Op-ed: Wham. Bang. Pow. It’s time for a superhero to fight hate crimes
It’s time for a new superhero to fight hate crimes, writes guest columnist Vishavjit Singh.
Special to The Times
WE can’t seem to get enough of our fictional superheroes. Hollywood keeps spitting out newer renditions of Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, Captain America. This summer, we got to watch multiple heroes stuffed into a single movie “The Avengers.” Our superheroes have fought anarchists, psychotic villains and Nazis.
It’s time for a new superhero to fight hate crimes.
Hate has shown tremendous staying power, from slavery in its darkest hour to post-9/11 targeting of real and perceived Muslims. Every ethnic group has faced the wrath of those who settled earlier in this grand land of ours. Our resilience to transcend each manifestation of hate is notable, as is our ability to reinvent new targets.
Seattle has already spawned the vigilante amateur hero Phoenix Jones. It was also home to Bruce Lee, the closest we got to a real-life Asian-American superhero. This city could serve as birthplace to a new fictional hero.
Some of our renowned superheroes have already been conceived out of the caldron of violence and emotional pain.
Captain America used to get picked on for his scrawny size. Batman emerged from the violent death of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Iron Man was born out of torture and captivity.
Who would make the best candidate for a new superhero fighting villainous hate?
How about a black superhero? Who knows more about hate than this singular group of Americans, tied by the color of their skin to a shameful noose running through the long crevices of our history? Times have changed. Hate has not been purged but we have a black president and had a black army general, to name a few political realities. Boys and men can dream of black men as saviors.
How about a Jewish superhero? Many of our superheroes were creations of Jewish artists, who felt creating a superhero reflecting their experience would not have a kind audience in publishers’ offices and the streets of America. Imagine a Jewish boy who grows up to fight hate crimes against Americans of all hues, even Muslims.
Dare I say a Muslim superhero? An ethnic group with the unenviable presence of being the contemporary “other” in our midst. Its motives and faith in our nation are suspected at all times. How about a Muslim superhero who fights white supremacists and Muslim extremists?
Shall we migrate to the Latino superhero? Just about every food we eat is farmed by their hands. The construction industry relies on their sweat for making possible the American dream of homeownership.
Imagine a Hispanic superhero born in the dusty corn fields to illegal parents who grows up to fight not only hate crimes but big businesses with ravenous appetites for cheap labor.
An Asian-American superhero? Chinese Americans built the backbone of our railroads. Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. Others have been bullied at home to become a doctor, engineer or lawyer. It’s about time we had an Asian superhero who burns the midnight oil book worming his way to mythical status, like Peter Parker.
Finally, how about a Sikh-American superhero? This is a 100-year-old community whose history is littered with surviving holocausts, fighting Japanese fascists and German Nazis. Sikh-American men could make formidable crimefighters, with swords and long unshorn waist-length hair tied into samurai buns at the top of their heads covered by five feet of cloth.
Anything is possible in America. We can sketch it, plot it, animate it and market it. Our commercial fantasies include Snooki,hobbits, Kardashians and wizards. It’s time we spice up our comical fantasies with colors of our imaginary fears and create a new American mythology.
Vishavjit Singh is an editorial cartoonist based in Westchester County, N.Y. His work can be found at www.sikhtoons.com.