It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman, the non-American!

So Superman has decided to renounce his American citizenship. TFacebook group boycotting Time Warner, publishers of the comic. It turns out that Superman went to Tehran to demonstrate on the streets with protesters and has realized that fighting for “Truth, justice and the American way” is “not enough anymore.”

he decision, at least according to the comments flying around on the Internet, is generally frowned upon. There is even a

I say good for you, Superman. Or more precisely, good going DC Comics for addressing the broader issue of America’s uneven foreign policy. The American government is idly watching hundreds of Bahraini demonstrators being arrested, tortured, killed or sentenced to death or life in prison. The government is not showing a strong stance in condemning the actions of the Bahraini government, a country that cosily hosts the US Fifth Fleet. A different story in Egypt, where initial flip-flopping on their position vis-a-vis the unfriending of Hosni Mubarak left the rest of the world wondering what role the US wanted to play in the Middle East. They’ve finally shown a firm stance against Libya’s leader, but where were they when Cote d’Ivoire descended into chaos for months following a disputed election (and is still in a relative state of disrepair)?

I’m not saying the US should intervene everywhere. The US failure in Somalia was enough to squirm at the thought of any military intervention under the banner of democracy. Past atrocities like the Rwandan genocide clearly show that humanitarian assistance and the responsibility to protect the citizens of another country is not measured simply by the number of lives that should be saved. There are political and economic interests at play as well.

So if Superman decides to snub his nose at his American citizenship, I say let him. (As one commenter wryly pointed out on a website discussing the issue, “How did S become an american citizen? Last I heard he was clearly an illegal alien, born on planet Krypton, and arrived here without a visa under questionable circumstances”.) While his renunciation is a clear criticism of American foreign policy, it is also a reflection of a more encompassing (and overwhelmingly positive) notion of being a “global citizen.” With national crises in Libya affecting oil prices around the world and the destruction from the tsunami in Japan affecting the global economy, considering ourselves global citizens is not that far off the mark. It’s an affirmation that we are becoming increasingly interconnected, and also that we have a shared responsibility to care for each other and the world we live in. Superman is merely showing a greater awareness of human rights values, “Truth, justice, and the human rights way” if you will, and I think that’s perfectly OK. 

Postscript, a couple of days later. A reader kindly provided this video that sheds light on another possible reason for Superman’s announcement. Apparently Time Warner is about to lose its copyright on Superman. Well, let’s hope the reasons are not solely attributable to a legal dispute.

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