The current issue of The Economist magazine – supposedly the most influential news and current affairs magazine published in Britain, though the extent to which this is really the case is open to doubt – carries on its cover a picture of a demonic looking Putin that goes beyond anything I have ever seen.
This picture is neither funny (such as pictures of Hitler in the British media during the Second World War famously were) nor factual (as pictures of Soviet leaders during the Cold War were). It is instead hideous and grotesque, showing a monster from a bad horror film.
That this image is profoundly shocking and dehumanising should not need saying. As such it fulfils the classic function of war propaganda, which is to dehumanise the enemy to make his killing acceptable. Certainly the publication of such an image cannot be explained in any other way.
What is however most shocking about The Economist’s cover is that in Britain it has provoked so few complaints or objections.
It should go without saying that any such depiction of the leader of any other country or nationality would in Britain today provoke a storm, with many people rightly complaining that the image was dehumanising and racist. However if the image is one of the leader of Russia nothing of the sort happens.
I recently wrote a piece for The Duran in which I spoke of how racist stereotyping of Russians in Britain and in the West is the one form of racist stereotyping which remains not only permissible but actually fashionable.
The cover on the current issue of The Economist provides grisly confirmation of this.