On -isms: DC & Marvel Are "Evading Truths"

By | Thursday, December 26, 2013 1 comment
I read an opinion piece recently by Bosch Fawstin about how DC and Marvel want to "shove their “Muslim superheroes” down the throats of their readers" and have to avoid some obvious truths about Islam in order to do so. You can probably find it online if you really want to, but I'm not going to link to it and give the site that ran the piece any sense of credibility.

You might have heard Fawstin's name before. He was nominated for an Eisner in 2005, as a Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition, but he lost to Sean McKeever. Then, in 2011, he was featured on The Daily Show responding to DC's introduction of Batman's Muslim ally, Nightrunner. He was roundly mocked in exactly the same way that every Daily Show interviewee is. But he was specifically asked to be on the show because of his own "counter-jihad superhero" called Pigman.

Fawstin describes himself as a "recovered Muslim." He was evidently born into a Muslim family and raised accordingly, but at some point decided to rebel against it in the most overt way possible. He seems to denounce the religion and its practitioners at every opportunity. Here's a passage that helps to lead off his piece...
While Marvel and DC are presenting Islam to us in the most politically correct possible way through their comics, in the real world Muslims are on the warpath, killing non-Muslims Every. Single. Day. These “Muslim superheroes” are in the end a way for liberals to deny the reality that an entire part of the world is at war with us, while we do everything we can to focus on Muslims who are Not at war with us, as if they’re the true representatives of a violent religion like Islam.
He then goes on to explain that putting Muslims as a heroes in a modern comic is the same as if Joe Simon and Jack Kirby gave Captain America a German sidekick during World War II and neither one of them fought Nazis. He flatly refutes the counter-arguement that not all Muslims are terrorists, and throws in for good measure that even the whitewashed Islam that DC and Marvel are peddling doesn't sell anyway. In this single op-ed, he spends over 2500 words on why Islam should in no way be represented as positive. Oh, and be sure to buy his anti-jihadist comic.

I had to read through the piece a couple of times to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding him at any point. And I watched the Daily Show piece. And read his extended response to it. And read several other seemingly-related blog posts by him. And verified his Eisner nomination claim.

I don't know the specifics of how he was raised, but I can understand how he might grow to resent the religion he was taught. I'm not about to judge him on his parents' skills in raising a child. And he doesn't seem to be violent himself -- it's not like he's fire-bombing mosques or anything -- just very intolerant. Although he does say he's still friendly with many of his Muslim family members, and he didn't seem to act agitated or hostile towards Aasif Mandvi, even after he made express note of his Muslim affiliation.

So here's what I don't get. Fawstin is openly bigoted against Muslims. He paints them with a broad brush, and feels so passionately that Islam is evil that he's devoted enough time and energy to that idea to write, draw and publish an ongoing comic book on the subject. All Muslims are potential jihadists, he says. "It’s Islam’s consistent practitioners, it’s organized Islam, that is the problem." Which he says is a perfectly reasonable statement.

But he's okay with Mandvi, his family and other specific Muslims he personally knows. Even though he "can only name maybe a handful of my male Muslim relatives who didn’t beat their wives." (Which, to be clear, he thinks is a bad thing.) But they're almost as bad because, "They force us to play a game of Muslim Roulette since we can’t tell which Muslim is going to blow himself up until he does."

I simply can't comprehend how someone can be so reasonable with a person on an individual basis, but then simultaneously place them in the same bucket with with hundreds of thousands of other people who share a relatively superficial trait. I mean, I understand that's part of how bigotry works, but the inherent dichotomy in the logic just baffles me. The mental acrobatics someone must have to go through to hold "all Muslims are evil" in the same brain with "my wife-beating Muslim uncle is okay" would be astounding. Fawstin seems to make the distinction by claiming that some Muslims are really non-Muslims.

One of the things I written a lot about before on the subject of fandom was that we're all just people. And the label of "Batman fan" or "Twilight fan" or "Ghostbusters fan" really shouldn't matter all that much because, while some of the nuances are different, we're still basically all doing the same thing. And anyone who feels the need to belittle someone else because of their fandom doesn't represent all the members of their own fan group; they're just a lone asshole.

And the same holds true for religion. The label of "Jesus fan" or "Mohammed fan" or "Budda fan" shouldn't really matter all that much because, while some of the nuances are different, we're still basically doing the same thing. And anyone who feels the need to belittle someone else because of their religion doesn't represent all the members of their own sect; they're just a lone asshole.

I heard someone quip recently that religion is really just fandom that takes itself too seriously. Which goes a way towards explaining why relgious wars involve blowing people up a lot more than flame wars on an X-Men message board. And, you know, if you want to carry the fandom analogy a step further, from my seat, it looks like Fawstin is just an internet troll. That lone asshole who gives everyone vaguely associated with the same fandom a bad name.
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This kind of apparently haphazard boxing and labeling is exactly why Senator Rob Portman was anti-marriage equality until it affected his son.

Intolerant people work at being intolerant. They spend energy and time making up hierarchies of thing they do not like, like some, will never like, are okay with unless you get them angry, think are perfectly fine. The ontology will shift, but they will think it's a consistent worldview.

In Milton Rokeach's "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti" each guy believed he was Jesus Christ. When each one met the other two, each one's reaction was to look at the psychiatrist and say, "they're crazy." That is all you need to know about human nature.