In August of 2017, shortly after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virgiiia, Stan Lee shared a column he wrote nearly half a century earlier. Between 1965 and 2001, Lee would write the monthly column Stan’s Soapbox in Marvel Comics. In 1968, during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, Lee penned a powerful essay about the evils of hatred and racism.
Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. 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 hang-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 out hearts with tolerance. 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.
Lee’s characters were always arbiters of truth and goodness. They represented the best of us. And even though they had fantastical gifts, their moral compass is something everyone could learn from in the real world. While his characters were never forgotten, let these words endure as well.