Like millions of other Star Wars fans, I found the Tusken Raiders (aka Sand People) both fearsome and laughable. Their weird sea-lion cries, pumping their staffs to the sky, riding single-file on mammoth beasts of burden, their bodies and heads wrapped like mummies.
Now, I get it.
Under quarantine in the midst of a heat wave, my head swaddled in cooling fabrics, eying my neighbors through binoculars to see whether or not they are wearing masks, I realize how deeply wrong I was to make fun of the Sand People and their way of life.
Living in a tribe of like-minded individuals in the middle of the Tunisian desert sounds pretty great right about now. Never seeing another headline about Trump or Covid? Heaven. If I was not on Earth, but instead trapped on desolate Tatooine? Gosh, what more could anyone ask?
One of the final steps in Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the dark side involves his slaughter of an entire tribe of Sand People, including the women and children.
Isn’t it poignant that Anakin would go on to wear a mask strikingly similar to those worn by Sand People? Did Darth Vader realize, as I do now, that the Sand People were actually pretty dope? That, in the final analysis, those simpletons were better than him?
I can’t speak for Darth Vader. All I know is, I was so wrong.
Sand People, you have my deepest apology and my profound respect. May the Force be with you — along with good health, clean water, long-overdue climate justice, and basic humanoid decency.