What Were Batman and Superman's Historical Views About Refugees?

With the treatment of foreign refugees coming to the United States being in the news, let's see what Batman and Superman's thoughts were on the topic back in the 1950s and 60s. 

What Were Batman and Superman's Historical Views About Refugees?

DC Comics

Throughout the 1950s and the 1960s, DC Comics often used their famous characters (primarily Superman, their most popular character at the time) in a series of public service announcements (PSAs) in their comic books. Their heroes would teach their young readers about the importance of nature, bicycle safety and other topics that would hit home with your standard kid of the era. Interestingly enough, probably the area that these PSAs addressed the most often was teaching children the importance of brotherhood (although, at times, their efforts were a bit awkward,like the ill-fated "Brotherhood Quotient" approach). Here, in two specific public service announcements from 1950 and 1960, Batman and Superman addressed the treatment of foreign refugees coming to the United States. 

Standing Up for Sportsmanship

DC Comics

Almost all of DC Comics' PSAs were written by DC editor Jack Schiff, who was in charge of the Batman line of comic books during the 1950s. In 1950's "Batman and Robin Stand Up for Sportsmanship," written by Schiff and drawn by Win Mortimer (George Roussos likely did the inks), Batman and Robin encounter trouble on a football field (it is good to know that they're just rolling around Gotham City in the Batmobile making sure kids are getting along while playing football) and discover that the kids are treating one of their teammates poorly because he is not a "real American." Remember, after World War II, there was a massive outpouring of refugees from all around the world. Many of these refugees naturally ended up in the United States, so this would be a common sight for a lot of kids in 1950, just five years after the end of the War in Europe.  

Tell us how you REALLY feel, Batman!

DC Comics

Batman then delivers a monologue that works just as well in 2015 as it did in 1950. "Don't believe those crackpot lies about people who worship differently, or whose skin is of a different color, or whose parents came from another country. Remember our American heritage of freedom and equality!" Well said, Batman.  

He then brings it back to football, "Don't weaken our country! A nation divided by prejudice is like a football team without teamwork! So get together...work and play in harmony -- and you'll have a successful team!" Slightly less well said, Batman, but hey, at least you managed to work football into it all!

Lending a Helping Hand

DC Comics

Perhaps the one group that was supported the most in DC Comics PSAs during the 1950s and 60s was the United Nations. DC did lots of PSAs about the United Nations (and especially the United Nations Children's Fund). In 1960, the United Nations was celebrating the World Refugees Year, to celebrate the closure of the final refugee camps from World War II (yes, fifteen years later they were only just closing the last of the camps). In this PSA by Jack Schiff and legendary Superman artist Curt Swan (he was to Superman what Dick Sprang was to Batman), "Superman says...'Lend a Helping Hand,'" Superman comes across some boys being jerks to a refugee, so Superman decides to show them how hard refugees have it. 

Showing how refugees live

DC Comics

 Superman shows the children the troubles that refugees go through as they try to make their way to a better life. While that is interesting in and of itself, Superman's best message might come at the end.

Listen to Superman!

DC Comics

 Superman is speaking to the children of the United States here, and is basically just saying "be nice to others," but his overall message could apply to pretty much everyone, including the citizens of 2015 - can't we at least try to open our hearts to these refugees and treat them well? 

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Cronin, Brian. "What Were Batman and Superman's Historical Views About Refugees?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2016, thoughtco.com/batman-and-supermans-historical-views-about-refugees-327063. Cronin, Brian. (2016, August 25). What Were Batman and Superman's Historical Views About Refugees? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/batman-and-supermans-historical-views-about-refugees-327063 Cronin, Brian. "What Were Batman and Superman's Historical Views About Refugees?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/batman-and-supermans-historical-views-about-refugees-327063 (accessed November 19, 2017).