Like everything else about this administration, the SPACE FORCE is probably also about whiteness.
I know I haven’t written in a while, but in my defense, I’ve been getting a PhD (and then recovering). But now I’m back, I’m a doctor (not that kind of doctor), and also: SPACE FORCE!
The sitting-in-a-golf-cart president of the united states has been making more noise lately about the so-called “Space Force” he wants to add to the military, sending out six mediocre-at-best (and your-graphic-designer-friend’s-worst-nightmare at worst) logos for his fashy mailing list to “vote” on (i.e. raise money for the reelection campaign he started like, three months into office). Hold on, if you haven’t seen them I’ll dig them up… here:
So, here’s the thing about the logos. Aside from being utterly shite, busy designs that are at once both meaningless and and entirely forgettable, and aside from the hideous circa-2003 flash-animation feel and the unrepentant keming issues, and aside from the utterly blatant ripoff of the NASA “meatball” and the fact that if these were military logos no country in their right mind would take the US seriously (heh as though they do anymore anyway, but fine), there’s still more to talk about when it comes to both these logos and SPACE FORCE in general.
So the president and his administration can’t actually make a new branch of the military, for starters. What they can and have done is direct the DoD to draft plans for how a SPACE FORCE would work as a sixth branch of the military (after the Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines). But it’s unclear what it would actually do, how it would be arranged, or why it’d be worth the money to do such an administrative rejiggering.
Mike Pence said recently that “the space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation; what was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial,” which …is bullshit from start to finish. Space has always been both adversarial and contested (maybe he doesn’t remember a little thing called the “Space Race”? Reagan’s plans for “Star Wars”?) and things have been held in check by a little thing called “diplomacy” (which to be fair, Trump has never in his life heard of). We actually have an international treaty that (in short) says “no weapons in space,” but as we all know, Trump doesn’t give a damn about treaties (or laws of any sort).
The US does send military satellites into space, usually under the watchful eye of the National Reconnaissance Office, one of the “big five” intelligence agencies (along with the CIA, NSA, DIA, and NGA), and the Air Force does send up unmanned X-37s for secret reasons, so perhaps it would take on some of those responsibilities? Or perhaps it would act more like the Coast Guard, there to rescue astronauts who run aground (or collide with space junk)? It’s pretty unclear what the SPACE FORCE is needed for, especially when Flint still doesn’t have clean water and Puerto Rico is still without power.
But I think a friend of mine really put his finger on the issue the other day when we were discussing these logos. He pointed out that they all have something in common: they’re intensely “retro.”
They’re the #MAGA of space.
These logos reveal something really important about what Trump and Pence and the whole administration are trying to get at: these aren’t forward-looking plans, they’re distilled nostalgia. Just like Make America Great “Again” hearkens back to a fantasy “golden age” where white people had everything and nobody else mattered, this Space Force is hearkening back to the “space age.” And what did the space age promise?
Whiteness in Space.
Look, I’m not the first person to say that The Jetsons takes place in a dystopic future in which the systemic exclusion of people of colour has been extended to its logical conclusion: a future without black people. I’m not the first to point out that it’s a show about a nice white family with a sapient robotic slave, or that it replicates literally everything monstrous about the patriarchy in one all-encompassing swoop. But if SPACE FORCE isn’t about going backward to a time when “the future” was about the (all-white) Robinsons exploring alien worlds, or about the “all-American” (white) Flash Gordon fighting Yellow Peril, then I will eat my hat.
The goals of white supremacism can inevitably be seen in the things it idealizes. Maybe I’m reading too much into the garbage-disposal logos for the SPACE FORCE, but I’m not reading into what it represents. The drive to have a “strong” (i.e. military), nationalist, American presence in space is part and parcel of Making American Great Again, and that almost certainly means weaponizing space against people of colour in some form or other.
In V for Vendetta, the guard at the party’s propaganda station watches “Storm Saxon” at his post. For all its flaws, it sure gets some things right—but maybe it should’ve called the tv show SPACE FORCE, instead.
Signed: The Remixologist.
The featured image is of the Jetsons in their weird little spaceship and is captioned “Space Force!”