Janus Gate novel Future Imperfect has a ship named after Andrew Jackson?
I can't speak for Nob Akimoto, but I certainly don't think anyone should depict a Federation Starship Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson was a mass murderer and an imperialist, and one of the crucial people behind Indian Removal -- one of the most oppressive, immoral things the U.S. government ever did. He should be condemned by history, not celebrated by it.

Edited to add:

Anyone who doubts that the Confederacy was formed for the primary purpose of preserving slavery need only read the various Declarations of the Causes of Secession issued by the seceding state governments, in which they all explicitly said they were seceding to preserve slavery. And, of course, there's the infamous Cornerstone Speech given by Confederate States Vice President Alexander Stephens, in which he proclaimed, "Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition."
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Old October 22 2013, 06:02 PM   #39
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

When you talk about Lee simply deciding to side with the people who wanted to keep the institution of slavery you are reducing history to its basest components. Lee was anti-secession. He sided with his home state, not specifically with the CSA. He didn't become General in Chief of the CSA until the war was nearly over, he spent the majority of it as commander of the army of northern virginia. If you think he somehow supported the notion of slaves being less than human, why would he have wanted to arm them and gradually free them? Towards the end of the war Lee wanted to actually arm the slaves to fight for the CSA and argued to emancipate the slaves that served the country. He wanted slavery to end and was happy it was abolished in the end.

I agree, don't use the names of bad people, but Lee was not a bad person. You cannot condemn these people's achievements because of the actions of their nation. Again, if you do that then you have to consider how much of our own history we need to look at and judge if names like Enterprise really should be so important.
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Old October 22 2013, 06:05 PM   #40
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

No one here is defending the CSA.

No one.

However, as I said before, to condemn a person based on their nation is simply ignorant. You ignore the broader historical context when you do that.
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Old October 22 2013, 06:10 PM   #41
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

David Brennon wrote: View Post
When you talk about Lee simply deciding to side with the people who wanted to keep the institution of slavery you are reducing history to its basest components. Lee was anti-secession. He sided with his home state, not specifically with the CSA. He didn't become General in Chief of the CSA until the war was nearly over, he spent the majority of it as commander of the army of northern virginia. If you think he somehow supported the notion of slaves being less than human, why would he have wanted to arm them and gradually free them? Towards the end of the war Lee wanted to actually arm the slaves to fight for the CSA and argued to emancipate the slaves that served the country. He wanted slavery to end and was happy it was abolished in the end.

I agree, don't use the names of bad people, but Lee was not a bad person. You cannot condemn these people's achievements because of the actions of their nation.
Dude, you cannot separate Lee's accomplishments from his decision to abet an armed insurrection that was created for the explicit primary purpose of preserving slavery.

Even if he personally opposed it, nothing changes the fact that his actions abetted the oppression and enslavement of millions of black men and women by his decision to side with and to lead the Confederate military.

Again, if you do that then you have to consider how much of our own history we need to look at and judge if names like Enterprise really should be so important.
Words like "Enterprise" don't imply the celebration of a particular person's actions. It's not comparable to the question of who in history deserves to have their memory celebrated by a ship name.
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Old October 22 2013, 06:12 PM   #42
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Dude, did you happen to read the part where he armed and freed slaves after he became the commanding general of the csa? Does that jive with the idea of a man who supported the institution of slavery?
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Old October 22 2013, 06:15 PM   #43
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

David Brennon wrote: View Post
Dude, did you happen to read the part where he armed and freed slaves after he became the commanding general of the csa? Does that jive with the idea of a man who supported the institution of slavery?
Congratulations, you've discovered one mitigating thing he did. I'm sure that makes the millions of people who were forced to continue to live in chains because he supported a pro-slavery government feel better.

I don't care if Lee personally supported the institution of slavery, because nothing changes the fact that his actions helped preserve it. The Confederate government existed for the sole purpose of perpetuating the oppression of blacks, and anyone who supported the Confederacy -- even if they personally disagreed with slavery -- was guilty of helping to perpetuate the slave system. You can't join the Mafia and not be a murderer just because you personally don't like killing people.
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Old October 22 2013, 06:17 PM   #44
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

This is getting completely off the topic guys.
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Old October 22 2013, 06:18 PM   #45
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Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
This is getting completely off the topic guys.
I think it speaks to the larger question of what kinds of historical narratives an egalitarian, multicultural society ought to celebrate.
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