May 2, 2011

What's Wrong With TIME's X-ed bin Ladin Cover

1. Laying it on a little thick, aren’t you?

They’re painting the “X” extra heavy. …Like OBL was twice as bad as Hitler was???

2. If you’re al-Qaeda, you get it between the eyes.

3. But  here’s what’s really wrong. In 1945, when they did the first X-out, Hitler had been the scourge of the planet. There was absolutely no ambiguity surrounding his elimination. Fast forward 58 years. The X-out returns, not to realistically portray any equivalency with Hitler so much as enable the Bush Administration’s own blood lust in targeting Iraq and Saddam Hussein for being a bully, a convenient target and a convenient stand-in for bin Ladin. Recall, also, after the U.S. caught Hussein alive, how the cover validates the actions of a kangaroo court and a hasty, ugly hanging at the expense of a legitimate, and potentially international trial.

Now, jump ahead a mere three more years and the X-out is cheapened still further, this time to help showcase the Administration’s killing of the highly (if poorly) built up,  supposed al-Qaeda mastermind, and Bush Administration Anbar poster boy, Abu al-Zarqawi, at a point in time in which the war was going south.

I doubt I would have any qualms at all if TIME had X-ed Hitler, left it alone alone for 66 years, then X-ed bin Ladin. But after X-ing out three Muslims over the past eight years, today’s cover (apart from the question whether bin Laden was even in Hitler’s class) speaks more to targeted assassination — and racism.

(Ending revised for tone.)

Illustration (on last two covers, at least): Tim O’Brien.  Cover dates: May 20, 2011 (bin Laden);  June 19, 2006 (Abu al-Zarqawi); April 21, 2003 (Saddam Hussein); May 7, 1945 (Hitler)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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