Friday, March 25, 2011

Avi Green is Shocked..... SHOCKED, I Tell You!

One of the lasting side effects of my participation in "Friday Night Fights" is following many of the blogs of my fellow competitors. That also means occasionally perusing the sites of the blogs in their link rolls.

One of those occasionally-viewed sites is The Four Color Media Monitor, which I discovered through fellow FNF fighters Snell and ShadowWing Tronix. This site is written by Avi Green, a Pennsylvania-born resident of Jerusalem, Israel. He generally has an unflinchingly negative opinion of the Big Two, their comics, and their related media projects (such as movies and TV shows). He also approaches these issues with a more conservative take than I would. No problem there. Many conservative comic bloggers, like the aforementioned Tronix, are very entertaining, and some (cough!*Engblom*cough!) are completely awesome. I can handle different opinions.

Green is very sensitive to perceived liberal bents in modern comics, and does not hesitate to point them out when he sees them. Sometimes, however, he's too sensitive, to the point of being completely ridiculous. Too ridiculous not to call him out on it.

I just read one of his posts entitled "Marvel Comics insults 9-11 Families and their supporters". Here, Green is very upset about the recent X-Factor#217, written by Peter David. Confession: I haven't actually picked up the issue yet, although reading about it has piqued my interest.

The scene below is patterned after last year's "Ground Zero Mosque" protests in New York, where this scene is also set.  David makes no secret what side he's on in that controversy.

At this point, buxom X-Factorite Monet swoops in to inform the crowd that "I’m a Muslim and a mutant!" This doesn't help matters.

Avi has some objections to this scene:

"What's absurd here is how it depicts a girl with cleavage, something forbidden in the most extreme Islamic regimes like Saudi Arabia, identifying herself as a Muslim (she's said to be of Algerian background not unlike Batman Inc's Nightrunner), shades of corrupt NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's own knee-jerk blather. Though there are some Muslim women who don't dress in burqas/niqabs, the deeper you go into the Islamic world, the more oppressive it is to the point where the death sentence can be given to those who don't wear them, and the Koran condones it.

Avi would have a valid point here, if the scene were set in Saudi Arabia. It's set in New York. I find Monet's wide open cleavage here absurd not because she's a Muslim, but because she's a superhero, whose duties include intense fighting and, as this scene demonstrates, crowd control. The only function the open cleavage appears to serve is potential wank material for some readers.

The book also features a quote from J. Jonah Jameson.  Over the past few decades, Marvel seems to mostly rotate Jonah's character into two modes: 1.) Rabid obsessed Spidey-hating lunatic, and 2) a snarkier Perry White. It's the Perry mode that David uses in X-Factor#127, as Jonah states the following dialogue to the protesters:

"Funny thing: I keep hearing that from the far ends of the both sides: ‘We want our country back.’ Where’d it go? If neither side has it, then who took it? Guess what? I did.

 Me and my big white ancestors. We came rolling in and took it from the people who were here in the first place. And right after we did that, we kidnapped people from Africa to help us build it. And now we’re all worried that karma’s coming back to bite us on the keister. So we got to fight back because otherwise a hundred years from now, we might be the ones living in reservations and dying of small pox.

We can do that. Keep everyone we’re afraid of out. Send intruders back where they came from, or maybe put ‘em in camps like World War II, ’cause we’re afraid they’re terrorists. Or maybe… And it’s a crazy idea, I know… Maybe we can stop treating everybody like they’re the damned enemy."

Admittedly, Peter David is painting with a rather broad brush here. He makes a valid point about the ongoing fear of "The Other" in this country in particular, although he does veer off a little bit into Generalization City like when he addresses the motivations of white people. But still, some fair points made.

However, while PAD may paint with a broad brush, Green forgoes the paintbrush completely and goes straight for the roller, particularly with this gem:

"There may be moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam."

Green follows this up by linking to a violent passage from the Quran. Yes, the Quran has its share of violent quotes, but I can name another religious text that contains its share of violent imagery: The Bible. And like Islam, many of Christianity's followers have commited cruel and violent acts in its name. Yet I'm not claiming that there is no moderate Christianity (I'm Christian myself). I'm perfectly willing to extend Islam the same consideration. Green apparently isn't.

Next, Avi lets his own feelings about the "mosque" controversy be known.

"That aside, Marvel has really gone beyond the pale this time. It's bad enough if they took blame-America standings with Captain America in past years. Now they're even going so far as to desecrate the victims of 9-11 and offend those closest to them by implying it is democratic Americans opposed to violent ideologies, shariah, and also a building project that desecrates the memory of their loved ones who are the problem, not the jihadists themselves...."

Green names several individuals and groups connected to 9/11 victims' family members who are against the "mosque", and claims X-Factor#217 insults them.  The problem is that he's only presenting one side of the controversy, his own. The truth is that even the 9/11 family members, whose numbers are easily 6000+, are split on this issue. For each of the people against it that Avi sites, there is undoubtedly a corresponding person who feels the exact opposite. They're 9/11 family members, too, no less victims than those on the other side of the issue. Green's showing them the same disrespect he claims David is showing those on Avi's side.

"...and they refuse to distinguish between religion and race."

Again, I disagree with Green. It's not that PAD is claiming no difference between race and religion, but rather he's simply focusing on their similarities, one of which is the wrongness of persecuting individuals on the basis of either one. And refusing to allow them the right of peacable assembly and the right to practice their religion counts as persecution. (Guess I'm not exactly hiding my views on the controversy, either.)

But it's his concluding paragraph that takes the cake:

Once, I thought he was smart enough to avoid this kind of propaganda, and he did once signal he respects Israel. Guess I was wrong. Now, he's plumbing new depths and suggesting he condones imposing sharia on America.

Now, that's a leap that would make the Incredible Hulk greener with envy. Green is wrong on several levels here.
First, Muslims are currently outnumbered in America by a ratio of roughly 130-to-1. Barring an extremely drastic population upheaval in the future, the idea that they could exert enough influence to impose Sharia law on the entire country is an absurd, paranoid fantasy. Hell, they don't even constitute enough of a voting bloc here to keep them from being scapegoated as a group by opportunistic right-wing politicians and media figures.
Second, Green makes the wild leap of asserting that, because David opposes said scapegoating, that David condones imposing sharia. This type of logic is just as crazy as saying that anyone who condemns misandry condones raping women, or that anyone who speaks out against misogyny condones voluntary male castration. Moreover, it shows a profound disrespect to David and others, like me, who don't share Green's views.

The real underlying problem with Avi's post, the one which inspired me to write this rebuttal, is its very premise. Avi actually seems shocked and appalled....SHOCKED AND APPALLED, I tell you!... that an X-Men comic actually spoke out against bigotry and discrimination.
Jeez! What's next, Avi? Outrage about Aquaman speaking out against pollution?
Oh, wait....!


At 10:48 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

Oh yeah, Ari Green. I've read a few things on his blog, back when "When Fangirls Attack" would link to him occasionally.

Man, that guy hates EVERYTHING. And just about everybody.

At 11:44 AM , Blogger Avi Green said...

Hi, sorry if you don't like my opinions, but hey, the big two, whose creations I do appreciate - it's the people in charge of writing/editing I don't - have lost it considerably for more than a decade now, and threw away a lot of potential by way of editorial mandates.

Here's something to contemplate: many apologists for Islam either accuse the dissenters of racism instead of anti-religious sentiment, when religion does not constitute a race. That's what appears to be the case here too, and I just can't approve of that.

I became more of a conservative as time went by because I felt that liberalism was destructive, and I once went by some of those very doctrines. I moved away from them as best as I could, and felt all the better for it. One way was to ponder how it's better to criticize the writers and not the characters, something I noticed quite a few readers and even people within publishing doing, and I wanted to refrain from that. I'm sure even now, I won't be perfect, but I've done my best to avoid acting as though the superheroes and their co-stars are the problem. It's the writers in charge who are, and they will decidedly be my main focus.

At 6:40 AM , Blogger notintheface said...

Avi, I'm going to take your points paragraph by paragraph:

1. I agree with everything in your first paragraph. We have many common criticisms in this area. Mr. Bendis, to name one. I did not convey that distinction (between ceations and creators) properly in my post. That's on me.

2. Racial biases and anti-religious sentiment are often conflated in the case of Islam in a way they wouldn't be with, say, Christianity or Judaism. Much of the fear of Muslims is, in fact, fear of the "dark-skinned people". Kind of a "two-in-one" bias.

3. a. Again, I agree with you on criticizing writers and editors (and artists when called for - I'm looking at you, Ed Benes)

b. I'm curious at what liberal doctrines you find so destructive. Social Security? Women's equality? Working wages? Religious tolerance?
And while you're talking "destructive", how many economic depressions or near-depressions were caused by liberalism? I count zero.

At 10:52 PM , Blogger Avi Green said...

On liberal doctrines, I can offer an example or two: socialism and marxism. That's what really soured me to the Smurfs.

At 2:29 PM , Blogger notintheface said...

Socialism and marxism, NEITHER of which has gotten any sort of foothold in American government. Nor has ANY type of left-wing extremism.

The left has been on a rather short leash for decades.

The right, on the other hand, has been given free reign to let their freak flag fly, particularly the last few years. See Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and too many examples to count.

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