This Planet Is Under the Protection of The New Republic
Is that really a good idea?
Very mild Ahsoka spoilers. You can stand it.
In the new Disney series Ahsoka, as with in The Mandalorian and Boba Fett, there is a heavy presence of the New Republic as it tries to rebuild the galaxy after the war with the Empire. It’s always a problem for conquerors to become rulers and generals should not become President, which is why Daenerys should have married Petyr Baelish and let him run the country while she looked hot and set things on fire. But I digress and mix metaphors.
There is a much greater presence of the New Republic in the new Ahsoka series, and I find myself faced with the same problem over and over again.
To me, The New Republic is a magazine. And I don’t feel all that safe knowing that my planet is under its protection.
I grew up with The New Republic. My first writer crush was on Michael Kinsley, and if you listen you can hear Kinsley’s style in almost anything I write. My mother was a librarian, and when I was in high school and into college I worked in the library where she was the Director as a student assistant. Even when I was working other jobs during college summers, I would spend time in the University of North Carolina library when Mom was teaching at UNC. There I dragged the bound periodicals of old issues of The New Republic off the shelves and photocopied every TRB Kinsley ever wrote.
I used to faithfully read The New Republic, The Nation and The National Review every time each one came out. I aligned best politically in the early to mid nineties with TNR, but I loved all three. I always believed in reading people I disagree with, and I had to keep up to date to be able to talk politics with cute boys at Yale I mean make a meaningful contribution to Yale Political Union debate. Later on, one of my Yale friends, Peter Beinart, became the editor of The New Republic. I wasn’t close with Peter in college - he was a senior when I was a freshman - but he was always very kind to me and I remember him as an excellent elder statesman of the Liberal Party of the YPU.
All of which is to say that I love The New Republic, I am very fond of anyone who I have ever known who was in the leadership of The New Republic, and I should probably start reading it again on a more regular basis.
BUT! I have some serious concerns about entrusting the security of a planet to its care.
No offense, but with Imperial loyalists in every level of government, hiding out on hidden worlds, the threat of something really bad happening in the last three movies that I won’t spoil for the last person on earth who hasn’t seen them, perhaps we should look to The National Review on matters of planetary security?
Liberals are not known as tough on crime, and I’m really concerned about the spice running cartels and piracy. Especially in the Outer Rim. I mean it’s all fine if you’re in Coruscant to put your faith in the deprogramming skills of the New Republic to turn old Imperial operatives into faithful servants, but out here, it’s dangerous.
One thing I think The New Republic could do very well is teach the children of the galaxy how to write. The writing in TNR has always been, well, stellar. Writing is such an undervalued skill. I do understand that film and holograms and such are taking over, but I don’t believe you will ever replace the power of good writing to open people’s minds and heart to new ideas.
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While people (and other beings) in their galaxy and ours seem to want to shout at each other and terrorize those with whom they disagree instead of engaging in honest debate, I hold out hope for the craft of beautiful writing to save the world. The New Republic could be in charge of teaching the little children to write, with the great Michael Kinsley at the helm of the effort. Kinsley was indeed my Master Skywalker when it came to learning how to write. I pray that he will take up his light saber again in this galactic effort to save the craft.
But interplanetary warfare? I mean they did win the great war against the Empire, and that was a big deal, but there were a lot of very lucky (or Force-full) shots involved in that. Day to day protection of a planet is very different from publishing a magazine, and I fear that the two efforts may be incompatible.
I wonder if the people at The New Republic now are wearing orange pants and calling the editor in chief General. They have to be about the right age to have grown up with Star Wars like I did, and some of them must be watching Ahsoka. Is this all going to their heads, or do they have a little more perspective and ability to compartmentalize than I do?
I think we might all, Left, Right and Center, be able to agree that we do not want to put any magazine in charge of planetary security. We may not be sure to whom that duty should be assigned, but not a magazine.
I don’t know what the answer is. I’m working on some serious columns about the state of our national discourse, and it’s all very sad. It seems the days when you could flirt politely with someone with whom you disagree are long gone, and men frequently tell me that they are just plain afraid to talk to women. My neighborhood isn’t particularly safe, the temperature is rising, and the cats we get at the cat shelter where I volunteer weekly are literally starving they come in. It seems that things are getting worse, and both extremes of the political spectrum are screaming about issues that while important, are not as important as climate change and poverty.
I often miss the civility of the Yale Political Union, where someone would smile and hand you a mixed drink as they stabbed you in the back. It’s so much nicer than being screamed at in the street. I hope that if a magazine is put in charge of the galaxy, that it advocates for open debate, respect for all persons (and other galactic beings), and federal funding for cat shelters.
It seems like a sci-fi fantasy, the idea of a galaxy where people were civil to each other, but when Leia put the Death Star plans into R2D2 and Luke picked up a light saber for the first time, winning the war seemed like a fantasy.
Oh, I guess it was. It was a movie. But one that holds so much power because it sparks our belief in balance, and in a benevolent Force that even if it is hidden, still binds the galaxy together.
May the Force be with you.
And may The New Republic remain just a magazine.
Goodbye Death Star.