There is a popular belief among liberals that conservatives would stop breathing if President Obama came out in favor of air, and that may not be too far off.
After the tragic passing of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who had defined the role of one of pop culture’s most iconic science fiction characters, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, there was universal praise of both actor and character from across the world. The remembrance was largely apolitical, with people on every part of the political spectrum paying respect. Some Republicans (erroneously) even tried to claim Spock and Nimoy as a conservative.
Then suddenly, everything shifted. Today, the group is disavowing Spock and arguing instead that he was an “appeasing arrogant jerk.” What happened? You can probably guess.
President Obama had marked the passing of Leonard Nimoy with a moving statement released by the White House:
“Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.
I loved Spock.”
Loved?! As if on cue, conservatives have lined up to re-remember Spock as basically a pointy-eared version of what they believe Obama to be. Matthew Continetti, a writer for the conservative paper The Washington Free Beacon, summed up the sentiments with an astoundingly sad article titled “I Don’t Love Spock.”
“I am also a Star Trek fan, but I admit I was somewhat confused by my rather apathetic reaction to Nimoy’s death. And as I thought more about the president’s statement, I realized he identifies with the very aspects of the Spock character that most annoy me. I don’t love Spock at all.”
Mistaking his own apathy towards the death of a fellow person as a sign that he was “on to something,” Continetti details the various ways Spock – a half-Vulcan living and working in deep space in the 24th century – is too liberal to ever be loved by conservatives. Let’s just say his examples are, to borrow a phrase, highly illogical.
“Not only do Spock’s peacenik inclinations routinely land the Enterprise and the Federation into trouble, his “logic” and “level head” mask an arrogant emotional basket case. Unlike the superhuman android Data, a loyal officer whose deepest longing is to be human, Spock spends most of his life as a freelancing diplomat eager to negotiate with the worst enemies of Starfleet.”
Negotiating with the enemy may sound like a reasonable way to avoid intergallactic war to you, but to Continetti it marks the very essence of what makes Obama an ineffectual leader. He expects his Star Trek characters to be like Data, a literal robot, who is defined by his loyalty, not by Spock, a man defined by his intelligence. The comparison is clear: Aboard the USS Enterprise, Obama would probably pal around with aliens – illegal or not.
The article continues to ooze with cherry-picked examples of times Spock led the Enterprise crew astray (just like Obama is leading America astray, wink wink nudge nudge).
“If we accept Star Trek (2009) as canon then the “cool” and “level-headed” Spock is responsible for the destruction not only of his home world and the death of 6 billion Vulcans but of the entire Star Trek timeline that audiences have loved for almost 50 years. As usual, evil happens because Spock is too idealistic, too in thrall to a value-neutral conception of science, to consider the unintended consequences of his actions.”
Continetti, having thoroughly described all the ways he feels Spock is the worst, then indicts Obama for liking him. (Presumably, Continetti hates the millions of other people who expressed grief and paid tribute to Nimoy, however they aren’t the ones that Continetti has a burning, all-consuming antipathy towards.)
“And Obama likes this selfish jerk? The coolness the president so appreciates in Spock is a thin veneer over a remarkably arrogant and off-putting detachment from human suffering. Dr. McCoy, played by the charming DeForest Kelley, bitingly exposed this truth about Spock’s nature again and again. Discussing the Genesis Project in Wrath of Khan, for example, Spock lectures McCoy, “Really, Dr. McCoy. You must learn to govern your passions. They will be your undoing. Logic suggests—”
But McCoy won’t hear it—and he’s right. ‘Logic? My God, the man’s talking about logic; we’re taking about universal Armageddon!'”
Strange, when dealing with universal Armageddown, one might hope the people in charge can maintain a cool, logical view of things. Instead, Spock – and by extension, Obama – are criticized for it. For conservatives, the goal is always to go with the gut. It worked so well for George W. Bush.
“It will take America some time to recover from the legacy of our Spock-loving president—though probably not as long as it will take my friends to stop laughing at me for writing this column.”
Mr. Continetti, you are being too humble. No, it is likely the entire galaxy that is laughing at you for writing this column.
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