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What's the 411 on 411?
By Brian Jacks


On January 20th, Marvel announced plans to publish 411, which company president Bill Jemas said in an open letter (click to read) would celebrate "people choosing to fight aggression with information and non-violent resistance." While the sentiments behind this book are admirable, initial indicators are, quite frankly, disconserting. While full details have yet to be announced, judging on what has been released to date, the book appears to be in real danger of becoming overwhelmingly politicized, and perhaps worse, treating serious issues with a simplistic, one-sided approach that seeks to preach to its audience rather than inform or enlighten.

Frankly, our largest concern comes from the individuals mentioned as contributors to the book. While we do not know the politics of the comic creators working on 411, we do know more about the "diverse contributors from outside the comics industry," who are listed as participants, namely Helen Caldicott, David Rees, and Tony Kushner. Far from being diverse, without exception, each is a fervent and vocal critic of American policy.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, for example, is a radical leftist who recently spoke at a "pro-Palestinian" rally filled with anti-Semitic posters, banners, and speakers (including one with ties to Hamas), many of whom compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and read poems about "Jews." Ms. Caldicott's fellow speakers even led the crowd to chant such slogans as "Shame, Shame, USA" and "Long Live the Intifada." Caldicott herself called America, Israel, and Britain "the real rogue nations," and voiced her support for North Korea, Iraq, and Iran. She even decried the Washington Monument, which she "defined as a 'phallic symbol' representing the nation's 'missile envy.'" (source: WorldNetDaily). Ms. Caldicott was also a speaker at a rally organized by A.N.S.W.E.R., an organization with roots in Stalinism, and which the Wall Street Journal recently called "a Communist front group." Known for her radical anti-nuclear stances and extreme-left positions, what would she know about honoring peacemakers?

David Rees (author of Get Your War On) thankfully hasn't participated in rallies with supporters of terrorists, but as far as we can tell is singularly known for his opposition to the "War on Terrorism" and a possible upcoming engagement against Iraq. While hailed by Arianna Huffington and such magazines as the left-wing publication The Nation, we fail to see what qualifications he has to address the topic of heralding peacemakers. Rees' career is built around his opposition to almost everything the United States has done post-9/11, which is fine, but adds to the question about what this book truly represents, and whether it serves an ulterior political purpose.

Likewise, Tony Kushner, while undoubtedly distinguished as a playwright, is also a vocal critic of any military operation, whether it be our campaign in Afghanistan or a future conflict in Iraq. Mr. Kushner also sits on the board of the religious fringe group Tikkun, a small, ultra-left organization which opposes any military involvement in Iraq. Yet another notch in the 411 liberal, antiwar contributor belt.

So we must ask why, at this time, is Marvel choosing to release such a book, particularly with these individuals as contributors? Why are each recognized opponents of America's current policy, with no conservative, pro-Administration voice included (or at least listed in Marvel's 411 announcement)? Will the book feature stories focusing on the US military saving the lives of millions of Muslims in Kosovo, or feeding starving children in Haiti? How about soldiers liberating the people of Afghanistan and fostering the seeds of democracy?

By the time this book comes out, the people of Iraq may at last be liberated from their tyrannical leader. Will 411 honor the memory of the men and women of the armed forces who died toppling these oppressors? Are they not peacemakers?

When all's said and done, what is 411?

That's what we'd like to know.

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