The New Iraqica plotline may have started heavy-handed (no doubt in part to get a lot of press attention), and it certainly broke the wall between the audience and the BSGverse, but as the reader above notes, the show’s creative team would have to be complete idiots to sustain this strained and absurd moral equivalence throughout the season. And, they certainly demonstrated in the first two seasons that they aren’t complete idiots. ~Jonah Goldberg
As I read over Goldberg’s reaction to the third season premiere, I was surprised at how seriously he took the supposed parallelism with Iraq. (Then again, I suspect that I am not alone in being amazed that anyone associated Roslin’s attempt to steal the election with the 2000 recount–unless, of course, one thinks that Roslin is Bush, in which case it was a harrowing counterfactual storyline showing us the horror of a Gore presidency!) Now, as I said in my earlier response to Peter, I haven’t seen the premiere, so maybe I should hold off commenting any further until I have, but if Goldberg was giving us the damning evidence here he failed to convict. Isn’t it odd that war supporters should be so touchy at possible backhanded references to their war? War opponents, last I checked, were not beating their heads against the wall when BSG showed the Colonial peace movement as a front for Cylon infiltration and nuclear terrorism. Maybe it’s a space opera. Maybe it is just a story. Yes, it draws on parallels from our own experience, because, well, that’s what all interesting stories do. If you want otherworldly fluff and nonsense, Stargate is still available. If you want gritty, more realistic science fiction, quit your whining about BSG.
Update: A different NRO reader’s take on the show:
I think viewing the episodes as trying to mirror Iraq is at least a little bit of defensiveness from conservatives. I was real worried about the moral equivalence before seeing the episodes, but after viewing it I think it reflected the French resistance (no easy jokes) and Vichy French rather than Iraq. The last scene with the prisoners being allowed to stretch their legs and then being gunned down by surprise is almost a stereotype from WWII Nazi films.
Anyone trying to draw equivalence with Iraq will inevitably look like a fool trying to defend it for just a few of the reasons you have already listed.
I must say that I agree with the remark about defensiveness. Opponents of the Iraq war do not see this as an allegory about Iraq, because they do not assume that Americans are Cylons. Why is Iraq the first thing that leaps to mind? After all, isn’t it 1938? Aren’t the fascists everywhere? If you read NRO regularly, you would think so. So, come on, folks, stick to the script you have been given!
Second Update: As if the BSG-Iraq parallel needed demonstration of its silliness, here is a gem from Battlestar Galactica Blog:
They needed Baltar to be as much like Saddam Hussein as possible in order create an analagous situation. The United States took over Iraq in order to liberate the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein. The Cylons liberated the humans from Baltar. If the humans had a well functioning democratic government, then the similaritiy between the two situations would be a lot weaker.
Um…what? Gaius Baltar may be many things, but a stand-in for Saddam Hussein? Please. A lecherous egomaniac who has gone rather mad, yes, but hardly a brutal dictator. Note that this comes from someone who thought that Baltar was an all right sort of guy until the mean, old writers turned suddenly transformed him into a womanising creep, as opposed to the charming idealistic man of virtue we knew from before. Say what? Furthermore, there was no “liberation” from Baltar; as I understand it, Baltar is still around, working hand-in-glove with the Cylons. But this does raise the important question: if New Caprica is Iraq, who was supposed to be Hussein? The question points out the absurdity of the entire parallel.