“The American way is no longer enough,” says Superman. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Loren Javier/Flickr)

Superman has renounced his U.S. citizenship. This shocking act from a man reputed to be the paragon of “truth, justice and the American way” has been categorized by the cynical as a publicity stunt by D.C. Comics to boost sales of the Action Comics title. Yet there’s more going on here with the Man of Steel than meets the jaded eye, notes Comics Alliance.

Superman is frustrated by politics

As the balance of global economic power continues to shift from the United States to China, Tea Partiers cling to strident nationalism as if it were a security blanket. In hindsight, it was quite apropos that former U.S. President George W. Bush once said, “You’re either with us or against us.” Such dogma promotes the use of unilateral, preemptive force and persuasion, rather than honest, multi-lateral cooperation.

Superman was sent to Earth as a gift to the human race, not merely to one country. In the Kryptonian’s mind, the needs of the many will always outweigh the needs of the few, regardless of whether those few are American, Chinese or from Liechtenstein. Thus, in an act of great frustration, Superman makes a fateful decision in Action Comics #900, written by David S. Goyer:

“I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship,” Superman says. “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy. … Truth, justice and the American way. … It’s not enough anymore.”

To place Superman’s statement in context, earlier in the story, entitled “The Incident,” Superman appears in Tehran, Iran, to non-violently support protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime. The Iranian government views Superman’s actions as the will of the American president, and hence an act of war. The U.S. government scorns the hero for causing problems for his country. All the while, Superman maintains he acted of his own free will to protect oppressed peoples, and he’s fed up with the political labyrinth being more important than the safety of human beings.

When the American way is not enough

From his pre-World War II origins through the decades of the Cold War, Superman as a literary construct was intended to represent U.S. ideals. As the balance of world powers begins to shuffle, however, it becomes apparent that “the American way” may not be the only golden path to success. Moral and political issues are arguably more complex than they’ve ever been, and a hero that represents a black-and-white, Eisenhower-era vision of the U.S. is no longer practical with modern readers. By re-embracing the global perspective that only a man from another planet could truly understand, Superman is freeing himself from politics so that he can better serve humanity.

Sources

Comics Alliance: http://aol.it/fBeYSf
The Lazy Geeks: http://bit.ly/lSRONp
The Psychology of Superman: http://bit.ly/lrzXbD
Sourcewatch: http://bit.ly/mNJD1P

‘Superman belongs to the world’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2GUlLu2Fn0

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