Back in October, after the British magazine The Economist published an edition with a grotesquely hideous cover picture of Vladimir Putin, I wrote that The Economist had disgraced Britain and itself.
I am sorry to say that the cover of Der Spiegel’s latest edition – showing Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty – is as deplorable and wrong.
Even those who think Donald Trump’s ‘travel ban’ Executive Order – the legality of which will now be decided by the US’s federal courts – is wrong must agree that this cover – representing Trump as some sort of crazed ISIS style Jihadi – goes grotesquely too far.
Firstly this cover debases the actual barbarism of the victims of Jihadism in the Middle East.
Donald Trump and his officials have not beheaded a single individual, and nor are they likely to. The Jihadis Der Spiegel is comparing Donald Trump to have beheaded numberless thousands of individuals, the vast majority of whom were innocent victims.
To compare even indirectly and in a cartoon cover Donald Trump’s ‘travel ban’ Executive Order with the murderous barbarism of ISIS and of other Jihadis is not merely ridiculous; it is also deeply offensive.
Secondly, what makes this implicit connection between the ‘travel ban’ Executive Order and Middle East Jihadism even more offensive is that the ‘travel ban’ is intended to prevent precisely the sort of murderous Jihadi terrorists the Der Spiegel cover implicitly compares Donald Trump to from entering the US, and causing mayhem there.
There is a case for saying that the approach is wrong, and that there are other ways of protecting Americans from Jihadi terrorism than the ‘travel ban’, and that the ‘travel ban’ is so wrong in principle that it should not be enacted even if it achieves its purpose. However there is no case for putting the ‘travel ban’ – however implicitly – on the same level as the Jihadis it is targeting.
Thirdly, even the implicit claim in the cover – that Donald Trump is supposedly reversing the US’s traditional welcome to overseas visitors – is historically wrong.
The US has been steadily tightening its border controls since the Immigration Act of 1917 and the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, and even before. The ‘travel ban’ Executive Order – with the temporary restrictions it imposes on entry to the US from seven designated Middle East countries – hardly comes close to having the effect of those Acts.
The days when the US opened its door to everyone – in the words of the famous poem by Emma Lazarus of 1883 on the base of the Statue of Liberty “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” – are long gone.
As it happens anyone who tries to enter the US with a foreign passport knows how tough US border controls can be.
The Der Spiegel cover is in fact a sign of the hysteria and hyperbole that has developed around the person of Donald Trump. If things are not yet quite as bad as they have been with the Western media’s coverage of Putin, it shows that they are heading in the same direction.