By Ellen McGirt
Updated: November 13, 2018 2:33 PM ET

It felt like Stan Lee would always be here.

The legendary writer, editor, and parent of Marvel Comics died yesterday at age 95. He created or co-created some of comicdom’s most enduring characters: Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among others.

Yes, he was complicated, particularly at the end. But he was an enduring true believer, who never shied away from addressing politics, civil rights, and other progressive issues in his work.

Lee transformed the lives of millions of fans and helped them believe that they didn’t have to be a billionaire playboy to be the hero. Instead, he understood that everyone—including nerds, outcasts, and everyday schlubs, not only had a place in society but could enjoy a starring role in making the world a better place.

It’s hard to see him go. We could sure use a superhero right about now.

Instead, we seem surrounded by villains.

Hate crimes ticked up 17 percent last year, according to the FBI, the third increase in as many years. About three out of every five of these crimes targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, and about one out of five focused on their religion. And these numbers are likely too low.

Then there’s the low-key violence, like the MAGA building blocks we can look forward to this holiday season, a LEGO knockoff that implores children to “build the wall.” It comes complete with President Trump in MAGA hard hat, and lots of scary rhetoric. “The wall must be built. The wall will keep America safe” from “gangs, criminals and terrorists.” Immigration policy in toy form.

And I don’t know how many Spiderman fans were standing in a group photo of high school juniors on their way to the prom last spring in Baraboo, Wisc. When asked to throw up a Nazi salute by the photographer, there was only one kid who could make the cut in the Marvel Universe. (More on that mess below.)

Iowa voters have decided to hold on to Congressman Steve King for now, a man who, among other things, believes in the “great replacement” theory, which typically blames Jews for leading a global conspiracy to replace white Christian Americans with immigrants. (Do you remember the “Jews will not replace us” chant from the Charlottesville white supremacist rally? That.)

And Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is in all sorts of trouble for publicly praising a donor with this odd turn of phrase: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row!”

Hyde-Smith, who is white, is facing a tough run-off election later this month. Her opponent is former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy. He is black, as are 37% of Mississippians. Mississippi had 581 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, more than any other state, the NAACP would like you to know.

She was met with chuckles and polite applause.

I could go on and on. Instead, let’s give Stan Lee the last word.

Last year, Lee tweeted a column he’d originally published in 1968 after the deadly incident in Charlottesville.

From the column:

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Racism and bigotry are among 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 only way to destroy them, is to expose them — to reveal then for the insidious evils they really are.

“Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if a man is to ever 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.”

He ended his Twitter commentary with this simple sign-off. “As true today as it was in 1968. Pax et Justitia – Stan @therealstanlee”

Rest in pax, Stan. More justitia to come.


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