This week, the country has had to reckon with the aftermath of protests in Charlottesville over a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. White nationalists descended on Virginia over the weekend to protest its removal, and counter-protesters showed up to fight back against the ideals of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. The event has sparked a fierce national debate and the latest TIME cover — depicting a protestor giving the Nazi salute and draped in an American flag — has attempted to capture the country's mood.
TIME commissioned artist Edel Rodriguez for the cover. You may remember him for his other recent TIME covers, which include illustrations of President Donald Trump in a "Meltdown," and then a "Total Meltdown," respectively.
Rodriguez, a Cuban American artist, told TIME of the cover and the person it represented:
These people are hiding behind the flag and the idea of patriotism it connotes. They have tried to change the language from "White Supremacist" to "White Nationalist," to further hide behind the flag, and the idea of patriotism. But they are espousing the same views as always.
On Twitter, some saw the provocative illustration as a call to action, while others noted how strong a statement the TIME cover made about Trump's role in the rise of white supremacy. Though the cover focuses on protestors, TIME Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs made clear in an accompanying story that Trump must be held accountable for his response to the recent events.
"Instead of summoning our better angels, he strums deep chords of grievance and resentment: The world is not a community; it's a business. If you're not winning, you're losing," Gibbs explained. "And anyone who invests in a common good or a shared sacrifice is a sucker."
Gibbs analyzed Trump's multiple responses to the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville. On Saturday, Trump condemned violence from "many sides" and refused to call out white supremacists and Nazis by name, sparking widespread backlash.
Then, during a second attempt at a statement on Charlottesville two days later, Trump finally acknowledged the attendance of the KKK, Nazis, and white supremacists at the rally and condemned racism and hatred. However on Tuesday, he once again blamed "both sides" and called out the so-called "alt-left" for their involvement in the protest turning violent.
TIME has a long history of using its cover as political commentary, especially in the Trump administration. The magazine has featured key players like Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and even Donald Trump Jr. on the cover. The president has also been the cover subject several times, and was named Person Of The Year in 2016 after the election.
While the new TIME cover focuses on a protester and his claim of patriotism while pledging allegiance to white supremacy, it also envelops the national conversation we must have and decide how we're going to move forward.