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August 31, 2010

Newsweek’s Making of a Muslim* President

So, the question is, how much more is this desperate-to-stay-in-business “news” publication going to pander to the haters and the far-right crazies as we hurtle through the mid-term sprint?

Let’s set the record straight (especially about the second-half of this list, and the “Muslim President” at the bottom of the stack):

These aren’t just words or phases. They are incendiary slogans that, whether spoken or billboarded to the nation as word pictures, convey that much more weight, recognition and resonance to terms, finely-crafted for cultural wedge-driving and linguistic repetition, that otherwise aren’t justified either coming off the lips of a TV talking head or floating around Main Street for a week in large, black-and-white type.

Now, the obvious reply to my complaint is that these terms are being used tongue-in-cheek.  And yes, that would be justifiable if the irony was obvious.  But, it’s not.  Instead, just like the Muslim and terrorist stereotypes were plain to see in the ‘08 New Yorker “Obama bin Ladin” cover, but the irony wasn’t, the fact Newsweek recognized the need for the asterisk meant they fully understood that some number of these loaded phrases required not just explaining, but actually on-the-spot undoing.

But back to the sinking magazine’s news credentials, I wouldn’t say the cover is a total loss.  There is certainly credibility to the fact that a troubled-looking (mind you, not-actually Muslim) Obama has been captured behind the Newsweek name.

*Just joking!

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