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May 18, 2005

Killer Issue


Now that we know Newsweek Magazine is the source of anti-American feeling in the Arab world, the visual evidence is starting to come in.  Here, courtesy of AFP, we see how the trouble got started.  Obviously, upon hearing that Newsweek documented U.S. desecration of the Quran, Pakastani men rushed to the newsstand to catch the latest issue.  From that point, the readers were so incensed, they threw down the magazines (perhaps even taking the opportunity to crumple them up and deposit them down a toilet), and proceeded to riot. 

My initial sense was to see this image as reinforcement for the knee-jerk conservative view of events.  On second thought, however, maybe this photo helps put the hysteria on a more rational footing.  Looking at this man reading the magazine, how easy is it to draw a precise inference about his reaction?  Just as it’s impossible to get into his head, it becomes that much more problematic to draw a one-to-one connection between the act of reading of an article and the incitement to violence. 

Whereas the Administration would draw such an oversimplistic explanation, human nature argues these reactions are not only multi-determined but also highly nuanced.  From a motivational standpoint, for instance, there is plenty of evidence emerging that the Guantanamo Quran story was nothing new.  Also, with Iraq in such dire straights, who is to say the ignition of anti-American protest wasn’t fueled just as much by Administration policy?

The back cover of the magazine shows an ad for an electric screwdriver, with separate panels comparing the manual task with the automatic one.  Excuse my liberty, but if anyone is getting screwed here, it’s the American public for the Administration’s scapegoating.  And, if anybody is getting drilled, it’s Newsweek.  Of course, they should have been smarter than to get themselves into this mess.  For the trouble, however, they are now the target of the political world’s more formidable power tool — the right wing PR machine.

(image: AFP/Farooq Naeem in YahooNews)

  • mugatea

    It’s amazing that this single “anonymous” source is receiving this much negative attention from the Right. I can remember a single source named “curveball”, for his dishonesty, whose stories of yellowcake from Africa gave our current administration the vital information they needed to go into an unjust war.
    War for the profit of a few, it’s only going to get more and more nasty.

  • GKoutnik

    Interestingly, we are not seeing a lot of images of General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or General Eichenberry, on the ground in Afghanistan. The Voice of America (via Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly) said last Thursday:
    “It is the judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eichenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran, but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his cabinet are conducting in Afghanistan. He thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.”
    Next time – a screwdriver on the cover?

  • Agitprop

    I was curious what you thought about the Newsweek protest signs.
    I wrote about the odd nature of the appearance and message of the signs. Since you are the master of image analysis, I would appreciate your input. Thanks.

  • jillian

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe the edition in which this “offensive” story is in, is the one pictured in the photo.
    The cover is that of an Asian woman, I believe.

  • Asta

    Agitprop, I am glad you brought that up, about the signs. They don’t seem to be very…impromptu, do they? In fact, when you compare the illiterate scrawlings of the right-wing protesters on our streets (the latest major event being, I guess, the Schiavo saga), the sign photos you linked to are downright elegant. Particularly the way “Quran” is so gracefully placed at the bottom right hand corner. Also, there seems to be two words at the bottom of every sign, perhaps naming the printer/print shop.
    Would the protestors’ signs necessarily be in English? If you were screaming mad about something the Muslims had done, would you take the time to go to Acme Printing and have signs made up in Arabic? Or would you grab the first Sharpie pen and piece of cardboard in reach and create your own sign in your own language?
    It’s so staged.
    Of course it is as Cheney once said, “We create the reality…”.

  • Agitprop

    Asta, that’s exactly what Im thinking. Wouldn’t one expect to see slogans like “Death to America” or “Bush is Satan”, not polite slogans like “Bush Should Apologize”.
    CIA + PsyOps + Kinkos = Muslim Protest.

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