'The Protester': Did Time pick the right Person of the Year?

The magazine chooses the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street for its annual honor — passing over Steve Jobs, a popular favorite

TIME magazine
(Image credit: Facebook/TIME)

And the winner is... "The Protester." Time named its Person of the Year Wednesday, and chose to honor those who rose up against authority. "A year after a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself ablaze, dissent has spread across the Middle East, reaching Europe and the U.S., reshaping global politics and redefining people power," Time.com said of the decision. Runners-up included: William McRave, who led the Navy SEAL special ops team that got Osama bin Laden; Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident; Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman; and Kate Middleton, the new Duchess of Cambridge. They did not include the late Steve Jobs, who made the public short list but was deemed ineligible because, Time's editors say, the honor isn't a "lifetime achievement award." (Jobs is, however, included in the magazine's "fond farewells" section.) Is "The Protester" deserving of the Person of the Year honor?

Definitely: "I was surprised by Time's choice at first, but it makes a lot of sense to me," says Adriana Velez at The Stir. This was the first year in a long time that significant numbers of people around the world took to the streets and, in many cases, really changed things. While some may question whether the Occupy Wall Street protesters deserve to be honored alongside the Arab Spring protesters, I see OWS as part of the same movement. Even here in the U.S., "protesting requires work and sacrifice."

"Time Person of the Year choice takes everyone by surprise"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Yeah, I guess so: While it "feels a little wishy-washy" that Time didn't pick an individual person, "there really does seem to be a spirit of rebellion taking over worldwide, uniting American college kids and the Egyptian poor in a way unimaginable before," says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. Though, like many, I expected Steve Jobs to win, Time builds a persuasive case for its choice with this photo- and profile-packed issue. Still, the editors' judgment isn't entirely defensible. Kate Middleton as a runner-up? Really now.

"Time Magazine's Person Of The Year is the protester"

Not if the Occupy protesters are included: Perhaps protesters in the Middle East deserve the honor, but America's Occupy Movement, which began as group of a peaceful protesters, has become "a raging horde of domestic terrorist revolutionaries," says Todd Starnes at Fox News. Public parks were turned "into vast wastelands of human filth and disease," women were raped and assaulted, children were "terrorized by screaming crowds," ports were shut down — all thanks to the Occupy protests. The violent movement inflicted both economic and physical pain on the populace, and yet Time's boneheaded editors chose to honor it.

"Time 'Person of the Year' poops on cars"

Or any protesters: "Oh, please," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "What impact has 'The Protester' actually had in 2011?" Unlike the Tea Party in 2010, the Occupy movement hasn't had "any kind of ground-breaking impact on politics." And, while the Arab Spring protesters effected actual change, the end result in Tunisia and Egypt has been the replacement of oppressive dictators with oppressive theocracies. "Instead of picking an actual person who had a real impact on the world this year… Time instead chose to highlight one of the media’s most overblown stories."

"Time's POTY: 'The Protester'"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.