The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Stan Lee created superheroes who fight hate. Here’s what he has to say after Charlottesville.

Stan Lee wrote an anti-bigotry “Stan’s Soapbox” column in 1968, when he was leading Marvel Comics. (The Washington Post)

MORE THAN a half-century ago, Stan Lee began to help create Marvel characters who responded through allegory to the protests and violence and racial hate he saw playing out on America’s streets.

“I always felt the X-Men, in a subtle way, often touched upon the subject of racism and inequality, and I believe that subject has come up in other titles, too,” Lee told Comic Riffs last fall, referring to his ’60s-born superheroes who feel like outsiders, “but we would never pound hard on the subject, which must be handled with care and intelligence.”

Not one to pound hard with fresh words in the wake of last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, the 94-year-old Lee instead responded by tweeting out the anti-bigotry message of a vintage “Stan’s Soapbox” comic-book missive — which the legendary creator called “as true today as it was in 1968,” when he penned it.

“Let’s lay it right on the line,” Lee wrote in the year that the Rev. Martin Luther King and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. “Racism and bigotry are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed supervillains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them, is to expose them — to reveal from the insidious evil they really are.”

Lee, who had served in the Army during World War II, went on to call the bigot “an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately.”

“It’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race — to despise an entire nation — to vilify an entire religion,” Lee’s “Soapbox” said. “Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance.

“For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us all — His children.”

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As of Wednesday, Lee’s tweet had been “liked” nearly 50,000 times.

Lee told Comic Riffs last year that he is “a believer in the innate goodness of man,” adding that “America is made of different races and different religions, but we’re all co-travelers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”

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