German magazine falsely portrays Trump, Statue of Liberty

A man holds a sign depicting the cover of the German magazine Der Spiegel during a rally in support of the Muslim community and to protest President Donald Trump's executive order to temporarily ban some refugees from seven mostly Muslim countries, in Denver, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (Brennan Linsley/AP )

The cover of German magazine “Der Spiegel’s,” most recent issue has sparked a controversy in its depiction of the Statue of Liberty and United States President Donald Trump. The cover displayed a cartoon figure of President Trump holding a bloody knife in one hand and the Statue of Liberty’s head dripping blood in the other. The magazine claims that its cover is a response to the recent threats against democracy and freedom, but the shocking depiction carries more extreme connotations and greater claims than that goal.

The Statue of Liberty is the American symbol of freedom, hope, enlightenment and international friendship. Depicting this symbol decapitated and bloody not only serves as a message about Trump, but it implies that all of these great aspects of America are dead. It is appropriate to criticize Trump’s recent actions and incite discussion regarding his racism, his actions against immigration and his criticism of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the United States is more than our president and his actions. This country is about the actions of its people and the impenetrable freedoms that we will fight to protect. As long as these aspects of our country remain, the Statue of Liberty should be depicted as alive and respected.

Instead of presenting this image of Trump mutilating such an iconic symbol of the United States, this picture should represent the artist’s solidarity with those protesting Trump. The artist, Edel Rodriguez, is an American artist. He has previously drawn Trump without eyes, angry, with a gaping mouth, which act as fantastic political commentaries. However, once he includes the Statue of Liberty, his commentary includes the rest of the country. He must see the constant protests against the president and his actions in office thus far. As an immigrant, he must feel connected to the poignant messages to stop Trump’s actions. Yet, he depicts a symbol of our freedom as decapitated and bloodied. Much of America has stood together against the actions of Trump and that, to me, is a much more powerful picture.

One of the articles in this edition of “Der Spiegel” is called “Trump as Nero: Europe Must Defend Itself Against A Dangerous President.” In this article, writer Klaus Brinkbäumer says not to abandon America, but to plan defenses against our president. Given that many citizens here are doing the same, it would be more positive to stand with those Americans trying to address the actions of Trump rather than to attack all Americans through the mutilation of an iconic symbol of our freedom.

The format of this picture calls upon horrific photographs of ISIS beheadings, which Rodriguez has confirmed to be purposeful. His reasoning for utilizing this imagery is to make a comparison between the two extremists. While Trump does represent extremist views, his actions as president cannot compare to the devastation caused by the Islamic State. According to the New York Times, over 1,200 people outside of Syria and Iraq have died in attacks coordinated or inspired by the Islamic State. The devastation within these countries is incomparable as well. ISIS has committed genocide in Syria and Iraq against the Yazidi religious group. Dozens of mass graves have been uncovered in areas recaptured from ISIS. Comparing Donald Trump to these monsters and insinuating that our government would allow such horrific actions to occur in our country is either disrespecting the United States or being naïve about the true horrors of the Islamic State. In 2016, Germany was the target of multiple terrorist attacks from the Islamic State, including the recent attack on the Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 and injured over 50 others. After experiencing the trauma of these attacks, it is surprising that “Der Spiegel” would allow such a comparison to represent their most recent issue.

    President Trump is a racist, a bigot and must be criticized by the media. However, the cover that portrays a decapitated Statue of Liberty in Trump’s hands, comparing him to the Islamic State, not only insults the people of the United States, but also attempts to diminish the horrors committed by ISIS.


Alyssa Luis is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at alyssa.luis@uconn.edu.