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Since the first series with Kirk, the Klingons have always been a hostile, dumb, but powerful species that relied on physical strength over mental capacity.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, with regards to Worf, what would possess Picard to make a Klingon the Chief of Security on the Federation's flagship?

Even if the two races were at peace for however many years, there is always a chance that they would revert back to their primal instincts and lose sight of the responsibilities at hand - I wouldn't think they could be trusted.

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    I really disagree with the "dumb" assessment of Klingons. – Tango Mar 30 '12 at 4:27
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    They did independently develop FTL drives in contrast to the Ferengi who bartered for it, how dumb could they be? – Chris Mar 30 '12 at 5:46
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    Never Trust a Klingon :) – Danko Durbić Mar 30 '12 at 5:59
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    Yea, they most definitely were not dumb. Extremely cunning, strong and able warriors. Definitely not dumb. – BBlake Mar 31 '12 at 3:18
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    @Chris - They didn;t develop warp, they were invaded by a warp capable species who left technology behind. – Valorum Nov 18 '14 at 20:06
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In-universe answer: His service record was exemplary. He showed his character time and time again before being made chief of security. Worf had also been raised by human parents, and as such, had already shown that he could, even as a child, adapt and live and thrive in in a human world.

Also remember that as Guinan told his parents, when Worf looks to his home, he is looking toward earth, not Kronos. I'm sure that anyone who knew him also realized this and knew that his sense of honor would bind him to serve and protect the world he called "home". In fact, his honor was perhaps his most prominent characteristic, which is why his record was so exemplary. He served, and gave his best, not out of obligation, but because it would be dishonorable to do less.

On the one occasion where he did lose control and revert to Klingon justice (with the death of K'Ehleyr) he accepted his reprimand honorably, not as a savage.

Finally, the Klingons were, by that time, trusted allies of the Federation. While Klingons are fierce enemies, they are equally fierce allies. By the time Worf joined Starfleet, the biases and preconceptions had largely been erased. I believe that Captain Kirk had a hand in starting the process of trust between the Klingons and the Federation in The Undiscovered Country. Over the years, other incidents cemented the relationship and level of trust between the two species. By the time Worf was promoted, the old enmity and misunderstandings were largely a thing of the past.

Out of universe answer: One of the key characteristics of Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future was a human race free from petty prejudice. This is shown time an time again in episode after episode. The idea of holding Worf back simply because of his "species" would be appalling to Gene.

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  • +1 for the in-universe answer. On the other hand, if a species is well known for a specific trait, it's not "petty prejudice" to be cautious. It would be prejudice if they would not accept that there are exceptions, but just recognizing a caracteristic trait very common in a specific population is not prejudice in itself. – vsz Mar 30 '12 at 6:24
  • Sorry of putting it into comment - you wrote kirk instead of Kirk. System does not allow me to send it by proper channel (as it is 1 letter change). – Maciej Piechotka Mar 30 '12 at 8:57
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    @vsz: "Recognizing a trait common in a specific population" and assuming that trait to be true for a specific member of that population is the very definition prejudice.. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Mar 30 '12 at 17:01
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    @vsz: So assuming every black person you meet is a criminal until they prove themselves otherwise isn't prejudiced? – Lèse majesté Sep 3 '13 at 14:47
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    I think the out of universe answer is also an in universe answer: The Federation promoted and strived to be a culture free from prejudice, despite the many instances of individuals who do/did not subscribe. – amalgamate Jan 8 '15 at 19:38
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There is a flaw in the question. The Federation did not appoint 'a Klingon' as a chief of security on the Enterprise, they appointed Worf, who is, personally, a citizen of the Federation, not an enemy or an ally.

Star Trek is a meritocracy, and Worf has shown that he has merit, and in my eyes that ends the discussion.

Star Trek in was designed in many ways to shed light on racist issues. Substitute species in Star Trek for race for modern day Earth cultures, and you see them overcoming these issues. It was intended in many ways to help us overcome racist tendencies.

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  • I don't see where your last statement has anything to do with the answer to the question. I agree that the phrasing of the question is slightly unkosher, but answers should be answers to the question, not necessarily modern political commentary. – Gabe Willard Mar 30 '12 at 20:48
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    @GabeWillard - I was just trying to point out (using a modern parallel) that the question is biased based on species. And there are lots of places in Star Trek where species are used as a parable on races. – SWeko Mar 30 '12 at 21:15
  • Still, I think the answer would be more creditable if you left it out. The question may or may not be intentionally racist/speceisist. The observation is bot germane to the question and reads like a non sequitur as far as SE is concerned. Just my view. – Gabe Willard Mar 30 '12 at 22:16
  • Actually, the change to Klingon was mine. The term used before I changed it made the statement a bit more racist/speceisist than I was happy with. Rather than discount the question, I changed it to Klingon so the intent was the same without making it emotionally charged. – Thaddeus Howze Mar 30 '12 at 23:11
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    @Popeye That's what I'm trying to say - that the question is basically racist. And, again, Star Trek was keen to shed light on racist issues (the black/white TOS episode comes to mind) – SWeko Apr 2 '12 at 13:06
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The other answers are excellent. Here's another take on this... by the time of TNG, the war between the Federation and the Klingons had been over for 70 years, that's three generations. The people who fought in the Federation-Klingon wars are retired or dead or Dr McCoy.

To put this in perspective, at the end of WWII Germany was divided, occupied and it was argued was so dangerous it should be turned into a pre-industrial state. Ten years later the West German republic joined NATO and rearmed. 45 years after the end of WWII, Germany would be reunified. Three years later it was a founding member of the European Union. Less than 50 years, Germany went from trying to conquer the world, enemy of both the East and West, to a central player in the new European Union and a staunch economic and military ally of the west. Much the same can be said of Japan, and their arc arguably has more in common with the Klingon Empire.

The relationship between the Klingons and the Federation might have more in common with the Cold War than WWII. Even now, a single generation after the Cold War, a 20 year old has difficulty understanding a 40 year old's inherent fear and mistrust of Russia. They didn't live through it. They can talk to Russians on the Internet, watch Russian news... a generation gap and increased contact wipes away old wounds fast.

It would be surprising if three generations after the Federation-Klingon war ended Starfleet felt animosity towards Klingons. This would be as absurd as a modern day 25 year old American having a problem working with a 25 year old German because of WWII. That's all stuff they learned in history books.

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    Time heals all wounds... unless it is the fire in which we burn. Then it might cause a few blisters first. – Ellesedil Nov 18 '14 at 23:10
  • Admiral McCoy disagrees with the "retired or dead" assertion... – Izkata Nov 19 '14 at 0:12
  • @Izkata There, I fixed it. :) – Schwern Jan 8 '15 at 19:03
  • Considering how the human lifespan is into the 150s, And bones for one still dislikes teleporters, the three generation thing doesn't make sense. We are still prosecuting nazi actors, still villainizing people as nazis. There would still be people with actual and imagined grudges against Klingons in power. – user16696 Jan 8 '15 at 19:36
  • @cde The question is how could the Federation trust Worf to be Chief of Security not is there any remaining bias against Klingons in the Federation. For sure, the earlier generation can hang on to the biases and power for a long time (though we rarely see them on screen), but they will be in decreasing number and an increasing embarrassment to the younger generation coming up in power. And by no means is the TNG generation free of bias against Klingons. However, the Federation as a body decided to reject this bias, whether or not everyone agrees, and that's how civil rights get upheld. – Schwern Jan 8 '15 at 19:45
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It likely had to do with the events in the first year of TNG, and his commanding officer(s). First, a captain has final say on who serves on their ship. The Enterprise, as the flag ship has the best of the best wanting to serve. Picard as shown, is a very open minded person. He allows cultural and religious exceptions to dress code, runs an easier type of crew shift, prefers ambassador/diplomatic and scientific approaches over the traditional military approaches. He would have jumped to have Worf aboard.

Even then, Worf started as a command division junior bridge officer, replacing the main bridge officers when their duties called them away from the bridge. Of course, as a Large, Strong fellow, he was still pegged for the occasional show of strength. It was a year later, when Tasha Year was killed off, that Worf asked, or Picard or Riker asked him to become acting security chief. As the executive officers, again, they have the final say on ship operations. This would be over those already in operations division acting as security officers. This served Picard well for diplomatic relations with the various Klingons encounters in the series. It would have been a calculated move. It took a year as acting security chief before Worf switched divisions and became the official role, again, under Picard.

Picard would not be the type of person to let the federation meddle in his personal and professional decisions in who he allows to serve in what capacity he chooses on his ship. Such as Data and Wesley.

We see that not all of star fleet is as open minded. The Admiral who took over for Picard overrode Riker objections to how to run the ship crew shifts, the dress exceptions, etc. Likely would not place Worf as chief of security.

But at this point, there are some diplomatic tensions between the federation and the empire. Had they learned that the federation deprived Worf the position, it would not have gone over well.

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