Raising the Tree on Iwo Jima?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

This new Time magazine cover stirred up some controversy. The editors took the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima and put a tree in place of the U.S. flag. The border of the magazine is green, not red, and the headline reads, "How to Win the War On Global Warming." Doctoring the Iwo Jima image is a "disgrace," in the words of one World War II veteran. The comparison between the events in 1945 and global warming, he says, is disrespectful. Time made the decision to run the edited image for a reason, and we'll talk with one of their editors about that decision, and the reaction to it. What do you think... Is the image a call to arms on global warming, or in poor taste?

i don't understand the brouhaha. the illustration could only be disrespectful if the cause were unworthy, but what could be more worthy than saving the planet?

Sent by ann wright | 2:21 PM | 4-21-2008

Often, what makes heroes heroes, is that they don't go around yelling, "look at me, I'm a hero!" Vets tarnish their own hero status when they whine about it.

Sent by Karl Sokol | 2:43 PM | 4-21-2008

I'm curious- how many have died to save the earth from global warming? Many American men died to ensure they could safely raise the flag. I just don't know they compare and how someone could disgrace the picture that was more than just a symbol.

Sent by William Babcock | 2:47 PM | 4-21-2008

This is why Neil is the worst "interviewer" on NPR. Why this Iwo controversy is worthy of a segment is unknown to me. Then Neil can't seem to let go of the fact that they aren't doing editorial work but reporting the state of science. This is the kinda silly manufactured dispute that one sees on the Networks like dateline, 20/20. Just silly sensationalism

Sent by kent strock | 2:48 PM | 4-21-2008

I'm 24 years old and even at my young age I have to say Time has gone really down hill from when I was in high school. Time is nothing more than a windsock for society a less vapid but equally as glossy People magazine. Am I the only one who feels like we are being directed by a marketing campaign and not a movement.

Sent by John | 2:48 PM | 4-21-2008

My uncle fought and died on Iwo Jima. My grandfather fought and was wounded there. I am in no way offended by the Time cover. In fact, it is totally spot on. The fight against global warming is bigger than the fight against fascism. The faux upset over this cover is absurd and is driven by the Exxon-funded anti-global warming crowd. Good for Time magazine!

Sent by Jim | 2:50 PM | 4-21-2008

Whatever it takes to wake the sleeping giant of the American public on global warming is okay by me!
I feel the same sense of urgency and am relieved to finally see a major publication take a stand! Thanks

Sent by Cat Gould | 2:53 PM | 4-21-2008

I just heard the mentioning that the picture has been used & altered many times. Just because it's been abused more than once doesn't mean it should be done again. As for historical aspect, the flag raising in the picture was the 3rd flag raising: 1st-divisional/regimental flag, 2nd-an American flag, 3rd- a larger American flag.

Sent by William Babcock | 2:53 PM | 4-21-2008

The whole issue should be labeled as Time's view (i.e. commentary/editorial) of what needs to be done, not as a factual news story. But as I told a group of HS students today, you always have to consider the source and why a particular slant was selected.

Sent by Ron Titus | 2:53 PM | 4-21-2008

I think the cover is great, and quite moving, actually. The idea that the same kind of dedication that those brave men showed in WWII might come to bear on present-day problems every bit as big a threat to us as totalitarianism gives me a feeling of hope.

Sent by Craig | 2:54 PM | 4-21-2008

This country needs to read & start implementing Plan B by Lester Brown, it is that simple. We as a society need to start living as if we care for posterity.

Sent by JIM | 2:55 PM | 4-21-2008

As usual, your broadcast is probably over, (I guess you don't want to hear from those of us out west), but here is the simple truth - stop population growth, this is the bottom line. Next you must learn what the term 'carrying capacity' means. If you don't understamd what I am talking about and why, we've lost already.

Sent by Brian Grable | 2:55 PM | 4-21-2008

"Doctoring the Iwo Jima image is a "disgrace," in the words of one World War II veteran. The comparison between the events in 1945 and global warming, he says, is disrespectful. "

How exactly is naming a mythic veteran as the basis of a "story" responsible journalism? Why would a story be interesting that is based on being offended by a photograph instead of substantive issues? This allows Neil to go thru the back door to attack the science of global warming. What a choice of callers you accepted..lmao

Sent by kent strock | 2:56 PM | 4-21-2008

I'd like to know *what* exactly in this image offends people. Is it simply that the iconic, patriotic image has been changed? I personally don't see how the image does any disrespect to WWII, or to the veterans of that war. It simply (and effectively) makes the point that the environment, and specifically our effect on it, will undoubtedly be the central issue of the current generation.

Sent by Eric Miles | 2:56 PM | 4-21-2008

A prime example of why I no longer subscribe to Time magazine. It's an advocacy publication, not an unbiased news reporting one. As the guest on your program clearly stated: "We (Time) are the experts" on global warming. Using the Iwo Jima iconic image to lend legitimacy to Time's clearly biased viewpoint on this subject is disgusting. Should global warming really exist, it still does not represent the imminent danger that Hitler and Nazi Germany did in WWII. After all, Hitler was within months of developing the atomic bomb and destroying the free world.

Sent by Paul Solenick | 2:59 PM | 4-21-2008

Really? People are upset over a tree? I would understand if it was an obsene symbol, but a tree...no I can't be botherrd to get my knickers in a twist over a tree.

Sent by D, St. Louis | 3:01 PM | 4-21-2008

I know that people tend to focus on shallow details to detract from more important points in such arguments as global warming. While I agree that people who critique the Time Magazine cover photo are doing just this, I also think that Time Magazine should just swallow their pride and apologize if they want to achieve their stated aim to convince more people that global warming is a problem we need to address, instead of fighting over such a trivial point.

Sent by Phillip Taylor | 3:02 PM | 4-21-2008

Kudos to Time for headlining an issue that the overwhelming majority of environmental scientists agree is a growing threat to life on this planet. The use of the image is appropriate.

Sent by Mark Harvey | 3:02 PM | 4-21-2008

The Iwo Jima picture belongs to our entire nation. Time has as much a right to use it as anyone else. Period.

Sent by Brandon Cordes | 3:04 PM | 4-21-2008

I'm so tired of certain groups of people thinking they have a corner stone on suffering. Yes veterans in the war endured horrible suffering - but there are people every day in our country and around the world that suffer in terrible ways and nobody acknowledges their pain. There aren't any parades or benefits given to most people who suffer.

Besides the fact that this image is a positive one! It isn't degrading to the veterans.

Do people have so much time on their hands that they need to sit around and complain about something that is meant to be positive???

My parents are both retired (in their 70's) and they both work a volunteer job 3 days a week every single week. On top of that my mother does additional volunteer work for other oganizations. They don't have time to sit around and complain because they are too busy making the world a better place. And yes my parent's have suffered in their life, but I don't see them sitting around dwelling on every little thing.

Can't people just be happy this photograph was used for something positive?

Sent by Rachel | 3:05 PM | 4-21-2008

I'm wierry of the Bruce Willis, John Wayne concept people have of war in this country. Any chance a sword can be turned into a plow or an object of torture can be turned into a object of worship (the crucifix) I'm all for it.
Why not take the flag raising symbol and turn it into a cause that is going to require unity rather than strife.

Sent by Craig Curry | 3:09 PM | 4-21-2008

Has Neal Conan gone over to the dark side (i.e, the Bush administration)? He seemed really annoyed that Time magazine would advocate doing something global warming and completely sympathetic with people outraged at their use of the Iwo Jima "reenactment" to emphasize its seriousness. He also pointed out that the journalists were not scientists, implying that maybe they were unfit to report on scientific data.

Sent by Warren Criswell | 3:40 PM | 4-21-2008

I was a little surprised and dismayed at some of Neal Conan's remarks on the show today concerning the Time Magazine cover.

First, One of the callers said that the iconic Mt. Suribachi picture was also "staged" or faked? (or some word like that) and Neal corrected him, saying, "No,it was simply the 2nd raising". The first raising of the flag over Iwo Jima was spontaneous and unrehearsed. The 2nd raising was indeed staged and "choreographed" by a Marine photographer- so the caller was essentially correct and Mr. Conan was wrong to correct him without making this clear.

Secondly and more importantly, various remarks were made by Conan to the effect that there was still controversy over the cause of global warming. This is highly misleading. Not only does the IPCC panel of climate experts from around the world agree that most of the warming is anthropogenic, but also virtually every scientific society in the world including the National Academy of Sciences,the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society,the American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, etc. etc. has endorsed this view. As the editor of Science Magazine said not too long ago -
"Consensus as strong as the one that has developed around this topic is rare in science."

The "controversy", as I hope Mr. Conan knows, is almost entirely manufactured by Big Oil (mostly Exxon- until recently)Big Coal companies and others who have hired a small group of "contrarian" scientists to try to spread doubt about global warming and formed the "Global Climate Coalition." In other words they deliberately set up a smoke screen and tried to confuse the public (and the media!). This can be verified by internal corporate statements and emails. Their "position papers", that the media unfortunatly gives far too much coverage to, are nothing but propaganda and are not found in true, peer reviewed scientific journals. The media seems to be oblivious to the difference between these two types of scientific literature. There are very few independent climate scientists who doubt that human activity is the root cause of our observed global warming, at least in 2008.

Sent by Bruce Bartleson | 3:48 PM | 4-21-2008

The TIME cover did exactly what it was supposed to do -- preview what was inside and get me interested in reading the magazine. As soon as I saw the border color change from red to green I knew the issue was dedicated at some level to environmental topics. I thought using the Iwo Jima picture was clever -- we do need to face up to the mess we've made of the planet and mount a mighty struggle to turn things around.

Sent by Lisa Herlocker | 4:15 PM | 4-21-2008

If environmental issues are so important to all human beings on earth, why did Time Magazine authors have to get attention to the issues by changing/manipulating a historic picture?

Sent by HS | 4:28 PM | 4-21-2008

Has Neil gone to the dark side as suggested by Warren? He and the producers have always been right of center. His suggestion that because the article was not written by "scientists" and that it is propaganda was HACK journalism on TOTN's part.

Sent by kent strock | 4:31 PM | 4-21-2008

Iwo Jima cost the average citizen of the U.S. great deal; global warming does and will continue to cost all citizens of the world and all the children, grand children and great grand children of all citizens of the world. Citizens of the U.S. are among the highest users of oil....we all need to get a clue!!

Sent by aj | 6:36 PM | 4-21-2008

Maybe Mr. Neal Conan should pronounce ratnesar's name correctly when he introduces him - especially considering he's about to attack him. A pronunciation check folks...it takes only a second.

Sent by Susan | 10:01 PM | 4-21-2008

In 1983, the movie "Spring Break" was advertised with an image, clearly modeled on the Iwo Jima image, of a group of youths planting a flag on the thigh of a bikini-clad woman. I don't remember any outcry at the time. See the image here: http://imdb.com/media/rm1860148736/tt0086352

If that image wasn't offensive then, why is this one offensive now? Could it be because this story is being flogged for political reasons?

Sent by janet | 11:18 PM | 4-21-2008

Time's art choice is ironic in that WWII marks the beginning of the population boom, prosperity and consumption that have fueled the causes of global warming.

We patriots shouldn't fear the misuse of a maudlin iconic image, rather the real problems that beset us.

Global warming is just the tip of a melting iceberg. Imminent global resource scarcities threaten to rock the world's ethical, religious and political foundations. If not careful, you may be burning your flag just to stay warm.

Sent by scott | 12:03 AM | 4-22-2008

DO NOT and SHOULD NOT merit equal consideration against solid base of widely researched and accepted facts and expert knowledge. In fact, equal representation of poorly founded and narrowly supported opinions both distorts objectivity and ill serves the public's understanding of the truth.

Too often in recent years, an intimidated journalism "MISinforms" the public by its "politically correct" attempt at "equal balance," when prevailing data, knowledge, and expertise overwhelmingly support one or two similar points of view. Unsupported opinions may merit a "sidebar", but not equal time! I hope other media outlets, like Time, start to weight their presentations with a conscientious effort to present what they believe to be the "truth" rather than a list of all
positions, those with and without merit.

As far as the symbolic cover is concerned, many earlier posts have said it better than I. But, far from dishonoring the Marines at Mount Suribachi and those who died or were wounded in the war (three of my wife's and my relatives included), the powerful symbol suggests that similar heroism and sacrifice will be required to save our society from a different destructive force, environmental disruption, that not only threatens us, but the world at large. It is a noble symbol both in the original and its reincarnation. Both do honor to their respective causes.

To those who take umbrage at linking a world symbol of cooperative sacrifice and heroism in war with an derived symbol cooperative sacrifice and heroism in a peaceful effort to restore our global balance for all future generations, I say: get a grip.

Then, I believe we fought and sacrificed in war to defend our country and our way of life; now I am convinced we must show equal heroism in peace, defending the entire world and, potentially, life itself.

Sent by Jim Hourdequin | 12:26 AM | 4-22-2008

Spoken like a non-vet, Mr. Sokol.

Sent by Gina Dalfonzo | 3:19 PM | 4-22-2008

For all you who do not understand why this is such a disrespectful display: Read Flags of Our Fathers so you can gain some incite. People who are not in the Corps will never understand Sprit De Corps, and should not comment on what they do not understand. As a marine this is very offensive. How can you even compare and mar the photo, when 1511 out of 1688 Marines and Corpsmen gave their life's at Iwo Jima. Soil that had never taken by any other country although many tried... It was the US Marines that conquered this holy land. How is this anything relatively close to global warming? Many and most of the Marines that fought in this battle lost their lives for our freedom, and future of America. No one sees a problem with defacing our picture? To me and every Marine I know this is a symbol of courage against impossible odds. To so many in the forth day of a 38 day battle, that flag was a sign of hope. It helped refocused them to preserver on after they had already taken so many hits from an unseen enemy. And you who seen nothing wrong with might as well replace Martin Luther Kings I Have a Dream Speech to a global warming speech. Do not take the glory away for those brave men. They were raising an American flag not a stupid tree.

Sent by Cpl of the Marines | 9:38 PM | 4-23-2008

It's worth noting that the "upset veterans" were two veterans quoted in an article from an anti-global warming pressure group, and as such were less offended about any tarnishing of the USA or the USMC than their own particular political beliefs.

That said, the USMC is very protective of the Iwo Jima image. After all, when searching the internet about the "Iwo Jima controversy" there were three themes- this article, the staging of the photo... and the battle between the USMC and the USAF over the USAF memorial location.

Sent by orville | 12:16 AM | 4-28-2008

To take a hallowed symbol an alter it no matter how good the intention is in bad taste. I'm sure there were other options were considered. Taking an animal and substituting it for Jesus on the cross - let's say one used in medical testing, no matter how benign the intent would be in bad taste and cause much controversy. Today's young people haven't lived long enough to remember WW2, Korea, even Viet Nam, and would be insensitive to this controversy. My uncle(now deceased) lived through Iwo Jima. I was named after a relative shot down during WW2. He did survive a Nazi POW camp.

Sent by Carl DiDonato | 2:43 PM | 4-28-2008

No matter what the cause may be, to deface the flag raising is wrong. As a former Sergeant of Marines I am very unhappy with Time. HOWEVER, as a vet I respect their right to do it becasue that is why we fight. With that being said, just because you may have the right to do something doesn't mean you should do it because it is immoral or disrespectful, such as the case here. My grandfather is a Marine vet of WWII and fought on Guadalcanal and Bougainville and has expressed his displeasure with the defaced photo.

Sent by J.R. | 3:46 PM | 5-7-2008