Saturday, October 4, 2008

The patriotic hero's flipside

While it can be said that great patriotic heroes can be an inspiration when they have good values, someone like Captain America, what can be said of valuing your country simply because you happened to be born there.

Few would argue the virtue of Captain America, and fewer still would argue the evil of Captain Nazi, The Red Skull, or The Soviet

There's a lot to be said for life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but what about crushing the
bourgeoisie under a red boot for the workers? Or a final solution to the "Jewish problem" for the German Volk? Or keeping your women subjugated and and bringing Jihad to the infidel for Allah?

Unchosen values are anathema to the flourishing of human life ironically this is why American themed heroes work (and to a lesser degree British themed ones). America was a nation founded on chosen values, only by those who chose to seek them out. The character or values of a nation are neither intrinsically bad or good simply because you were born there. Treating them as if they were is the only surefire way to ALWAYS put heroism in service of evil values.

There is a scene which drives this point home hard in the graphic novel from Kingdom Come where a man wearing the stars and stripes attacks a group of immigrants at Ellis Island refuting the statmenet about "Poor tired huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." More disturbing is the real world
equivalent that can be seen in any person who's ever turned the sacred values which our nation is founded upon into meaningless buzzwords.


Michael said...

An interesting 'take' on the 'evil patriotic hero' is the briefly seen "Captain Krieg" from Jack Staff.

Jack Staff is Britian's Greatest Superhero, a character created by Paul Grist similiar to Union Jack. However, Jack is apparently long-lived, and we see some of his adventures from WWII (along side other heroes, similiar to Marvel's Invaders team), in the 50s & 60s (alongside other british heroes of the time) and in modern days. [Paul bases many of his characters on classic british characters, but with his own twist].

Captain Krieg at first glance is your typical 'Captain Nazi' clone. Except. He's not a Nazi. And he doesn't like some of the things he finds his government is doing. So they sacrefice him to some demon for their own purposes. When the now possessed Krieg shows up in the present, Jack has to stop him. But actually, Krieg kills himself, to stop the evil inside him.

Jack winds up burying him, as probably no one else carries what happens to Krieg.

Overall, an interesting set of characters. The above storyline was collected in the third Jack Staff collection, Echoes of Tomorrow.