Like it or not, Luke Skywalker … terrorist.

Paul Wong

If Dubya was president of some intergalactic federation a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, chances are he would have nothing to do with the impetuous, conniving Rebel Alliance.

Yes, the impetuous and conniving Rebel Alliance. It is through narrative and cinematic slight of hand that viewers believe the Rebel Alliance is a group of socially aware upstarts seeking to equalize the way of life in the galaxy through the careful destruction of what the story depicts as the “evil Empire.” This one-sided tale of intergalactic freedom fighting is something completely and altogether different at its core. Instead of simply being the championed tale of a small group spitting in the face of a controlling organization, careful examination of Lucas’ universe is relevant in a galaxy half-a-world away in the near-present day.

The term terrorist is interchangeable with the term freedom fighter. Consultation of the grail of credibility in all socio-political discussions (the Star Wars saga) reiterates the two terms vice-vers-age. Through Lucas’ “Star Wars” films, viewers are forced to associate with the Rebel Alliance (who are little more than a group of rag-tag militants), while viewers are expected to hate the “evil, nefariously corrupt and oppressive Empire.” It is through Lucas’ eyes that we see the Rebel Alliance as freedom fighters, not the terrorists that they are. This is because of the story’s narrative frame.

Contrastingly, the story of “Star Wars” insists that we hate the Empire. They are shown as a malevolent order, ruthless and cold-blooded. But, the fact of the matter is, that the Empire is the ruling body of the galaxy. This is certainly not designed to champion all ruling governmental ruling bodies, despite their track record, but the Empire (discounting the whole Alderaan fiasco) is a well-managed, well-funded governmental body. But, because Americans are so enthralled with the idea of democracy and the Empire is a dictatorship, Lucas propagandas us into thinking they are evil.

How so?

Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine’s elimination of the Jedi is referenced in the original trilogy. It is the elimination of the Jedi (peacekeepers) that is supposed to turn us partially against the Empire. But what the film fails to recognize is that there is no way that Vader and Palpatine’s removal of the Jedi killed more people than Luke Skywalker’s lucky pair of proton torpedoes. When the Death Star blew up, Luke Skywalker launched an attack of terror many, many times worse than the Sept. 11 tragedy. In fact, Skywalker’s shot heard round the galaxy resulted in a million deaths, winked out of existence by the “good side” of the force. For those of you keeping track at home that’d be like blowing up all of Detroit. We could only be so fortunate. Because of the interchangeability of the rhetoric, both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance could be pegged terrorists.

The eradication of the Jedi is an interesting conundrum. It is here we see the Empire remove a faction that is a ruling body (Jedi Council) and after that elimination, the Empire instills its own form of government. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? While Sadaam Hussein is certainly not a benevolent lightsaber wielding peacekeeper, our hushed intentions to enter Iraq and replace him rings strangely true.

While the United States refuses to deal with terrorists, we are guilty of entering numerous countries and training their residents as guerrillas. But guerrillas and freedom fighters are noble and just and good and right. Anyone we train is undoubtedly wonderful – for we are the United States.

Freedom fighters are terrorists.

They are attempting to usurp a government or a dictatorship through violent means. This sounds strangely similar to the Palestinians actions in the Middle East. They are trying to free themselves and establish their own nation. They believe they are freedom fighters. Whether or not a Palestinian strapping a bomb to his/her chest and blowing the hell out of a grocery store is an act of freedom fighting or an act of terror is decided by the narrative point of view.

Just ask big George, who has a higher body count to his credit, Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. I’ll give you a hint – it’s the terrorist, not the dark lord.

Luke Smith can be reached at lukems@umich.edu.

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