A version of this essay was presented at Writers Resist in Flagstaff, AZ on Sunday, January 15, 2017. Special thanks to Nicole Walker for organizing the event and to all the writers who contributed their talent and voices.
One of the worst things I ever witnessed in the Star Trek franchise was the capitulation of Captain Jean-Luc Picard to the Borg. Now, in case you are not well-versed in the Star Trek world, I have a few very important things to tell you. First, Star Trek: Next Generation is, in my humble opinion, the best iteration of the Star Trek franchise mostly because, second, Jean-Luc Picard is played by Sir Patrick Stewart. Third, the Borg, an alien race, conquers and assimilates other races throughout the galaxy, warning each that “resistance is futile” before taking over their collective brains. Their quest for perfection ultimately dehumanizes everyone, bringing them into a collective or “hive mind.”
Now, if you want to imagine the Borg in earthlier terms, you may equivocate the hive mind with the Fox "News" machine. My husband and I typically block Fox on our cable channel guide. This is a privilege I own up to readily; we have cable AND we can block channels and programs we find offensive or just don’t like, including, but not limited to, Fox News, The Home Shopping Network, and all iterations of ESPN. I rationalize that I have seen enough Sham-Wow ads, professional poker tournaments, and hatred to last me a lifetime.
Unfortunately, recent house guests found the channel and I spent some time watching it with them. Which got me to thinking about the Borg. The Borg, like most Fox commentators, focus on simplistic expressions to conquer and assimilate other humanoids throughout the galaxy—sort of like Republican “talking points.” You may recall The Daily Show’s various video splices featuring a cacophony of republican voices shouting the same talking points repeatedly, carefully memorized in such a way as to appear spontaneous to each speaker.
With this in mind, as someone who was recently exposed to an extended period of time with the Borg, I mean, Fox commentators, I thought I would share with you the five most-repeated normalizing phrases from the right along with my responses. You, too, can memorize and practice my responses so that they sound spontaneous to the Borg:
First: We all need to get along now and come together!
Response: Uh, no.
Additional talking points: Remember how the Republicans sandbagged Obama when he won and basically brought government to a halt for eight years? I do. And so does everyone I know.
Second: The President-elect is not as crazy/undisciplined/conservative/crazy/or crazy as he seems.
Response: Yes, yes he is.
Additional talking points: I don’t know of any one of us here who engages in Twitter wars at 3:00 a.m. with former beauty contestants and movie stars or talks about our penis size or our tiny hands.
Third: But, he’s going to fix the economy.
Response: Actually, it was Obama’s administration where the US experienced 74 consecutive months of job growth. Oh, yeah, and he was the guy who bailed out--and thus saved--the American auto industry. The President-elect just yells at auto companies on Twitter, or lies that, thanks to him, he’s keeping jobs or plants here.
Fourth: He’s not even in office yet. Let’s wait and see what happens…
Response: You know, for a guy who is president-elect, he has done a lot of damage in the past few weeks. In no particular order, he has: provoked China twice; tried to get his children security clearance; appointed wealthy cronies to cabinet positions; appointed his son-in-law as a special advisor; appointed a neo-nazi as chief strategist; appointed a billionaire with special interests as a regulatory commissioner; refused to attend intelligence briefings; made public comments ON TWITTER about expanding our nuclear capabilities; and appointed Rick “I can’t remember that I want to abolish the Energy Department, OOPS!” Perry to the Secretary of Energy.
Fifth: He would have won the popular vote if not for all the “illegal voters”. Why can’t you just drop this?
Response: Ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha, ha, HA!
One important thing to know about the Borg is that the most valuable individuals for them to overthrow are those who exercise free will. This is why “Borgifying” Captain Picard was so enticing. It would be easy enough for the Borg to conquer and assimilate the already-mindless; it’s quite another thing when the enemy is formidable.
I want us all to know that we are formidable. We see what is happening in the “news” every day as the president-elect and his behavior are normalized and legitimized. We read. We take notes. We talk to other people. We fight for others. We are willing to say “this is wrong” to someone else besides ourselves.
The other side will tell us we are over-reacting, we are crazy, we don’t understand. They will continue to chip away at us. We will be tired. We will wonder if we are seeing and hearing things. We will wonder if it would be so wrong to assimilate. This is why we have to stand together. This is why we need to believe in our own selves. And why we need to believe others when they tell us of injustices. We have to keep saying “this is wrong” to everyone we know.
Human will is strong enough to resist the Borg. Resistance is never futile; it is hard, it is exhausting, but it is necessary.
(Picard artist unknown, but original image found at http://filmpopper.com/star-trek-the-best-of-both-worlds-coming-to-theaters/)