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Captain America’s Stance on Violence in Response to Hate Speech

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
Captain America’s Stance on Violence in Response to Hate Speech

This is “Just a Reminder,” an infrequent feature when we look back at comic book history whenever I see reactions that seem like people are unfamiliar with this particular piece of comic book history.

As you may or may not know, Richard Spencer, who is best known for espousing white supremacist views (which he says is just him being an “identitarian,” but really, come on), was punched during an interview yesterday.

Lots of folks on the internet got a kick out of it, but then a lot of those same people were shocked when current “Captain America” writer Nick Spencer (a very vocal critic of Spencer), tweeted:

“Today is difficult, but cheering violence against speech, even of the most detestable, disgusting variety, is not a look that will age well.”

People freaked out, bringing up the cover of “Captain America Comics” #1…

While I’ve written in the past about how brave of a statement it was for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to have Cap punch out the leader of a country that the United States wasn’t even at war with at the time, the guy was still the head of a country that was more than a year into World War II, so I really don’t see a straight comparison here. In addition, as I made clear then, the point was obviously more of an artistic one.

Later, Spencer recalled the same issue I thought of when I heard of the “Captain America would be for this” argument, “Captain America” #275, which is pretty much about this precise point.

Released in the summer of 1982, “Captain America” #275 was by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and John Beatty, and it sees Steve Rogers attend a protest of a Neo-Nazi group along with his girlfriend, Bernie Rosenthal (the protest was organized by Bernie’s ex-husband). It was supposed to be a peaceful protest, but then someone just couldn’t put up with the hate speech that the Neo-Nazis were spouting…

As things broke out into violence, Steve Rogers changed into his Captain America outfit and ran to the stage…

Now obviously. J.M. DeMatteis, as great of a writer as he is, doesn’t get to definitively state forever what Captain America’s position is on things (no more than Mark Gruenwald was able to forever state that Captain America never killed during World War II), but I find it hard to believe that any other writer since (certainly not the current writer, Nick Spencer) would disagree with DeMatteis’ characterization of Captain America here.

And also, just as obvious, you don’t have to accept that position – you can say it is a bad position, I’m just saying that this is Cap’s pretty clearly stated stance on this issue.

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