It’s often said that Paris is the city of lovers. Which might make you wonder whether such wimped-out lovey-dovey Parisian types might ever need superheroes to protect them. After all, isn’t love supposed to conquer all?
But like any big city, the real Paris is a place where organised crime and terrorism can flourish. This might explain a recent decision by the board of multinational Batman Incorporated to expand its operations beyond Gotham City, with new branch offices established in Paris and Tokyo.
Heading up the Parisian operation is some bloke named Nightrunner. Nicely tanned and sporting black and grey tights, Nightrunner is on a mission to defeat a group of highly organised criminals and leftist and rightist terrorists carrying out high-profile assassinations.
There’s just one problem. This particular Frenchman isn’t really French at all. One righteous blogger, Warner Todd Huston, complains that DC Comics and “Batman couldn’t find any actual Frenchman to be the ‘French saviour’”.
It’s easy to laugh off the likes of Huston as just a bunch of far-Right fruitloops. But their claims seem to resonate across so much of the mainstream. For a change, let’s try and take Huston’s argument a little seriously. Not too much. Just a little.
So what’s so un-French about Nightrunner? Apart from Nightrunner’s attire suggesting dubious sexual preference (heck, real blokes wouldn’t be caught dead in black and grey tights!), what else could any conservative blogger have a problem with?
I did notice that Nightrunner’s skin is of a slightly darker Mediterranean shade. Does Mr Huston imagine that persons of Mediterranean appearance aren’t welcome in a country with a Mediterranean coast? Not exactly.
You see, DC Comics has decided that the ‘French saviour’, the French Batman, is to be a Muslim immigrant ... The character’s name is Bilal Asselah and he is an Algerian Sunni Muslim and an immigrant that is physically fit and adept at gymnastic sport Parkour.Mr Huston goes further:
The whole situation is a misreading of what ails France. The truth is, neither communist union members nor neo-Nazi parties are causing riots in France. Muslims are. Yet DC Comics is absurdly making a Muslim immigrant the 'French saviour'?
Bloody oath! These immigrants can never be real Frenchmen. Marshall Philippe Benoni Petain understood this well. He was a French national war hero and eventually headed the government of the French State during the 1940s. Petain’s government managed to rid France (which in those days included Algeria) of many nasty foreign types – Jews and Gypsies. I wonder how Petain would feel at his beloved capital having yet another foreign superhero!
This is PCism at its worst. Not only that but it is pretty condescending to France, too. France is a proud nation. Yet DC Comics has made a foreigner the 'French saviour'. This will not sit well with many Frenchmen, for sure. Nor should it.Huston is absolutely right. The French have had experience with nasty undisciplined foreign Mozzlems. This explains why they never allow Muslim guys like Bacary Sagna or Abou Diabyinto their national side. The French only allow real actual Frenchmen like Franck Ribery to be their football saviours, not a bunch of non-Christian immigrants. Anyone who disagrees deserves to be headbutted by this dude.
And so we have a problem. To fight Parisian terror, the folks at Batman Incorporated have chosen a superhero whose background means he is genetically disposed to being a nasty Ay-rab Mozzlem jihadist Islamist fundamentalist Islamofascist extremist Talibanist terrorist.
Seriously, if Batman had to choose an immigrant as the first French superhero, couldn’t he have found a Christian? Perhaps a Christian of Romanian heritage, a kid emerging from a Roma gypsy camp and with a history of fighting street crime. French people love gypsies because they’ve never been involved in rioting anywhere in France. We also know how welcome these good European Christian Roma folk are made to feel in the Republic. Just ask the current head of the French State, Nicolas Sarkozy.
OK, I've tried my best to take Huston's argument seriously, but I just can't. The idea that migrants from particular backgrounds cannot be saviours of their (or their parents’) adopted country is just ridiculous. It’s too dumb even for the world of comic strips. If only it was too stupid for certain elements of the allegedly conservative blogosphere.
First published on ABC The Drum on 18 January 2011.
Words © 2011 Irfan Yusuf