‘Star Trek’ Cast Member Behind ‘Trek Against Trump’ Defends Statement

  • Science Fiction
Quark (Armin Shimerman) humanized the Ferengi as a bartended aboard DS9 in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.' CBS Television Studios

Over 80 Star Trek cast and crew members, including actors, directors, writers, producers, costume designers and visual effects editors representing every Star Trek show and movie, plus the in-development Star Trek Beyond (series creator Bryan Fuller), have signed on to a statement against Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, urging Star Trek fans to choose HIllary Clinton over her opponent.

The statement, signed by cast members of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and Star Trek Beyond, opens:

Star Trek has always offered a positive vision of the future, a vision of hope and optimism, and most importantly, a vision of inclusion, where people of all races are accorded equal respect and dignity, where individual beliefs and lifestyles are respected so long as they pose no threat to others. We cannot turn our backs on what is happening in the upcoming election. Never has there been a presidential candidate who stands in such complete opposition to the ideals of the Star Trek universe as Donald Trump. His election would take this country backward, perhaps disastrously. We need to elect a president who will move this country forward into the kind of future we all dream of: where personal differences are understood and accepted, where science overrules superstition, where people work together instead of against each other.”

You can read the full “Trek Against Trump” statement and see the signatories here.

The statement, originally released Sept. 28, was first conceived by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine cast member Armin Shimerman (he played Ferengi bartender Quark), who went on the Jordan Hoffman-hosted Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast to explain the thinking behind the “Trek Against Trump” statement.

“Chris Pine, Zack Quinto… from Walter Koenig to John Cho, the full gamut of actors and all the shows are in there too,” Hoffman said, before introducing Shimerman.

Shimerman tracked the origins of the statement to the Star Trek Mission: New York convention (where Shimerman joined other members of the DS9 cast on-stage to offer advice to Star Trek: Discovery actors and defend the Ferengi against accusations of antisemitism). “I was thinking about it for a while. In fact, there was a lot of political talk amongst us while we were in the Javits Center,” Shimerman said. “I thought it would be a very good idea to speak to millennials and to fans of the show about our feelings… it’s not about one person, it’s really about everybody working together as a community.”

Shimerman describes the statement as aligned with Star Trek values. “The show has always aspired to the common good, of all people. And we aspire to universal inclusion. And when someone like Trump represents the opposite of that, I think all of us say ‘it’s time to speak up,’” Shimerman said.

For the signatories (and presumably anyone who understands Star Trek at all), Donald Trump’s candidacy is antithetical to the humanist values espoused by Gene Roddenberry (though his politics and ethics were far from perfect) and the shows that followed his example.

“He said things about immigrants that are impossible to accept. He said things about minority groups that are impossible to accept. We look at his background and we see he’s less than qualified to be the President of the United States. He’s not qualified,” Shimerman said. “To me, he’s primarily an amateur.”

Shimerman was particularly revolted by Trump’s numerous statements demonizing Muslims and Muslim-Americans. “My family was decimated by the Holocaust. I am a first-generation American. My father was born in Europe. He lost all of his family… yes, that puts a particular fear in me.”

“There’s the old, ‘it can’t happen here,’” Hoffman said.

“But it can,” Shimerman said. “We put out that statement to try and make sure it doesn’t happen here.”

Shimerman also expressed concern for the kind of legacy a Donald Trump presidency could leave behind. “He has the ability to pick Supreme Court justices,” he said. “He could change the course of America for 40 years or more — let’s say 50 years since it’s our 50th anniversary — 50 years or more. And we don’t want that.”

In addition to explaining some of his own reasoning behind signing the “Trek Against Trump” statement, Shimerman responded to some of the criticism brought against the statement after Hoffman quoted a typical online comment. Here’s a taste of our own comment field regarding the “Trek Against Trump” statement:

  • “Romulans would show more honor than this desperate plea to vote for a particular candidate.”
  • “As a lifelong fan of all things Star Trek I am truly disappointed in this petulant display of political expediency.”
  • “I love Star Trek but the USA will be lost to Muslim conquest if Hillary is elected, you will then never see a future as imagined in Star Trek.”
  • “Gawd this sucks, I have enjoyed Star Trek for decades and am offended by this obscene effort to alienate us. They lie and say the show was about inclusion yet the Klingons and other races were always at odds for many years (becasue the Klingons were fantaical violent people who sought to defeat anybody they could kind of like we know who).” [sic]
  • “They are all going to look foolish when Trump wins this election and I hope when he does he shoves that stupid show as far to the back as he possibly can.”

Shimerman focused on the charge that actors are somehow unqualified to comment on politics and the suggestion that it’s inappropriate they do so. “Everyone’s opinion matters, no matter who you are. It’s just the luck of the draw that sometimes celebrities' get more focused than others,” Shimerman said. “It wasn’t just the celebrities who stand behind this statement, but the people who worked on the set as well, the people who have written books, the people who have done artwork… It’s the people who stood behind Star Trek, the people who made Star Trek what it is.”

Shimerman ended the interview by urging everyone to register to vote. “Do your civic duty. Go out and do what some countries in this world would beg to do,” Shimerman said.

For so many Star Trek cast and crew members, the 2016 presidential election demonstrates a unique danger to the possibilities of achieving Star Trek’s utopian future. “It was important, I think, to let the world know where we stood,” Shimerman said. “We could not stand by and watch this happen without our opinion being known.”

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