, Gloucester, MA

July 18, 2013

Letter: Rolling Stone cover, and the enemy within

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

There is much controversy over Rolling Stone magazine’s newest issue, which features Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two alleged Boston Marathon bombers, on the cover.

I am not surprised, however disappointed, that in a culture that values images and celebrity over words and ideas, such a prominent picture would elicit a strong reaction. It is somewhat infuriating, yet at the same time pitiable, that such a controversy is taking place.

It is not unsurprising that a pop culture magazine that has long been politically charged and risque would push the envelope on what is considered acceptable for its cover image — nor is it unsurprising that there would be a backlash. My objections to the controversy lay in the hypocrisy that is tolerated in what exactly is considered acceptable.

The nature of the Tsarnaev’s crime, in conjunction with that he belongs to the enemy of the state du jour, lends a powerful emotional impact to his image.

In relative scale, however, much more atrocious individuals have been raised to celebrity and prestige. George W. Bush, who is arguably responsible for the direct and indirect deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, and Afghans, now has his own presidential library. Barack Obama, the only Nobel Peace Prize winner to have been conducting drone killings in the same time period as the reception of his prize, is responsible for still more death, misery, and radicalization of civilians. He, too, has graced the cover of Rolling Stone.

Americans’ fortune in their distance from the misery of war shows its downside in the increased fear and panic that occurs when tragedy strikes. Despite the rallying slogan of “Boston Strong,” as a community we showed our timidity, cowardice, and hypocrisy as we allowed the police state to march across Greater Boston because of the simple label “terrorist.”

The real terror that continues today is our acquiescence to government fear mongering, our continued application of foreign policy that creates new enemies, and the acceptance of a propaganda machine that decides for us who the enemies are.

We should not be afraid of Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s picture in Rolling Stone; we should be afraid of the fact that it has made us afraid.

That, as they say, is when the terrorists win.