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Among the many fascinating tropes in the Star Trek fictional world is the Prime Directive in which Star Fleet personnel are barred from interfering with the development and evolution of alien cultures.
It is almost a perfect caricature of the self-image of the secular humanist liberal as a near-omnipotent, transcendent being high above the planet’s surface down where the innocent primitive types live untainted by the sins of modern culture and tech, protected against religious missionaries, crass commercial marketers and Western ideas.
In stark contrast, the United States of America was founded to be a beacon to other peoples and cultures and to show that democracy was possible and rightful. We are (or used to be, anyway) a living repudiation of the Prime Directive.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -Declaration of Independence.
That paragraph applies even if the despot is the legal heir to a throne, anointed by a church, or claims the role of Caliph.
It was once widely held by Americans that limited elected government established to protect human rights was inherently desirable to all peoples. Our bitter Fascist enemies in WWII (Germany and Japan) soon became highly successful free-market democracies as did every liberated nation. The half of Korea we saved is vastly more free and prosperous than the part we did not. Even after our defeat in Vietnam, those people quickly shucked central planning to move towards a free market economy. The USSR fell and its satellites became democracies even if Russia itself has not.
Both presidents Bush assumed that liberal democracy was sought by Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan as had consistently been the case in the rest of the world. They appear to have been wrong about that. Islam may have a built-in immune system rejection of the philosophical and cultural premises of Western progress and freedoms.
Meanwhile, on the domestic front, Western intellectuals have been busy squeezing themselves into the tiny-brained binaries like oppressor/oppressed and “colonizer.” And many in the West now believe that the export of liberal democracy is an inherent injury to native cultures. Even without a President Gore to effect a union with the United Federation of Planets, the Prime Directive is an integral part of the campus-induced mindset.
If Islam were a separate low-technology planet (with no large deposits of petroleum dilithium that might attract the interest of Klingons of Romulans and thus create a geopolitical issue) such that the West could take it or leave it as we floated safely above in our Galaxy class (or even Intrepid class!) starships, then the Prime Directive could be easily applied. But the reality is that we all live on the same planet surface where there are no First Contacts yet to be made and cultural cross-influences are common.
The inapt use of the tiny-brained “colonizer” epithet hurled at Israel is the equivalent of the notion that Westernized beings should never have left the ship to disrupt the local primitives from whatever development path they were embarked upon. The ultimate danger in this form of kneejerk support of violence against Jews is the narcissistic delusion of transcendent immunity, that once safely aboard the pose of moral and intellectual superiority whatever is done to those Western interlopers in Israel will not be repeated elsewhere, even in American cities.
The Islamic world is not noted for introspection or soul-searching after terrorist acts are done in its name nor for deference to moral guidance from Western intellectuals. To the extent its developmental path (as would be recognized in the Prime Directive) entails continued attack on our values and very existence, the Prime Directive no longer applies.Published in