Bob Schwartz

Tag: magazines

With This Magazine Cover Germany Has Made Full Retribution

Der Spiegel

This is the cover from this week’s issue of the German news magazine Der Spiegel. It is accompanied by the story The Pain of the Donald Trump Presidency.

The cover has been controversial. The magazine explains it this way:

The image for this week’s cover was created by the artist Edel Rodriguez. Edel was nine years old when, in 1980, he came to the U.S. with his mother — two refugees, like so many others. “I remember it well, and I remember the feelings and how little kids feel when they are leaving their country,” he told the Washington Post on Friday night. The newspaper wrote: “This DER SPIEGEL Trump cover is stunning.” It wasn’t the first time Edel has drawn Trump. He usually portrays him without eyes — you just see his angry, gaping mouth and, of course, the hair. “I don’t want to live in a dictatorship,” he says. “If I wanted to live in a dictatorship, I’d live in Cuba, where it’s much warmer.”

I am Jewish, descended from Eastern European Jews, with extended family who likely perished there during World War II (they were never heard from after). I was a stamp collector as a kid, and a friend of my parents gave me his entire collection of German stamps from that era, with a note that explained why he could not keep them. For myself, I’ve treated Germany as just another nation, no more or less, depending on what it does and doesn’t do.

No nation in modern history has had to live down what Germany has. People of faith and good will have been visited with the sins of the Fatherland, and have tried hard for generations to establish that they are not those Germans. They have proven themselves, and with this cover, they are doing what some have the courage to do, some not, or at least not yet: Bear witness—graphically, unflinchingly—to what may not quite be an atrocity, but is a devastating and deadly affront to what Americans, Germans, and free people around the world hold dear.

Germany, you have proven your good faith time and time again over the decades. Germany, if there is even anything left to forgive, all is forgiven.

Relying on Ourselves and Not Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone - Tsarnaev

This is what upsets us? This magazine cover is our biggest problem?

As of today, some retailers—of those retailers who actually sell paper magazines any more—are refusing to the carry the new issue of Rolling Stone with a cover showing a youthful and attractive photo of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They, along with maybe millions in the socialsphere, are making a statement.

But what exactly is that statement, and why are they making it?

If it’s about not giving any more publicity to him, along with any coverage of the Boston bombing and the upcoming trial, you can make a case that that might be healthy for all of us. But since there’s been no call for less coverage, that can’t be it.

If it’s about continuing the coverage, but making sure the coverage only reflects one particular approach, what approach would that be, exactly? And if it’s about not “glamorizing” him, where is the directorate that is going to make sure that all photos, cover and otherwise, of the most despicable people look suitably evil and ugly?

We have reached a point, not unique in history but maybe more now than ever, where reaction to everything is often overtaking thought about everything. The theory of “the wisdom of crowds”—that individuals can be wrongheaded, but heads put together are self-correcting and frequently right—needs to be reconsidered, if not thrown out the window.

If this Rolling Stone cover is a threat to anything, we have a problem. If we think that this cover makes mass murder look “cool” and is a contributor to our social difficulties, we really don’t know what those difficulties are. If we think that we shouldn’t have magazine covers with social and political miscreants, the Magazine Cover Authority will have to make a much broader review of all publications, before they pass them on to the Magazine Content Authority.

We have to start relying on our own thoughts, and when that careful thinking leads to conclusions, on our own abilities to directly address what we find. If a Rolling Stone cover with Tsarnaev is emblematic of anything, it is that Tsarnaev is here, he did what he did, and we should be working on that, and not on choices that magazines make.

For more on self-reliance, you might read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s classic essay of the same name. There was a time when Emerson’s essays were widely taught in schools—back in the Stone Age, before America got so smart and well-connected, before we realized that science and technology were the key to the future, and that the musty, fusty words of some old fart from Boston really had nothing to offer us.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance (1841)