The biggest issue in A Measure of Salvation, IMHO, was the question of what makes us human — a question that’s core to BSG and has been addressed in many different ways in the show to date. Are we human because we can love? Because we hate? Because we can reproduce?
When Adama and Roslin stood face to face over the decision of whether or not to exterminate Cylonkind, it struck me as a huge role reversal. In the miniseries, Adama’s position was like Starbuck’s: “Fight ’em ’till we can’t fight any more.” Roslin, on the other hand, stood for reason, demanding that saving humanity take precedence.
Now we find Roslin wanting to kill ’em all in the name of survival while Adama wants to save humanity — by preventing them from doing something that makes them less human. And there’s the core of this post: Genocide is a sub-human act.
While I totally agree that Helo was way out of linedoing what he did — and his comment about the Cylon(z) trying to live with humans on New Caprica — he was dead on in terms of humankind “giving up a piece of their soul.” Adama agreed. Lee didn’t.
The most common argument for Cylon genocide: “They’ll kill us all if given the chance.” For this argument to succeed, we must assume that every single Cylon would try to kill every single human if possible. And, as Helo (so badly) pointed out, Athena serves as an evidence that we already know that to be untrue.
The argument thatthe Cylonsmight eventually change their minds and fight humanity again doesn’t — in my opinion — really bear a lot of discussion as it doesn’t differ significantly from any of our Earthly experiences with war. Would it have been correct to exterminate all Germans after WWII on the premise that they might fight again? Of course not. To accept this particular segment of the pro-genocide argument, one must also assume that the Cylons wish to kill humans simply because they’re Cylon — and as mentioned above, there’s obvious evidence to the contrary.
Consider the difference between war and genocide. In war, one forces an opponent to change behavior through the application of force — by either forcefully denying orcompellingspecified behavior or by creating a situation so bad that the enemy is brought to one’s point of view. In genocide, one simplyexterminates the enemy.
From a practical perspective, there’s also a lot of evidence in the show to convince us that it’s possible to defeat the Cylons with conventional warfare alone:Without their resurrection ships, they’re mortal just like humans. When faced with (final) death, they sometimes cave in and do things they don’t want to do. Thus, they can indeed be compelled to behave differently (re: Simon in A Measure…) or convinced to change their minds (re: Athena).
As I said in Podcast #15, Adama seems to understand that in terms of Cylon sentience, it’s in for a penny, in for a pound. Either you accept the Cylons as sentient — and accept that they’re not all the same and can indeed win a war without genocide — or you decide they’re not sentient — no plan? — and are just machines to be exterminated.
Why can’t his son beas intuitive? Are they suggesting that he has to get shot before he can find his soul?