November 13, 2006

Battlestar Silliness

Jonah Goldberg offers one of his loyal reader's take on what he dubs The Worst Episode Yet of "Battlestar Galactica":

But Helo's objection to the complete annihilation of the Cylons makes perfect sense. After all, he's married to one. And that Cylon has shown herself heroically loyal to the humans.

This means that a Cylon is capable of having a change of heart, capable of rejecting the idea of genocide against mankind and embracing the ways of peace. As we've seen in earlier episodes, not all Cylons are alike. Some have moral qualms about their war on humanity, believing that it was a mistake and that humans and Cylons should stop killing each other. If Cylons are capable of guilt, shame, impulses toward mercy, then by what right do we simply say, "big deal? Kill 'em all?" Strikes me as an exceedingly immoral proposition.

Think of it this way. Would it have been morally justifiable for the Allies to have exterminated all the Germans or the Japanese? If not, why would it be acceptable to kill all the Cylons?

Adama got it. Just as he was unwilling to mutiny and murder Admiral Cain. He realized there are certain things you just don't do, even to win a war.

Dude -- a couple things. First, humans created the Cylons. They're not a "race" that developed on some other planet that humans happened upon, and then came into conflict with. Second, again, Helo's objection is what is immoral. It's immoral because he prevented an opportunity to ensure his species' survival in the face of continued threat of annihilation. While he sabotaged the mission, what were the Cylons doing? Trying to kill any and all humans in the vicinity. Helo's comment that "the Cylons wanted to live with us [on New Caprica]" was laughingly preposterous, and thankfully Roslin shot him down cold (albeit diplomatically).

The enemy has committed genocide on an unimaginable scale -- tens, possibly hundreds of billions of human lives, leaving a scant 40,000 survivors. This is what makes the analogy to Germany and Japan outright silly. Neither country, despite their numerous atrocities, did nothing on the scale of what the Cylons did. Their goal was not to completely obliterate the United States, Britain and the Allied countries. If the Allies had surrendered, the "worst" we would have faced was occupation and [potential] slavery. So, yes -- total genocide of the German and Japanese people would not have been a just course of action in retaliation. However, if that was Germany and Japan's goal, the Allies would indeed have been justified in countering that goal with a similar remedy. As it was, if Germany was well on the way to exterminating all Jews from the planet, if a Jewish scientist living in soon-to-be occupied America discovered a way to wipe out all Germans, would it be justified to use it? In my opinion, absolutely.

It is non-sensical to believe humans would rather die with the knowledge that they were morally "superior" to those who sought their total annihilation, than seek to completely wipe out that threat given the opportunity.

(I e-mailed my above thoughts to Jonah, just in case ...!)

UPDATE: Great debate (including yours truly) about the current season of "Galactica" and its implications is over at this Galactica Blog thread.

Posted by Hube at November 13, 2006 05:48 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

If we don't ban human cloning and embryonic stem cell research immediately, we'll be up to our asses in Cylons by 2025. It's the only logical conclusion.

Posted by: G Rex at November 14, 2006 09:43 AM

Not to get all epsitemological but you're talking past each other in a way. You share the majority view of the Raptor pilots who call them "toasters" that is, they are not, in any way sentient or deserving of the protections of life. The "skin jobs" seem to garner more sympathy from Adama et al. as they are flesh and blood and can procreate and are self aware.

Posted by: Duffy at November 14, 2006 09:49 AM