The Rosett Report

Forget Spiderman; If the UN Wants a Super-Hero, Call Him "Bag Man"

Friends keep forwarding stories about UN plans to team up with Marvel Comics, for a project to promote the UN via comic books in which super-heroes such as Spiderman will battle alongside such UN types as blue helmets and sustainable-development capacity-building facilitators, all fighting together for that great UN cause of … well, that’s the big question. What does the UN really fight for?

Certainly not truth, justice and the American way. The UN version of truth is “we can’t comment during an ongoing investigation”; the UN version of justice is anything that diplomatic immunity and other people’s money can let you get away with; and the UN take on the American way was neatly summed up by the General Assembly resolution last month in which the UN approved for itself the biggest core budget ever, by a vote of 142 to 1 — the lone dissenter being the United States (which gets assessed for 22% of this now more than $2 billion annual core budget, and overall contributes more than $5 billion per year to the special funds, agencies, programs, projects and doo-dads of the sprawling UN system’s more than $20 billion budget).

So what might this UN-Marvel Comics love-in really accomplish? There is, perhaps, a clue in the pilot plan, which calls for these UN-flattering comics to be distributed free to some one million American schoolchildren.

That raises the question: Why start with kids in America? Yes, America is home base to Marvel Comics. But this plan was conceived with the help of a French film-maker, Romualdo Sciora, and it is being executed in cahoots with the oh-so international UN (here’s a link to the Japanese Under-Secretary General for Public Information, Kiyo Akasaka, touting the deal). Surely the UN has bigger image problems to remedy in places where it has stood by during genocide, such as Rwanda, Bosnia or Darfur. Surely the UN has more visible damage to counter in places such as Haiti, Sri Lanka, or a slew of countries in Africa, all homes to sex scandals revolving around abuse of impoverished kids by those UN peacekeepers Spidey’s about to hook up with.

Not that kids abroad deserve to be smothered in UN propaganda; someone could do them a bigger favor by producing cartoon distillations of some of the Oil-for-Food trial transcripts. Complete with such thrills as backroom graft, secret bank accounts and bags of cash carted around to bribe UN officials, these have the virtue of imparting at least some degree of documented truth.

But what stands out about the UN comic-book targeting of American kids in particular is that America is the UN’s motherlode of taxpayer money. Could this UN super-hero project have anything to do with the UN’s deep interest in ensuring that American Mommies and Daddies keep forking over billions of U.S. tax dollars every year to the UN? Could it have anything to do with the UN’s need to indoctrinate yet another generation of Americans into the fiction that bankrolling UN per diems promotes a better world? For that job, is it really fair to recruit Spiderman? If the UN wants to enlist a super-hero in its cause, let’s invent one who really knows how to get the job done. Call him Bag Man!