by EMILY KALLMYER
Time Magazine has named German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the “Person of the Year,” marking the first time in 29 years a woman has received the title, which was called “Man of the Year” up until 1999.
Merkel was selected in large part because of her strong guidance throughout the European debt crises and her role in the ongoing refugee crisis. But some have expressed disapproval over the decision.
Most notably, Donald Trump, a runner-up for the award, shared his view on Thursday on “Fox & Friends”.
“I think they absolutely picked the wrong person,” Trump said.
He disparaged the chancellor, naming her as “the person that’s really done tremendous damage to Germany.”
The presidential-hopeful used the opportunity to reinforce his views on refugee policy.
“You see what’s happening with the hundreds of thousands of refugees,” Trump said. “Germany is in turmoil and there’s crime all over the place.”
Even those known for condemning Trump admitted that he seemed like the clear choice for this year’s award. It’s particularly important to note the context within which the selection occurs.
Since 1927, the title has been bestowed upon the person, or sometimes group, who “for better or worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year,” according to the magazine.
Over time, several controversial figures have been named, including Adolf Hitler, who held Merkel’s current position as German chancellor when he received the title in 1938.
But some point out that in recent years, this policy does not appear to be the case.
“The recent string of ‘praiseworthy’ Persons of the Year has made the title feel more like an honor than a commentary,” Vox’s Caroline Framke said.
Many argue that Trump’s domination of the news cycle and undeniable impact on the global conversation would have made him a perfect candidate for the title.
“[Merkel] sounds like somebody you want to be person of the year,” said Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host. “Time magazine has long told us it is the person who has shaped events for good or ill the most around the world.”
However, Time’s managing editor Nancy Gibbs argues that over the 10 years that Merkel has been in office, she has gracefully handled a number of catastrophes.
“Not once or twice but three times this year there has been reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft,” Gibbs said in an article dedicated to Merkel. “…Each time Merkel stepped in.”
And Gibbs is just one of many who recognize Merkel’s strong leadership and integral role as a model for other European leaders to take action on large issues, such as the refugee crisis.
Merkel has committed to allowing 800,000 refugees into Germany this year, a far greater amount than any other European country.
“No one who knows that history could fail to be moved by the way in which Germany became the promised land for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” said The Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash. “The Statue of Liberty took up temporary residence in Berlin.”
And in the face of a world currently debating the safety issues surrounding these topics, Merkel’s decision held even more weight, just one factor among many for why she received this recognition.
“For asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Angela Merkel is TIME’s Person of the Year,” Gibbs said.