The High Ground


The High Ground

Ansata separatists and the government of Rutia IV have been fighting for 70 years. Of course, the Federation does not take sides. It just gives supplies to the government of Rutia IV, which looks to the separatists like taking sides. So they take a prisoner: Dr. Beverly Crusher. Then another: Captain Picard. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? How will all of this end? Find out when we put The High Ground in the Mission Log.

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  • Durakken

    I don’t know who came up with the idea that this is about Ireland, but that’s a silly thing to associate it with. And it is so clear with what you are saying.

    The Irish conflict is not a matter of wanting a seat at the table, and it isn’t a separatist war either. The whole “indipendence thing” that the UK kingdoms keep coming up with is nonsense and the same nonsense that causes conflict around the world where some group claims control of a given area, is actually in control and someone saying “nu huh.” In the case of Ireland, they and Scotland, and wales, were defeated by England and rightfully were under English rule. Them being called “kingdoms” was only really for simplicity. Irish separatists rose up. the UK got tired of dealing with them and so the UK allowed a new political body to form and ceded land to them. Northern Ireland did not wish to be a part of that (largely divided upon catholic/protestant lines) and so the speratists attacked them. This is not what is happening in the show.

    On the other hand, what is happening is possibly a separatist movement that is hiding within the idea of “We just want a seat at the table” like the Colonies. And based on your comments and what was said it is probably closer to what they are referring to with the George Washington reference and the Data mention that Terrorism does work. It may be wrong for him to call himself George Washington though based on his position. He could actually be the Ben Franklin who want to the UK to present the claims and make the arguments that all they want is seats at the table while his actual goal being for them to reject them giving them seats so that they can be considered justified. (Ben Franklin is quoted somewhere as saying if they were actually ever offered them seats he would have rejected them). It seems that this comparison is more than likely the case.

    As far as the argument of who is and isn’t a General and Terrorist… They’re not mutually exclusive. Terrorist just means that you’re using tactics to generate fear for some political end. Washington and the Revolutionaries did not do that as far as I recall. They used moral outrage, but they didn’t attack the british to generate fear. So it is wrong to call them terrorists unless you count moral panic AND you consider that the moral panic crosses over into “fear” causing the action rather than makes them think and then be disgusted with what the thing is being raised…

    A general on the other hand is a bit more complex simply because a “general” is a leader of troops who are aligned with a state army more or less. Washington was part of a state army of some sort as the colonies were organized… He also was in the military before hand. On the other hand Ghengis Khan might not be considered a general because even though he ruled over one of the largest empires that empire wasn’t really an organized state thus the leader of those armies was not a General… but he is easily considered a Warlord.

    Funny side note… If you look at this as more a retelling of the Revolutionary war then the Enterprise is playing the role of France…

    • Muthsarah

      Well, about Ireland. Data’s remark (which was a SERIOUS thing for the show to just toss out there) makes the comparison inescapable. The Troubles were still going on in 1990, and lots of people were still getting killed in the name of bringing the last bit of the island under Republican governance.

      Also, the Irish Independence movement started out as a campaign for Home Rule – which was what London eventually granted it shortly before the Free State pushed for full independence. For the first few centuries of English rule, Ireland still had a Parliament, and Irish nobles still had a say in the local government, but that was dissolved around 1800. Ireland had no seats in (the British) Parliament for over a century. That was something they were pushing for, representation (along with their typical taxation), though it was probably obvious that given the centuries of animosity, that wouldn’t have been the end of it.

      • At the time I was only 18 and not very familiar w world issues. How interesting to revisit these episodes and examine the context in which they were made.

    • Yeah, the Federation would have been France..good point…”Their fight doesn’t involve us…”
      Worf :”It does now”

    • Stephen McFadden

      For the point of completeness, Scotland was occupied by England for a short period in its history but joined the union as an independent kingdom. Scotland was a major power in Europe after sending English forces home and was instrumental in ending the English civil war. It joined the union after the ruling monarch of Scotland took the English throne hereditarily.

      Ireland was similarly occupied but forced British forces out but Britain held onto the lands that now make up northern Ireland.

      • Durakken

        That may be how it is thought of but it is complete nonsense. All three were ruled by the same person and were part of the same set of laws and such and Ireland and Scotland were both conquored by England. It makes no sense to recognize them as separate states/kingdoms, maybe nations, but not any sort of political body that should have ever been considered legitimate in such a way that the claim of indipendence has any sort of merit.

        Also using the word “occupied” is wrong. The land and people were conquored and brought under the rule of the conquoring state as part of that state. That is not an occupation. That is simply how kingdoms and nations grew and arguing anything else requires you to vastly alter maps because of this. For example, Macedonia was never bigger than a city state under the idea that Ireland and Scotland are Kingdoms still. The Same goes for Rome, and just about any other country you can think of that formed before the modern age. Occupied only when the Country isn’t annexing the land and people under their laws. Both Scotland and Ireland do not fit this, but rather they fit into being annexed into the country as part of the country.

        • Stephen McFadden

          This is not my thoughts on the matter but fact. When Scotland joined the union it was as a separate kingdom. Ireland is not part of the united kingdom, only northern Ireland is. I use occupied because both nations were never truly conquered. Scotland was occupies for only 30 years or so (1296-1328) which is when William Wallace and Robert the Bruce were active.

          Ireland was “conquered” (under English rule) for close to two centuries but they were violent and bloody and is the source of the original religious divide. A politician in parliament, the Irish representative, got a bill passed that have Ireland back it’s independence but was delayed because of the first world war. An uprising shortly after that war was the first stages of the current conflict, a guerrilla war that lasted three years and ended when Ireland was given its independence in 1921. Except in northern Ireland, who chose to stay in the united kingdom.

          I apologise for the length of my response but I wanted to provide proper historical context to the previous posts.

        • Occupied vs conquered or assimilated, I think it’s up to the people you ask. Annexation of Crimea or Bajor, the people on the ground may perceive words, concepts and definitions very differently than others. Good discussion though!

          • Durakken

            Bajor was Occupied by Cardassia. This is obvious because the rules that applied in Bajor space was not the same as in Cardassian space in the whole. It was a different chain of rulership.

            This is something that can’t be claimed by Ireland or Scotland, because “the law” in the past was “The King” and all law other than that were subdictates of that same law which differed as much between Fiefs as it did between the supposed Kingdoms of ireland, England, and Scotland. The distinguishing point of a Kingdom is that it is ruled by a King and all land held by that King is part of that single Kingdom.

            Oh well ^.^ Far be it for me to want political nonsense to be thought of and spoken of sensibly. It hasn’t worked so far.

          • Agreed! So much political maneuvering and infighting! They should just let the Borg run things!…lol

      • thanks!! it’s good to know the details….so many intricacies…

  • Glewistee

    I have to strongly disagree with the comparason between George Washington and a terrorist.
    There are a few fundamental flaws with that premise. Generals lead army’s, whether or not those army’s have been established for hundreds of years, or were formed months ago.

    Washington was a rebel and a traitor. He led an army that did not exist prior to his forming it. He won his war. He is remembered as a hero and founder of a nation.

    Robert E Lee was a rebel and a traitor. He led an army that
    did not exist prior to forming it. He lost. He is remembered as a general. If Washington had lost the Revolutionary war he would have been remembered as a traitor, and a rebel, and a general.

    In both of those cases, they were men who led other men into
    battle. Win or lose they were responsible for the killing of soldiers, and oftentimes civilians were killed in the crossfire. Terrorists kill civilians
    and sometimes soldiers get killed in the crossfire.

    Washington and Lee never ordered their people to plant bombs
    in marketplaces full of civilians.

    • I think the focus on attacking civilians is a key factor. Great point

    • mephitofthelake

      I have to strongly agree with you. Ken seems to be missing a fundamental aspect that makes a terrorist a terrorist: are you ready for this?

      They inflict terror. A key weapon in their arsenal is to create terror in the population to further their goals. To do so they deliberately attack civilian targets.

      I actually had to skip ahead in the episode when things started to get heated because the utter inability to see this was getting me upset.

      No matter how you cut it Washington is not a terrorist. Glewistee you hit the nail on the head: “Washington was a rebel and a traitor.” Exactly, this does not automatically make him a terrorist, there is more baggage to the term than simply someone who fights against the establishment. was a rebel and a traitor.Washington was a rebel and a traitor.

    • JusenkyoGuide

      Just as an aside, both the British AND the Americans used terror during the Revolution. While Washington himself issued orders about civilians, Tories (loyalists) were not treated nicely by the population at large and a number of acts of terror were committed.

      Same with both the Union and Confederate armies. Again, Lee did issue orders… but not all followed through.

  • CmdrR

    This ep seems to struggle to complete a story that encompasses its setting. You’re right to point out that it’s at least a novel’s worth of material crammed into 48 (or whatever) minutes of tv. There are no easy answers here and rarely is such a volatile, revolutionary/terroristic situation paired down to just a handful of characters. Still, it’s important to hit this subject. Trek has before and will again — with similarly mixed results. I found this story very watchable. The pacing is excellent. But, I kinda knew going in that it would not offer a satisfying ending. That’s just not in the nature of this subject. Think how much real history you have to splay away before you get a neat, tidy tale of The American Revolution… or Braveheart… or Spartacus… or…

    • Yes, the short 44 minute limitation was really a handicap for the series overall. I knew it when I was 17 and boy is it ever apparent after a masterpiece like DS9. Did somebody say terrorist?Lol, DS9 expanded so much more on this dirty, messy subject…

  • Again, as with so many issues in Star Trek, I think Roddenberry’s vision was admirable for Earth…but reality will sink in. People can just be mean to each other and hard to get along with. Your part about this being just a respite of peace in the 24th century is really just how you look at it. I think it’s a mirage. The Federation has been in conflict since its inception, w random bits of peace sprinkled in. Romulans, Klingons, Tholians, Cardassians, Maquis, Borg, Dominion, Breen… Crusher is in a bubble. She thinks the Federation and Starfleet wouldn’t wage a war like Finn’s group, but we all know Section 31 sure as hell would. Americans have this luxury as well, for now….

  • Am I the only one that wanted more death on the Enterprise? The female who escaped getting shot made me realize that seeing women get mowed down takes it to another level. Let’s not forget there are children on the Enterprise as well…. geez what an odd policy to have families on ships that are in such dangerous situations.

    • Wildride

      Of course, a colony has a hard time warping out of danger when they’re attacked by the Borg or the Husnock. Being on planet makes you a sitting duck, just hoping that the “only starship in the area” can come to their defence in time. Oops, Crystalline Entity: I sure wish I was on a starship.

      • I see where you’re going w that…lol

  • Mike Stevens


  • Cindy Tucker

    I drew some parallels to the Israelis and Palestinians. I do not want to take a side or be controversial, but that was what came to mind. As Ken and John said, religion was not a source of the conflict. A message that I got was that on both sides of a conflict there can be an element of humanity- at least in some cases

  • Karl Cramer

    The key difference between a military revolutionary and a terrorist is if they purposely kill civilians.

  • Not sure how often you read the FB thread, but the disinterest of the Enterprise at the end, and the “Let’s get the Hell outta here…” ending was mentioned. I had posted “empathy has limits” and others mentioned the Syrian conflict. I think just as in real life, the Federation had to weigh their options and bug out. I agree they should have made a gesture to send in mediators…was Riva booked?? Lol, but no matter what you feel about war, I think it is important to realize that there is a threshold that will tip your interest or your disinterest. Sometimes people are just CRAZY. Too hard to negotiate w/ and like a crazy batty ex wife or husband, you just have to LEAVE. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria…who woulda thought 25 years these episodes would be so relevant..torn from the headlines of the future!!

  • Richard Cox “Kyril Finn”

  • Kerrie Keane “Alexana Devos”

  • Marc Buckland “The waiter”- good for you man!

  • Cygnus-X1

    @John Champion

    John, with respect to what you said about this episode not holding up because it doesn’t show us a new way of looking at the moral dilemma presented…

    Finn’s line about the difference between a general and a terrorist being that of winners and losers is an important point that, still today, quite a lot of average people probably don’t fully appreciate—or, could stand to be reminded of when they get nationalistic. Certainly when I first saw this episode in high school, it was a new lesson for me.

    I see your point about the “don’t kill” message being less potent than a “war is bad” or other, more pointed message. And I agree that this would be a better episode if it were delivering a stronger message. But, in defense of this episode and its writers, the issue that this episode takes on is a very hard one to deal with in terms of ethics, and even harder to do while walking the tightrope of a popular TV show that can’t afford to offend too many people in too strong a manner. The moral ambiguity of this episode is directly attributable to the challenging nature of the moral issue being treated—take a hard position, either way, and you end up seriously offending a large number of people.

    But, even more than not wanting to offend people, I’d say that there is not necessarily a clear-cut morally right position about the issue treated in this episode. And what are we to advise when both sides of a conflict clearly want the opposite outcome, but it’s not clear which side has the superior moral justification or deserves more to get their way? Maybe, in that case, the best we can do is to advise both sides, “Don’t kill.” And if both sides stop killing, there’s a chance to work out a resolution that both sides can live with. Then again, if it turns out that the other side is intransigent and there’s no reasoning with them, then by not killing them you’re allowing your own side—the side of reason and compromise—to lose. It’s a tough issue. And I don’t see how they could have improved upon the limitations of this episode that you point out without also putting their thumb on the scale and rewriting the characters and plot to make the issue presented less morally nebulous and elusive.

    So, I agree with you about the limitations of this episode as a piece of entertainment; it’s kind of a downer and a little hard to watch. But, it seems to me that this limitation is a corollary of the challenging nature of the issue being tackled by this episode.

    • I think the episode holds up because look at what we are dealing with in the news. Car bombs, shootings and suicide attacks. Granted these issues have been with us for centuries (not car bombs lol) and will be with us into the stars I am sure. When a population feels hopeless or despair and finds another group to blame their problems are/or genuinely find at fault, there will be bloodshed. Revenge, sour grapes, frustration…desire to change the world in your image…it’s very very highly likely…..

      • Cygnus-X1

        I share your cynicism/concern for the future. I side with Stephen Hawking, who says that extraterrestrials are likely to be a threat to us, over Carl Sagan, who reasoned that only peaceful, enlightened cultures would survive to become space-faring societies. Humanity’s technological progress has always advanced faster than its philosophical progress—and, judging by the state of the world today, there is every reason to believe that this trend will continue indefinitely.

        • I think Sagan’s view would be denial, wishful thinking and naivete all combined. We have exploited the less developed for centuries…. I thought it was silly in “Prometheus” (spoiler alert) how the wealthy corporate tycoon actually thought the alien they awoke from cryo-sleep would be at all impressed w/ his money or interested in helping him. Just ridiculous….

          • Cygnus-X1

            As Stephen Hawking put it, “One only has to look at humanity to see how intelligent life could develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

        • I disagree. Carl Sagan nailed it: humanity has yet to survive our differing political and religious beliefs; corporate corruption; our effects on the planet — pollution, global warming; biotech that might create dangerous organisms… We can barely sustain a space station! That’s why he said for the complexity and vast expense of space travel, we most likely need a very advanced, and philosophically enlightened world. Hence benevolent.
          If our inability to manage the above conflicts continues, how are we to survive?

    • very challenging! Consider our perceptions of Vietnam. Peace now, but wow, what bloodshed and to see the winners doing “well” is a tough pill to swallow. How people have issues w referring to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon depends on who you ask. The intransigence of the enemy is what will cause a tipping point, eventually in most conflicts. “The Hunger Games” scenario had a population beaten down and subjugated but the pot boils and eventually, TERRORISM, or RESISTANCE depending on how you look at it. The “Family Ties” episode where Alex studies in England and they refer to the American Rebellion vs Revolution…hahaha, so many examples. I am just so impressed w Trek once again teaching/enlightening the public on a subject w/o them hardly noticing…so many more good lessons up ahead…! waiting till midnight for “Deja Q”!!

  • Roger Mueller

    I mostly enjoyed the central discussion of this episode, about generals and terrorists. This comment, while about that discussion, is not about which view put forth is correct. I haven’t thought that through enough for myself and it appears that many others have already made some good comments about it already. But I would like to say this: I think, Ken, you were too dogmatic or emotional or whatever about the whole thing. Discussing is good, but you seemed to get totally upset only because John did not have your same viewpoint. Don’t do that. Star Trek it, man.

    But, hey, love the show. It’s my favorite podcast, and overall you guys do great work.

  • Endocrom .

    Buckaroo Banzai reference!

    and Ken remembered Time Squared!

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    On a non-political note, i wish that the folded space method of teleportation (minus the deleterious genetic side effects) had been originally used to explain Star Trek’s transporters, with their matter > energy > matter process; it would have cut out a lot of rubbish stories where people were split or turned into kids or otters or whatever.