Keep Your School All-American

big supermanHere’s some good advice from Superman worth sharing in these political times of divisive politics and inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric.

“…and remember, boys and girls, your school – like our country – is made up of Americans of many different races, religions and national origins, so … If YOU hear anybody talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his religion, race or national origin – don’t wait: tell him THAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN. HELP KEEP YOUR SCHOOL ALL-AMERICAN!

And it’s been verified by hoax busting Snopes.*

And this is how I came across it.

On Friday I went to a screening of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Henry V. It’s a brilliant production and I highly recommend it. The RSC encourage viewers to comment on the play using #RSCHenryV and so I did. One of the actors – @ObiomaUgoala – liked my tweet and there – in his tweetstream – he was making a point with Superman.

The Three Traitors

The Three Traitors

Ugoala has two roles in the production – the traitor Sir Thomas Grey and Captain Gower.

Grey is one of three conspirators whose plot to kill King Henry is discovered as the army of invasion is about to embark for France.

King Henry condemns Grey and his co-conspirators to death but not until he asks their advice on what to do about a drunk who had been arrested the previous day for speaking out against the king in public.

Henry plans to free the man, but the traitors – Cambridge, Scrope, and Grey advise little mercy. Henry hands them the incriminating evidence and they beg for their lives. Henry asks them how they can possibly expect forgivness when they were willing to show none.

The mercy that was quick in us but late

By your counsel is suppress’d and kill’d

You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy;

as Captain Gower

Obioma Ugoala as Captain Gower

Shakespeare includes his own version of a multicultural propaganda in the characters of the four army Captains: Gower, Fluellen  Macmorris and Jamy.

Gower is English and Fluellen’s friend and dramatic foil. It is Gower who condemns Pistol and his lowlife companions. Unlike the other Captains he does not stand in for England. The play has Henry for that.

Fluellen-  the garrulous, self-important but valiant Welshman – provides comic relief with his – look you – leeks and his protestations about the proper Roman disciplines of war. He picks a quarrel with the Irish Captain Macmorris who is belligerent, argumentative, but also loyal and brave. Scotland is represented by Captain Jamy who, in this production, is comically totally incomprehensible  British national stereotypes clearly have a long history.

But –  hot-headed tribal rivalry aside, the Captains are there to serve the crown and they put aside their quarrels. After all, there’s a war on and Shakespeare has a unifying message to convey.

Here’s more about the Superman poster:

Snopes Reports * ORIGINS: In November 2015, an image purportedly showing a Superman poster in which the comic book hero talks to children about the importance of respecting diversity began circulating online.

While we haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact origins of the colorized version of the poster shown above, we were able to confirm that this is a genuine piece of comic book art that was originally released in 1949.

According to a 2008 Hakes auction, the above-displayed comic was released as a school book cover in 1949 and was distributed by the The Institute For American Democracy Inc:

There’s a 1950 NYC subway poster in a similar vein:

Subway poster, 1950 From the collection of Jerry Stern This advertisement uses the diversity of baseball including Italian (Joe DiMaggio), African-American (Jackie Robinson), and Jewish figures (Sid Gordon, Mel Allen) to promote tolerance.

Subway poster, 1950

This advertisement uses the diversity of baseball including Italian (Joe DiMaggio), African-American (Jackie Robinson), and Jewish players (Sid Gordon, Mel Allen) to promote tolerance. “…and remember fans … in America HITS are made by men of every race, religion and color.” Keep pitching .. Keep swinging.. AGAINST racial and religious prejudice.”

Good advice in 1950. Good advice now.

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