In 1968, I was 0. Stan Lee was at the top of his game and the civil rights movement was in full swing. We had a culture war. We had a war for equality being fought, right here on our home turf, 100 years after the end of the Civil War.
Stan Lee didn’t like what he saw, so he wrote about it in his soapbox. The Soapbox was basically a short column he included every month in the comics that came out that month from Marvel. It could be about anything. This particular month, in this particular year, it was about racism.
Stan Lee reprinted the column yesterday on Twitter.
49 years later, here we are again, battling for the meaning of Stan’s words. We have a president who, besides being a moron, is out there trying to equate those who battle bigotry (and doing something wrong) with those espousing bigotry (and doing something wrong). Hey, wrong is wrong, I get that. But to pretend, even for a moment, that those who stand up to those who promote inequality, racism, the principles of a genocidal dictatorship, and bigotry are in any way just as bad as the folks they oppose, is ludicrous.
It’s like comparing the building of the pyramids in ancient Egypt to the erecting of statues commemorating those who fought to allow human slavery. It’s dumb. It does not equate.
And the Egyptians didn’t build them to exonerate the notion of slavery. They were built to exonerate pharaohs.
But, if you want, I’ll talk to the Egyptians. I mean, pharaohs were kinda bad guys, anyway, all full of themselves. Who wants to honor a leader that’s nothing more than an egocentric narcissist, anyway?
So, yeah, take down those monuments that lifted up the leaders and soldiers of the secessionist movement 150 years ago. They started a war that killed 600,000 Americans in order to preserve slavery. Stan Lee would call them “supervillains” and design subversive organizations patterned after them. He’d get Captain America to take them down, and he’s got the word “America” right there in his name. By definition, that makes anybody he’d fight anti-American.
Nazis are anti-American. White supremacy is anti-American. We goofed up for the longest time, allowing slavery then institutional bigotry. After a hard-fought internal struggle, we fixed it. We still have some work to do, but it’s better. One of the things we absolutely have to do is leave behind the notion that those were better times. They weren’t. They were the worst of times. Let’s stop glorifying those days. Instead, let’s put up monuments to the days to come. Where everyone is equal.
Do it for Stan.