‘Star Trek’ Warned Us That The 2020s Would Suck

In case you hadn't noticed, the future we're currently living in isn't so great. Instead of hoverboards and flying cars, we got a global pandemic, virulent police brutality, and a President whose calamitous behavior would seem too unrealistically over-the-top in the RoboCop universe. One group that may have seen all of this tsunami of sewage coming? Trekkies. Sure the Star Trek universe is bright and full of attractive people in colorful pajamas. But canonically, Trek has always maintained that the 21st century (their past) was a pretty bumpy ride.

One of the best episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Past Tense," found Commander Sisko and Dr. Bashir accidentally transported back to the year 2024, thanks to some kind of temporal anomaly and, seemingly, Chief O'Brien's flat-out incompetence. What they find is a decidedly less-friendly Earth. Our heroes are immediately rounded up and shipped to San Francisco's "Sanctuary," a walled-off internment camp for the city's homeless.

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The Sanctuary is run by a heavily militarized police force, and once Sisko and Bashir get inside, they find that it's mostly just home to mentally ill citizens who are being incarcerated rather than treated. Sisko realizes that they're just days away from September 1st, 2024, the date of the famous "Bell Riots" when a handful of prisoners take some guards hostage, prompting the Governor to send in the National Guard and SWAT teams, killing hundreds of innocent people in the process.

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We get that sometimes it can feel reductive to default to filtering real-world problems through a lens of pop-culture. However, it's impossible to ignore the relevance of this story at a time when income inequality is worsening, and a real-life California city recently proposed building an actual Sanctuary-like camp to imprison their homeless population. Not to mention the repeated use of the National Guard against protestors this year. So on this, the reverse four-year anniversary of the Bell Riots, maybe there's some small comfort in remembering that, at least in the world of Star Trek, the dark days of the early 21st century ultimately paved the way for a holodeck-filled utopia. 

Since replicators don't exist and money hasn't been abolished, you can always help struggling Americans by donating to organizations like Feeding America and the National Alliance to End Homelessness

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