When Marvel Comics approached G. Willow Wilson about creating the first female, Muslim superhero for an ongoing series, Wilson didn’t respond with unbridled enthusiasm. “You’ll have to hire an intern just to open the hate mail,” she warned editors Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker.When they speak so snidely and contemptuously of "far-right", you know something's wrong. All they're doing is implying contempt for communities like 911 Families for a Safe & Strong America, along with whites. Indeed, what's skin color got to do with any of this? Are they confusing religion with race to boot? All this does is hurt the reputation of Stan Lee, a white man himself, in the process. No doubt, Wilson also indirectly resorted to the now classic accusations of "islamophobia", which is nothing more than an excuse to avoid serious questions and other issues regarding the Religion of Peace. As expected, no sales figures were given at the time the magazine first wrote this, nor are any questions asked whether the Muslim Ms. Marvel book was kept going as long as it did for the sake of propaganda at all costs.
Indeed, the 2013 debut of Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel—a Pakistani-American, Urdu-speaking, body-morphing, teenage crime fighter living in Jersey City—raised the ire of Internet trolls and some far-right websites. But it also did something neither Wilson nor her editors anticipated: It marked the beginning of a remarkably successful run that would comprise more than 50 issues and 10 compilations, including Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal and Ms. Marvel Volume 9: Teenage Wasteland, winners of the Hugo and American Book awards, respectively. Ms. Marvel (a cocreation with artists Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie and editors Amanat and Wacker) would gain Wilson accolades for her writing and for the realization of a minority character whose complexity made her much more than a token Muslim in the largely white Marvel universe.
Wilson’s personal life is similarly unconventional. Brought up by nonreligious, white parents, she converted to Islam at 21. Though she moved to Colorado with her family when she was 14 and currently lives in Seattle with her husband and two school-age children, she continues to be inspired by her New Jersey childhood.What exactly is the big deal for a white person to move to a school where the students are mainly white too? This is peculiar, like somebody's suggesting that being white is synonymous with "wrong". And that's just one of this modern world's problems, where everybody's making whiteness out to be entirely a bad thing. Funny thing about Wilson stressing the students in the former school came worldwide, she doesn't say whether any came from backgrounds like Hungary, Denmark, Uruguay, or even Armenia. As a result, what she says comes off more as superficial talk of a SJW that doesn't add up to much of anything.
Born in Long Branch, Wilson grew up in Marlboro. The diversity she encountered there had what she describes as “a tremendous impact” on her life and subsequent work. “When I was in elementary and middle school,” she says, “I had classmates from all over the world. I was one of the very few white kids who weren’t also the children of immigrants, and tons of my classmates were South Asian, East Asian—so to me, that’s what normal was.” Moving to Colorado and entering an overwhelmingly white high school, she adds, was “quite a shock.”
Wilson’s first exposure to comics was in fifth-grade health class, via an anti-smoking comic starring Marvel’s X-Men. She was drawn in by the characters, she says, not so much for their superpowers, but because “they always seemed intuitively to know what the right thing to do was.” That was especially appealing to a young woman with a contemplative bent, who would spend much of her life musing over issues of philosophy, spirituality and religion. That she’d become a writer was almost preordained. “I can remember answering, ‘I want to be a writer,’ pretty much as soon as adults started asking me that question,” she says.And this is a predictable whitewash, with taqqiya accompanying it. Why no mention, for example, of Sura 19:4294? If she won't be more open about anything in the Religion of Peace, she's not saying anything worth pondering.
As a kid, she recalls, “I thought about things you couldn’t see more than the other kids around me seemed to”—a tendency that came to a head in her late teens. She’d read about Islam in some of her classes and was struck by how the religion’s teachings seemed to reflect her burgeoning worldview—particularly, the idea that neither bad experiences nor good represented God’s judgment, but were simply “part of the challenge of being human, the hurdle that’s put in front of you when you’re born.”
She might well have converted then and there, but on the road to Islam, she encountered a major stumbling block: the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center by Muslim terrorists. “It took a couple of years for me to circle back to it after that and grapple with the idea with fresh eyes after this horrible tragedy had happened,” she says.What's fascinating is how she refused to wake up and acknowledge the more violent themes in the Koran, like Sura 47:3-4. That she remained superficial on the issues involved only compounds the perception she remains dishonest and cryptic about the Religion of Peace's exact content.
Her adopted religion and its Middle Eastern roots inform much of her writing, which has been widely praised for its deft genre blending and its inspired interweaving of mythology, religion, philosophy, folklore, history, technology and current-day politics. Her 2007 graphic novel, Cairo, for instance, sets a drug dealer, an expat, a journalist and an Israeli soldier on a search for a stolen hookah housing a genie. The protagonist of Alif the Unseen, winner of the World Fantasy Award for best novel, is a hacker in an unnamed Arab emirate who’s drawn into a fight against state censorship, aided by a magical manuscript. Her second novel, The Bird King, takes place during the final Spanish emirate and recounts the relationship between a royal courtesan and a mapmaker who possesses supernatural skills.Considering how much censorship the left's advocated for the sake of defending the Religion of Peace, it sure is weird she'd write a book about the subject, when she herself isn't being open about her belief system. Also, who knows how the Israeli soldier in her book is depicted? What if it's most negative in the extreme?
In spite of her immersion in fantasy, reality is important to Wilson, and depth of character matters to her at least as much as diversity. Initially, she says, the publishing industry’s interest in diversity “was very cosmetic and surface level”—unlike Wilson, whose characters have always been complex, no matter their racial, ethnic or religious backgrounds. “All I really try to do,” she explains, “is tell stories with as much compassion and accuracy as I can.”Umm, the Arab community, from which the Religion of Peace originated, is by and large white/caucasian, and the way she makes it sound like her alleged experiences don't make her fit to say much based on her background only makes this all the more insulting to the intellect. Why no mention of apostates from Islam, and what they think of the belief system she goes by? And has she ever met with the aforementioned 9-11 Families to understand their viewpoints? Obviously not.
Wilson doesn’t see herself as an ambassador for diversity. “I’m a white convert,” she says. “You can’t really take my experience and extrapolate anything meaningful about the American Muslim community from me.” Still, says critic Emily Barton, “her religious background, combined with her apparently natural, boundless empathy, bring a strong moral sensibility to her work.”
It's good if she's no longer employed by the Big Two (last time I looked though, Saladin Ahmed sadly still was), though even now, they could still be open to employing propagandists like her, no matter how poorly the products she writes actually sell. The damage people like Wilson have caused to the literary industry in general is far reaching, and will take eons to repair.
Update: in a related item, I also found this message written 2 years ago on the leftist Captain Comics site, where the poster makes a most head-shakingly naive statement:
I just finished G. Willow Wilson's Alif the Unseen. Loved it, and here's my Goodreads review:As realists wonder, what's so "human" about a religion built on the kind of horrors the Religion of Peace is? Absolutely disgusting how somebody goes out of his way to sugarcoat a serious topic.
For once, a book club selection I made! I've been meaning to get to this for awhile. It's a fascinating combination of cyberpunk, fantasy, and a little romance. Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, it tells the story of hacker Alif's resistance efforts. When the state identifies him he must go on the run, with the help of djinn he has met. In the end he foments an Arab Spring-like revolt (which Wilson imagined before it actually happened). Puts a wonderfully human face on Islam in the process, and the djinn are convincingly portrayed as not quite human.
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