The “evil” version of my own character, Sulu, plots to kill both Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock so that he can take command of the ship. In classic “Star Trek” style, the script for this episode carried loaded meaning. The writers were issuing a warning: A free and democratic society can flip in the blink of an ion storm, and all that we take for granted about the rule of law, the chain of command and the civilized functions of government can be gone in an instant.
I thought of “Mirror, Mirror” after seeing the Trump administration’s new Space Force logo, which the president tweeted out Friday with a characteristically awkward nod to our “Great Military Leaders” of the “Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military!” (caps and punctuation his). Within minutes, the logo was lampooned widely for appearing to rip off the logo for Starfleet Command from “Star Trek.” Indeed, with the two logos placed side by side, the resemblance is so remarkable that I had to wonder whether Melania Trump was part of the design committee:
Apparently, the new logo is just another iteration on the former Air Force Space Command logo, which also featured an upward pointing delta, but the final product with its concentric rings and swooping orbits looks so much like Starfleet’s, I fear it could easily confuse any Vulcans and Klingons who see it.
This somewhat comical appropriation of “Star Trek” imagery carries a certain irony. The universe of “Star Trek” has always provided a hopeful, near-utopian vision for humanity, where we have finally learned to set aside things like racial prejudice and gender inequality, and we all work together toward a common purpose and quest. Money is a thing of the past because no one wants for any material need, and we have united much of the galaxy in a peaceful assembly of sovereign worlds.
Contrast that for a moment with the current administration’s values and practices: racial resentments and fear stoked for cynical political purposes, the wealthy made even more obscenely so through grift and political influence, coarse and bullying behavior masquerading as diplomacy, to name but a few. Even the notion of a “Space Force” seems patently absurd coming from an administration where science is mocked and disregarded.
At times it truly feels like the past three years have had us beamed into a parallel universe, where instead of a president we have a mendacious thug, and where notions like the U.S. Senate being a deliberate, serious body that serves as a vital check on presidential power now seem quaint and naive.
True to the “Star Trek” vision, “Mirror, Mirror” has a hopeful ending. The “evil” version of Spock, having Vulcan-mind-melded with Dr. McCoy to understand why someone would spare the life of his enemy, has an epiphany. After listening to an impassioned Kirk argue that the overthrow of the empire is inevitable, the evil Spock helps the “good” bridge crew escape. The optimism and message is unmistakable: The nightmare will end if we work to end it. Normalcy can be restored if we believe in the goodness of humankind.
This year seems like a good time to test that lesson. We have not slipped so far into the mirror universe that we do not recognize ourselves or our institutions. As Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told the Senate this week, what is right still matters. The truth still matters. Most Americans still want to hear the truth. They still want President Trump to be held accountable, and many even want him removed from office for his actions. Overthrowing Trump is something we can achieve at the ballot box this November. We can find our way back to our familiar, normal universe.
In the meantime, may I suggest that Trump find inspiration from a more politically aligned logo for his Space Force? If you don’t recognize the emblem on the character below, it’s the imperial sigil from that “other” space fiction franchise. I’m sure Lord Vader won’t mind.