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Stan Lee's anti-racism column from 1968 rings true even today: 'We must fill our hearts with tolerance'

"The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are."

Stan Lee's anti-racism column from 1968 rings true even today: 'We must fill our hearts with tolerance'
Cover Image Source: Producer Stan Lee of "Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope" poses for a portrait during the 2011 Toronto Film Festival at the Guess Portrait Studio on September 10, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images)

While the late Marvel mastermind, Stan Lee, is most renowned for his contributions to the pop culture canon, his legacy goes far beyond helping create some memorable comic book characters. The legendary writer and editor spent decades confronting and condemning racial, ethnic, and religious hatred through the stories told in Marvel comics and his trademark monthly column, "Stan's Soapbox." In one of his columns from 1968—the year that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated—Lee addressed the irrationality of hate by calling bigotry and racism "the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today."



 

 

"But, unlike a team of costumed supervillains, they can't be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun," the icon wrote. "The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hand-up is Black men, he hates ALL Black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads."



 

 

"If some foreigner beat him to a job, he's down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he's never seen—people he's never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom. Now, we're not trying to say it's unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it's totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance," he continued. 



 

 

"For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God—a God who calls us ALL—His children. Pax et Justitia," Lee concluded. The comic book visionary later resurfaced the column in a now-deleted tweet following the deadly 2017 chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, as people protested the gathering of far-right demonstrators. "Marvel has always been and always will be a reflection of the world right outside our window," he told fans in a widely shared video. "That world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change is the way we tell our stories of heroism."



 

 

"Those stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, or color of their skin," he added. "The only things we don't have room for are hatred, intolerance, and bigotry." Lee and his frequent co-creator Jack Kirby famously created Black Panther, an African king ruling the wealthy and technologically advanced nation of Wakanda, at a time when "segregation was still heavy," Miya Crummell, a Black graphic designer and comic book artist from New York, told AP



 

 

"It was kind of unheard of to have a Black lead character, let alone a title character and not just a secondary sidekick kind of thing," she said. Although there was some pushback by White comics distributors when it came to Black heroes and characters, Lee stuck by his principles and continued highlighting America's racial division. "Stan had to take those risks," said freelance writer Alex Simmons. "There was a liberation movement, and I think Marvel became the voice of the people, tied into that rebellious energy and rode with it."

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