The premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Paramount Plus Thursday, appeared to allege that the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol triggered the fictitious nuclear World War III on Earth in the sci-fi series timeline.
The spin off from Star Trek: Discovery, based in cannon from the 1960's original series, showed the crew of the Enterprise discovering a pre-warp society with advanced technology, which warring factions on the planet are about to use against each other.
As a peace summit between the two factions begins to break down, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) beams down in the middle of negotiations to show the two sides Earth’s history, and warns that the planet’s current fighting would lead them down the same path as Earth: a "Second Civil War" that became a "Eugenics War," and then a nuclear "World War III," which resulted in a massive loss of life.
Pike introduces himself and says, "…my people and yours are very much alike." He then shows the faction leaders Star Trek’s prosperous Earth in the future and says, "Though, we were not always peaceful."
He continues, "This is our Earth in the 21st century, before everything went wrong." The video flashes to images of modern day as Pike says, "It’s a lot like your world today."
Pike then says he is going to show the leaders their future and the video cuts to what appears to be the Save America Rally, where thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump rallied at the Ellipse in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. Pike narrates and says, "Our conflict also started with a fight for freedoms," as in the montage, people are holding American flags, Trump flags and signs, allegedly from the rally, that say "audit the vote" and criticize Joe Biden, COVID restrictions and the MRNA vaccine.
The next image is a noose hanging from gallows in front of the US Capitol, which was spotted during the riot. Pike says, "We called it the Second Civil War," as the scene then flashes to what appears to be a social justice march in New York City. Thousands can be seen holding signs including ones that say, "no justice, no peace," and "in union there is strength."
Pike continues "Then the Eugenics War," referencing Star Trek timeline events, as the scene then flashes back to the Jan riot at the US Capitol where people in MAGA gear can be seen scuffling with officers as Pike says, "and finally, World War Three."
A brief glimpse of what appears to be a left-wing riot in the streets of a city can then be seen before Pike says, "This was our last day, when Earth we knew ceased to exist," before the video shows nuclear explosions destroying cities around the world.
By leading with Jan 6 footage as the starting point of current civil unrest, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is effectively reversing the chronology of modern day political violence.
Pike continued, "What began as an eruption in one nation, ended in the eradication of 600,000 species of animals and plants and 30 percent of Earth’s population. Global suicide."
After noting the technology the alien species developed for war, Pike added, "What we gave you was the means to exterminate yourselves, and from the looks of it, you’re gonna do it."
As an image of a destroyed Statue of Liberty and New York City flash onscreen Pike says, "You’ll use competing ideas of liberty to bomb each other to rubble just like we did, and then your last day will look just like this," as the screen flashes to an Earth post nuclear holocaust.
Originally, in Star Trek’s chronology, the Eugenics War and World War Three were in at the end of the 20th century. That has been retconned several times during different series of the show and World War Three was moved to 2026. According to Star Trek: Enterprise in the episode In A Mirror Darkly Part 2, the war began when a group of eco-terrorists commit a genocide that claimed the lives of 600 million people.
Show runner Henry Alonso Myers, told TVLine regarding the depiction of Jan. 6, "We don’t want Trek to be alienating, but also, the values of Trek are pretty straightforward."
"We’re saying that this is a time of a lot of conflict. We felt like it couldn’t hurt to put that in as a reminder that the path of conflict has a consequence. It wasn’t a scolding or a shaming thing. It was more trying to say that this is a message that we hope will have resonance for today."
He also told the outlet, "We’re trying to present the message of hope. Ultimately, that’s what this show is about. We also don’t want to shy away from social issues because that was what Star Trek has always been about. Star Trek has never shied from this stuff, and to do that doesn’t feel like the show to us."
Recent spin offs of Star Trek, most notably Star Trek: Discovery, have been criticized as having gone "woke." Georgia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams made a cameo as the President of the United Earth in the season 4 finale of Star Trek: Discovery. Abrams rose to prominence for her refusal to concede the Georgia governor’s race in 2018.
In Star Trek: Picard, the crew are seen attacking ICE agents and addressing illegal immigration, homelessness in Los Angeles and other 21st century hot button political topics as well as America from the perspective of the left side of the political aisle.
Myers added in the interview, "There was just this need to have something hopeful to look at, to feel that the future wasn’t necessarily a terrible place, [and] that maybe it’s a great place. That’s one of the central tenets of the Roddenberry ethos — this amazing future where people from all different races and creeds and planets somehow find a way to work together. Yes, there’s conflict, but they find a way to work through [that] by coming together. It was a very nice, hopeful place to be during a challenging time."