Here we have the image of Carrie Fisher, as the famous Princess Leia in the original Star Wars film first presented in 1977. The image is displayed on today’s state of the art Telus building in downtown Vancouver, in some ways as futuristic as some structures seen in Star Wars. It’s an image that brings bittersweet memories of the acclaimed actress and writer. Her death epitomized a year of loss of many famous actors, singers, writers, statesmen and journalists who significantly impacted our lives in the 20th and 21st century.
Star Wars can be seen as an entertaining sci-fi fantasy or can be viewed as a comment on past and present political situations. The references to Nazi Germany abound in the Star Wars series, and the current version:Rogue One epitomizes the brutal, repressive, militaristic police state of The Empire. Today, this type of state is defined by having a leader who acts as a dictator suppressing opposing views, especially liberal democratic tendencies, and imposes a strict economic and social order that benefits mainly those in power. Often there is racism, homophobia and repression of women and minorities. In Rogue One, it’s noteworthy that The Resistance is made up mainly of actors of colour with a female hero.
We have growing examples in today’s world of states that promote these repressive practices. What’s shocking is the current rise in western democracies of these autocratic governments. What’s truly shocking are how these practices are on our doorstep south of the border. People argue these elements have been there all along, but until the transition period of the new Trump administration have been kept somewhat in check. What’s new is the blatant disregard for truth and basic democratic values. The public is constantly lied to with such disdain illustrating the total arrogance of power. As well, there is the petty retribution towards those who disagree. Meanwhile, the new administration promises the public everything in the name of economic prosperity but here are a few examples of the true cost as illustrated with some Trump nominees to key positions in his government.
The new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as a state attorney general, has been suing the EPA for excessive regulation. Perhaps there will be more profits for polluting industries but our health and environment will be severely taxed and neither may easily recover.
The new Education Secretary prefers school choice in more privatized schools which many feel advocate running schools like a business to pass standardized multiple choice tests. This privatization threatens the diversity of the public system where teachers and their unions are being demonized. This will produce a more shallow and controlled education with teachers doing “the right thing ” with no recourse to complain or protest.
This works well with the new Secretary of Labour who is anti-union!
Recently the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) has been protesting the appointment of the new Attorney General for his allegedly racist leanings, voter suppression of minorities and repressive immigration policies.
The new Secretary of State, as an Exxon Mobile Executive, has close business ties with Russia. Doing business with dictators is nothing new in US government policy, but this is treading on thin ice when we realize making concessions with Russia may endanger NATO and the European Union, not to mention interference in the electoral process of the US and other countries.
And let’s not forget the new US Vice President who is anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-labour but deeply religious. It’s always handy to have God on your side.
In the new Trump administration, perhaps there will be more economic prosperity and some new jobs created. But who will prosper – certainly not the labourers with no union protection working at low wages.
Trump may be “draining the swamp” but it appears the purpose is just to build another “golf course” that will enrich the chosen but banish most from this elite club.
Canada, with all its faults, is still a beacon of light for democratic values compared to its foreboding southern neighbour. Let’s hope The Resistance is prepared when The Empire looks North!