Picture this: it’s 1938, and America is afraid. Afraid of what is just beginning over in Europe, afraid that the Great Depression isn’t over, and afraid that the country is being overrun by immigrants and refugees.
Just over a decade before, the infamous 1924 Immigration Act was passed, barring any non-white immigrant from entering the United States. Anti-Semitism was at an all-time high. No walls were mentioned, but there certainly was a lot of talk about “shutting the door”: Senator Ellison DuRant was quoted as saying, “[L]et us breed pure American citizens and develop our own American resources” (The Daily Beast).
Among the thousands of Jewish refugees, however, were Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the original writers of the Superman comics. The superhero they created is known today as the ideal American golden boy, but to Shuster and Siegel, Superman was just like them: a non-Aryan immigrant seeking refuge from a decimated homeland and struggling to assimilate into an alien society.
Now it’s 2017, and the exact same issues are dividing our country once more. Racist immigration ban? Check. Rampant white supremacism? Double check.
The following list of Superman quotes represents exactly how far our country hasn’t come over the past eight decades–but it also represents the hope and talent of two amazing young artists, as well as the hope and determination we’ll all need to make it through the Trump era. Check it out now:
1. “Superman! Champion of the oppressed!” (Issue 1)
During the Golden Age of comics, Superman didn’t battle supervillains or aliens: he fought back against corrupt businessmen, lobbyists, and wife beaters, endeavoring to make the world a better place for the common man.
Wouldn’t that be nice? To have someone in power working to aid someone other than the 1%?
2. “I see! When it’s your own life that’s at stake, your viewpoint changes!” (Superman to Norvell, Issue 2)
In this issue, Superman manages to enlighten Norvell, a corrupt munitions manufacturer, by bringing him to a warfront and forcing him to face the horror that he has created. If only Superman had been there during the Vietnam War when Trump dodged the draft…
3. “Let me go! What are you going to do?
Give you the fate you deserve, you torturing devil!” (Torturer and Superman, Issue 2)
Torture doesn’t work. If we “have to beat the savages,” as Trump says (Pocahontas flashbacks, anyone??), then we will just have to find another way.
4. “I’m a business man, not a humanitarian!” (Blakeley to Superman, Issue 3)
Yes, Trump. We know.
5. “You can announce that henceforth my mine will be the safest in the country, and my workers the best treated. My experience in the mine brought their problems closer to my understanding!” (Blakeley to Superman, Issue 3)
If only we could make Trump work as a flunky in one of his own companies…or enroll in Trump university…or work in a mine shaft….or work as a Hispanic immigrant…or live a day as a woman…or…
5. “I have a story to tell that the world must know, a story of terror, cruelty, and shocking brutality.” (Crane to Superman, Issue 10)
Even if it’s hard, even if it earns you the title “fake news source,” you’ve still got to tell the true story.
6. “If I do take you in [as a partner], Derek Niles–I will lose everything! Including my self-respect!” (Jordan to Niles, Issue 7)
Partnerships: not always such a great idea.
7. “I’m not an idiot, Black. I know there are bad men in power and the world is not an equitable place — but you can’t throw morality in the garbage just because life’s tough!” (Superman to Black, Issue 775)
Bad men in power, indeed. Don’t give up, America!
What’s your favorite Superman quote? Share your thoughts below!
YouTube Channel: Saturday Night Live
Featured image via wwcomics