Friday, January 28, 2005

# Posted 5:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SPIDER-MAIL: Lots of interesting responses here. I wrote in the Standard that:
Had that tiny spaceship from the planet Krypton landed in Munich or Moscow during the perilous summer of 1938, comic-book history might have turned out very different.
Yet as Michael Pollard points out, DC Comics actually did publish a "What if?" series in which Superman's ship landed in the Soviet Union. According to NRO, the "What if?" series, published last year, was a pathetic apologia for Stalinism as well as a veiled attack on George W. Bush.

[UPDATE: Reader PE suggests I should've actually read DC's Soviet Superman mini-series rather than just linking to NRO's hatchet job. PE says the series is far more thoughtful and balanced than NRO is willing to admit. So now I have an excuse to spend another $20 on comic books...]

On a related note, MF points out that Saturday Night Live did its own "What if?" take on what might have happened if Superman had landed in Germany. But the real question is, if Superman had landed in Paris, would the French still have found a way to surrender to the Germans in 1940?

[NB: The stereotype of the cowardly Frenchman is both unfair and malicious. The French were actually quite well-prepared for the German invasion in terms of the number of men and amount of funding devoted to defense in the years before the war. Moreover, the French army fought quite valiantly and its defeat was far from inevitable.]

Now, with regard to Superman's immigration status had he landed in the US, PD writes that
[Superman] would not have been admitted as a refugee from Krypton, not even under Temporary Protected Status, because neither of those existed at the time.

While I'm not a lawyer, having a fairly extensive background in immigration politics and history I'm still reasonably sure that Superman would have qualified for admission as teachers, the same provision that let in Teller and Fermi and so many others in the 1930s: clause 4d f section 4 of the National Origins Act.
A good point. But it turns out that there was a flaw in my own logic that makes this point moot. If Superman's first adventures took place in 1938, the Baby of Steel presumably arrived a good twenty to twenty-five years earlier, at a time when immigration laws were much less strict.

Finally, TM observes that

The notion that "with great power there also comes great responsibility" in India precedes the Indian incarnation of the webbed one and is evident in things ranging from the characterization of Indian mythical gods to Bollywood heroes to the rhetoric, if not the practice of, Nehruvian internationalism.

More recently, in the aftermath of the tsunami, India's moves to help its neighbours were mainly for humanitarian and strategic reasons, but also heard was a refrain of "it is our responsibility as the largest nation in the neighbourhood."

Sounds good to me.
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