According to the Washington Post, Minnesota Senator Al Franken has a liberal profiles-in-courage comic book coming out about him in May:
The Al Franken edition of the “Political Power” comic book series is due out in May. (“There is a two-page confrontation with Barbara Bush that shows the beginnings of his animus,” said Jerome Maida, the comic’s author.) And this month, the Netroots Nation named Franken keynote speaker at its annual convention in Las Vegas.
This seems like a twofer: Senator Franken can go to Vegas now and return later in the year for a follow-up comic book convention.
Don’t get me wrong. I like comic books and I like Al Franken. And I also like those Marx for Beginners and Introducing Derrida books that you can find in the philosophy section of most any chain bookstore. But my question is this: when a liberal teenager discovers politics via a comic book, aren’t we teaching that student to see the world in Manichean terms (good liberal super hero v. stock character evil conservatives)? Maybe this Al Franken comic will be nuanced and interesting. The philosophy-for-beginners comics often are. I’m just asking where, in our political culture, does one reliably go for qualification, complexity, and nuance—and not sectarian propaganda? I’m sure that I would cringe at a Sarah Palin comic put out by a conservative publisher. But why don’t I feel the same cringe at pro-Franken cartooning? Just because he’s on my liberal team?
Do we really want populist “great men” hovering over us like the smoking balloon head of the Wizard of Oz, or like, well, Lenin?
Why do we need big daddies and mommies? Maybe it’s simply too difficult to live in a world without them—without “heroes.” Here’s one of my heroes:
Jefferson seems a safe pick because he is dead. I can project high ideals onto him and need not worry that he might make of my good will a tool for his own mischief. But when we start tagging living fellow human beings for idealization, we better choose carefully, for most people, when you get a good close look, are pretty far from okay.
Beware the idols?