It always annoyed me how, despite the attempts at complexity and moral grayness, Star Trek always managed to paint the Maquis as dangerous criminals, just for defending their homes from the Cardassians after the treaty gave away their worlds. I remember the episode of TNG where that treaty was introduced. It was painted as a bad treaty, because it was, and the colonists they chose to focus on as suffering the most from the treaty were First Nations people who had colonized one or more of those worlds. So once again some outside force that had nothing to do with their being there in the first place told them to leave, and when they refused, another outside force began terrorizing them. And they did all this knowing full well that Cardassians are absolutely brutal to enemies and inconvenient outsiders. Knowing full well that they were space Nazis who invaded the peaceful world of Bajor and proceeded to rape and pillage the planet, and then rape, torture, and murder millions of its people.
This is all a long windup to the following statement: Star Trek writers handled the whole thing very badly. It started out well enough, with the right amount of outrage. But that first episode should have ended with the Federation realizing their mistake and refusing to sign the treaty. Barring that, DS9 should have portrayed the Maquis as heroes defending their world from brutal, fascist invaders. Instead, they fucked up and painted the Maquis as terrorists who eventually lost their homes, and most of them their lives, all because the Federation leaders made a bad treaty and gave up their own people to be ruled by space Nazis.
And through all this, I think the greatest sin is that Commander Sisko’s character was badly stained by making him such a boot-licker. All through his arc in the Maquis subplots of DS9, the Maquis brought out the worst in him. While normally a peaceful man who tries to find ways of solving problems that have solutions everyone can agree with, a man who isn’t afraid to break the rules to do what’s right... every Maquis episode he plays a significant role in, he switches over to a die-hard authoritarian who basically sees a bunch of people defending themselves against brutal invaders and goes “You’re all just as bad as the genocidal evil people you’re defending yourselves against!”
In siding with the view that the Maquis are terrorists who need to be stopped and imprisoned, an otherwise good and progressive man, Sisko, ends up siding with space Nazis and helping them exterminate his own people, Federation citizens. Just imagine if he’d helped the Cardassians exterminate Bajorans! Or imagine a movie tried to portray an American General character as a good guy, and did a good job for the first half of the movie, he then meets some people helping to smuggle Jewish people and other at risk people out of Nazi Germany, only to arrest them for breaking the law!
Hell, he even went as far, in one episode, as poisoning an entire world’s air supply just to catch one man (Eddington). A man who had been spending a great many episodes trying to tell him “hey, you’re supposed to be a good guy, but you’re siding with space Nazis, maybe stop being such a fascist-loving boot-licker? Oh, and why are you obsessed with me? I’m just one man. Could you maybe be projecting your outrage against that first episode’s betrayal onto me?” And in the end, by forcing the people of that colony to evacuate, Sisko proves the point Eddington was making all along. But you wouldn’t know it from just watching the series uncritically, because Eddington is painted through all this as the unhinged bad guy, his capture is portrayed as a great victory for the good guys, and the worst thing anyone says of Sisko’s actions to catch him is a momentary “Um, what did you just order us to do?” from the rest of the crew before they went ahead and followed his order anyway! Realistically, they should have been like “Hey I think Eddington might have a point, maybe you should rescind that order?” and then when he insisted they follow the order, whoever his first officer was should have been like “Yeah no, that’s an illegal order and we’re not doing that,” then declaring him unfit for command for giving such an evil order. (Yeah, nobody got hurt in the short term, but who knows what the long term effects were.)
This massive fuckup of his character does at least serve as a good example of how otherwise decent people can be completely stupid about certain things. Specifically, I think a good comparison would be the people who call themselves liberal and then go around saying it’s wrong to punch literal Nazis, and saying that we should let people who want to commit genocide against people they don’t like have a platform and that these clearly evil people deserve to speak their hateful words without consequences.
So yeah, I’m super salty about the way the Maquis were treated in Star Trek, and if I were living in that world during that time, I would be on the side of the Maquis. People killing brutal, genocidal fascists invading their home? HELL YEAH, KILL THOSE FUCKING SPACE NAZIS!
This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1501260.html
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