You don’t have to have read superhero comics for any great length of time before you get the message: perseverance plus righteousness will defeat the enemy every time. Despite the “maturation” of commercial comic books, this essential message remains at the core of the superhero concept.
Turn on your television set and listen to our government’s message. If you disagree with their policies, you don’t understand the fact that there are monsters trying to get us. If we don’t torture anybody we like, we will have another 9-11. If we don’t wiretap anybody we like, we will have another 9-11. If we don’t give AT&T and Verizon a pass on their illegal activities, we will have another 9-11. If we speak out against the Iraq War, we don’t support our troops and therefore we will have another 9-11.
To justify this, they point to incidents that are massively exaggerated or outright lies. That gas attack on the New York subway system? It was bullshit. The attempt to blow up Fort Dix? That was, quite literally, a pissed off pizza delivery guy and a couple of his friends from the Mack Sennett lot. In Florida, the government busted seven childish wannabees for conspiring with “Al Qaeda” (actually, with undercover agents) in an attempt to blow up Sears Tower in Chicago – it seems that one of the seven was briefly employed there. Our evidence that they were master terrorists? They had been bopping around in public wearing homemade military uniforms and turbans, and they asked an undercover agent for boots (they supplied shoe sizes), machine guns and $50,000 in cash. Even idiots can pose a threat, but busting these clowns doesn’t justify waterboarding or preemptive military strikes.
Yes, we have real enemies out there and we need to deal with them in an effective manner. I’m not to trivializing it in the least by saying the threat requires police actions: detective work, and fairly routine detective work at that. The type the FBI has found fairly effective these past many decades. Abandoning everything that makes America America is not effective; it is surrender.
Now we have Hillary Clinton, losing badly (she isn’t even close, folks; count the delegates – she needs to pick up two for every one that Barack Obama gets in the future), playing the fear card. Who do you want to pick up the phone at 3 in the morning? Hillary had no security clearance before she became senator, she did not get and still does not get the president’s daily security briefings, and she’s hardly more experienced than her opponent. Who do I want to pick up the phone at 3 in the morning? Well, if it’s experience we’re looking for, I’d have to say “Bill.”
Politics as usual.
There’s Al Qaeda, and our government has surrounded them with a whole lot of Fin Fang Fooms. I was raised with promises from my civics classes and hope from the Fantastic Four.
Comic books teach hope. Our government teaches fear.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.