[The term "Islamic fascists"] turned up in one of the president’s speeches last year, and resurfaced in August when British authorities foiled a plot to blow up airliners headed for the United States. It was, Mr. Bush said then, “a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom.”Well, some of it is delivery. I'll bet Ronald Reagan could have sold "evildoers." But really, when did the Biblical start sounding comic-book-y?
By Labor Day, Islamic fascists and Islamo-fascism were the hot new conservative buzzwords.
And then, just as suddenly, they were gone — at least from the president’s lips.
“The debate that we wanted to launch was about an ideological struggle against an enemy that has very specific plans, ambitions and aspirations, much like movements of the past, like fascism and Nazism,” said Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president. Addressing the term Islamic fascists, Mr. Bartlett said, “I’m sure he’ll use it again.”
But it seems unlikely Mr. Bush will use it again, given the outcry it provoked....
David Frum, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush, said the president turned to “evildoers” right after Sept. 11, 2001, in part because it translated well in Arabic and in part because it appeared in Psalm 27, which Mr. Frum says is one of the president’s favorite psalms. (“When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh.”)
But evildoers has a kind of comic-book sound, and in any event, Mr. Frum says, it isn’t specific enough.
Let's consult this article from yesterday's NYT: "Religion and Comic Books: Where Did Superman’s Theology Come From?"
[Peter] Parker had been walking home after competing in a wrestling match, vain in the aftermath of his victory, and as a robber dashed past him, he did nothing. That same robber proceeded to attack and kill Parker’s uncle.So the Biblical seems comic-book-y because comic books drew from the Bible. Does that mean we can't take "evildoers" seriously?
Coming upon the scene, the nephew was struck by such guilt and remorse that he resolved to spend the rest of his life fighting crime.
As any fan of comic books, including Rabbi [Simcha] Weinstein, would recognize, Peter Parker is Spider-Man, created by Stan Lee and drawn initially by Jack Kirby and then Steve Ditko. Parker’s moment of moral awakening occurred in the first issue of the Spider-Man strip, published in 1962 and discovered by Rabbi Weinstein during his own boyhood in the early 80’s.
Something else that Rabbi Weinstein came to learn much more recently was that Lee and Kirby were Jewish — born Stanley Lieber and Jacob Kurtzberg, respectively. So it seemed to the rabbi no accident that their comic resonated with a quintessentially Jewish theological theme....
“... I knew the writers were Jewish. That’s a historical fact. And when I bought all the comics, and gave them my rabbi’s reading, I saw something there. Judaism is filled with superheroes and villains — Samson, Pharaoh. And it’s a religion rich in storytelling and in themes of being moral, ethical, spiritual.”
Weinstein, by the way, has a whole book on the subject: “Up, Up and Oy Vey!” Here's his website, where he calls himself the "Comic Book Rabbi" and writes about "Jewperheroes."