A furor has broken out, not just over Donald Trump deciding to skip the last Republican Party Debate on Fox News, but also because he decided to host his own event stating he would be raising money for veterans. You are probably wondering, what does this have to do with comics? Well, during that fundraising event Trump announced that Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter and his wife, Laura, donated $1 million dollars.
A representative for the Perlmutters confirmed the donation to The Hollywood Reporter, “The Perlmutters are thrilled to support their friend Donald Trump in his efforts to help veterans.” The initial donations were made to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, but Trump has promised to donate them to 22 different veterans groups. The Hollywood Reporter also made note that Laura Perlmutter has donated $2 million specifically to Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.
Much of the talk within comic book circles has been surrounding G. Willow Wilson’s tweets after she found out about the Perlmutter’s donation to The Donald J. Trump Foundation and her follow-up Tumblr post. My own colleague, Tim Jousma, has expressed his own opinion on this matter. Both Jousma and Wilson, however, are misguided in their responses to the situation.
They believe there is a catch-22. Wilson explains it like this, “Boycotting books you love will not take a single dime out of Perlmutter’s pocket, much less out of Trump’s. It will, however, kill the books.” The idea behind this statement is explained by Wilson, “We don’t want the things we buy and enjoy to support bigotry and injustice…for obvious reasons, the idea that the CEO of Marvel supports Trump makes a lot of readers seriously concerned.”
However, the Perlmutter’s donation is in support of the Donald J. Trump Foundation which has promised to give the donations to veterans groups. Wilson and Jousma miss this point. The Perlmutters aren’t supporting Trump; they are supporting veterans. Trump was just the spokesperson who brought about the opportunity to do so. It is quite obvious the Perlmutters support Marco Rubio given their $2 million donation to his campaign.
The catch-22 itself and the assumption that a boycott would not take a dime out of Perlmutter’s pocket isn’t true. In fact, it would probably take quite more than a dime out of his pocket, but it would also hurt the creators of the books in the short term as well. However, those creators aren’t beholden to Marvel. There are plenty of other options for them to take their work elsewhere. They could even begin self-publishing or start their own publishing company. Will it provide the security of work at Marvel? Maybe, maybe not, but there are options available. They really aren’t trapped in a catch-22.
Furthermore, is Donald Trump really supporting injustice and bigotry? Is his habitual state of mind obstinate, irrational, or an unfair intolerance of ideas, opinions, ethnicities, or beliefs that differ from his own? I’m sure one can make that argument, but I would argue Donald Trump is anything but that. You can just go back and look at his old videos describing Republicans, or explaining policy positions he supports and now no longer does. I mean there is even a CNN video where Donald Trump declares his love for Muslims and affirms that he wouldn’t have a problem putting a Muslim American in his cabinet. The video is just from a few months ago in September. Now has Donald Trump made some crazy statements since then? I would say yes. But to describe someone who says one thing to one crowd and another thing to another crowd as a bigot doesn’t sit well with me. I usually just call that the status quo politician. Who is to say what Donald Trump really believes when he makes so many vastly different claims?
Another problem with G. Willow Wilson’s Tumblr post is her painting of conservatives, “In an ordinary election cycle, I’d say that when the CEO of an entertainment company supports a conservative candidate while also fostering diverse creative talent within his company, it is a sign of a healthy democracy.” First off, my inner policy and politics nerd cringes at the mention of democracy. The United States is still technically a constitutional republic and not a democracy. They are two different forms of government. Secondly, Wilson seems to insinuate that conservatives and diverse talent are at odds. This is probably the furthest thing from the truth. Conservative ideology believes in the principle of variety and is the fifth tenet of Russell Kirk’s Ten Conservative Principles.
Wilson and Jousma’s insistence on promoting charities is commendable. In addition I applaud their support of the Perlmutters’ ability to support any candidate they choose. Jousma sums it up perfectly, “We live in a country that allows us the freedom to support the politics of anyone we want, regardless if people believe they are reprehensible.”