Will 2024 finally be the year mankind makes contact with alien beings? No, because increasingly in the realm of exobiology (alien-hunting and allied pursuits), the very word ‘mankind’ itself is now forbidden as a hideous cisgender relic of patriarchal Western colonialism.
A new academic book, Xenolinguistics: Towards a Science of Extraterrestrial Language, has just been released, imagining how it might be feasible for humans to begin speaking to aliens. In late December, meanwhile, NASA announced it had beamed a 15-second cat-video down to Earth via laser transmission, from a satellite positioned 19 million miles away in space. This formed part of the organisation’s Deep-Space Optical Communications (DSOC) mission, intended eventually to facilitate easy human communication between the different planets of the solar system – and maybe even their imagined non-human inhabitants too.
Yet the truly interesting question is not whether communication with E.T. is technologically feasible. Instead, it is what will we actually say if and when we do manage to make first contact? Increasingly, it seems as if all Earth will have left to announce will be little more than “Hello. Sorry we’re so white”.
NASA was not always so needlessly ashamed of itself, and when sending its Pioneer 10 space-probe out into the galaxy back in 1972, famously included with it an illustrative plaque, depicting Earth’s chief intelligent inhabitants: a pair of naked people who were obviously white.
At the time, this all seemed perfectly natural. Today, however, it is deemed ‘unacceptable’.
In 2015, Russian millionaire Yuri Milner launched a $1 million prize for whoever could devise the most appropriate message to shoot up to E.T. One team of entrants was a band of Brits affiliated with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), a global body which aims radio-telescopes at the sky to intercept possible signals from other worlds. At a SETI conference in Leeds, one member, the LSE’s Dr. Jill Stuart, expressed her intense distaste for the 1972 Pioneer plaque on the grounds that the nude humanoids on it had white faces, breasts and genitals. In any future such drawing, she said, “I would be uncomfortable with sending out any images or messages that include Western-dominated material” like white men’s penises.
Furthermore, pointed out Dr. Stuart censoriously, the man was raising his hand in greeting “in a very manly fashion” (maybe it was a Hitler salute?), whilst the woman adopted a pose deemed “all meek and submissive”, which made Dr. Stuart highly “uncomfortable”. Instead, any future such space-plaques should be redesigned with the inevitable pan-galactic shibboleth of “diversity” in mind, lest any ethically enlightened Klingons think badly of us.
Another SETI member present did object that this whole debate might well be moot, as “we don’t know if any aliens out there have eyes” to see the racist plaque with anyway, but he seems to have been ignored.
Dr. Who Does She Think She Is?
Who is Dr. Stuart? Yet another identikit Left-wing post-human pod-person of the kind churned out on an industrial basis by academia these days with all the pitiless regularity of a Cyberman factory. According to her LSE profile page, Dr. Stuart is “an expert in the politics, ethics and law of outer space exploration and exploitation” – with a distinct emphasis upon exploitation.
American by birth, and (I think) of some sort of Hispanic or indigenous extraction, Dr. Stuart bears the official, capitalised statuses of both ‘World Leader in Her Field’ and ‘Exceptionally Talented Migrant’. Perhaps she is the ‘World Leader’ in this particular field as there is nobody else on the planet intelligent enough to have combined her specific specialisms in “domestic and international mediation”, “women, peace and security and gender-based violence”, “the governance of the global commons”, “the ethics of colonisation”, “the mining of celestial resources”, “commercial actors in space”, “the threat from comets and asteroids” and even “insurance and liability issues”.
The valuable work of this “established feminist” will soon be appearing in the forthcoming book Space Feminisms (Bloomsbury, £90) and she once co-authored a 2009 working paper, ‘Science Fiction or Science Fantasy: The Gendered Portrayal of Aliens and the Discourse of Dominance in Outer Space Politics’. This is precisely the kind of individual now being set up to act as Earth’s future ambassador to the Pleiades or Zeta Reticuli: how incredibly representative of the average member of our species she sounds.
Davros In Davos
The woke mindset Dr. Stuart wishes to apply towards contacting aliens is just an extension of the very same mindset today’s ruling progressive caste apply towards ordinary Earthlings from other cultures.
The average modern so-called ‘multiculturalist’ does not believe in multiculturalism at all; instead, he or she stubbornly refuses to accept that other cultures even actually exist. If they did, they would not continue to engage in the demonstrable fantasy that all different civilisations are easily and infinitely interchangeable with one another and that, for example, the simple act of facilitating the mass transplantation of Arabs and Africans into Western cities in their millions would just automatically transform such ‘legal aliens’ all into good, biddable Guardian readers overnight.
They seem to think the same about extraterrestrials: that, once we meet them, beneath all the surface-deep ephemera of green skin, antennae and tentacles for mouths, they will all turn out to be just yet more politically agreeable Davos Men in the end (or maybe even Davros Men – he was in a wheelchair, so they’d just love him, insane murderous Dalek-creator or not).
This is mad. The notion that alien beings would actually care about the concept of ‘diversity’ is as laughable as thinking the average inhabitant of Dakar or Damascus has an insatiable, though hitherto highly-suppressed, hankering for gay parades.
Houston, We Have a Problematic
Quite possibly, any genuine aliens we may encounter could well prove to be so very ‘alien’ that any mutual understanding between us would be as impossible as fruitfully discussing Covid-transmission vectors with a pangolin. And yet still many elements within our scientific elite go on acting as if negotiating with any E.T.s who do land on the White House Lawn in the near future will be as simple as signing a new trade treaty. As I once argued elsewhere:
In November 2022, the University of St. Andrews announced the creation of a new SETI Post-Detection Hub, hosted by the establishment’s Centre for Exoplanet Science and Centre for Global Law and Governance, to act as an international clearinghouse for experts from scientific, legal, ethical and political fields to collaborate in “setting out impact assessments, protocols, procedures and treaties designed to enable a responsible response” to any newly detected E.T. presence … According to John Elliott, the project’s Chief Co-ordinator, mankind’s knowledge “will be advanced many steps as we learn ‘Extra-Terrestrial’”, just as happens when schoolchildren learn French.
PR materials promise that the hub’s existence will “close a substantial policy gap”, as there are no agreed global First Contact protocols established in international law for when aliens land for real. Accordingly, the hub will enlist “policy experts [like Dr. Jill Stuart, I wonder?] to work on topics ranging from message-decipherment and data analytics to the development of regulatory protocols, space law and societal impact strategies”. In H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, the invading Martians are ultimately defeated by the accidental ingestion of common Earth-borne viruses and bacteria; in Elliott’s Law of the Worlds, they will be disarmed instead by the forces of impenetrable 21st-century global contract law.
But what if it turns out any invading Fungi from Yuggoth don’t speak fluent Davosian after all? What if, like Columbus landing in the Americas, they come in a spirit not of peace, but of interplanetary colonialism and conquest themselves? What if – shock, horror – the aliens aren’t woke?
I shall return to this strange issue of Progressives from Pluto next time.
Steven Tucker is a journalist and the author of over 10 books, the latest being Hitler’s & Stalin’s Misuse of Science: When Science Fiction Was Turned Into Science Fact by the Nazis and the Soviets (Pen & Sword/Frontline), which is out now.