Sign in to follow this  
Miss_Silvervine_11

Are Vulcans Racist?

Recommended Posts

kc1966   

I think there's a big difference between having a superiority complex and being racist. If Vulcans were racist, then logically, they'd want to be separatists, and they have the technology to allow for that. It's likely they'd practise a kind of cultural apartheid and want to be apart from all the other species they encounter - not just humans, but Andorians, Tellarites and certainly Romulans. But they don't. They get involved and while their attempts to guide and help humankind might be interpreted as interference, it is often benign in nature. Humans must seem like powerful, willful little kids to them. But whatever the cultural differences, Vulcans are always there to help humankind, to be a part of their ever-expanding plans - to the point that they help them co-found the Federation.

Like Vie said, it is humans' attitudes to Vulcans that should really be examined. Grotesque cultural insensitivity seems to be the norm when interacting with them. How Spock remained on the 1701 and tolerated all he was subjected to is beyond me. T'pol - same.  

Do Vulcans consider themselves superior to Romulans? 

^
Now that last line is a VERY intriguing question; and there may be a partial answer. 

Spock's effort to guide the Romulans toward a Vulcan-style enlightenment in "Unification" may speak to that, as does your point about Vulcans being altruistic with other species despite their reservations about their emotions.   I would say (for Spock, at least) the answer is no.   He sees great potential within the Romulans toward ultimately achieving the same kind of spiritual enlightenment that his own species' has enjoyed.  I don't think he would believe that if he assumed the Romulans were inferior.   He wouldn't waste his time.

But then again, you have Sarek; who tried to persuade his son that such a 'missionary attempt' for Romulus was fruitless and illogical.  Clearly Sarek is (at the very least) close-minded.  Whether that constitutes prejudice or not is open to interpretation.    We also see Sarek taunt Tellarites in "Journey To Babel" ("Tellarites do not argue for reasons... they simply argue.").   Making a blanket statement for an entire race/species would seem to be the very definition of prejudice, right?   There must be SOME Tellarites who don't always argue, or whose arguments are constructive.  Sarek's comments (about Romulans and Tellarites) comes off as very dismissive, doesn't it? 

 

Perhaps we are all getting caught up in textbook definitions here.  Clearly Vulcans have prejudices, as we all do, due to their worldview.  If you give a man who believes in Creation a fossil he will judge it by his worldview of special creation, a flood, etc.  Give the same fossil to a person who believes in evolution and he will judge it by his worldview of uniformitarianism and evolutionary science.  People interpret evidence by their preconceived notions and in truth no one is completely unbiased.

For the Vulcan, logic is their worldview and they will judge all others by it.  Thus the children taunting child Spock due to his lack of control, the need to enlighten Dr. McCoy by Spock or Trip/Archer by T'Pol (sorry but I see that as a two way street in both cases - though with Spock as the friendships developed I believe it became more ribbing by both sides than it started out), Sarak's attitude toward other species and even his son when he goes into Star Fleet, etc.  And don't forget the exchange between Saavik and Spock in ST II about Kirk being so human.  They "know" a better way and thus must enlighten the poor unenlightened savages.  (Kind of like progressives and conservatives attitudes toward each other in American politics!) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a great question.  I think it also depends on the writing. 

I don't think GR and the original writers, especially DC Fontana, ever intended them to be racist, though I think the Berman era writers, intentionally or not, made them come off that way.  On DS9, they were total jerks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a great question.  I think it also depends on the writing. 

I don't think GR and the original writers, especially DC Fontana, ever intended them to be racist, though I think the Berman era writers, intentionally or not, made them come off that way.  On DS9, they were total jerks. 

Sarek's snarky line about "Tellarites do not argue for reasons, they simple argue" was, in fact, written by D.C. Fontana.  

As was the line of Sarek's about how Vulcan medication "is a personal matter.  Not to be discussed.  Certainly not with... Earth men."    That line alone implies that Earthers are incapable or unworthy of understanding the depth of a Vulcan's mind in meditation. 

Ted Sturgeon's "Amok Time" had this line of T'Pau's:  "Are thee Vulcan?  Or are thee human?" (the word human was almost spat out as a curse).

I can cite many more examples throughout TOS (and one or two in TAS) of seeming Vulcan superiority complexes.   It has nothing to do with Berman & company dropping the ball (not a good argument since Vulcan's feeling of superiority over humans was well-established long before Berman & company came aboard).  It has to do with certain Vulcans who seemingly speak with closed minds (but then again, humans often taunt them, so it's a two-way street).   

Suffice it to say that some Vulcans are arrogant, and some are not.  Some Vulcans are prejudiced, and some are not.   Despite their seeming one-note obsession with purging emotion, they are still a diverse people; with positive and negative traits throughout.  

T'Pol is an interesting study since she began her voyage aboard the NX-01 as seemingly arrogant and aloof towards humans as her colleagues on Earth, but over the course of 4 years she not only chooses to stay with them, but even manages to fall in love with one of them.  T'Pol is critical to bridging the gap between the less-enlightened Vulcans of ENT to the more 'aware' Vulcans of TOS/TNG (who freely mind-meld and are truer in practice to the rekindled teachings of Surak).

 

Though I do agree with you that DS9 had more than its fair share of negative Vulcan portrayals; particularly in S7, where we saw a snobbish Vulcan baseball team who seemed to take special pleasure in defeating physically weaker opponents (not very logical), and even a Vulcan serial killer (!).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there's a big difference between having a superiority complex and being racist. If Vulcans were racist, then logically, they'd want to be separatists, and they have the technology to allow for that. It's likely they'd practise a kind of cultural apartheid and want to be apart from all the other species they encounter - not just humans, but Andorians, Tellarites and certainly Romulans. But they don't. They get involved and while their attempts to guide and help humankind might be interpreted as interference, it is often benign in nature. Humans must seem like powerful, willful little kids to them. But whatever the cultural differences, Vulcans are always there to help humankind, to be a part of their ever-expanding plans - to the point that they help them co-found the Federation.

Like Vie said, it is humans' attitudes to Vulcans that should really be examined. Grotesque cultural insensitivity seems to be the norm when interacting with them. How Spock remained on the 1701 and tolerated all he was subjected to is beyond me. T'pol - same.  

Do Vulcans consider themselves superior to Romulans? 

^
Now that last line is a VERY intriguing question; and there may be a partial answer. 

Spock's effort to guide the Romulans toward a Vulcan-style enlightenment in "Unification" may speak to that, as does your point about Vulcans being altruistic with other species despite their reservations about their emotions.   I would say (for Spock, at least) the answer is no.   He sees great potential within the Romulans toward ultimately achieving the same kind of spiritual enlightenment that his own species' has enjoyed.  I don't think he would believe that if he assumed the Romulans were inferior.   He wouldn't waste his time.

But then again, you have Sarek; who tried to persuade his son that such a 'missionary attempt' for Romulus was fruitless and illogical.  Clearly Sarek is (at the very least) close-minded.  Whether that constitutes prejudice or not is open to interpretation.    We also see Sarek taunt Tellarites in "Journey To Babel" ("Tellarites do not argue for reasons... they simply argue.").   Making a blanket statement for an entire race/species would seem to be the very definition of prejudice, right?   There must be SOME Tellarites who don't always argue, or whose arguments are constructive.  Sarek's comments (about Romulans and Tellarites) comes off as very dismissive, doesn't it? 

 

Well, perhaps we forget sometimes that Spock became an icon in-universe too, for all those reasons.

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end of it." Spock forged a third way, a combination of logic, experience and instinct that wasn't closed off to the insight that some emotions offer. This is why he was such good friends with Kirk and McCoy (despite the latter's sometime protestations). Spock sees this in Romulans, yes, in humans, Vulcans and other lifeforms too. For me, Spock represents one of the most hopeful and optimistic aspects of Star Trek, in that he sees possibilities that others don't, but he then tries to bring that to the attention of others. He describes a larger, richer picture of the universe. And of the human world, from this fan's point of view.

In terms of meta-narrative, Spock is possibly one of the most consistent fictional characters ever. His evolution as a character was written by many authors, and yet some kind of consensus was reached about what he was like and how he developed. In no small part, I think, thanks to Leonard Nimoy. That's not true of most other Vulcans. Although I think T'Pol is a pretty great character, too. After four seasons, I really liked her (that's what ultimately sold me on Enterprise - the great crew.)

Sarek was conservative, traditional, and yet open-minded enough to marry not one but two women from Earth, Amanda and Perrin. But Spock, by Sarek's standards, was hopelessly unconventional - he just eschewed tradition, even when he tried to follow it. 

Sarek's attitudes are expanded upon in the JJverse, when Sarek tells Spock that although it was logical, as ambassador to Earth, that he should marry a human woman, he did indeed love her. That's one of the best scenes in all the reboot films IMHO, and I really like Ben Cross' version of Sarek - he not only nails him, he expands the character and the sense of Vulcans being far more than the humorless traditionalists they seem on the surface. Vulcans aren't isolationist, they aren't close-minded, they are clearly open to change and while they may try to embrace total logic, the most forward thinking of them accept there are still things to learn from other ways of thinking. Which is what humans, at their best, are like too. So perhaps some of them - a minority - are racist. Like us. However, at our best, at our most open-minded and thoughtful, we aren't.

And that's the direction we should all be going in. Sarek was certainly going in that direction, but maybe it needed Spock to carry it through. As a mixed heritage individual who embodied the best aspects of both Vulcan and human, that certainly seems apposite. He represents the best of all of us.

We are all more alike than unalike.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there's a big difference between having a superiority complex and being racist. If Vulcans were racist, then logically, they'd want to be separatists, and they have the technology to allow for that. It's likely they'd practise a kind of cultural apartheid and want to be apart from all the other species they encounter - not just humans, but Andorians, Tellarites and certainly Romulans. But they don't. They get involved and while their attempts to guide and help humankind might be interpreted as interference, it is often benign in nature. Humans must seem like powerful, willful little kids to them. But whatever the cultural differences, Vulcans are always there to help humankind, to be a part of their ever-expanding plans - to the point that they help them co-found the Federation.

Like Vie said, it is humans' attitudes to Vulcans that should really be examined. Grotesque cultural insensitivity seems to be the norm when interacting with them. How Spock remained on the 1701 and tolerated all he was subjected to is beyond me. T'pol - same.  

Do Vulcans consider themselves superior to Romulans? 

^
Now that last line is a VERY intriguing question; and there may be a partial answer. 

Spock's effort to guide the Romulans toward a Vulcan-style enlightenment in "Unification" may speak to that, as does your point about Vulcans being altruistic with other species despite their reservations about their emotions.   I would say (for Spock, at least) the answer is no.   He sees great potential within the Romulans toward ultimately achieving the same kind of spiritual enlightenment that his own species' has enjoyed.  I don't think he would believe that if he assumed the Romulans were inferior.   He wouldn't waste his time.

But then again, you have Sarek; who tried to persuade his son that such a 'missionary attempt' for Romulus was fruitless and illogical.  Clearly Sarek is (at the very least) close-minded.  Whether that constitutes prejudice or not is open to interpretation.    We also see Sarek taunt Tellarites in "Journey To Babel" ("Tellarites do not argue for reasons... they simply argue.").   Making a blanket statement for an entire race/species would seem to be the very definition of prejudice, right?   There must be SOME Tellarites who don't always argue, or whose arguments are constructive.  Sarek's comments (about Romulans and Tellarites) comes off as very dismissive, doesn't it? 

 

Well, perhaps we forget sometimes that Spock became an icon in-universe too, for all those reasons.

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end of it." Spock forged a third way, a combination of logic, experience and instinct that wasn't closed off to the insight that some emotions offer. This is why he was such good friends with Kirk and McCoy (despite the latter's sometime protestations). Spock sees this in Romulans, yes, in humans, Vulcans and other lifeforms too. For me, Spock represents one of the most hopeful and optimistic aspects of Star Trek, in that he sees possibilities that others don't, but he then tries to bring that to the attention of others. He describes a larger, richer picture of the universe. And of the human world, from this fan's point of view.

In terms of meta-narrative, Spock is possibly one of the most consistent fictional characters ever. His evolution as a character was written by many authors, and yet some kind of consensus was reached about what he was like and how he developed. In no small part, I think, thanks to Leonard Nimoy. That's not true of most other Vulcans. Although I think T'Pol is a pretty great character, too. After four seasons, I really liked her (that's what ultimately sold me on Enterprise - the great crew.)

Sarek was conservative, traditional, and yet open-minded enough to marry not one but two women from Earth, Amanda and Perrin. But Spock, by Sarek's standards, was hopelessly unconventional - he just eschewed tradition, even when he tried to follow it. 

Sarek's attitudes are expanded upon in the JJverse, when Sarek tells Spock that although it was logical, as ambassador to Earth, that he should marry a human woman, he did indeed love her. That's one of the best scenes in all the reboot films IMHO, and I really like Ben Cross' version of Sarek - he not only nails him, he expands the character and the sense of Vulcans being far more than the humorless traditionalists they seem on the surface. Vulcans aren't isolationist, they aren't close-minded, they are clearly open to change and while they may try to embrace total logic, the most forward thinking of them accept there are still things to learn from other ways of thinking. Which is what humans, at their best, are like too. So perhaps some of them - a minority - are racist. Like us. However, at our best, at our most open-minded and thoughtful, we aren't.

And that's the direction we should all be going in. Sarek was certainly going in that direction, but maybe it needed Spock to carry it through. As a mixed heritage individual who embodied the best aspects of both Vulcan and human, that certainly seems apposite. He represents the best of all of us.

We are all more alike than unalike.

^

hlUkLVX.gif :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sarek's snarky line about "Tellarites do not argue for reasons, they simple argue" was, in fact, written by D.C. Fontana.  

Is that racism or truth? 

As was the line of Sarek's about how Vulcan medication "is a personal matter.  Not to be discussed.  Certainly not with... Earth men."    That line alone implies that Earthers are incapable or unworthy of understanding the depth of a Vulcan's mind in meditation. 

 

That could be a deep cultural preference more than a racist belief.  A very important part of tolerance that often gets lost is that certain cultures have certain beliefs that should be respected.  Something that seems normal to you and me might be an extremely taboo subject to a Vulcan.  Something as simple as eating dessert might be a sacred ritual to an alien race that is extremely private.

I'll give an interesting example.  In some religions a funeral is an extremely private service only for family and maybe a close friend or two.  But in another religion, that same funeral may be open to any and all.  With the exact same relationship, your presence at that funeral will either be considered very welcome, or very inappropriate.  That doesn't make one religion more open and welcoming than the other.  It is what it is.

I think Sarek, who married a Vulcan woman, which had to be extremely taboo, would be considered a rebel.

I think your example with T'Pau is a much better one, because of the tone.  But she was an older Vulcan, perhaps of another era. 

It would seem that like all races, Vulcans included, there will always be a feeling that yours is superior.  Humans believed that about themselves too.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sarek's snarky line about "Tellarites do not argue for reasons, they simple argue" was, in fact, written by D.C. Fontana.  

Is that racism or truth? 

^
Such generalizations about an entire race or species are always untrue.   Life is an 
exercise in exceptions.  

As was the line of Sarek's about how Vulcan medication "is a personal matter.  Not to be discussed.  Certainly not with... Earth men."    That line alone implies that Earthers are incapable or unworthy of understanding the depth of a Vulcan's mind in meditation. 

 

That could be a deep cultural preference more than a racist belief.  A very important part of tolerance that often gets lost is that certain cultures have certain beliefs that should be respected.  Something that seems normal to you and me might be an extremely taboo subject to a Vulcan.  Something as simple as eating dessert might be a sacred ritual to an alien race that is extremely private.

I'll give an interesting example.  In some religions a funeral is an extremely private service only for family and maybe a close friend or two.  But in another religion, that same funeral may be open to any and all.  With the exact same relationship, your presence at that funeral will either be considered very welcome, or very inappropriate.  That doesn't make one religion more open and welcoming than the other.  It is what it is.

I think Sarek, who married a Vulcan woman, which had to be extremely taboo, would be considered a rebel.

I think your example with T'Pau is a much better one, because of the tone.  But she was an older Vulcan, perhaps of another era. 

It would seem that like all races, Vulcans included, there will always be a feeling that yours is superior.  Humans believed that about themselves too.

Not ALL humans... there's that generalization thing going on again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certain generalizations and stereotypes exist for a reason.  Maybe not 100 percent of a species is a certain way, but if the number is maybe, 90 percent, that's enough to make the statement accurate.

And an alien culture COULD actually be homogenous for all we know.  Maybe ALL tellarites are a certain way.  That could be their nature--it could be as natural as a tribble reproducing instantly.

I think in Star Trek, humans' belief in their superiority existed, but in a very positive light.  I think that's really the premise of the show--that humans, if they could put aside stupid differences, could accomplish the impossible, and many aliens were created to highlight that.

Interestingly enough, that belief in human superiority was called out by Q, which led to the meeting of the Borg. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certain generalizations and stereotypes exist for a reason.  Maybe not 100 percent of a species is a certain way, but if the number is maybe, 90 percent, that's enough to make the statement accurate.

And an alien culture COULD actually be homogenous for all we know.  Maybe ALL tellarites are a certain way.  That could be their nature--it could be as natural as a tribble reproducing instantly.

I think in Star Trek, humans' belief in their superiority existed, but in a very positive light.  I think that's really the premise of the show--that humans, if they could put aside stupid differences, could accomplish the impossible, and many aliens were created to highlight that.

Interestingly enough, that belief in human superiority was called out by Q, which led to the meeting of the Borg. 

^
That's one of the reasons I like "Q Who" so much; it put matters into perspective.  It was also refreshing to see a starship captain ADMIT that he/she were wrong in their hubris.  It was a costly lesson, but at least Picard had the sagacity to understand that.  

And I simply disagree on your first statement.   10% of a race/species is still a huge number; if a million Tellarites are argumentative that means at least 100,000 are not (!).  That is not insignificant, and cannot be ignored.    Life, and even biology, teaches us that exceptions are almost always made when it comes to assumed characteristics.   It is not logical to assume ALL beings share a single personality trait.  

And yes, there is the possibility (however improbable or remote) that some alien cultures might be 100% homogenous, but from what we see in Star Trek?  That doesn't appear to be the case.   All throughout Star Trek we see such exceptions: we see Ferengi who aren't greedy.   We see Cardassian pacifists.   We see Romulans who are trustworthy.   We see Klingons who are civil and even some who don't settle conflict with combat.  We see Borg who seek escape from their mental enslavement.   Etc. etc. etc. 

I think that is one of the other defining traits of Star Trek; in addition to demonstrating human potential for growth, it's also about recognizing the complexity and individuality in EACH of us, and not to treat anyone based on assumed characteristics.  

I love the character of Sarek, but I'm guessing that his emotions got the better of him in that instant where he said, "Tellarites do not argue for reasons; they simply argue."   That was something said, with some irony, in the heat of the moment.   He had just taken a pill for his heart condition a moment before, so it's also possible he wasn't feeling fully 'himself.'   We've seen Vulcans in extreme pain who shed their emotional disciplines and logic (T'Pol in much of ENT, or Spock in "Star Trek Beyond" and "Operation: Annihilate!").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Q definitely put Picard in his place.  Of course, the cost was so high.  Picard actually COULD be to blame for the Borg getting to Earth years sooner than they would have.  We're getting off topic a tad, but I won't complain if you don't. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Q definitely put Picard in his place.  Of course, the cost was so high.  Picard actually COULD be to blame for the Borg getting to Earth years sooner than they would have.  We're getting off topic a tad, but I won't complain if you don't. 

Yeah, let's table anything further on that one for another thread.  I disagree of course, but this is not the thread to go into why. ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
scenario   

Certain generalizations and stereotypes exist for a reason.  Maybe not 100 percent of a species is a certain way, but if the number is maybe, 90 percent, that's enough to make the statement accurate.

And an alien culture COULD actually be homogenous for all we know.  Maybe ALL tellarites are a certain way.  That could be their nature--it could be as natural as a tribble reproducing instantly.

I think in Star Trek, humans' belief in their superiority existed, but in a very positive light.  I think that's really the premise of the show--that humans, if they could put aside stupid differences, could accomplish the impossible, and many aliens were created to highlight that.

Interestingly enough, that belief in human superiority was called out by Q, which led to the meeting of the Borg. 

^
That's one of the reasons I like "Q Who" so much; it put matters into perspective.  It was also refreshing to see a starship captain ADMIT that he/she were wrong in their hubris.  It was a costly lesson, but at least Picard had the sagacity to understand that.  

And I simply disagree on your first statement.   10% of a race/species is still a huge number; if a million Tellarites are argumentative that means at least 100,000 are not (!).  That is not insignificant, and cannot be ignored.    Life, and even biology, teaches us that exceptions are almost always made when it comes to assumed characteristics.   It is not logical to assume ALL beings share a single personality trait.  

And yes, there is the possibility (however improbable or remote) that some alien cultures might be 100% homogenous, but from what we see in Star Trek?  That doesn't appear to be the case.   All throughout Star Trek we see such exceptions: we see Ferengi who aren't greedy.   We see Cardassian pacifists.   We see Romulans who are trustworthy.   We see Klingons who are civil and even some who don't settle conflict with combat.  We see Borg who seek escape from their mental enslavement.   Etc. etc. etc. 

I think that is one of the other defining traits of Star Trek; in addition to demonstrating human potential for growth, it's also about recognizing the complexity and individuality in EACH of us, and not to treat anyone based on assumed characteristics.  

I love the character of Sarek, but I'm guessing that his emotions got the better of him in that instant where he said, "Tellarites do not argue for reasons; they simply argue."   That was something said, with some irony, in the heat of the moment.   He had just taken a pill for his heart condition a moment before, so it's also possible he wasn't feeling fully 'himself.'   We've seen Vulcans in extreme pain who shed their emotional disciplines and logic (T'Pol in much of ENT, or Spock in "Star Trek Beyond" and "Operation: Annihilate!").

Some generalizations are okay and some are not. If you had a Vulcan and a Ferengi offer to sell you something at half price, which is more likely to be a valid offer? Yes you might be talking to a dishonest Vulcan and an honest Ferengi but the opposite is much more likely. The problem is choosing which generalizations are really based on facts and which are not.  Being more cautious when buying from a Ferengi you don't know than a Vulcan you don't know is not prejudice. It's common sense.  Continuing to hold the same views when dealing with individuals who have proven they do not fit the standard species mold is prejudice. 

Generalizations based on behavior rather than on species are much more likely to be valid. If you have seen 10 salesman use the same pitch and it turned out that all 10 were dishonest, it is not prejudice to suspect that the 11th salesman who uses the same pitch may also be dishonest. 

Let's say that you have an alien who has no curiosity at all. Then to this alien all humans are overly curious, even ones that humans would not consider the curious type. Yes there would be a few humans who really have no curiosity but they are the exception.

At some point a valid generalization can turn into prejudice when people automatically assume something without bothering to check and are even hostile to the idea of checking.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Certain generalizations and stereotypes exist for a reason.  Maybe not 100 percent of a species is a certain way, but if the number is maybe, 90 percent, that's enough to make the statement accurate.

And an alien culture COULD actually be homogenous for all we know.  Maybe ALL tellarites are a certain way.  That could be their nature--it could be as natural as a tribble reproducing instantly.

I think in Star Trek, humans' belief in their superiority existed, but in a very positive light.  I think that's really the premise of the show--that humans, if they could put aside stupid differences, could accomplish the impossible, and many aliens were created to highlight that.

Interestingly enough, that belief in human superiority was called out by Q, which led to the meeting of the Borg. 

^
That's one of the reasons I like "Q Who" so much; it put matters into perspective.  It was also refreshing to see a starship captain ADMIT that he/she were wrong in their hubris.  It was a costly lesson, but at least Picard had the sagacity to understand that.  

And I simply disagree on your first statement.   10% of a race/species is still a huge number; if a million Tellarites are argumentative that means at least 100,000 are not (!).  That is not insignificant, and cannot be ignored.    Life, and even biology, teaches us that exceptions are almost always made when it comes to assumed characteristics.   It is not logical to assume ALL beings share a single personality trait.  

And yes, there is the possibility (however improbable or remote) that some alien cultures might be 100% homogenous, but from what we see in Star Trek?  That doesn't appear to be the case.   All throughout Star Trek we see such exceptions: we see Ferengi who aren't greedy.   We see Cardassian pacifists.   We see Romulans who are trustworthy.   We see Klingons who are civil and even some who don't settle conflict with combat.  We see Borg who seek escape from their mental enslavement.   Etc. etc. etc. 

I think that is one of the other defining traits of Star Trek; in addition to demonstrating human potential for growth, it's also about recognizing the complexity and individuality in EACH of us, and not to treat anyone based on assumed characteristics.  

I love the character of Sarek, but I'm guessing that his emotions got the better of him in that instant where he said, "Tellarites do not argue for reasons; they simply argue."   That was something said, with some irony, in the heat of the moment.   He had just taken a pill for his heart condition a moment before, so it's also possible he wasn't feeling fully 'himself.'   We've seen Vulcans in extreme pain who shed their emotional disciplines and logic (T'Pol in much of ENT, or Spock in "Star Trek Beyond" and "Operation: Annihilate!").

Some generalizations are okay and some are not. If you had a Vulcan and a Ferengi offer to sell you something at half price, which is more likely to be a valid offer? Yes you might be talking to a dishonest Vulcan and an honest Ferengi but the opposite is much more likely. The problem is choosing which generalizations are really based on facts and which are not.  Being more cautious when buying from a Ferengi you don't know than a Vulcan you don't know is not prejudice. It's common sense.  Continuing to hold the same views when dealing with individuals who have proven they do not fit the standard species mold is prejudice. 

Generalizations based on behavior rather than on species are much more likely to be valid. If you have seen 10 salesman use the same pitch and it turned out that all 10 were dishonest, it is not prejudice to suspect that the 11th salesman who uses the same pitch may also be dishonest. 

Let's say that you have an alien who has no curiosity at all. Then to this alien all humans are overly curious, even ones that humans would not consider the curious type. Yes there would be a few humans who really have no curiosity but they are the exception.

At some point a valid generalization can turn into prejudice when people automatically assume something without bothering to check and are even hostile to the idea of checking.  

^
And I understand that.   

My issue is with assuming those characteristics are always true all of the time.   Generally, in my nearly 50 years of life experience, they're not.    

Even in manufactured things (not people) that are mass produced on automated assembly lines, tiny variables creep in that create minor differences.  You may get 100 units of the same brand/type of a product, and there may very well be a handful of them that aren't 100% like the others (minor issues with paint, or some other aspect).   Even in controlled circumstances, there is that margin of difference.   When dealing with living things, that margin increases exponentially. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
scenario   

Certain generalizations and stereotypes exist for a reason.  Maybe not 100 percent of a species is a certain way, but if the number is maybe, 90 percent, that's enough to make the statement accurate.

And an alien culture COULD actually be homogenous for all we know.  Maybe ALL tellarites are a certain way.  That could be their nature--it could be as natural as a tribble reproducing instantly.

I think in Star Trek, humans' belief in their superiority existed, but in a very positive light.  I think that's really the premise of the show--that humans, if they could put aside stupid differences, could accomplish the impossible, and many aliens were created to highlight that.

Interestingly enough, that belief in human superiority was called out by Q, which led to the meeting of the Borg. 

^
That's one of the reasons I like "Q Who" so much; it put matters into perspective.  It was also refreshing to see a starship captain ADMIT that he/she were wrong in their hubris.  It was a costly lesson, but at least Picard had the sagacity to understand that.  

And I simply disagree on your first statement.   10% of a race/species is still a huge number; if a million Tellarites are argumentative that means at least 100,000 are not (!).  That is not insignificant, and cannot be ignored.    Life, and even biology, teaches us that exceptions are almost always made when it comes to assumed characteristics.   It is not logical to assume ALL beings share a single personality trait.  

And yes, there is the possibility (however improbable or remote) that some alien cultures might be 100% homogenous, but from what we see in Star Trek?  That doesn't appear to be the case.   All throughout Star Trek we see such exceptions: we see Ferengi who aren't greedy.   We see Cardassian pacifists.   We see Romulans who are trustworthy.   We see Klingons who are civil and even some who don't settle conflict with combat.  We see Borg who seek escape from their mental enslavement.   Etc. etc. etc. 

I think that is one of the other defining traits of Star Trek; in addition to demonstrating human potential for growth, it's also about recognizing the complexity and individuality in EACH of us, and not to treat anyone based on assumed characteristics.  

I love the character of Sarek, but I'm guessing that his emotions got the better of him in that instant where he said, "Tellarites do not argue for reasons; they simply argue."   That was something said, with some irony, in the heat of the moment.   He had just taken a pill for his heart condition a moment before, so it's also possible he wasn't feeling fully 'himself.'   We've seen Vulcans in extreme pain who shed their emotional disciplines and logic (T'Pol in much of ENT, or Spock in "Star Trek Beyond" and "Operation: Annihilate!").

Some generalizations are okay and some are not. If you had a Vulcan and a Ferengi offer to sell you something at half price, which is more likely to be a valid offer? Yes you might be talking to a dishonest Vulcan and an honest Ferengi but the opposite is much more likely. The problem is choosing which generalizations are really based on facts and which are not.  Being more cautious when buying from a Ferengi you don't know than a Vulcan you don't know is not prejudice. It's common sense.  Continuing to hold the same views when dealing with individuals who have proven they do not fit the standard species mold is prejudice. 

Generalizations based on behavior rather than on species are much more likely to be valid. If you have seen 10 salesman use the same pitch and it turned out that all 10 were dishonest, it is not prejudice to suspect that the 11th salesman who uses the same pitch may also be dishonest. 

Let's say that you have an alien who has no curiosity at all. Then to this alien all humans are overly curious, even ones that humans would not consider the curious type. Yes there would be a few humans who really have no curiosity but they are the exception.

At some point a valid generalization can turn into prejudice when people automatically assume something without bothering to check and are even hostile to the idea of checking.  

^
And I understand that.   

My issue is with assuming those characteristics are always true all of the time.   Generally, in my nearly 50 years of life experience, they're not.    

Even in manufactured things (not people) that are mass produced on automated assembly lines, tiny variables creep in that create minor differences.  You may get 100 units of the same brand/type of a product, and there may very well be a handful of them that aren't 100% like the others (minor issues with paint, or some other aspect).   Even in controlled circumstances, there is that margin of difference.   When dealing with living things, that margin increases exponentially. 

I agree completely. The original argument was are Vulcans prejudice? Vulcans pride themselves on controlling their emotions. To them, humans walk around proudly displaying their emotions. Vulcans are clearly more technologically advanced. They haven't had a war in centuries. 

When they look at humans, they see a species that is potentially dangerously out of control. Yes there are exceptions. But if 90% of humans conform to their stereotype is it prejudice or is it just realizing a fact. I think that as a species they look at humans like we look at adolescents. They have a lot of potential but if they are not raised correctly they might go very, very wrong. They work with us because of our potential but they feel that we still require guidance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard to say--I think if they truly had that negative a view on humans, they couldn't logically align with them.  So there's a lot more to it.

Or their policy of alignment was a clandestine means of containment. 

As we learned in S4's Vulcan arc, Ambassador Soval tells Admiral Forrest that Vulcans fear humans because of their rapid rate of social/technological progress as compared to the Vulcans and other species.   My guess is that the fear led to their 'allying' with humans in an effort to keep them at bay.   At first.  Later on, humans become instrumental in helping the Vulcans realize their own truer selves...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Aesir   

As a society no. They believe in the dictum Infinite Diversity In Infinite Combination. But you will always have people with bigoted or ethnocentric attitudes. Racism is mostly based on feeling and not logic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a society no. They believe in the dictum Infinite Diversity In Infinite Combination. But you will always have people with bigoted or ethnocentric attitudes. Racism is mostly based on feeling and not logic.

^
Great answer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this