Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Liberty vs. Security

"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither."


While Benjamin Franklin spoke these words well over two hundred years ago, this quote has gained new relevance in our post 9/11 world.


I've had an informal boy's book club up and running for some time now (which is not limited to just comics...though they are a favorite), and not too long ago I threw out this quote for my students to mentally chew on. Though I'm not that much older than my current kiddos, my adolescent years were over before America's "War on Terror" began. As we talked about this quote I noticed that my students' perspective on civil liberties varied greatly. As per my normal style, I quickly produced a graphic novel from my "free read" shelf that held both allegorical and thematic ties to the conversation at hand. That graphic novel was Marvel Comics' "Civil War."


In this teacher's humble opinion, "Civil War" is a powerful allegory for the modern American landscape we citizens navigate today. Surprisingly, when we see our favorite brightly-colored superheroes internally struggle with that same concept of liberty vs. security it reads like a punch to the gut. For example, how does Captain America, our country's fighting spirit personified, respond to government mandates for heroes? -The answer makes for some of the most exciting, heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking mainstream comic book reading of the past few years.


If you're a history or English teacher looking to spice things up with a timely debate, consider sharing this exciting book with your students.


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