So I just got out of work. Therefore I hate everyone that ever existed.
Let’s talk religion for a second. I never understood the hate others have for certain religions. It seems since the beginning of time there have been “holy wars”over who’s religion was right or wrong. But if you stop and do some research on religions you’ll see that most have a positive message throughout. It may be a weird or ridiculous journey (*cough* scientology*cough*) to get to the message. But there’s a good message in that none the less. Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism. Read about them. They’re all pretty interesting. They all have good stories leading to good lessons. But they’re just that to me. Stories.
I was so amazed when I was a child learning about Christianity. You grow up watching cartoon like Ninja Turtles, Batman, Superman, Power Rangers and everyone tells you they’re fiction. Fake. Completely ridiculous and false. Then I learned about Jesus. Basically this wise super being. And I couldn’t get enough of him. Why? Because he was fucking real. That’s what everyone told me. Superman and Wolverine? They’re not real.But Jesus? Oh yeah he brought the dead to life, multiplied food, and chilled on water. Yeah he was real.
My mind was blown. There was actually a guy who did this?! You know the effect that has on a kid?! I wanted Jesus action figures. I’d go to church all the time. He was a fucking real superhero! But as I got older and read some of the bible and did some research, I realized it was all a bit ridiculous. Violent and sometimes just downright silly. That’s when I began to question Christianity and religion. There’s nothing wrong in believing in it or following it’s messages, but to believe it’s all real? Come on now.
Again religion isn’t the problem. It’s the people. The reason I turned my back on religion is because there were always people telling me I “have to do this” and “have to do that” for God to accept me. I thought we were all made in God’s image? Why doesn’t he accept me all of a sudden? Does going to CCD every Tuesday for an hour in grade school really make me better than someone else? You go to church and the priest tells you how God loves all of you. Then he tells you how much better God is than you. Then they come around with baskets on sticks wanting you to fork over your cash.What the hell is that? Didn’t Jesus go into rage mode when he seen people selling things in his church in the name of religion? Then why do they have church auctions and bake sales? Shit, they have Bingo. That’s fucking old people gambling. Gambling in church to win toasters and shit.
So I would have all these thoughts, especially about the old testament when God basically killed anyone that didn’t agree with him. And I just said, “fuck this.” It’s too complicated, unnecessarily violent, and filled with plot holes and ridiculous situations. Basically it’s the Saw franchise.
So I just walked away from religion. I’m not atheist. I believe somethings there. I’m just…confused. Everyone is. That’s why religion exists. I don’t think I’m smarter or better than anyone else for thinking this way either. You believe in something? More power to you. I respect that. It’s just that no one can prove there’s a god. You have two enemies fighting in a war. The first group prays to god that the other soldiers die. The other soldiers pray that the second group dies. Who’s gonna get fucked over with that?
We all have to believe in something. I believe in myself. Why? Because I know I exist. I have to solve my problems. I’m controlling my life. I decide whether to sit home and play video games tonight or go outside and shoot up a neighborhood. It’s all me.
But we have to look up to someone.
Therefore I’d like to introduce to you my religious figure:
This is Magneto.
Magneto is a comic book villain. Yet much more. He appears in fictional books, is quite popular, and has had his ups and downs storywise over the years…like God and the Bible.
Thing is that I know Magneto is fictional. And I could know everything there is about him. Hell, I could make up stuff about him too.
Growing up and working around people so much for so long made me grow immensely attached to this character.And one phrase got me hooked:
Magneto was right.
You see, Magneto is one of Marvel Comics most famous and popular villains, but he did not start out that way. When he first appeared in the “Silver Age” of 1963, Magneto was nothing more than a craven maniacal would-be world conqueror, preaching mutant superiority and the fundamental “rightness” of mutant rule. He felt because mutants were physically superior, they deserved to inherent the earth. However, despite his great power, he was not impressive as a character. One Marvel writer referred to the character as “a poor man’s Dr. Doom.”
When Chris Claremont took over the flailing X-Men title in 1975, he decided to apply the maxim “A protagonist is only as interesting as his or her antagonist” and started developing Magneto into a more three dimensional and impactful character. Magneto the power-mongering cad was exchanged for Magneto the revolutionary. His hysterical rantings smoothed into the focused eloquence of political fanaticism. Then in 1981, Claremont took the final step and at last provided the audience with Magneto’s personal motivations: He was a Holocaust survivor, the last of a large family wiped out by the Nazi’s.
“I know something of grief. Search throughout my homeland, and you will find none who bear my name. Mine was a large family and it was slaughtered, without mercy, without remorse. So speak to me not of grief boy, you know not the meaning of the word….I remember my childhood, the gas chambers at Auschwitz, the guards joking as they herded my family to their death…”
~Uncanny X-Men #150
The Holocaust and his beloved wife’s rejection of him at the moment when he needed her the most cemented his beliefs:
“You are far too trusting Charles. Too niave. You have faith in the essential goodness of man. In time you will learn what I have learned. That even those you love will turn from you in horror when they discover what you truly are. Mutants will not go meekly to the gas chambers. We will fight. And we will win.”
~Uncanny X-Men #161
Magneto has always based his ideology on the world that is, not the world as he wishes it was. He has had far too many dealings with mankind’s demons for him to put his trust in “the better angels” of human nature. Having experienced the planet’s most horrific example of genocide, for Magneto the words “Never again” held not merely deep and lasting meaning, they were an absolute truth he would go to any lengths to fulfill. While Magneto’s actions are often inexcusable, his experiences have at least made them understandable and the character extremely compelling.
No one can question that Magneto has gone too far in his quest to protect mutant kind, but while we deplore the means taken to get to the ends, are his philosophies inherently flawed?
At the core, are Magneto’s arguments valid?
Genocides have always happened throughout human history and continue to happen in our lifetimes. The Old Testament itself give accounts of genocide in Deuteronomy, the Roman’s wiped Carthage from the face of the earth, the Christians of the first Crusade walked to the first mass in Jerusalem through streets “knee deep in blood”, as the European powers colonized to New World, Africa, and Asia, millions aboriginal peoples were killed and enslaved, in WWI the Ottoman Empire massacred the Armenians, in WWII the Nazis killed 6 million to create an “Aryan Europe” , since 1972 the Hutu and Tusti people have exchanged genocides in Burundi and Rwanda, Pot Pot killed millions in Camobidia, Hussien massacred the Kurds repeatedly, the Bosnian-Serb army shot every Muslim they could get their hands on, and the Muslims of Dafur killed every sub-Saharan African they could get their hands on.
Looking at the historical trends, while there are no genocides on the scale of the Nazis anymore, there are more frequent smaller scale genocides. This age of enlightenment has not stopped mankind’s capacity for killing those not like himself. If anything, it has sped up.
And these are just the actual genocides. Hundreds of ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities in various countries all over the world still fight to gain equal rights and protection under the law every day.
If anything, life is worse for the characters of the Marvel Universe. For some reason compared to the normal non-superhero residents of DC world, the people of the M.U. are, quite frankly, jerks. They have always been portrayed as mistrusting superheroes (think J. Jonah Jameson and Spider Man) and mutants in particular (the double standard being analogous to the double standards of racism). From the X-Men’s very first years, there have been people with public and government support trying to regulate, incarcerate, and kill them. In (Uncanny) X-Men #14 in 1965, Dr. Bolivar Trask created the Sentinels, the now famous robots designed specifically to hunt and capture or kill mutants. Since the early 1980’s, Senator Kelley created and championed for the unsuccessful Mutant Control act and then the successful Mutant Registration Act. When he abandoned his anti-mutant stance, he was killed by anti-mutant activists (perhaps in echo of the murder of Yitzak Rabin by Israeli extremists in 1995). Reverend Stryker and his Purifiers have been conducting their holy crusade against the “satan spawned mutants” since their first appearance in “God Loves, Man Kills” in 1982.
In 1996-97, the hate against mutants reached a climax in the “Operation: Zero Tolerance” story arc. With government support, Bastion and Henry Peter Gyrch hunted down and incarcerated every mutant they could find in the U.S.. Many of them were sent to a concentration camp called Neverland in Canada. Hank McCoy would later travel there and find the bodies of those experimented on and massacred in “Endangered Species.” (Magneto was inexplicably absent from both these storylines.) While O:ZT was eventually brought to a close, the government mandated oppression continued. Following the events of M-Day, all surviving mutants were rounded up and forced to live in a “reservation/ghetto” of the Xavier estate where they were watched over and contained by Sentinels of the Office of National Emergency (O*N*E).
Given these actions, a “Mutant Israel” like Asteroid M, Avalon, or Genosha doesn’t seem like such a bad idea does it?
Most of these incidents have passed with relatively little comment from the rest of the superhero community and no help, but like Niemöller’s poem they soon paid for their silence. In 2006, public outrage over the deaths of 600 people, including school children, in an super-criminal-apprehension gone wrong causes the Super Human Registration Act (SHRA) to be voted into law, forcing all superheroes to register with the government. If one wanted to use superpowers at all, they had to work for the Initiative. This in turn caused the Civil War, in which the pro-registration factions led by Iron man, eventually won out over the civil liberties factions led by Captain America who was assassinated while under S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
Nor is the inherent disrimination of humanity the only point Magneto has a valid argument for:
“Do not take that tone with me boy, I have lived under a dictatorship and seen my family butchered by its servants. When I rule, it will be for the betterment of all. Contentment breeds tranquility, discontent rebellion. Therefore I shall ensure one by eliminating the root causes of the other: hunger, poverty, disease, war. Freedoms lost will not be noticed, even in the most libertarian of states. And the material benefits should more than balance the scales.”
~God Loves, Man Kills” (1982)
Given the recent inroads into America’s basic civil liberties that have passed by with relatively little outrage from such a “freedom loving people”, Magneto has a valid point. Revolution takes root in the empty belly. Rarely has a revolution been sparked by ideological differences. Usually it was want, privation, and abuse that caused the French, the Russians, the Chinese, and others to rebel against the hierarchy of their era. It seems that the majority of human beings do value material well-being above what it perceives to be the more esoteric aspects of freedom. If they do not need those freedoms at that very moment, human-kind doesn’t really care about them. It’s a sad truth for an ideological person to face, but there is too much evidence to dismiss Magneto’s argument.
Were Magneto not so universally hated by the “capes and tights community” of the M.U. someone, somewhere in the Civil War should have said, “Maybe Magneto had a point….” Not in how he goes about acheiving his goals, but in his interpretations of humanity and its abuse of power.
In fact I wonder if it is because he was right, because Magneto knew and predicted the dark side of human nature so well, that he is so vehemently despised.
A fine gent by the name of KiplingKat spilled that knowledge on me years back. I could never get it out of my head. He is a horrifically brillant character with a horrifically true message. From what I’ve seen in this country, the United States of America made up of hundreds of different religions, creeds, and colors all I can deduce is that we’re mostly the same. We’re mostly rude, selfish, uncaring, pig headed idiots. I’ve never seen people truly come together for the right cause. All these selfish motives underlie rearing it’s head from time to time making you realize there is no such thing as a “good” person. But if I keep thinking like that I won’t enjoy anything. And I do enjoy life. And I will. I just want as little people as possible in it.
Many Christians have a cross in their rooms, Buddhists have rock gardens, Hindus have their Ganesha statues. They display their faith. I display a Magneto helmet. Because even though we hate to admit it…he was right.