What Would Batman Do?
by Saab Lofton
"I have never advocated war except as a means of peace."
--Ulysses S. Grant
"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting."
"Do you want to know what power is? Real power? It's not ending a life; it's saving it. It's looking in someone's eyes and seeing that they realize something they'll never forget: They owe you."
--Batman: Black and White, Volume Two
Have you heard this one? Jesus Christ, Karl Marx and the prophet Muhammad walk into a bar. Jesus says to Marx, "if you weren't an atheist, the fear of Hell might have kept Stalin from committing genocide."
Marx says to Muhammad, "if your religion wasn't sexist, fifty percent of the Muslim population would be empowered enough to strengthen the Islamic working class."
Muhammad says to Jesus, "if your followers weren't hypocrites, they'd stop bombing the Middle East."
There's no punchline to the aforementioned joke because there's nothing funny about mass murder, and even though it clearly states in The Bible that Thou Shall Not Kill, we're still inundated with one horror story after another on the six o'clock news.
Despite what the dainty, hippiebabble-spewing New Agers would have one believe, conflict is inevitable, so skipping-through-the-tall-grass-pointing-out-butterflies like the Eloi from H.G. Wells The Time Machine ain't the answer either. The issue is how exactly does one engage in conflict resolution, and seeing as how that's the case, I've proposed the following over the years ...
1) In Star Trek, the United Federation of Planets is said to have never started a war, and nation-states in real life should adopt that principle.
2) If one is ever cornered into a war, limit oneself to non-lethal weaponry; knock out gas instead of bombs, and so forth.
... during the character's first year, Batman was depicted killing his enemies, but then an editor named Whitney Ellsworth took over DC Comics and decreed that its heroes will henceforth spare the lives of defeated villains. Ellsworth's influence is still felt to this day (so much so that the Punisher from Marvel Comics stands out as a rare exception to the rule) and it can be seen in the following scene from Batman Begins ...
BRUCE WAYNE: No. I'm no executioner.
THE LEAGUE OF SHADOWS: Your compassion is a weakness your enemies will not share.
BRUCE WAYNE: That's why it's so important. It separates us from them ... I will go back to Gotham and I will fight men like this, but I will not become an executioner.
... a great deal of our foreign policy is hinged on us supposedly being sooooo different than the tyrants we fight (they're usually put in power by the C.I.A., but that's another commentary). Well, if Bruce Wayne's compassion "separates us from them," then it's about bloody time America got some!
What I'm calling for is a complete restructuring of both the police and the military so that they conduct themselves in a heroic manner at all times (not just while on camera). Among other things, this means that the role models prospective cops/soldiers are reared on would have to change; Superman in lieu of John Wayne, for instance, and anyone the least bit aware of white American psychology knows how difficult such a paradigm shift will be to achieve.
Difficult, but NOT impossible.
The knee jerk response of all too many will no doubt be something to the effect of, "what if whoever we're fighting uses lethal force?" My retort to that is ... So what? It's not enough to claim America is one of the good guys; America must walk the talk, as it were. As Captain Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine once put it ...
"You're a Starfleet officer. We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves. Sometimes, that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives, but if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform."
... this, of course, is the diametric opposite of the Faustian/Machiavellian approach America is notorious for -- and I speak for all the victims of "collateral damage" around the world when I demand that this philosophy of mine be taken (deadly) seriously!
Uncle Tom's Cabin did its part to help end slavery, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle made it safe to bite into a hot dog and I don't even want to know how much worse life would be without Orwell's Animal Farm or 1984, so unless y'all want your feelings hurt, don't make the mistake of accusing me of living in a fantasy world; fiction is as effective a form of activism as boycotts, petitions or even insurrection itself.
Finally, I doN'T give a three-legged rat's ass how egotistical this may seem to the short-sighted: If I happen to become a popular philosopher in the future, I doN'T want so much as one ignorant motherfucker killing anyone in my name, for any reason, and hopefully, this commentary will serve as a disclaimer. I'm sure Jesus, Marx and Muhammad didn't want any deaths on their conscience either, but obviously, none of them were specific enough, and given the amount of retardation caused by white supremacist inbreeding, sometimes ya gotta spell shit out ...