The culture war has tugged on Superman's cape, and it is not pretty. In the new film ''Superman Returns,'' Daily Planet editor Perry White responds this way after being told the Man of Steel has come back after a five-year absence: ''Does he still stand for truth, justice and all that stuff?''
And all that stuff?
The original line, of course, was ''truth, justice and the American way.'' But no way the ''American way'' gets in the film.
That's because Warner Brothers, the studio distributing the movie, doesn't want to tee off any foreign viewers with pro-U.S. sentiment. It's bad enough Superman was raised in the Midwest; we can't have the hero actually stand for the American way now, can we? Some jihadist in Pakistan might throw popcorn at the screen.
You don't need X-ray vision to know that things have changed drastically in America in the past five years. When Superman left to go visit the planet of this birthplace, the U.S.A. was not engaged in a terror war; the country was merrily drifting along hoping that rap music would follow Monica Lewinsky into obscurity.
But that was then. Now, America is a divided country. We are fighting a fierce war on terror overseas and an intense culture war at home. No longer is the ''American way'' something to be proud of. Today, forces abroad and at home believe we are a deeply flawed nation that is a danger to the world.
According to a Pew Global Attitudes survey, almost 30 percent of Americans believe that America's presence in Iraq poses a greater danger to world peace than Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon. In Turkey, 65 percent of the people feel that way. This kind of muddled thinking reflects the sentiment of the anti-American press worldwide and here in the U.S.A. It is also the product of the rise of a well-funded and well-organized secular-progressive (S-P) movement in America.
The S-P philosophy would rattle even Superman. Led by moneymen George Soros and Peter Lewis, who have bought enormous Internet access, the secular-progressives are selling the theory that the U.S.A. needs radical change, a complete overhaul. Think about it: Almost every day the S-P press bombards us with messages that America violates human rights, that it is bigoted against gays and other minorities, that the rich control everything and don't pay enough taxes, and that the rights of women are trampled if any restrictions are placed on abortion.
And the S-P scribes are becoming increasingly emboldened. Writing in The New York Times, David Nasaw, a professor at the ultra-left City University of New York, made this comment about the charitable gifts of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett: ''While we can only applaud the decision by Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates to give away so much of their fortunes ... is society served by permitting so much capital to be accumulated by so few?''
Fifty years ago, Professor Nasaw would have received an invitation to appear before the House Committee on un-American Activities. Today, he is a lion in the secular-progressive movement, which seeks to have a large centralized government decide who can earn what.
That's not the American way Superman used to uphold. This is a brave new world that threatens even superheroes. The old ways of respect for the basic nobility of America, the capitalistic free enterprise system, and the Judeo-Christian philosophy of personal responsibility are all under siege by stealth forces more powerful than a locomotive. They can even exorcise a classic pro-American line from a movie about a traditional comic book hero.
Please tell Perry White there is no justice in eliminating the American way. And that's the truth.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His column appears on Friday. His "Radio Factor" can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.