Though Star Trek’s episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” deals with the issues of race during the Civil Rights Movement and of the African American oppression, it ultimately demonstrates repercussions caused by deep-seated hate. Writers of the show seemed to heavily rely more on the idea of hatred and its influence that leads to chaos and mass destruction than on racism, as shown when two equally influential men fight for opposing causes. The conflict between the two aliens Lokai and Bele not only endangered the existence of the Enterprise, but it also brought the annihilation of the two men’s people.
It is true racism is present because the coloration of the half-white, half-black humanoids determined who would “oppress” the other, but it is not a direct indication of an allegory for white/African Americans racism as many of us have mentioned in previous blog posts. The whites had stripped and controlled much of the African people’s rights during slavery and even afterwards, and the African Americans struggled for years before achieving “equality.” For Lokai’s case, his people may have acquired freedom from Bele’s followers. However Lokai claims that they were not granted “freedom to live their lives,” infuriately pointing out Bele’s wishes of “the genocide” of his people and refusal to recognize Lokai’s “utopia.” (Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15). Bele admonishes such a utopia because of its sheer impossibility for swift change, justifying his place as “the master race”; this is a clear reflection of the history of slavery and African American oppression and why years passed before the whites appeased those of color. References were made, but nothing suggests that these references exclusively define the episode. Furthermore, nowhere in American history has there been evidence of the white population’s attempts to annihilate African Americans, whereas an emphasis on tightening opportunities and restrictions on social status was prevalent (mvn3). Like uprisings of Black Power and riots, Lokai gathered help—sympathizers from other alien populations to join his cause—yet unlike the violent approaches of the African Americans Lokai mercilessly slaughtered his enemies.
In the end, even with the annihilation of their races, Lokai and Bele refuse to compromise or call a truce, ready to use the other as a scapegoat of Cheron’s fate. The crew reaches a single solution: allow the men to transport themselves back to their home planet and continue their feud there. Even though the episode does not explicitly state it, Lokai’s and Bele’s fueled hatred will continue to live on until the men destroy each other. By using this ending for the episode, the writers exemplify how hatred can consume a person, a group, a population, and eventually a planet.
Here are some questions I pose:
Can hatred be resolved through diplomatic means? Or can such means go so far, as seen in our time where racism is still a struggle to hurdle in society? As posed by Hunter, can the creation of a unified authority such as the Federation possibly exist and eliminate hatred?