Sanwar Ali: Star Trek Picard, Trump, immigration and refugees

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Patrick Stewart speaking at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Star Trek: Picard

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America

By Sanwar Ali

Immigration, migration and refugees is a big theme in the fictional and hugely successful Star Trek: Picard series.   Since 1966 Star Trek has dealt with difficult themes in society.  Fiction mirrors what happens in the real World to a certain extent in the Star Trek universe.  A number of Star Trek Picard themes seem to be an attack on President Donald Trump policies.

Are Alien “Romulans” being likened to Syrian refugees?

In Star Trek: Picard, Briton Sir Patrick Stewart plays the retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard character who is furious about what happened years ago when there was an alien Romulan refugee crisis.  Due to inaction by the fictional “Starfleet” Picard resigned from the organisation, disgusted by what they now stood for.  Is this actually a thinly veiled attack on the policies of President Donald Trump?  In real life Stewart has been an outspoken critic of Trump and Brexit in the UK and has been very supportive of refugees. In the UK he has also been a lifelong supporter of the left-leaning Labour Party.

Stewart who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the popular Star Trek Next Generation series (now retired Admiral Picard), which ended about twenty-five years ago, had the following comments to make:

“And our show [Picard] in 2400 has the same sort of reality. We will deal with immigration. We will deal with divisiveness, other ‘isms’, exclusion and inclusion, which Star Trek has always done, talking about the stories of humanity.”

Sir Patrick Stewart who plays the Admiral Picard character supports refugees

In a video late last year Stewart had the following to say.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) “questions, educates and gives the vulnerable a voice. The IRC’s storytelling cuts to the heart of humanitarian crises and inspires global audiences to act…

 “Did you know,” said Stewart, “that right now over seventy million people have had to leave their homes due to war and disaster? That’s roughly the size of the United Kingdom.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to suddenly leave my home, where to take my family, how to survive, and most importantly, who will help us. Well, the answer is the International Rescue Committee. This wonderful organization was Albert Einstein‘s genius idea. They focus on some of the world’s toughest places – Syria, Yemen, South Sudan – and deliver food and shelter, medical care. They also bring education and job training, and work to rebuild communities.

“Please join me in supporting the International Rescue Committee. They help families just like yours and mine to survive, recover, and live their lives with hope and dignity.”

Star Trek Picard is even reviewed on Neo-Nazi Daily Stormer Website

Google’s discovery feed, due to a technical issue, actually suggested that people visit the Daily Stormer site for information on Star Trek: Picard.  This is one of the most popular white supremacist/Neo-Nazi sites and is very anti-immigrant.  Perhaps unsurprisingly the Daily Stormer, which has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump, had an overall very negative view of Star Trek Picard. 

Following numerous concerns on Twitter, Google's Danny Sullivan, who works as the company's search liaison, said that the issue was due to Google's discover feed.

"Our apologies for this," he wrote. "The site had previously been blocked from showing in Google News surfaces, including Discover, for violating our news content policies. It shifted domains.

"We should've caught the change but didn't. We're taking steps to avoid this in the future."

Star Trek: Picard availability

Star Trek: Picard premiered on January 23, 2020, on CBS All Access in the United States.  Like Star Trek Discovery it will run for 10 episodes.  In Canada it appears on CTV Sci-Fi Channel (English) and is available to stream on Crave in English and French. Amazon Prime Video streams the episodes within 24 hours of their US release in over 200 other countries (including the UK) and territories around the world.

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