The cover of Der Spiegel this week is grim and horrific ― but not quite surprising. It features Donald Trump wearing a Klu Klux Klan hood, a not-so-veiled reference to his comments equating white supremacists to people protesting against them, made just a few days after one woman in the latter group was killed in Virginia.
American artist Edel Rodriguez is behind the stark depiction. “He deserves to be wearing that Klan hood,” the artist told HuffPost in an email.
Rodriguez was critical of the president even before his election, and he has the drawings to prove it. A Cuban immigrant, Rodriguez felt compelled to warn his fellow citizens about the danger of electing a man like Trump, in whom Rodriguez recognized qualities of a dictator. He took his fear and anger out on paper.
One drawing, made during the campaign, now seems eerily prophetic. It illustrates a debate between Trump and Clinton; Clinton dons a white suit and Trump, a white hood. A year ago an image like this might have seemed like a paranoid stretch, but today, few can argue with its prescience.
“The debate was about to happen and Trump had recently gone after the Khans,” Rodriguez recalled. “In my mind, he was always a racist. But the problem for me, back then, was to take a leap and show that in the middle of an election. I felt I had to and take the risk that someone might see my work as going too far or being unfair. I always felt we would be at this point, that’s why I’ve been making images about this for a year and a half.”
When the time came to create this week’s Der Spiegel cover, Rodriguez didn’t hesitate.
“At this point, putting him in a KKK hood is liberating. There’s no leap to make,” he said. “He has stood up for White Supremacists, Nazis and the KKK like no president has before. It’s shameful and disgusting. Thousands of American soldiers lost their lives to bring down Nazism.”
Rodriguez has taken Trump to task twice this week since his comments about white supremacists and neo-Nazis following Saturday’s deadly rally. In a cover image for Time, he drew a man gesturing the Nazi salute draped in an American flag.
In a February interview with HuffPost, Rodriguez expressed his hope that his art might encourage others to stand up for what’s right, even if it’s uncomfortable or frightening. “My work encourages people that are a little afraid,” he said. “When they see what I do, and all the stuff that comes at me, they might say, ‘Wow, that guy has some guts. Maybe I should get some, too.’”