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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

Monthly Archives: December 2016

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I was invited back to MuggleNet Academia to talk about eugenics and the world of Harry Potter. Given our country’s current Trump-fueled anti-immigrant hysteria, it is sadly much more than a history lesson:

“Ezra Miller, the actor who plays Credence Barebones in Fantastic Beasts, and David Yates have both said in interviews that Rowling’s New Salem Philanthropic Society is largely an allegorical depiction of the Progressive Era eugenics movement in the United States. This chapter of American history — how social engineering know-betters on the political left and right campaigned successfully for sterilization and extermination laws to rid the American gene pool of ‘moron women, sexual deviants, and racial inferiors’ in 31 states — has largely been scrubbed from the history textbooks. It’s more than a little embarrassing for us to learn, after all, that Adolf Hitler modeled his Final Solution, the Holocaust of European Jewry, on tracts, scientific publications, and laws written by Americans with the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation (among others). Not only can it happen here, it started here.

“To discuss American eugenics and how Rowling chooses to give that history lesson as an embedded story within her screenplay, not to mention how some of her historical connections are bizarre and off-base, Keith Hawk and I asked Washington & Lee professor Christopher Gavaler to join us on MuggleNet Academia. Gavaler is the author of On the Origin of Superheroes which largely turns on the subject of eugenics as it was told in the Superman/Ubermensch dramas of the late 19th and early 20th Century UK and US and then in the first superhero comic books. He explained to us how Rowling’s Hogwarts Saga’s Pureblood/Mudblood purity theme is straight up anti-eugenics story-telling — and that in Fantastic Beasts she is picking up where she left off.

“Another mind-blowing conversation on MuggleNet Academia! Here is a link to Professor Gavaler’s article ‘The Well Born’ Superhero’ that we discuss on the show. Enjoy that challenging read before or after you listen to our conversation — and please share your thoughts about the podcast in the comments boxes below!”

The hour-long interview is here (though you might want to skip over the first ten minutes).

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Days after the election, President-elect Trump told 60 Minutes that he was “surprised to hear” his supporters were using racial slurs and threatening African Americans, Latinos, and gays. Last week the FBI documented a 6% increase in hate crimes, especially against Muslims. Last month NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill reported that hate crimes are “up 31% from last year. We had at this time last year 250; this year we have 328. Specifically against the Muslim population in New York City, we went up from 12 to 25. And anti-Semitic is up, too, by 9% from 102 to 111.” When asked why, he said he had “no scientific evidence,” but “you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in the country over the last year or so and the rhetoric has increased, and I think that might have something to do with it.”

Ya think?

I live in Lexington, Virginia, and KKK fliers appeared on our front yard the month that Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for President. The Confederate flag, which appeared at rallies during Trump’s campaign, is back in view across the country. High school students in Silverton, Oregon displayed it at a Trump rally on Election Day, telling Hispanic classmates: “Pack your bags; you’re leaving tomorrow.” The two students were suspended, which isn’t an option for other post-election Trump supporters waving it in Durango, Colorado, Traverse City, MichiganSt. Petersburg, FloridaHampton, Virginia, and Fort Worth, Texas.

Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon is the former head of Breitbart News, which said the Confederacy was “a patriotic and idealistic cause,” and that its flag “proclaims a glorious heritage.” This was posted after the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, in which white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine people. White supremacists have been rallying around the Confederate flag for over a 150 years, but even Trump supported removing it from South Carolina’s statehouse last year: “I think they should put it in the museum, let it go, respect whatever it is that you have to respect, because it was a point in time, and put it in a museum.” I’m not clear what there is to “respect,” but the “point in time” is called the Civil War. If you read the declarations of secession, the South began it for one reason and only one reason.

But instead of a history lesson, I’ve asked Two-Face to give us his opinion about the flag.  This is the fifth and for-now-final installment of Two-Face’s political cartoons. Because this shit just ain’t funny.

Mr. Two-Face:





Thanks, Mr. Two-Face. Your scarred half sure knows how to keep things simple.

Oh, and here’s a postcard-sized version to mail to friends and family members currently residing in the racist past:


And if you’re a Southerner in need of a symbol of your pride, Unscarred George invites you to display this flag instead:


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History is confusing. There are so many people and places and names, it’s hard to keep it all straight. That’s why it’s important to write history books that everyone can understand. And it’s even more important to write American history books that make Americans feel good about America. Because who wants to read something depressing about your own country?

That’s why former Republican Presidential contender and future Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was so upset about the College Board’s 2014 Advanced Placement history course. It was way too negative. “I think,” said Carson, “most people, when they finish that course, they’d be ready to sign up for ISIS.”

Fortunately, ISIS doesn’t accept college credit for high school courses, even when students earn a top score of 5 on an A. P. exam. The course was endorsed by the American Historical Association, which defended its choice between “a more comfortable national history and a more unsettling one,” but the Republican National Committee still called it a “radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

So the College Board rewrote its history to make it “balanced” (the same word they like so much over at Fox News). It even made the director of education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute feel “very comfortable.” That’s not easy to do, especially with a history filled with so much confusing and depressing information.

After Donald Trump is appointed President by the Electoral College, a lot of more history books will need to be rewritten to make America great again. That’s not an easy job, so I’ve asked Two-Face to give it a try in this week’s political cartoon. His two-headed view gives him a perfect perspective on American politics (and what better way to understand America than getting acid thrown in your face?).

The trick is to figure out what your readers like most and then rewrite everything around those basic ideas. So based on the 2016 election, what do Americans really care about? The scarred half of George Washington boiled it down to just two things (though the silly, unscarred half is still sorting through all those pesky facts).

Here it is:





Like America, it’s still a work-in-progress, but I’m sure Two-Faced George will have even black penis Ben Carson feeling very comfortable soon.

Oh, and here’s a mini version to cut out and use as a cheat sheet when you’re trying to pass your ISIS entrance exam.


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Americans get a little confused about economics. The U.S. GDP growth rate is at a two-year high, and unemployment is back to where it was before George Bush’s Great Recession, but voters named the economy as their top concern. And then they elected a man who lost $910,000,000 in a single year and declared bankruptcy six times. President-Elect Trump also promises massive tax cuts and massive infrastructure spending, adding $5,300,000,000,000 to the national debt.

Republicans have been deficit hawks for decades, so the double-talk is especially confusing. That’s why I’ve invited back Batman supervillain Two-Face to give America a little economic crash course. As the election taught us, it’s important to keep things simple, so he’ll focus on the most basic challenge of domestic finance: how to write a check. Mr. Two-Face, like America, will once again be speaking from the scarred half of his head.


How To Write a Check




Thank you for the reality check, Mr. Two-Face.

And if you know any folks having trouble balancing their own realities, please feel free to print and cut these out for personal use:


There’s even a large-print version for all those older Trump voters:


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