Immediately following World War II, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a sudden resurgence in popularity, specifically in the South where it originated in order to combat what members perceived as threats to the white race from various ethnic and religious groups. For awhile their influence grew unchecked and unchallenged by law enforcement until their ranks were infiltrated by an author and Human Rights activist named Stetson Kennedy who, by enlisting the help of Superman, brought low the racist organization, decimating its ranks. 70 years later, Chris Evans, now indelibly identified as Captain America, is taking up the mantle.

A tweet from the most famous star-spangled Avenger in the superhero pantheon last month caught the attention of former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, felon, and real-life Plasticine comic book villain David Duke who did not take kindly to Chris Evans questioning the integrity of recent controversial actions by the President and the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General:

Duke responded:

Cap engaged with the dignity we wish we could expect from more public figures:

In the 1940s radio serial dramas were the Netflix of the day and one of the most popular was The Adventures of Superman, who was at the time not nearly as dour and dejected as Zach Snyder’s current incarnation. The character embodied the ideals and hopes of the ‘American Way’, capturing the imagination of the newly matured post-war society. When Stetson Kennedy joined the Klan, intent on learning its secrets and rituals, he brought the information and criminal activity he’d found to both local and federal authorities were unwilling to take on the group. It’s mystique and perceived strength were considered too extensive to be successfully prosecuted so Kennedy turned to the producers of the radio serial with the secrets he had uncovered. Sharing the details and structure of the organization led to the series of episodes “Clan of the Fiery Cross” where the Son of Krypton battles the KKK whose membership and aura of mystery never fully recovered.

Chris Evans, by being outspoken and clear about his beliefs, may be an actor whose job is to dress up like a comic book character but he has a platform and is using it to draw parallels between the positions of the current administration and the endorsement of a white supremacist and former leader of a violent hate-group which is going to cause some controversy. Further than that, it will start some conversations, ideally productive ones and hopefully shed some light on some of the shadier sides of both public officials and the opinions of everyday voters. Maybe, just maybe those conversations can lead to a more informed public as the debate about what the American Way is nowadays appears to be changing. Like the man says, the price of freedom is high. It always has been.

Category: Film, Nerd Culture

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