I was perusing Twitter when I came upon this article:
Pamela Geller seems to have done her homework, providing screen shots that are pretty damning. As this biography suggests, however, she has a pretty slanted view of anything involving Muslims.
My first inclination when I read her article was to be absolutely pissed right the hell off about this.
But, since I largely don’t trust the Internet, I wanted to do some research first. It actually happened. I think I was more shocked that it’s true, which is a story for another day. I know – the truth sometimes is far stranger than fiction.
I believe people get too mired in the headlines of things and don’t take careful time to research, giving way to emotional knee-jerk reactionary thought and, sometimes, action. Journalists without ethics use this to get people to click on their articles, drive up their webpage “hits”, and profit from the traffic/ad revenue. I’m getting sick and damn tired of this trick succeeding time and time again.
I would personally feel comfortable with calling myself a writer if I didn’t delve further into the “5 Ws” (who, what, when, where, and why) of this and try to come up with something that wasn’t just based on pure emotion. This isn’t because I don’t think this Gellar woman has done her due diligence or I thought her a liar but because I wanted to think about it some more before giving my opinion because blogs are largely for that – opinions.
As far as being opinionated, I want to have a concise, educated, and well-worded opinion about anything I choose to speak about but first I want to share why this matters so much to me. Opinions should be rooted in fact but it’s not all pure “Spock-like” logic; there needs to be some form of emotional content, as well, otherwise you really need to ask yourself why do you care? If the answer is even just “because I do” – congrats, you have emotion enough to have an opinion but, like yin needs its yang, feeling needs valid facts.
Why I Care
My father is Jewish, as is a large number of my ancestors from his side of the family. I am a Christian. My sister and mother are Christians. I am raising my daughter in the church until such a time that she can choose for herself what path she wants to take – and then she’ll either get baptized or not and do what she feels is right. My husband and I will support her decision.
I also have a vested interest in this not only as a Christian, veteran, or a parent but also, simply, as a comic book fan and specifically a huge X-Men fan.
X-Men has always been, from its inception, a book written by Jewish authors about minorities fighting for their civil liberties. Look it up; the allegorical evidence is there. The beauty of it is that you don’t even have to be a minority to enjoy the stories or heroes but it’s a great teaching tool for anyone wanting to understand the Civil Rights movement or any equality-seeking movement. It’s culturally important.
Obviously, I have a great deal of anger and disgust for anyone taking a huge shit on what this has been as an inspiration for me and so many others. Even in a comic book’s most basic form (entertainment), it has brought me and many joy. I had the same problem with this as I did with Chuck Austen when he used Kurt Wagner’s origin story as a soap-box to spew his anti-Catholic rhetoric and I’m not even Catholic. The story arc is called “Draco” and it’s Uncanny X-Men from 2004 if you care to read it but I would understand why many wouldn’t want to subject themselves to that.
I went to comicbook.com, a site that I knew would have more fact-based “news” when it came to the comic book industry as opposed to Ms. Geller. While factually accurate about what happened, she lacks objectivity. This is not to say she’s not entitled to her opinion but I wasn’t looking for opinions at the time but rather trying to craft my own.
Like I said before, this story is “stranger than fiction” truth. Marvel came forward and issued an official statement and said they’d take further steps to prevent it and will take disciplinary action now. It doesn’t matter how angry it makes me that this “artist” did this, what matters is how Marvel handled it and I think they handled it well, damage-control-wise.
At first I thought Marvel should have been more on top of this but I can understand why they might have missed it, too. I would not have honestly seen it, even as an editor, because it’s pretty obscure to anyone who isn’t intimately familiar with the content used.
Comic artists and writers injecting political opinions is nothing new but when done like this, I don’t even have words for how sick it makes me in my stomach – it truly pisses me off on a fundamental level. You want to say something, you say it loudly and proudly; you don’t hide behind your art, sneakily adding stuff into the background like a snake. This man isn’t clever – he’s a coward.
Objectively and logically, I understand this man isn’t representative of all Muslims, which is why my opinion is limited to him as a person and an artist rather than the ideology of a whole religion I, admittedly, need to study more if I want to really write about it with credibility.
Art is meant to evoke emotion, yes, but not to promote hate. I would feel equally objective to this if a Christian or Jewish author/illustrator used a medium I love to promote a hateful agenda towards any religion/group; I just happen to feel personally pissy about it in this instance.
I took a course in Military History from World War 1 to World War 2 and one of the most interesting aspects of that course (which was wholly very interesting in and of itself), was the propaganda used in comic books during WW2 especially. Ever heard “Slap a Jap”?
Captain America was consistently seen beating the snot out of Japanese soldiers and Nazis. Comic book propaganda focused more Japanese than Nazis because Japanese were seen as “other” or “more foreign” by Americans where Nazis looked “more like us”, which made it difficult for American troops to shoot them in combat. Nazis were targeted for propoganda in comics but less for how they looked and more for their fascism.
While inserting political opinions or propaganda into comic books isn’t new, the most overt sanctioned use of it was over 70 years ago, so I’d like to think we have evolved since then. It wasn’t right then and it’s not right now. Even though I believe the Axis Powers in WW2 were wrong, the propaganda aspect against them wasn’t one of our finer moments as a country.
Overall, I think this, other than initially just pissing me off, served as a good reminder to me as to why I believe in the power of logic and reason in journalism. It gave more credence in my mind to the power of opinion, as well.
Next time you come across an article that pisses you off, my suggestion is to research for facts, explore with emotional honesty on why you have a personal interest in said facts, and finally, craft a thoughtful analysis based on both logic and emotion. I would also suggest seeking opinions from both sides and seeing why they have their opinion. How did they reach their conclusion and are they so biased they lose credibility? It’s a worthy thing to know and journalists should be transparent about their motivations and be able to defend their position.
When you have an opinion, you won’t always have people agree with you but at least you’ll be able to sleep at night knowing you have conviction. If it’s not worth the work, then I personally would refrain from pontificating about it.
But that’s just my opinion.