In my course on religion and science fiction, I actually asked students recently who was worse, Donald Trump or Darth Vader.
The reason for asking this question was to highlight the discrepancy between what we sometimes claim to value, and our real-life attitudes.
Even before we got his backstory, and a deeper glimpse of his humanity, Star Wars fans were willing to accept that Darth Vader could find his way back to goodness in the end – and more than that, that Luke was right to seek to redeem his father rather than merely kill him. The prequels added to this, depicting someone who wasn’t simply a cardboard cut-out villain, but someone who was willing to follow a selfish path, as people are prone to, but also one that fought for stability at the expense of freedom – again, as people are prone to in real life.
In short, unless we can understand why someone would admire Darth Vader, then we will have little chance of understanding those who vote differently than ourselves.
And if we think that it is OK for Darth Vader to be redeemed, but cannot hope for the redemption of Donald Trump, then we’re not really fans either of Star Wars or of Christianity. I’m disappointed that I hear lots of people responding to Trump’s hateful speech with hateful speech of their own, but few asking how we might convince Trump and his supporters to turn in a different direction.
There are lots of Donald Trump Darth Vader memes and political cartoons. Here are just a few: