What If Aliens Were Racist? Part I: 1619-1860
America has famously been described as a melting pot, but I think of it more as a soup. In a melting pot, all of the constituent elements liquefy down into a homogenous whole. In a soup however, each element lends flavor to the overall dish but retains its own identity. Carrots and celery flavor a chicken soup but they still remain distinctly carrots and celery. Okay, enough of this metaphor. The point I’m making is that the United States is a massive country made of several interlocking identities and communities. That’s part of what makes us so strong. We have new immigrants, descendants of the Mayflower, descendants of slaves, and refugees from all of the world’s atrocities. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, we didn’t get here on the same ships but we’re all in the same boat now.
However, those distinct identities and communities sometimes make it difficult to communicate. For example, if I were to issue an indictment against the Confederate flag, that would be seen as an indictment of all of the people who have been flying it for the past 100 years. There are tons of great people whose family members love that flag. So, if they were to hear me say the flag is treasonous or racist, they might hear that I think their family members are treasonous racists. That’s not an accusation that’s going to lead to understanding between two different identities.
So, I want to try something. I want to attempt to divorce the American experiment from its context and perhaps look at it anew. Sometimes, you have to look at something sideways to see it clearly. So, let’s make the attempt.
The very first enslaved Africans are dragged onto the shore of what will become the United States, beginning a 400 year struggle. That story is not this story, though. The same year – the very same moment, in fact – shadows descend over every continent. These unnatural shadows appear out of the blue sky. Spaceships blot out patches of sun, and green men beam down from on high. They’re here for the one resource they don’t have: human beings. They want human slaves, and they’re willing to pay in gold.
So, humans sell them other humans. The French sell British prisoners. The Japanese sell Chinese captives. The Apache sell the Navajo, and so on. If they didn’t want to be enslaved, they shouldn’t have lost that war or border dispute or trade disagreement or whatever. It’s not important what they lost. The point is, they lost and they’re the other, so they’re gone.
Humans from all over the globe are loaded onto ships and taken to the planet Freedomia.
157 years have passed since the first humans were shuttled to Freedomia in chains. Descendants of those first slaves are now on their fifth generation. They don’t know anyone who even remembers Earth. All of their experiences and culture have been shaped by life on Freedomia. However, every day more and more slaves arrive on ships from Earth. These new captives still speak their Earthling languages, practice religions from Earth, and prepare food the way it was prepared in their home countries. These new arrivals blend their ideas with the Freedomian ideas of those who’ve been bound for generations. A distinctly human subculture grows in the fields and factories of Freedomia.
Freedomia is not alone in the galaxy, though. The planet is actually a colony of a larger empire, The Super Old Empire. The S.O.E. is governed by the meaty fist of King Gorge. After the S.O.E. wages a brutal war against the Bourbon Kingdom, the empire finds itself in massive amounts of debt. To pay down this debt, King Gorge begins taxing the Freedomian colonists heavily.
The wealthy Freedomians declare that this is an unbearable infringement. In the name of liberty, they rebel against the Super Old Empire. They issue a Declaration of Independence, which states that “all sentient beings are created equal.” Fortunately, they have an economy run by unpaid slaves. With the help of the Bourbon Kingdom, age-old enemies of the S.O.E., the Freedomians win their independence. It’s a new birth of freedom for everyone on Freedomia, everyone except humans. They’re still slaves. That won’t change.
1861 (242nd Year of Human Enslavement)
For four score and seven years, the Republic of Freedomia has been free, except for the slaves. The planet that stated “all sentient beings are created equal” also contains millions of slaves. This unbearable contradiction finally explodes in 1860.
The Republic of Freedomia is divided into three parts: the Nawth, the Southren, and the Wild West. The industrialized Nawth has mostly outlawed human enslavement. The agricultural Southren continent has so many slaves that it is actually 40% human. The Wild West is largely ungoverned by the Freedomians.
In 1860, the Freedomians elect President Zincoln despite him not even appearing on ballots in the Southren continent. President Zincoln campaigned on containing slavery within the Southren continent. Southreners want to expand slavery into the Wild West. Believing that the new Nawthern president actually wants to outlaw all slavery, the Southreners secede from the Freedomian Republic. They establish the Confederation of Freedomia as a slave empire to the south.
The Republic of Freedomia has split in two and, depending on who wins the war, could effectively cease to exist.
At this point, I want to ask two questions.
- Can the Republic of Freedomia truly be a free planet if human beings are still enslaved?
- If the issue of human enslavement splits and threatens to destroy the Republic, would that issue be considered a foundational element of the Republic?