Ta-Nehisi, T’challa, and Me

I have always loved comix– its how I learned to read! Sneaking comix from my older brothers’ Marvel stash.  And I have always loved Ta-Nehisi Coates– his writing is just astonishingly beautiful.  So now that TNC has begun to write Black Panther for Marvel, I’m ecstatic.  And I can’t wait for the movie in 2018.

But the most interesting thing I read in the WIRED article is this.

The plot involves a terrorist attack on Black Panther’s kingdom of Wakanda, which spurs a popular revolt. How influenced were you by the ongoing war on terror?

A lot. I was also influenced by the recent wave of revolution through the Middle East and the American Revolution. Once these revolutions are done they might be perceived as heroic, but it doesn’t always look heroic at the time. It might look downright villainous. I mean, the American revolutionaries tarred and feathered people.

The first incidence of a public figure (excluding Dr. Atran) acknowledging that islamic “terrorism” is actually a revolutionary movement.  Much as we perceive the French Revolution as heroic in retrospect, the aristos of the time certainly viewed it as terrorism.  They even called it “the Terror”.  The aristocrat blood pooling around the guillotine is analogous to IS beheading Americans and Brits on viral videos– a demonstration of a government unable to protect its citizens, much like T’challa in Wakanda.  There were even pet names for the guillotine:

L’abbaye de monte-à-regret : (The Abbey of the Reluctant Climb),
Le Rasoir national : (The national Razor),
Le Vasistas : (The fanlight),
La Veuve :(The Widow),
Louisette or Louison : (from the name of the inventor Antoine Louis),
Madame La Guillotine : (Mrs. Guillotine)
Mirabelle: (from the name of Mirabeau),

Like probably the American Revolution was regarded as terrorism by King George and brit citizens.  Ta-Nehisi plans to explore this more in the Black Panther series.

What’s your take on the politics of Wakanda?

Wakanda is the most advanced nation on earth—in certain renditions of Black Panther, these guys came up with a cure for cancer—and yet it has the most primitive form of governance on the planet: absolute monarchy. The one case an absolute monarch can make is “I keep the people safe.” What happens in a country where that’s no longer true? How do the people feel about that? That’s the story we’re telling.

That is a very interesting to me because thats one of the goals expressed in Nājī doctrine– that the unbelievers will no longer be safe– neither in their international tourist playgrounds nor in their home countries.

I’ll leave you with Robespierre.

​​​​​‘Virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue…’

Maximilien Robespierre, On the Principles of Political Morality (1794)


4 thoughts on “Ta-Nehisi, T’challa, and Me

  1. Hi my name is Sydney. I would really like to interview you for a paper I’m writing about the Islamic State. Please contact me.

    Thank you


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