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March 29, 2004


David Van Domelen


Here ya go.


Damn, man, how do you stay so calm and eloquent when you do this? Me, I'd have totally lost my shit.

Robby Karol

You definitely put this much better than I was able to in my entry to the comment box.

Jess Nevins

"This touches on one of the great ironies of the Fourth World: Orion is the mightiest defender of New Genesis (and possibly the only reason they’re not all speaking Apokolipsese) only because he's touched by Apokolips and tainted by the blood of their leader, Darkseid. He can protect his idyllic home only because he's marred by the very evil it's fighting."

Well, damn. If I'd thought of Orion in those terms when I was writing my Master's thesis, I'd have dragged him and the whole Fourth World mythos in and compared Orion to Richard Slotkin's "Man Without A Cross."

David Fiore

the comments seem to be down at The Forager, so I cut and pasted my remarks here, where I feel that they are equaly relevant! (the "Chris" in question is Chris Durnell...)

JW & Marc,

I wish I could contribute more here, but I'm not familiar enough with the Fourth World to do any good...

But Chris,
I can tell you that I, for one, would be sickened by a cover that features Cap bashing Bin Laden, or Captain America comics that smacked of Tom Clancy novels... You may be right when you argue that this would be the logical thing for Kirby's Cap to do in our time (does anyone know what Kirby`s stance on the Middle East actually WAS? Was he a Zionist? Marc, do you know? I think this would be interesting to explore!)

Anyway, for me, Gruenwald's misprision of Cap is the REAL Cap... Concerned solely with ideals, NOT realpolitik... I say leave the international intrigue to SHIELD.



Kirby's stance on the Middle East? Well, my colleague Craig Fischer has made a compelling argument that Kirby's final "Overmind" story for Fantastic Four was a veiled response to the Six Day War, and of course Big Barda was based on Golda Meir...

No, I have no idea. I don't even know if he did have a particular stance on the Middle East.

Also, I would say that even Gruenwald's Cap wasn't wholly disconnected from politics. His greatest story, the replacement Cap saga, reads like an angry response to Iran-Contra... and of course, it's based on Steve Englehart's classic storyline in response to Watergate. Neither of these stories is "about" the politics, though.

David Fiore

I wrote a little bit about this a while back, Marc (Gruenwald's Cap, I mean)--I think the great thing about the Johnny Walker storyline is that it attempts to declare all use of Cap as a political tool off-limits, once and for all. Captain America ought to be a living Jeremiad (a la Miller/Bercovitch), not a scourge of America's enemies. I know that's not what he started out to be, but, at least for me, Gruenwald's interpretation is so strong that it trumps everyone else's.

Englehart's story portrays Cap as a softy who can't face the fact that the American government might be capable of doing terrible things--and so, in a snit, he puts on a Rainbow Brite costume and declares himself a "nomad". Gruenwald's Cap, on the other hand, is BIGGER than the government, and he knows it. He's even big enough to understand that Ronald Reagan's preseidency has nothing to do with the American possibility, and he just goes on being his symbolic liberal self, even after he's been deprived of every official sanction!


Jon Bodner

Huh; just found this on the web...

I wasn't trying to convert you. I was trying to engage you, but you decided to cut off the conversation.

But just flat-out saying "we're not all Stalinists" doesn't excuse the apologies for the Stalinists in the Left's ranks.

Or to put it another way: if you march with ANSWER, wear their label and realize that you are marching not only with Stalinists but with people who call for the murder of me and my family.

And answer these questions: would you march with Nazis? And if not, why is ANSWER OK, but the Nazis not?


Let's tackle those in more or less reverse order, shall we?

1. First of all, I notice your reply makes the same elision Ron Rosenbaum's article did, associating every anti-war protestor or voice with ANSWER. But ANSWER was not the only group protesting the war, or even the only one sponsoring marches. United for Peace and Justice, Not in Our Names, and numerous other, much more mainstream groups and politicians all spoke at or organized protests as well (including some of the largest ones last winter, like the massive February 15 rallies). Marching to oppose the war does not mean endorsing ANSWER and its hidden agenda.

But what about rallies that were organized by ANSWER? Many of the speakers at ANSWER rallies (like Jesse Jackson) express views completely contrary to ANSWER's own; many of the attendees have harsh words for the organizers. Interested readers should consult this earnestly and parodically, if clumsily, entitled site


for a collection of leftist responses that criticize ANSWER while still urging people to attend antiwar rallies, even ANSWER's.

Why? Because they aren't rallies for ANSWER. Marching at a rally organized by them, but for a cause larger than them, is not "wearing their badge," Jon, however much easier it would be for you if it were so. As the folks at International RESPONSE say (btw, I would love make a "Life of Brian" reference to the Peoples Front of Judea/Judean People's Front here, but that would no doubt make me an anti-semite), many people who oppose ANSWER's repugnant politics went to the marches they organized anyway, because we felt the goal of stopping an illegitimate war to be far more urgent. To put it another way, the IAC and ANSWER, in all their various forms, probably have not managed to kill as many innocent noncombatants (or, for that matter, as many U.S. soldiers) in their entire existence as the Bush administration has since March 2003.

For another leftist (fairly far-left) critique of ANSWER that nevertheless encourages protest, see:


Particularly item #8, especially this part:

"If there were another large demonstration organized by forces more compatible with the kinds of politics espoused by other antiwar activists, including ourselves, then we would urge people to prefer that one. And there is no doubt we should be working to build alternative organizational structures for the antiwar movement that are not dominated by IAC. But at the moment the ANSWER demonstration is the only show in town. And much as we may oppose Saddam Hussein, we also oppose Bush, and the paramount danger today is the war being prepared by the U.S. government."

That was written two days before the October 26 ANSWER-organized protest; the alternative organizational structures were in place a few months later, and remain in place.

To wrap up, the all-or-nothing attempt to tar every antiwar voice with ANSWER's brush is as just as dishonest when you do it as it was when Rosenbaum did. Should every supporter of the war be equated with fundamentalist Christians who favor war in the middle East because they believe it's a necessary precondition for Armageddon? And, since those same fundamentalist Christians frequently promote antisemitism, does that mean that supporting the war makes one an anti-semite?

2. Next, the Nazi question. Pretty interesting line, in light of the previous paragraph, which says that ANSWER are "people who call for the murder of me and my family." So ANSWER must be Nazis, right?

Paging Mr. Godwin. It's a clever implication, but no. ANSWER is widely known to be antisemitic, and they are affiliated with individuals and groups who express support for Palestinian terrorism. (As an interesting aside, every single one of the citations that I could find for this latter fact came from David Horowitz's website. Oh, but he wouldn't have any ideological reasons for wanting to associate the antiwar left with antisemitism, would he? Nah...) I find that repugnant. However, they aren't Nazis.

That distinction doesn't matter so much to me; they're still dicks. The distinction that does matter is that marching alongside them is not the same as marching with Nazis. Nor would it mean endorsing ANSWER's views.

Why not? For one thing, any march with Nazis is implicitly, unavoidably a march for Nazis - again, not so with ANSWER, as mentioned above.

This question is just histrionics. Let's move on to more respectful and respectable ones.

3. "...flat-out saying "we're not all Stalinists" doesn't excuse the apologies for the Stalinists in the Left's ranks."

No, nor do I need to. The people on the political left (to say nothing of the number of people who opposed the Iraq war - not identical groups) who continue to apologize for Stalin are about as minimal and ancillary as the number on the right who continue to apologize for Hitler (although the latter seem to have a much more booming business; the most booming business of all, of course, is for voices on the right who insist everyone on the left loves Stalin). We don't need to excuse every single fringe element that happens to overlap with some part of our political views.

And it's Rosenbaum's responsibility to represent the objects of his article accurately, not mine to excuse the people he misrepresents me as.

4. "I wasn't trying to convert you. I was trying to engage you, but you decided to cut off the conversation."

I saved this for last because it will be, I hope, the most gracious note on which to end. I do owe you an apology for cutting off the conversation that abruptly. However, if the same situation arises - and I can see it may already be heading that way - I'd do it again.

Frankly, Jon, you weren't "trying to engage" me; you'd been engaging me for about two months and the discussion had degenerated into one of those we're-not-arguing-about-the-issues, we're-arguing-about-the-arguments morasses to which email is so susceptible. You had also spent a solid two months telling me that I was an antisemitic Stalinist moral relativist (because Ron Rosenbaum said so), and telling me more about my profession than I apparently knew myself (apparently affirmative action and political correctness have stolen all the good academic jobs from us white folk... oh by the way, my address changed when I got hired for a tenure-track position AT A HISTORICALLY BLACK UNIVERSITY). And I believe the last message you sent me arrived a day or two before Christmas, and just a few days before I had a job interview at the MLA. So as you can imagine, I had more pressing concerns at the time.

I should have told you why I didn't answer, though, and for that I apologize. I'm afraid I found that whenever I hit 'reply' I was so filled with bile - not for your political views, Jon, but for the arrogant way you presumed mine and my profession's - that I couldn't write back without giving in to the anger I was trying to avoid. The assumption was that dropping the discussion would preserve the friendship.

Obviously, in the general lack of communication that followed, that didn't really happen. I should have at least made it clear why I didn't reply, but - as you can see above - it isn't exactly easy to do that without contributing to the problem.

So that's why you get this long reply. That being said, any future implications - from you or anybody else - that people with different political beliefs are Nazis or Stalinists will be greeted by this site with a silence that's probably more dignified than they deserve.

But I'll have better things to do.

Jon Bodner

And I have better things to do than try to defend the straw men that you construct. If you can't see the difference between agreeing with someone on one particular topic and showing up at the rallies they organize and sponsor so you can be used in their propaganda materials, there's no point in discussing anything.


Oddly enough, Jon, I could have written exactly the same sentences in defense of my position.

And now the world sees why I broke off the e-mail discussion.

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