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In Defense of the Jedi

(John Wilson/Lucasfilm via AP, File)

In a display demonstrating that many on the left are about as wise as Jar Jar Binks is competent, Scientific American published a piece complaining about the Jedi, an order of mystic individuals who strive to promote peace and justice in the galaxy. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Star Wars franchise knows what a Jedi is.

But it appears the authors of this article don’t know much about the movies or the folklore associated with these particular characters, which is why they decided to write a piece complaining about the apparent lack of wokeness inherent in the films.

The authors begin by explaining that JEDI has been used as an acronym to brand academic committees. It stands for “justice, equity, diversity and inclusion” according to the article. The acronym has been “employed by a growing number of prominent institutions and organizations.”

The authors note that the acronym is intended to reference, and identify with, the characters popularized by the films. That’s when the wokesplaining began. The authors started:

Through its connections to Star Wars, the name JEDI can inadvertently associate our justice work with stories and stereotypes that are a galaxy far, far away from the values of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. The question we must ask is whether the conversations started by these connections are the ones that we want to have.

The article describes the Jedi as “a religious order of intergalactic police-monks, prone to (white) saviorism and toxically masculine approaches to conflict resolution (violent duels with phallic lightsabers, gaslighting by means of “Jedi mind tricks,” etc.)”

Apparently, the nature of the Force and the Jedi’s ability to use them was also a point of contention. The authors state:

The Jedi are also an exclusionary cult, membership to which is partly predicated on the possession of heightened psychic and physical abilities (or “Force-sensitivity”). Strikingly, Force-wielding talents are narratively explained in Star Wars not merely in spiritual terms but also in ableist and eugenic ones: These supernatural powers are naturalized as biological, hereditary attributes. So it is that Force potential is framed as a dynastic property of noble bloodlines (for example, the Skywalker dynasty), and Force disparities are rendered innate physical properties, measurable via “midi-chlorian” counts (not unlike a “Force genetics” test) and augmentable via human(oid) engineering. The heroic Jedi are thus emblems for a host of dangerously reactionary values and assumptions.

As if that weren’t ridiculous enough, the authors claim the franchise has been “critiqued” for promoting “sexism, racism, and ableism.” For example, they refer to Princess Leia wearing a slave costume when she was imprisoned by Jabba the Hutt and claim the outfit was “infamous for stripping down and chaining up the movie series’ first leading woman as part of an Orientalist subplot.”

The authors note that the franchise conflates “alienness” with “nonwhiteness” and promotes “racist stereotypes” when portraying nonhumans.

But wait, it gets better – or worse depending on where you stand.

The authors claim the movie pushes “ableist tropes.” And who do these wokies refer to as an example? You guessed it: Everyone’s favorite asthmatic, Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith. They complain that his character “links the villain’s physical disability with machinic inhumanity and moral deviance, presenting his technology-assisted breathing as a sinister auditory marker of danger and doom.”

The article also laments the fact that the human characters in Star Wars are overwhelmingly “white men.”

Okay, I’ll give them that one.

But the franchise has been including more minorities in its movies and other entertainment mediums now, so Lando Calrissian is not alone anymore. But their other points were devastatingly absurd – especially for those who have cherished the franchise for decades.

Claims of “white saviorism” in regard to the Jedi make absolutely no sense when one understands the totality of the universe. For starters, many of the Jedi are not even human. Jedi Masters Yoda and Ki-Adi-Mundi and Ahsoka Tano are just a few of the many aliens that are part of the Jedi order. Moreover, the Jedi are not the only ones who fight against the evil Galactic Empire – there were many nonhuman members of the Rebel Alliance.

Indeed, the Empire is the entity in the film series that discriminates against nonhumans. Except for in a few rare cases like Grand Admiral Thrawn, the tyrannical government not only excludes aliens from its ranks but even enslaves them. This was one of the ways that filmmaker George Lucas injected social commentary into the series. To put it simply: The franchise portrays bigotry as a negative, not something to be promoted.

The authors’ complaints about Jedi using violence are also irrational. A common principle of the order says that its adherents must avoid violence unless it is necessary. It is for this reason that Master Obi-Wan Kenobi was known as “the negotiator.” There is nothing “toxic” about it. Indeed, the ones who favor violence over peaceful resolutions are typically not Jedi – they are bad guys (Sith).

As for the eugenics reference the authors make when referring to how Force sensitivity can be passed down through family members, they demonstrate they know little to nothing about the Star Wars universe. While the ability to use the Force can be passed down from parents, this is not always how it works. Most of these individuals actually did not have parents who were Force-sensitive.

Last, but not least, there is the silly argument that Darth Vader’s condition is somehow ableist. This completely ignores the fact that despite being “disabled” he was still one of the most powerful Sith Lords in the franchise. Moreover, the idea that people who are disabled cannot be portrayed as villains is ridiculous and incredibly patronizing. Nobody made this complaint against Mr. Glass, the villain in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable.

Yes, this might seem like a silly debate – after all, we are talking about fictional characters in a fictional galaxy far, far away. But like other stories and entertainment, Star Wars has become an institution in America. This article is part and parcel of how the hard left wishes to malign anything uniquely American. For them, it is another battlefield in the culture war; millions of people love Star Wars, which means the hard left has to find a way to discredit it. People like this wish to inject their politics into everything that gets a significant level of attention. If we’re not careful, they just might succeed.