As of Action Comics #900 Superman decides to renounce his American Citizenship. During one of his adventures he decides to support protesters in Tehran by standing between the crowd and the Iranian military. He doesn’t actually do anything, but his presence helps prevent violence. After the incident he realizes his actions are misconstrued, and the Iranian government regards hims an agent of western super-powers. Superman doesn’t want to be seen as an agent of the US government when he acts on his own will so he decides to make an announcement before the UN saying he is a citizen of the world, and no longer American… Facepalm! This is irritating pointless politics, out of character for the man of steel, and worse yet poor writing.
I’m sick of pop culture being apologetic for being American. I consider myself patriotic, and for a little intellectual honesty I don’t know if I’d feel the same if I weren’t born and raise in the USA. I want to know what is wrong with the American way? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Nowhere in there does it say that all “all Americans are created equally” or “only Americans are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.” Everyone is granted these rights regardless of race, religion, sex, or national origin. Like any philosophy this is easier in theory than in practice. America has a long history ripe with slavery, discrimination, and inequality. The government frequently takes highly questionable actions which alienate people. Yet for those limitations we’ve always tried to move past it and come closer to the American Ideal. The government may represent America, but it isn’t America. Reject or omit the “American Way” is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It is turning your back to the idealism that all are created equally and have universal rights. Rights which are not limited specifically to Americans.
Superman, although born on Krypton, was raised in Kansas. It was the Kents’ good nature, and salt of the earth values which forged his character into a good person. He has a very American story to him, the story of an immigrant. Clark Kent has always been proud to be an American. With his boyscout personality, it makes sense he would believe in the “American Way”. He had an idyllic home life, with apple pie cooling on the window, the high school sweetheart, and went on to find success in the big city. He’s a country boy and it’s understandable that as person he would legitimately believe in the “American Way” regardless of political affiliation. I remember a Batman comic in which Bruce Wayne, gets angered at lack of gun control. He graphically describes to Robin and subsequently the audience what the bullet did to his parents when the were murdered. Though it was the writer getting on his soap box, and raising awareness and funds for a gun control agenda, it is believable that Batman would legitimately feel this way. I believe in the second amendment, and disagree with the political motivation of this comic, but this comic made perfect sense to me. It didn’t bother me in the slightest. Batman watched his parents get shot when he was 8, and fights street crime on a regular basis. It would be out of character for him not to be in favor of gun control. For Superman to renounce his Americanism because “the American way isn’t enough” sounds like the writer talking, not Clark Kent. Wouldn’t it have had greater effect if he renounced his Americanism when Lex Luthor was elected president. There was a recent story line where Lex Luthor destroys “New Krypton” and commits genocide against all of Superman’s remaining species. For his efforts Luthor is granted a Presidential pardon for his crimes. Yet neither of those actions cause him to be disillusioned with America. Its being called names by the Iranian government. If I were living in Metropolis I’d bet a little worried about the status of the Man of Steels mind.
I get what the writer was trying to do in this. He’s trying to broaden the appeal of the comic to the world as a whole, while at the same time trying to show support for the reform movements and protests going throughout the Middle East, but his logic is about well thought out as Superman’s. Legally Superman is not actually an American citizen anyway. He was born on another planet and has never been naturalized. Clark Kent is his legal ID. Clark Kent has a Social Security Number. Clark Kent pays taxes. If the author wanted to write a story about the reform movements in the Middle East there are so many better ways to address it. I think Superman not doing anything, just standing in solidarity was a great idea. It is a metaphorical way of saying the world is watching what’s going on in the middle east. Renouncing his Americanism is off comes off as elitist, or worse apologetic. In context of the story it may seem to support an oppressive regime. I get that Superman is Earth’s protector, not just the USA’s but being American doesn’t precluding someone from helping everyone he can. He’s a role model to America. As a super power Superman, acts responsibly and uses his abilities to help others. Maybe a good conclusion to this scenario would be imploring nations of the world at the UN to recognize the need to respect human rights. Superman could ask the UN to acknowledge him as an emissary of goodwill, regardless of his particular citizenship.
If nothing else I don’t want to loose an American symbol. Britain has culture myths with the Knights of the Round Table. Italy and Greece have the pantheon of Greco-Roman gods. As such a young culture, what does America have? Superheroes and cowboys. Superheroes are an American phenomenon, synthesised from fantasy and sci fi stories from around the world. Superman is the the King Arthur, or Zeus of comic books. To alienate him from our culture is tearing off a part of ourselves.