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Tuesday, March 27, 2018 

Which of these books do or don't belong in the classroom?

A writer for PBS News Hour made the argument why he thinks Black Panther's adventures and other comics make great material for study in classrooms. But he apparently supports the work of the awful Ta-Nehisi Coates as well, more on which anon. At the beginning, there's a line that glosses over a terrible story of recent from DC:
...In the recently released Supergirl #19, DC Comics tackles school bullying and a non-binary teen opening up to her parents.
Well at least they admit the teen is a girl. That's why the notion a boy would bully a girl over going into a ladies' bathroom is stupefyingly offensive (and she doesn't even verify she's a girl? That only makes it worse). Especially to men who want to defend women from male predators, and the writers were presumably thumbing their noses at gentlemen wishing to protect a woman's dignity and privacy, along with the women themselves.

The writer goes on to discuss the X-Men's leader and the main villain:
With the civil rights movement in mind, my juniors will consider how Xavier and Magneto correspond to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, respectively. With this creative hook, students explore sources to further enhance their learning. I can’t take credit for this lesson, as other pop-savvy teachers also use it, and I’m uncertain where or from whom I borrowed the idea. What’s clear, though, is that comic books intensify student interest.
Whether this is college or grade school in focus, the problem is that today, Magneto would be considered the good guy and Xavier the villain. Malcolm X was a Muslim convert, and that would make him a positive example in the eyes of many modern leftists. And on that note, here's where the columnist turns to focus on a writer who's not worthy:
I also love that Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the most influential African-American writers today, wrote two Black Panther series for Marvel and next will pen his own take on Captain America.
Yeah, because his politics align perfectly with PBS' own, right? With the politics he's already put on display, that's why his upcoming run on Cap can only be dreaded. Besides, how can he be influential if both his prior runs on BP were sales failures?

The following paragraph also has something fishy:
For other ideas on how to include comics in the classroom, I connected with Tim Smyth, a high school social studies teacher at Wissahickon High School in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Recently, after screening a trailer of “Black Panther,” his students discussed the film’s deeper historical significance. But Smyth didn’t stop here. He also showed a panel from “Rise of the Black Panther” #1, which takes place during World War II, to launch his unit on European imperialism.
Umm, I thought this was German imperialism we were talking about? Or National Socialist imperialism, if anything. Strange they're being so ambiguous about this, suggesting leftism was taken to horrific extremes in this piece.

Anyway, the Black Panther books I believe fit in the classroom include the Lee/Kirby introductions in Fantastic Four, the Don McGregor and Christopher Priest stories, but Reginald Hudlin's decidedly didn't work, and Coates was definitely a bad choice. Like much of the rest of Marvel's inventory, BP suffered after Joe Quesada took over as EIC. I also believe the older Supergirl stories up to 2002 and the older X-Men stories up to at least the early 90s are worthwhile for classrooms, but much of what's come since is a mess, and since the mid-2000s, have been flooded with leftism and other dreadfully handled elements. Too bad the PBS columnist's not willing to distinguish between the good and the bad.

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Coates is "influential" because of his words-only writings. He has written some best-selling books, won a slew of literary awards, gets published in the top magazines. He won a MacArthur genius grant. He is widely read.

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