Earlier today Stephen directed me to this image of Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith offering the Vulcan salute in (of course) Vulcan, Alberta while on the campaign trail. "Please blog about everything wrong in this picture and caption of Danielle Smith in Vulcan," he pleaded.
Where to begin? Well, first things first: while the photo's caption claims "Danielle Smith shows she can give a Vulcan salute," she has, in fact, messed up; her thumb should be extended, not scrunched up along the blade of her hand. Other politicians are perfectly capable of giving the salute; see US President Obama saluting Spock-style just a few days ago.
Of course no Federation citizen would hold this gaffe against Ms. Smith; that would be illogical. It's the gesture and the sentiment that are important: peace and long life, live long and prosper.
But Wildrose political philosophy runs counter to Star Trek's humanist ideals, making one wonder why Smith would associate herself, however briefly, with the show. In the world of Star Trek, we're presented with a society that is either slowly leaving capitalism behind or has already done so, depending on which of the various Trek TV series you're watching. There are no national borders on Earth, and people work not for money, but to pursue personal growth. Greed and the pursuit of money are seen as distasteful and outmoded, and universal human rights are fiercely defended. Health care is universal and fully accessible to all, based on need, not affluence. Science is held in high esteem.
Contrast that with Smith and her party, who continue to claim - for political reasons - that the science of climate change hasn't yet been proven. They believe in so-called "conscience rights" that would allow marriage commissioners to refuse to marry homosexual couples or health care professionals to refuse to give out birth control pills. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Picard and the others would be bewildered by these philosophies, though they would certainly be tolerant of Smith's beliefs...if perhaps privately worried about the prospect of socially conservative economic libertarians being put in charge of one of Earth's most advanced jurisdictions.
In other words, what we have here is a simple case of cognitive dissonance. It's not that right-wingers shouldn't like Star Trek; it's that it's hard to imagine why they possibly would. One of these things is not like the other.
In truth, I have no idea whether or not Ms. Smith is a Star Trek fan; it's quite likely that she was simply acknowledging that the town of Vulcan is best known for the connection it's fostered with the show. Any politician stopping in Vulcan would be pretty much obliged to mug for the camera flashing that salute. But it remains ironic that the leader of a libertarian, socially conservative party would so willingly associate herself, however obliquely, with popular culture's most enduring vision of a social-democratic utopia.