Sunday, March 11, 2007

Captain America - Rest in Peace

Last Wednesday the comic book nation was shocked when Captain America was assassinated. I’m really pissed that they would do this, and I get a sick feeling that Steve Rogers' death might be permanent, unlike the so-called ‘Death of Super-Man.’

I've been reading comics for over 30 years, and my favorite Captain America moment came just two months ago during the Marvel Comics Civil War. It was a moment in Amazing Spider-Man 537 - no big battle, no feats of strength - just a conversation between Cap and Spidey penned brilliantly by J.M Straczynski.

During the Civil War individuals with super powers were forced to choose between registering with the government or being outlaws. Captain America was surprisingly against the government.

Spider-Man: “How does someone like you - who practically is the country… react when the county goes a different way?”

Cap: I remember the first time I really understood what it was to be an American… what it was to be a patriot. I was just a kid… a million years ago, it seems sometimes. Maybe twelve. I was reading Mark Twain, and he wrote something that struck me right down to my core… something so powerful, so true, that it changed my life. I memorized it so I could repeat it to myself, over and over across the years.. He wrote ---

“In a republic, who is ‘the country?’ Is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.

Who, then, is ‘the country?’ Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Why, these are mere parts of the county, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command.

In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. It is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians.

Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man.

To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.

If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to our convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country. Hold up your head, you have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Cap then closed with “When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world –- no you move.”


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