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March 31, 2011

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Allan Olley

Well if we go back 11 years to the Avengers Forever limited series, in the denouement, Captain America gets his hands on the Forever Crystal which allows one to change the course of history almost at will and he is tempted by the possibilities of among other things stopping Hitler (implicitly by killing him judging from the graphic) before he starts WWII (but not actually as a baby). Cap instead smashes the crystal knowing that "The cost [to righting all the various historic wrongs he had witnessed] -- to freedom, to dignity, to every man's right to choose his own path... was too high." [emphasis in the original] at least according to the caption.

He offers a further bit of justification for not micromanaging human history and wiping out errant timelines (as the villains of the piece would have done) and opting for a softer approach in the wrap-up conversation "I don't believe that aggression is man's most basic trait. I believe it's the ability to learn and to change. And it's that that we have to fight for -- to do what's right because it's right, and because we can recognize it."

Personally the quote puts me in mind of John Stuart Mill's comment in "On Liberty" that: "the source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being namely, that his errors are corrigible."

So Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern agree with your assessment of Cap's character and outlook.

Although travelling through time is different in many ways from those pesky clones. Still in either case I'd certainly say Cap's attitude is the correct one. In so far as someone's actions can be called evil (rather than dangerous, literally diseased or outwardly compelled) it is precisely in so far as they are voluntary in just the sense that they could repent of them and do otherwise given reflection, experience argument and encouragement. And in so far as an outcome in the complex multiple variable world of human affairs is predictable there are going to be far better ways to avoid it than smothering babies or killing rude art dealers.

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