“We’re just cattle [sic]* to them.” –AU McKay to Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis episode “Vegas”
Just as with Keller talking over Todd in “Infection,” here is another white Westerner on SGA trying to define another galaxy’s culture they hardly know, with us/them whitesplaining, this time while also simultaneously asserting anthropocentric speciesism on Earth. Cows have become what critical theorist scholars refer to as “the absent referent” in comparing inequitable treatment, used as metaphors while also being placed into a human-centered hierarchy imposing categories of “uses” on others. The character McKay himself, in this reality, said baby cows taken from the dairy industry and whose bodies are kept shackled and anemic are “delicious,” in spite of having a sister who does not eat fellow animals. The addition of the qualifier “just” (as in “only” or “merely”) amplifies the colonialist overwriting of Wraith culture as well as tries to further diminish cows in the contrived, human-centered hierarchy. Humans should not be needlessly harming anyone of any species and analogies about harming fellow animals should not exist.
Speciesism correlates positively with racism, sexism, and homophobia and correlates negatively with empathy and open-mindedness. Many anti-Wraith xenophobic people frequently repeat McKay’s speciesist line and they also say that the Wraith race should be genocided. This shows intersectionalism and how oppressions overlap, i.e. racist xenophobia against the fictional Wraith race and speciesism against real-life fellow animal Earthlings. Outgrouping and objectification are toxic! People who recite this quote are never very rational and often make up scenes, too, because needless violence and bigotry have nothing to stand on.
The Wraith haters who cite this quote are looking to enforce both racism and an anthropocentric and speciesist world view: 1) against fellow animal Earthlings, to try to justify continuing to commodify and kill them for palate entertainment and 2) against a scifi race, to uphold a false sense of anthropocentric superiority in the face of a technologically-advanced and physically stronger fictional culture capable of interstellar space flight, to try to justify their genocide (and especially to try to deny to Wraith fans the hints of interracial relationships and mutual respect and affection between humans and the Wraith, as human-hybrids, mentioned in “Common Ground” when John gets the Gift of Life and seen on “The Hive” with Neera and other humans in soft and pretty clothes and Wraithy hair wraps being lovingly touched by the Queen).
The humans-as-cows analogy doesn’t make any sense from the Wraith point of view either. Wraith cannot take lifeforce from any animals other than humans (or fellow Wraith, as human hybrids). There was no evidence of cows in Pegasus, so that would be an anachronism. The Wraith do not artificially breed/inseminate humans, mutilate them, or take milk meant for human babies (Google the video “Dairy is Scary”). If Wraith treated humans the way many humans treat cows, we would literally be in deep crap. Cows are peaceful social mammals and the Wraith do not see most humans as peaceful. The Wraith would rather blow themselves up than to be captured alive by humans. But, many Wraith also work with humans, on individual and hive levels. They give their close human worshippers (a label for any humans associated with the Wraith) the Gift of Life, as they do for their Wraith brothers, as Todd did for John. Several hives fought alongside the New Lanteans against the Asurans, even though New Lanteans were the ones who had compelled the Asurans to attack in the first place. And, Todd’s crew are more willing to do something to help, while most people spouting the cow analogy are less likely to leave fellow animals alone, in spite of being such an easy switch and better for health and the environment too.
Clinging to the false analogy that the human-hybrid Wraith see non-hybrid humans as cows is a self-serving, ineffective attempt to try justify real-life, human-made violence and it is unacceptable. Such analogies only highlight that the human race needs to clean up their collective act to remove needless violence.
(*The word “cattle” gets the notation [sic] because the speciesist term itself denotes and condones placement of others in a human-centered hierarchy, as property/use/commodification, as capital, just as live”stock” does. Fellow animals are someONE not something.)