The movie Green Lantern opened on Friday, to mixed reviews. Maybe the reviews would have been better if the movie had included this powerful exchange, from Green Lantern #76:
African-American Man: I’ve been readin’ about you . . . How you work for the blue skins . . . and how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins . . . and you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there’s skins you never bother with – the black skins! I want to know . . . how come?! Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!
Green Lantern: I . . . can’t . . . .
I may never have the chance to talk to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or any of the other Masters of the Universe who led and misled our country for eight long years. Nor may I ever have the chance to speak to Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, or any of the other savage right-wing loons who want to finish the job that Bush et al. started. But if I could, I might say:
Me: I’ve been readin’ about you . . . How you work for multinational corporations like Big Oil. . . . And how you say you built all those roads and schools and bridges in some country in Asia. And in some other country in the Middle East someplace you got rid of some dictator. Only there’s one country you never bother with – America! I want to know . . . how come?! Answer me that, Mr. Flag-Waiving Patriot!
Them: I . . . can’t . . . .
Well, I can answer that. For a generation now, we have seen the heartless, callous erosion and destruction of all the things that make you a member of the middle class in America:
The chance to see a doctor when you are sick.
A pension or retirement account.
Social Security and Medicare.
And we’ve seen them replaced by endless war, falling home values, no pensions, lower wages, and now what Karl Marx called a “reserve army of the unemployed” – to keep wages down forever.
Even after only two years in office, as one out of 435 in the House, I can point to a lot of things that I did to preserve, protect and expand the middle class in America, and to help those of us who were falling through the cracks.
I look at our so-called leaders on the other side of the aisle, and I see nothing like that. Only a perverse delight in eliminating programs that help my fellow Americans in need. They’ll lead us, all right – they’ll lead us straight to ruin.
The next time you see one of them -- at a town hall meeting, in their plush offices, or just on the street – ask them this: “What have you done to help the people? Answer me that!”
If they’re honest, they’ll say what Green Lantern said: “I can’t.”