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Someone in Washington Needs to Repeat Superman’s Exhortation to Children in 1949

December 23, 2015

I have been deeply disturbed by the response of our Presidential candidates and majority of Governors to  the Syrian refugees crisis…  a crisis that is arguably the result of our presence in the Middle East and developed countries’ failure to tackle climate change- both of which are the ultimate underlying causes of the the fighting in that country.

As readers of this blog realize I have also been dismayed at our country’s response to the school shootings. Instead of applying funds to programs that compel students to engage with each other, that promote mutual understanding, or engage alienated students or funds to provide schools with more staff to deal with mental health issues we’ve spent our scarce resources on surveillance cameras, door locks, security systems, and armed guards.

I have also been dismayed at the shrill tone of the Republican candidates in offering their “solutions” to terrorism, which is to point fingers at brown-skinned immigrants and Muslims as the source of our nation’s problems. And their “solutions” to poverty all involve implicitly blaming those raised in poverty for “bad choices” they made and not facing the fact that the economy s it is structured now only offers bad choices when it comes to jobs.

Finally, I contrasted all of this to the world I remembered in my youth… when teachers urged classmates to connect with me when I was a “new kid in school”… when our school in OK welcomed a new student who was a Hungarian refugee… or even as late as 1978 when the HS I led welcomed a Vietnamese refugee. I also recall being taught in about the racial injustices in the South in junior high school in the early 1960s and hearing our President then exhorting us to join the PEACE Corps.

With all of that as a backdrop, I saw this cartoon on Facebook and couldn’t believe it was real:



I was so incredulous I went to Snopes and found that this cartoon was a colorized version of an earlier one from a book cover that was distributed in schools in 1949. Here’s Snopes’ explanation followed by the original cartoon:

2×18″ brown paper with black art images and text. ©1949 Nat’l Comics Pub. Inc. Distributed by The Institute For American Democracy Inc. Book cover features art image of Superman that appears to be by noted Superman comic book artist Wayne Boring showing Superman standing with group of children, text balloon reading “… And Remember, Boys And Girls, Your School — Like Our Country — Is Made Up Of Americans Of Many Different Races, Religions And National Origins. So …” and continues underneath “… If YOU Hear Anybody Talk Against A Schoolmate Or Anyone Else Because Of His Religion, Race Or National Origin &Amdahl; Don’t Wait: Tell Him THAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN. HELP KEEP YOUR SCHOOL ALL-AMERICAN!” Book cover has handling wear, mostly along center vertical fold line, resulting in numerous small creases not greatly infringing into art area. Fine. Art area featuring Superman remains VF. Scarce.


Now, instead of asking students to tell a classmate that “Talk Against A Schoolmate Or Anyone Else Because Of His Religion, Race Or National Origin” is “un-American” we have Presidential candidates exhorting the opposite. Instead of having students accepting responsibility for putting a stop to the kind of bullying discourse Superman saw as un-American, we teach them the mantra “If you see something, say something”… in other words, let someone in authority take care of the problem. We need someone to take up the Man of Steel’s role and teach our children— and our Political leaders— that intolerance and racism are un-Amercian.

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