No, Really. The Empire is Evil.

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Apparently, annihilating billions of people in a fiery planet-destroying inferno isn’t really that bad. Heck, sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

See, according to a growing number of conservative/media trolls, the perspective of Star Wars is all wrong—the rebels aren’t the good guys. They’re terrorists! Vigilantes! Religious fanatics! It’s the empire who’s good, trying to maintain order, promote trade, and prevent wars that could cost millions of lives.

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(Randal and Dante above in Kevin Smith’s Clerks)

If I’m not mistaken, it was Kevin Smith’s Clerks that most prominently opened the door to this argument (although conservatives ranging from William Kristol to Matthew Continetti have been rooting for the Empire all along), when Randall, video store clerk, points out that the second Death Star was still in the process of being constructed when it was destroyed in Return of the Jedi, noting:

“A construction job of that magnitude would require a helluva lot more manpower than the imperial army had to offer. I’ll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers.”

And therefore: “all those independent contractors hired to do a job were killed—casualties of a war they had nothing to do with… All right, look—you’re a roofer and some juicy contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia—this is a government contract, which means all sorts of benefits. All the sudden, these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius… you didn’t ask for that. You have no personal politics. You’re just trying to scrape out a living.”

Of course, for those that remember the movie, an independent contractor then provides Dante and Randall a counter argument that personal politics should play a role in who one works for, but the damage was done. Every troll, contrarian, and jackass was listening.

Their argument is along the same lines as Randall’s, only more extreme and ridiculous, the most notorious: “The Case for the Empire,” Jonathan Last’s piece more than a decade ago in the Weekly Standard.

He argues, among other things, that the Galactic Republic is ungovernable due to various warring factions, the Jedi are a bunch of pompous assholes, and Count Dooku is a heroic separatist leader promising, “small government, free trade, and an ‘absolute commitment to capitalism.’”

Furthermore, Last maintains, Senator/Emperor Palpatine was a pretty decent guy: the Empire was nothing more than a benevolent dictatorship—and a meritocracy at that. The final crime of the Rebel Alliance? “In all of the time we spend observing the Rebel Alliance, we never hear of their governing strategy or their plans for a post-Imperial universe. All we see are plots and fighting. Their victory over the Empire doesn’t liberate the galaxy—it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one.”

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More recently, the Washington Post’s Sonny Bunch expanded upon Last’s argument, writing that Alderaan’s destruction was completely justified. See, the attack was necessary as a means of enforcing the Tarkin Doctrine—the idea that the threat of force will keep local governors and planets from rebelling against the empire—and therefore, “is more analogous to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than it is to a ‘genocide.’” He continues: “Yes, it was horrible, and yes, it would be nice if it didn’t happen. But it was an attack on a legitimate military target and defensible under Just War Theory, an attack intended to save lives by deterring other major powers from beginning conflicts of their own. The Imperial Grand Moff Tarkin is no worse than Democratic President Harry S. Truman — and no one worth listening to considers Truman to be a monster.”

This is all, of course, pure bullshit. I shouldn’t have to say this, but let’s be clear: the Empire is evil. Really, really fucking evil.

Let’s start with the idea that the Galactic Republic was ungovernable. It was, but purely by design; indeed, as we’ll see, Last’s entire argument—as is typical of writers at the Weekly Standard—is only possible if we ignore facts and paper over inconvenient truths.

Because when the Trade Federation invades Naboo, it does so at the behest of then Senator Palpatine—who, oh by the way, also happens to be a Sith Lord. He deliberately sabotages negotiations, telling Federation leaders to kill the Jedi (Qui Gon Jin and Obi Wan Kenobi) sent to broker an agreement. Then, under Palpatine’s instructions, the Federation attempts to capture Queen Amidala, threatening to kill her if she doesn’t surrender, and when she escapes, he sends his Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, racing across the galaxy to assassinate her.

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(Palpatine planting seeds of doubt and evil in the young Jedi, Anikan Skywalker)

As the plot unfolds in Episodes II and III, we see that crisis after crisis is purposefully manufactured by Palpatine to call the Republic’s governing ability into question—and why? So he can assume power and consolidate it into the First Galactic Empire. Last time I checked, that’s called a coup d’etat, which is French for a hostile fucking takeover of the government.

That’s bad.

So sure, the Republic may have been ungovernable, but only because there was an incredibly powerful Satanic figure doing everything in his power to make it so—not all that different, frankly, from the Caucus Room Conspiracy that was hatched by Republicans while President Obama was being sworn into office. Thank God Mitch McConnell is more bungling asshole than Sith Lord (although his resemblance to Emperor Palpatine is striking).

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Moving to Episodes IV through VI, the argument for the Empire only become more tenuous—if not disingenuous. For one, consider their lead enforcer Darth Vader, the most powerful user of the Force—ever—now a mangled merge of man and machine, a sci-fi Frankenstein who’s essentially invincible, as quick to anger as he is ruthless. He likes long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners and… force strangling.

It’s laughable then, that Last argues “the Empire is a meritocracy. The Empire runs academies throughout the galaxy (Han Solo begins his career at an Imperial academy), and those who show promise are promoted, often rapidly. In The Empire Strikes Back Captain Piett is quickly promoted to admiral when his predecessor falls down on the job.”

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Actually, Captain Piett’s predecessor was strangled to death. And Piett’s so glad about the promotion it looks like he’s shitting his pants. Welcome to the Empire, where promotion is just a strangle away and your boss is a Golem-esque, tyrannical wizard whose face is masked by a giant black skull.

On to Alderaan. First off, let’s dispense with the notion the Empire chose the planet because it was a “legitimate military target.” Wrong. They chose Alderaan because it was Leia’s home planet and knew the threat of its destruction would be their best chance at prompting her to name the location of the Rebel Base. It was hostage taking, pure and simple.

And while I agree with Last and Bunch that the Empire had no reason to believe Princess Leia’s (“Princess Liar” according to Bunch) claim that Alderaan was peaceful, neither do we have any evidence that it was, “a hive of scum and villainy no less wretched than Mos Eisley, but on a planetary scale.”

Alderaan-Hope

(That place above–Alderaan–is evil?)

The basis for that leap of faith is that Alderaan is the home of Bail Organa, Leia’s adoptive father—one of the few Senators to aid the Jedi after Palpatine and Vader declare war on them, famously issuing order 66. That helping the Jedi is somehow a despicable offense rendering an entire planet equally despicable—and therefore, disposable—is completely absurd. After all, what was Obi Wan and Yoda’s great crime? Discovering a coup and trying to stop it? Being targeted for assassination by their own troops? And by the time Organa comes into the picture, Vader and an army of clone Storm Troopers have ruthlessly slaughtered all remaining Jedi in the Temple, including younglings.

That’s bad. Really, really fucking bad.

Indeed, the fact that Organa aids the side NOT killing small children and forcibly taking over the government speaks well of his character, not ill.

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So even though Bunch’s assertion that destroying a planet was necessary to enforce the Tarkin doctrine makes sense, destroying an entire planet that WAS NOT, to the best of our knowledge, a legitimate military target, is the definition of evil. This is especially true considering that by all appearances, Alderaan is annihilated, basically, out of spite. They used it as a hostage to secure Leia’s cooperation, then blew it up because, well, it was there—serves the little bitch right for conspiring against them in the first place.

The larger point the Empire Trolls seem to miss is that the Rebellion is no more a movement of religious extremists or terrorists than the fighters of Revolutionary War. Indeed, there are a hell of a lot of parallels here.

  • England: Ruthless Monarchy.
  • Empire: Ruthless Dictatorship.
  • England: King George—tyrannical dickhead who doesn’t give a shit about or listen to his subjects; more than happy to collect their taxes.
  • Empire: Emperor Palpatine—tyrannical dickhead who’s more than happy to kill billions of people and trample on local government (oh, I don’t know, like Tatooine and Cloud City) to get his way.
  • England: King George—doesn’t think Democracy matters or that his subjects have any rights whatsoever.
  • Empire: Emperor Palpatine—deliberately sabotages Democracy to take over the government.
  • England: Red Coats.
  • Empire: Storm Troopers.

So those who impugn the Rebel Alliance for fighting the Empire? Nothing more than modern day Tories–cowards who prefer to worship at the feet of what they see as a benevolent dictatorship instead of governing their own affairs; a notion that is distinctly un-American.

Fast forward to Episode VII. Here, the First Order’s (clearly the spawn of what’s left of the Empire) evil cannot really be called into question. At the end of the opening sequence, Kylo Ren has an entire village massacred, even though the rebels had been captured and taken prisoner. Throughout, we see Ren do everything he can to embrace the dark side and reject goodness, begging to be more evil, culminating in an especially cruel scene where he kills his own father, Han Solo.

Hux

And then there’s the matter of destroying more planets: five, to be exact, in the Hosnian System. Just more of the Tarkin Doctrine? No: “all remaining systems will bow to the First Order!” General Hux says before he issues the command to fire, and we see now that this quite clearly a bullshit argument. The forces of the Dark Side, whether the Empire under Palpatine, or the First Order under Supreme Leader Snoke, are hell bent on building massive, planted-annihilating weapons to, surprise, surprise: annihilate planets—any and every planet that harbors resistance or contradicts their ambitions.

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But this is all fairly obvious. That the Empire, Palpatine, First Order, Sith, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, and Snoke are evil, seeking power for the sake of power and more than willing to use violence to achieve that end, is something that even an idiot understands. So what’s the lesson here?

Number one, a troll is a troll. And what is a troll? A contrarian asshole that confuses the truth and provides stupid, argumentative, angry people reasons oppose progress, reason, and common decency.

I don’t see how that’s fun or a good use of one’s time, but to some people it is, and that’s sad. Absolutely fucking pathetic, in fact. And for this reason: NO ONE SHOULD LISTEN TO THEM. If no one pays attention to them, trolls go away—or at least, they cease to matter.

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Two, most trolls are conservative (both Empire Trolls discussed here are: Last and Bunch); indeed, the essential truth is that modern conservatism—i.e. today’s Republican Party—is comprised almost entirely of trolls. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Fox News, Glenn Beck… these people aren’t thoughtful intellectuals or moral paragons of virtue: they’re just a bunch of fucking trolls.

And let’s be honest: Republicans in office aren’t any different. Bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor to refute climate change? Sending a letter to Iran attempting to sabotage the negotiations of our own government? Shutting down the government? Refusing to appoint a Supreme Court Justice because it’s an election year? Manufacturing paranoia about voting fraud and Obamacare in order to deny people the right to vote or access to healthcare? Refusing transgender Americans the right to use the bathroom of their choice?

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(Senator James Inhofe: idiot, asshole, and troll)

These aren’t the actions of a serious party that cares deeply about the state of our country or about ordinary Americans—they’re the actions of trolls doing what trolls do: being contrarian assholes that confuse the truth and provide stupid, argumentative, angry people reasons to oppose progress, reason, and common decency.

Right? I mean look at what underlies the Empire Troll argument: a preference for the use of force over diplomacy, a disdain for democratic institutions, and a general willingness to ignore and/or lie about blatant acts of oppression and brutality. It’s about valuing authority and power over individual rights, freedoms, and self-government.

Finally, a lot of people—including a lot of Republicans—have a hard time understanding how a guy like Trump could become the Republican Nominee, but really, he’s perfect–he’s the ultimate troll. It doesn’t matter if he lies, says horrible things about women and minorities, nothing—he’s a contrarian asshole that confuses the truth and provides stupid, argumentative, angry people reasons to oppose progress, reason, and common decency. He’s the Republican zeitgeist in flesh and blood.

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Bringing it back to Star Wars, it makes a lot of sense. Anger, fear, power: this path leads to the Dark Side…

And, quite literally, the Republican Nomination for President.

If you like what we’re doing here at ChuckingRocks.com, please help us out by making a donation. Every dollar counts. If you can’t make a donation at this time, the other way you can help us is to spread the word–so please, like, share, email, tweet, and/or retweet our posts. Remember to follow me on twitter @chuckingrocks or email me: chuckingrocks.com@gmail.com.

About The Author: Jay Scott

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