by Michelle Erica Green

I've decided to come out of the closet about something. I don't like the Maquis.
Wait--don't throw that! I didn't mean that I don't like Chakotay, or Torres, or
Ro Laren, or Tom Riker, or even that I don't agree with Maquis sympathizers who
believe that the Federation leaders acted irresponsibly and cruelly when they
abandoned the citizens in the Demilitarized Zone. I mean that I don't like what
the Maquis has become for Star Trek--particularly not forVoyager.

I reached this conclusion while trying to write an editorial on the Prime
Directive, the current bane of Maquis existence on Voyager. Admittedly, Captain
Janeway's application of the rule has been contradictory. She got her crew
stranded in the Delta Quadrant by destroying the Array, a violation of the PD
even by Kirk's standards--and something a Maquis would do, to save the lives of
thousands of people by getting involved--yet she refused to take Sikarian
trajector technology though it was offered by a Sikarian. Then she let Seska yank
the ship's strings, got irked at Chakotay for wanting to forge an alliance with
some locals, and threatened to blow up the ship before sharing technology...but
later she wanted to stabilize the region by working with the Trabe. OK, Janeway's
been less than consistent in her application of the Federation's highest
principle. But so was Picard, who was willing to let an entire planet die in
"Homeward" yet chose to save the one in "Pen Pals." And Kirk...well, go watch
"Return of the Archons" and "A Piece of the Action" and explain to me why he kept
winning honors from the Federation.

The Prime Directive is a problem. Whenever I've decided that it's a form of
imperialism, like the Vietnam allegory in "A Private Little War," I consider all
the atrocities our world turns away from--the Holocaust, child slavery in
Thailand, the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia--and I'm not so sure that I disagree
with the idea of intervention. If I stumbled upon a scene where a woman was about
to be burned suttee-style according to local custom, I'd try to stop it, the same
way I try to stop parents from whacking their kids senseless in stores.
Principles sound great until one has to witness their consequences. Star Trek
episodes about the Prime Directive get their tension from the conflict between
abstract ideals and concrete solutions. The practical solutions which individual
officers have worked out do not fit perfectly with Federation ideology, but
watching the struggle is itself enlightening; we want Trek to do a better job
with such dilemmas than our politicians do. That's why Star Trek needs such
principles, and also why its characters have to have the courage to challenge
them. Janeway's compassion has led her to interfere on moral grounds, to save the
Ocampa from extinction and to try to bring peace to an entire quadrant. If she
resembles Kirk more than Picard at times, it's important to note that she has
consistently refused to break the Prime Directive for selfish reasons such as
getting home quickly or gaining allies. It's too simple to call Janeway
sanctimonious. Her speech at the end of "Alliances" may have been reductive and
redundant, but her reasoning was sound.

The original idea behind the Maquis was a challenge to Starfleet and its
highfalutin' principles: it's all well and good to sign treaties and declare that
the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, quite a different matter
when the minority is trampled by those dictates and one witnesses the carnage
firsthand. Most of the Maquis we saw on TNG and DS9 were former Starfleet
officers who had serious ideological conflicts with the Federation: they believed
that the peace treaty with Cardassia violated their rights or the rights of
others. This could have made for fascinating tension on Voyager: Janeway
insisting that a Federation vessel can't interfere in local conflicts, her Maquis
officers insisting on their moral duty to prevent atrocities. But those aren't
the sort of Maquis onVoyager. As the Doctor tells us, Chakotay's former crew
suffers from excess adrenaline, not excess ideology. Paris joined, by his own
admission, to fight and to drink. Torres joined because she was fed up with
Starfleet restrictions. Dalby joined to bash skulls over an incident on Bajor
which, while appalling, did not necessarily justify either the wholesale
slaughter of Cardassians nor disregard for the Federation. And Suder, murderer
and psychopath, joined to kill--as he said, he never particularly liked
Starfleet, but he thought about murdering Maquis members, too. I can't say I was
happy with the Doctor's assessment that the Maquis are genetically and hormonally
predisposed to aggression and anger regardless of cause, but it sure had a ring
of truth.

The Maquis we saw on Voyager last season at least had legitimate problems with
Starfleet. They lacked the training of Starfleet officers, they were forced to
accept positions on the ship, they had no reason to be loyal to the Federation.
Janeway went out of her way to earn their trust--the trust of all the crew--by
running the ship as democratically as we've ever seen a Starfleet vessel. She
took advice from Ensign Kim, she asked input from the crew at Sikarius and didn't
even seriously censure her would-be-mutineers, she let the crew decide whether to
leave when they encountered a planet people might have wanted to settle on. If
the less-trained Maquis have been treated to a double standard, they've also been
accorded the same privileges as the rest of the crew, with a lot of room to grow
and adapt to the situation.

But now the Maquis are looking increasingly like rebels without a cause. Dalby
and his ilk should not be typical, especially in a group commanded by a former
Starfleet officer, but they're all we've seen so far. And I'm not sure what to
say about Chakotay. Last season he was a spiritual man with very deep
convictions, who joined the Maquis to defend his people. This season we've
learned that he only began to value his heritage when his father was killed, and
that he has an independent streak willing to toss aside principles and protocol
without regard for the long-term consequences. He's looking more like his Maquis
peers every day, and I'm not a bit impressed.

It's been more than a little annoying this season to see Maquis anger suddenly
dredged up as one more obstacle for Janeway to overcome. I understand that at
this point in the journey, after some deaths and damages, a few crewmembers might
wonder what sorts of options the captain is considering. There's no reason that
it should be only Maquis; I'd think that the lower-level officers, regardless of
their background, would be getting scared and frustrated and doubting everything
about the mission. That's not a Maquis issue, that's a hierarchy issue. And it
has very little to do with principles. To find abruptly that many of the Maquis
crewmembers have been harboring grudges against Janeway--yet not Chakotay and
Torres, who have been complicit in the major decisions--seems ludicrous.

Frankly, if I were Maquis, I'd think Chakotay was an idiot. First he let both
Federation and Cardassian spies on his Maquis ship, then he agreed to an alliance
with a Federation captain under who knows what terms--we certainly don't know.
Then, after capitulating to every decision she made for months, he went flying
off on a grudge mission to settle a score with his ex-lover in the name of
retaining Federation technology. He took a psychopathic murderer whom even he
didn't trust onto his ship. These do not inspire confidence in his ability to
command. If he was successful as a Maquis leader, I assume it was because the
cause they were serving bound his people together, the same way the Prime
Directive binds Starfleet officers together. Chakotay knows the Kazon better than
anyone, after being with Kar and Kulluh; he should have realized that they were
never going to accept outside allies as peers, and would exploit every
opportunity to take advantage of them. And he trusted the Trabe, who sounded just
like the Cardassians negotiating for the DMZ. I'm not impressed with him this
season on any level: not as an officer, not as a person.

So to have Chakotay tell Janeway to start "thinking like a Maquis," to compromise
her values for a short-term fix, makes no sense, and to have her listen makes
even less. There is no such thing as thinking like a Maquis, at least not one
that has been established on the show beyond Dalby's rebellious definition of
"the Maquis way." The scene in which Chakotay asked Janeway to follow that way
ended with him stalking out of her ready room, despite the fact that she was
listening to him, using him as a sounding board which is part of his job as first
officer. He sounded to me like a terrorist asking an Israeli leader to use P.L.O.
tactics to solve a problem; even if the scheme made sense, the wording of the
suggestion would surely get it rejected. I'm hoping that what he meant was that
he hoped she'd start thinking outside the rigid rules she's accepted as necessary
for stability in the Alpha Quadrant, but then he should have said so. If thinking
like a Maquis means what it has meant so far on the series--being opportunistic,
protecting one's own best interests at the expense of others--that's just the
sort of thinking which should be appalling to a man who supposedly underwent
severe hardship to uphold his principles. If Chakotay's Maquis are just going to
appeal to rebels who want to bash authority, if they don't have ideals and
intelligence, they'll remain dull as characters and useless as catalysts on the

So it's miserable watching Janeway capitulate to Chakotay's whims in the name of
crew unity. Her principles hold the crew together, and if she loses them, she has
no basis for command. That moralizing speech to her upstart crewmembers should
really have been directed at herself for bending to opportunism so quickly. If
this crew does not stand together on principle, they're not going to stand at
all. Janeway's accepting the idea of an alliance--which she might have been able
to rationalize within the Prime Directive, but we never got to hear her try--was
the biggest show of weakness we've seen from her. This isn't infinite diversity
in infinite combinations, it's letting the lowest common denominator have its

If Voyager continues to follow the dictates of its malcontents, we're going to
watch infighting and factionalization continue to eat at the trust among the
people on the ship, we're going to watch selfish concerns replace common goals,
we're going to watch crewmembers try to replace Janeway with Chakotay and then
him with someone else when he can't solve all their problems. The Voyager
episodes I've liked best--"The Cloud," "The 37s," "Eye of the Needle"--have all
dealt with the bond which is forming among all the crew, the idea that they're
all in this together, they're a community, just like the crews of the Enterprises
and DS9, which also has a complement split among Starfleet and non-Starfleet
officers. Voyager's internal problems should be like those of a family, one which
can't afford to buckle under internal stress when everyone else on the block is
rooting for them to fall apart. If Voyager needs the Maquis, it's as a
counterbalance to the stodgy ways of the elders, as an integral part of the
Starfleet mission--not as the brats of the family. The Maquis may have different
interests and values, but not goals.

Kate Mulgrew said some really wonderful things at the beginning of this season
about what she hoped we'd be seeing on Voyager. She said she thought that this
would be the period when the crew would decide that, since they're lost together
with little chance of getting home, they should grow and learn and explore
together, loosen up the protocol, change the dynamics. In a nutshell, Kate
summarized the spirit of Star Trek--and she wasn't even a Trekkie before she got
the part of Janeway. But Voyager isn't doing any of those things. Instead they're
turning into a dark, bleak show where internal and external menace threatens the
crew at every turn, where people are tense and mierable and retreating into their
shells. Right now, Voyager is not Star Trek, which has always been about growing
and learning and exploring, the needs of the many juggling the needs of the few
not through oppression, but by bringing people into the fold.

I feel for the Maquis in the Alpha Quadrant, but I never forget that the treaty
Picard set up was to prevent a war which could have killed millions. As for the
Maquis in the Delta Quadrant, I'm sympathetic for their desire for a stronger
voice on the ship and freedom from Starfleet strictures, but not sympathetic
enough to sacrifice Voyager to them on any level. Sure, there are people in any
organization who are bad eggs, but Trek's had little time for them, and Voyager
has no hope of survival if they continue to dominate. Get them in line or get
them off the ship, without bringing Janeway and crew down with them.

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