MAGA Hats the New White Hood?

Wearing Donald Trump's famous campaign symbol creates a presumption of ill intent. Is that fair?

The recent brouhaha over a confrontation between a high school kid and a Native American activist has spawned dueling columns over the former’s choice of headgear.

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, writes “In Defense of the MAGA Hat.”

For much of progressive America, the moment you pull on a red MAGA hat, you’re suiting up for Team Racist. You’re marking yourself out as a bigot and a goon. Your individuality doesn’t matter anymore, only the cap.

If the kids had been wearing red Washington Nationals caps, the imbroglio might not have gotten any attention at all. Even if it had, many of those progressives who immediately took a critical view of the students might have been more inclined to view them as immature teenagers, rather than soldiers of hate.

As an analysis at Vox noted of the Covington incident, “The hats extinguished pretty much any benefit of the doubt a liberal observer might have given these kids.”

Exactly.

Alyssa Milano notoriously tweeted, “The red MAGA hat is the new white hood.” Which would be close to an apt analogy if people donned MAGA hats to carry out hideously violent crimes against African-Americans and other people uncongenial to them.

In a similar vein, TV writer and producer David Simon pronounced, “Once a campaign prop, a MAGA cap now fronts for such raw evil.” He makes it sound like a red baseball cap with an embroidered American political slogan on the front is the equivalent of the totenkopf.

This is, to put it mildly, an uncharitable view of their fellow citizens, who voted by the tens of millions for the guy who invented the red cap.

It speaks to the marketing genius of Donald Trump that he managed to create not just a potent piece of campaign memorabilia, but a cultural marker that will forever be associated with this period of our national life.

The MAGA hat denotes support for him, yes, but also unapologetic patriotism and a certain boldness. In large swaths of the country, the hat is commonplace. The Covington kids go to school in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, where support for Trump was strong in 2016; surely many of their parents, teachers, and priests voted for him.

In such places, the cap isn’t widely considered a provocation, although it carries some risk wherever it is worn. People occasionally get assaulted for doing nothing other than wearing it.

And is that a surprise, if the cap symbolizes only one thing for the left? As Commonweal magazine columnist Mollie O’Reilly wrote of the Covington controversy, “You don’t let your kid wear a MAGA hat and then act offended when they get taken for a racist.”

Well, there’s the minor detail that your kid might not be remotely racist. It should be incumbent on adults to realize, much though they hate Donald Trump, that not everyone who supports him or wears his political paraphernalia is a hater.

WaPo fashion critic Robin Givhan disagrees, contending, “The MAGA hat is not a statement of policy. It’s an inflammatory declaration of identity.

In the beginning, the MAGA hat had multiple meanings and nuance. It could reasonably be argued that it was about foreign policy or tax cuts, social conservatism, the working class or a celebration of small-town life. But the definition has evolved. The rosy nostalgia has turned specious and rank. There’s nothing banal or benign about the hat, no matter its wearer’s intent. It was weaponized by the punch-throwing Trump rallygoers, the Charlottesville white supremacists, Trump’s nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Kanye West and proponents of the wall, the wall, the wall.

The hat has become a symbol of us vs. them, of exclusion and suspicion, of garrulous narcissism, of white male privilege, of violence and hate. For minorities and the disenfranchised, it can spark a kind of gut-level disgust that brings ancestral ghosts to the fore. And here, in 2019, their painful past is present.

The MAGA hat speaks to America’s greatness with lies of omission and contortion. To wear a MAGA hat is to wrap oneself in a Confederate flag. The look may be more modern and the fit more precise, but it’s just as woeful and ugly.

To wear the hat is to take on history and divisiveness. Because whatever personal meaning might be attached to the hat, the new broader cultural meaning overrides. It is too late to save the hat from this fate. And it’s too soon to try to reclaim it and give it new life.

[…]

The hat is a provocation. Is its corrosiveness too much for high school students to understand? No. They have studied American history. They can sort through complex issues related to the Second Amendment, climate change and abortion to not only have an opinion but also organize to change the opinion of others. They are digital natives who understand the power of images. Armed with so much knowledge, it is, perhaps, a more jolting loss, a graver reality, when youth is wrecked by the acid hatred symbolized by a hat.

To deny the hat’s message is to be in denial — not about a misunderstanding or an unfortunate incident, but a familiar, festering truth.

Givhan is unquestionably right.

It’s not that Lowry is wrong. Indeed, he’s surely right at the level of pure logic. It’s almost certainly the case that many people wear the cap with perfectly benign intentions.

Yet, as with the Confederate battle flag, huge swaths of the country view the symbol as a direct insult, if not with fear for their safety. It is, therefore, a provocative act to wear such symbols. At very least, it undermines the ability one’s ability to persuade others, which is ostensibly the point of public demonstrations.

Where I would quibble with Givhan is in her presumption that the students in question should have her nuanced understanding of history and the power of symbols. I almost certainly didn’t when I was their age. These are white kids being educated in a religious school in a town of  2,645  residents, almost all of whom are likewise white. (Ironically, the second largest group there are American Indians, but they constitute 0.5% of the population.) It’s not only possible but likely that they didn’t comprehend how viscerally others would react to the hat.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, Society, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    The “MAGA” hat, like all indicators of support for Trump, does not necessarily mean the wearer is a white supremacist or racist.

    It just means that white supremacy and racism are not a deal-breaker.

    Not all Trump supporters are racist, but nearly all racists are Trump supporters.

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  2. Mikey says:

    I wouldn’t call them “the new white hood,” but they are white hood adjacent.

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  3. KM says:

    Until someone actually quantifies what “Make America Great Again” really MEANS, how can you say that it’s *not* representative of all the things the white hood is? It’s a catchphrase, not a philosophy. If it’s so vaguely defined that racists can and do claim it for their cause, it’s your fault for not taking your symbol back and saying “this isn’t for you”. Control of the brand is key to marketing and perception – something any real businessman would know. If Trump and Co had a problem with this, they’d have people out there to stop the brand from being damaged by negative association just like every other company we’ve seen do so in the last year.

    If you don’t like the association, maybe get out there and do something to distinguish your brand from those you feel are giving it a bad name. If you don’t think what they’re doing is wrong and just don’t like the bad press, guess what? The label applies!

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  4. KM says:

    It’s not only possible but likely that they didn’t comprehend how viscerally others would react to the hat.

    Nope. It’s 2019 – they’re teenagers and they’ve got the internet. They are not dirt poor in a floorless shack in some holler, they are fairly wealthy and attending a school that provides modern amenities. In fact, I’d bet my house Smirky McSmirkson has been on 4chan (/pol specifically), Reddit, youtube, gaming channels and a TON of other places where the fact that MAGA hats “trigger libs” is a known and cherished fact. We’re not talking about out of touch grandmas who are holding onto decades-old prejudice. These are kids growing up in the era of #MeToo, being woke, PC and the MAGA backlash.

    There’s no damn way they didn’t know that hat has implications and that it would cause the issue it did. That’s WHY they wore them to a march that had LITERALLY nothing to do with MAGA. Why is everyone so dead-set on ignoring that these are teenage boys and they are natural sh^t-stirrers?

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  5. Payne Itch says:

    Racist, no. I see the MAGA cap more like a combination of “Dunce Cap” and “Beware of Dog” sign. They are “Beware of Dunce” caps.

    I appreciate the wearers, I know I can avoid speaking to them or even having to acknowledge them in any way. Makes my life so much easier knowing I can avoid these numbskulls by reading their own advertising of stupid.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s almost certainly the case that many people wear the cap with perfectly benign intentions.

    No. It’s a big ol’ “F-You, Libtards.” Every single one of these people are either racists, or OK with a racist in the White House. I have my F-You hat in response: “Make Racism Wrong Again”.

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  7. SKI says:

    It’s not only possible but likely that they didn’t comprehend how viscerally others would react to the hat.

    I think this is *partially* true but also ridiculously false. Sure, the kids exist in a bubble where their surrounding culture is completely dominated by the implicit message that all the important people think the way they do. For that reason, I’ve been much more critical of the chaperones and leaders of CathCov than the kids themselves.

    That said, it would beggar belief to think they don’t know that people who aren’t like them do have a visceral and negative reaction to Trump. That is why we see incidents like the Royal Oak middle schoolers chanting “Build that Wall” or the over dozens of examples of kids using Trump to bully others.

    Kids very definitely know how Trump impacts others – and use that knowledge to make sure the Others know their place and status.

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  8. Scott F. says:

    Well, there’s the minor detail that your kid might not be remotely racist. It should be incumbent on adults to realize, much though they hate Donald Trump, that not everyone who supports him or wears his political paraphernalia is a hater.

    In his final paragraph, Lowry’s shows exactly what he is trying to do. He wants to salvage the Republicans, the party that selected Trump from a crowded field and supported him through victory in the general election, from the hateful, corrupt, racist Party of Trump.

    A reasonable person could perhaps allow that party loyalty was a strong enough pull to overlook Trump’s clear character in 2016 in order to support his election over Clinton. But in 2019, to still support Trump is to embrace all that he clearly stands for and is to find his character acceptable.

    The hat is undeniably public support for Trump. Put on the hat and you put on Trump.

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  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    C’mon…the entire MAGA enterprise is based on racism; it’s very genesis was birtherism.
    Dennison’s father was in the Klan.
    David Duke endorsed Dennison, and Dennison hesitated to disavow it.
    The red hat stands for ripping brown skinned babies from their mothers arms and putting them in cages. It stands for Neo-Nazis being good people too. It stands for banning Muslims. It stands for grabbing women by the pussies. It stands for calling NFL players who are protesting racial injustice “sons of bitches”.
    Those red hats stand for white supremacy and misogyny.
    If you think otherwise you’re just not paying attention. Get a fvcking clue.

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  10. Blue Galangal says:
  11. James Pearce says:

    It’s not only possible but likely that they didn’t comprehend how viscerally others would react to the hat.

    If you’re “viscerally” reacting to someone in a MAGA hat, you might be living in a bubble. Just saying…

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  12. Not the IT Dept. says:

    What do you want to bet that the little sh*ts who hang out with Smirky McJerkface don’t wear the hat when they’re on their own? That it’s only something they’ve got the guts to do when they’re part of a crowd?

    (Apologies and thanks to KM, but I think mine sounds smoother)

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: One can also react viscerally if one doesn’t live in a bubble.

    For instance, I would certainly have a visceral reaction to having a gun pointed at me, and that has nothing to do with living in a bubble.

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  14. KM says:

    @Not the IT Dept. :

    Meh, I went with basic alliteration. Pre-coffee, my insults are sub-par.

    And I’ll raise you one. Someone should do an experiment to see how often singular instances of MAGA-hat wearers are in crowds (home turf and not) and offer people money to walk around in one alone knowing they might get commentary. The whole “what would you do” so of thing were they see someone get a pointed comment or have it affect their service level before being approached with the offer. What are the odds people would take up the challenge and what’s the minimum amount you’d think they’d need to pay out?

  15. R. Dave says:

    The vast majority of people equating MAGA hats with white hoods are just engaging in deliberate rhetorical excess, as the differences (e.g., a century-long campaign of racist terrorism, thousands of lynchings, etc.) are rather obvious to anyone with a modicum of perspective. On the flipside, though, anyone suggesting that MAGA hats are no different than any other political paraphernalia and could validly be associated with any of Trump’s policies are either willfully blind or disingenuous, as Trump’s core focus on white ressentiment is pretty darn obvious as well.

    In my opinion, MAGA hats serve primarily as an intensifier for whatever overall impression the wearer would otherwise give. A burly redneck dude wearing a MAGA hat comes across as that much more of a redneck, a douchey Wall Street bro wearing a MAGA hat comes across as that much more of a douche-bro, etc., and in this particular case, a bratty teenager wearing a MAGA hat comes across as that much more of a brat.

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  16. R. Dave says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: What do you want to bet that the little sh*ts who hang out with Smirky McJerkface don’t wear the hat when they’re on their own? That it’s only something they’ve got the guts to do when they’re part of a crowd?

    @KM: And I’ll raise you one. Someone should do an experiment to see how often singular instances of MAGA-hat wearers are in crowds (home turf and not) and offer people money to walk around in one alone knowing they might get commentary.

    That, to me, is more a criticism of the Left than it is of the MAGA-hat crowd. Like I said above, even though MAGA hats have more racialized symbolic baggage than other political paraphernalia, they aren’t anywhere near the same ballpark as white hoods and swastikas. People should be able to walk around with them without fear of being accosted (verbally or physically). Of course, I’d go so far as to say the same about literal KKK and Nazi symbols barring extraordinary circumstances that suggest the wearer is deliberately trying to harass / intimidate (e.g., throwing on an SS uniform and hanging around outside a synagogue). Basically, in my opinion, responses to everything should be proportional – passive displays should only ever be met with passive displays, verbal commentary with verbal responses, and physical attack with physical defense. The maximum permissible response to a guy wearing a MAGA hat but otherwise minding his own business (if you feel compelled to respond at all) should be to put on your own hat with a contrary message and otherwise mind your own business.

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  17. Not the IT Dept. says:

    KM: consider yourself a muse. And we don’t need a new experiment, there’s historical precedent. How many KKK members walked around on their own wearing a hood?

    R.Dave: you’ve got to be kidding. Anyone walking around in KKK or Nazi paraphernalia is begging for whatever they get.

    I love it how something is always worse on “the Left”, whatever that expression means anymore. We’re in the post-Trump age, dudes, that kind of meaningless allusion doesn’t work anymore.

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  18. reid says:

    I’m not as quick to call everyone wearing a MAGA hat, or even Trump himself, a racist. But I do think that many people who wear them are showing their team colors, like wearing their favorite sports team cap. Especially when it’s a whole group of people, like the Covington teens. It’s a middle finger to the libtards. That’s where we are as a society, sadly.

    Related, a friend just posted some news about the Stone arrest on facebook. A friend of his that I don’t know replied with some bizarre, childish “hahaha, almost got him!” gif. I have no idea how some people get so radicalized that they actually do take these things as seriously as a sporting event.

  19. KM says:

    @R. Dave:
    A basic Psych 101 experiment they ask freshmen to run is to go out into public and try to get the public to do something odd: stand facing the back wall of an elevator, wear google-eye at the mall, etc and record how people react. You’d be amazed at the commentary a guy would get wearing a sparkly unicorn shirt with devil horns just walking around and doing normal tasks.

    The idea that people should be able to walk about unaccosted for their appearance is a glorious one and something we should all aim for. You should be able to what you want, where you wat and it shouldn’t mean a damn thing. But it ain’t realistic, not by a long shot. Your choice of clothing is just that, a choice and something that people observing you are going to take into account when they interact with you. That you choose to wear something politically controversial means you might run into controversy, including commentary.

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  20. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    One can also react viscerally if one doesn’t live in a bubble.

    Well let me put it this way. I saw a guy at an IHOP wearing a MAGA hat once. He was a young guy, late 20s, not some boomer left in the dust as the world moved on. My first instinct was to think I knew everything I needed to know about the guy.

    But then I realized I was being superficial and kind of dumb. You can’t look at the hat on a person’s head and think you know that person’s soul.

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  21. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    But then I realized I was being superficial and kind of dumb. You can’t look at the hat on a person’s head and think you know that person’s soul.

    Very true. However, he’s giving a glimpse into what’s contained wherein and who are you to deny what he’s trying to tell you? Respect the message he’s sending you and who he’s deciding to show the world. He put the hat on for a reason.

    I’m really curious now: do all the “don’t judge MAGA hat wearers” proponents give the same benefit of the doubt to someone they see in gang colors and paraphernalia? I mean, you can’t see their soul, you don’t know them. You absolutely shouldn’t think of them as thugs or refer to them as such. Maybe they just felt like dressing like MS-13 today when going out for a walk and you shouldn’t let that flavor how you interact with them at all, right? Getting a gang tat shouldn’t mean society treats them like gang-members – maybe they just liked the pattern or are Team Crip!

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  22. Franklin says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I love your hat idea, although I still do think some MAGA wearers are simple fools. Do most of them mean ‘F-You libtards’? Yes, but not all of them.

  23. R. Dave says:

    @KM: Come on, KM. You’re smart enough to know what a terrible analogy that is and why it’s so terrible. Pink pussy hats would be a better analogy. And yes, I do draw instinctive conclusions about the person in the pink pussy hat, just as I do about MAGA hat wearers. However, I’m fully aware that neither is a very good heuristic beyond a very general conclusion that this person is likely to have a rather shallow but intense and uncompromising approach to political/cultural issues.

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  24. al Ameda says:

    I think it – the MAGA hat – is becoming somewhat analogous to a Confederate flag or Confederate decal, in terms of how it is perceived by the non-Trump supporting public.

    This should come as no surprise because Trump has successfully marketed the MAGA brand as emblematic of: Nativism, support of a Wall that keeps out poor and criminal Hispanic and Latin hoards, support of the notion that White Nationalists are part of the ‘good people on both sides’ incident at Charlottesville, and on and on.

    Trump, whether Trump supporters like it or not, has branded MAGA in a way that repels millions of Americans. It is a self-inflicted unintended consequence of Trump’s ongoing marketing efforts.

  25. dazedandconfused says:

    Always suspected the hat was created because The Donald realized he would have to be speaking outdoors….and something HAD to be done to keep the ‘do in place.

    https://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/04/08/635956813587020188-494985326_maxresdefault-4.jpg

    ….so a precise meaning of the phrase was never seriously considered or explained. One can’t overly fault Milano for deciding for herself what it means.

  26. James Pearce says:

    @KM:

    However, he’s giving a glimpse into what’s contained wherein and who are you to deny what he’s trying to tell you?

    Projecting my own prejudices on him is also a way of denying what he’s trying to tell me.

    @R. Dave:

    However, I’m fully aware that neither is a very good heuristic beyond a very general conclusion that this person is likely to have a rather shallow but intense and uncompromising approach to political/cultural issues.

    If you saw someone listening to Nickelback would you conclude they have terrible taste in music? Or would the idea that their experiences are vastly different from yours enter your head?

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  27. JCC says:

    @KM: It’s not a catchphrase, it’s a campaign slogan. What does “Yes We Can” (one Obama’s 2008 campaign slogans) mean, precisely? “Yes We Can” form a union by going on strike? “Yes We Can” take over 16% of the economy? “Yes We Can” declare things we don’t like as “beyond the pale” culturally even though 52% of *California* agreed with it at the time? “Yes We Can” is either an empowerment or a threat, and if you’re going to PHYSICALLY ATTACK people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and try to justify it, you need to go back and see that many slogans can be interpreted in the ways you’re trying to.

    The problem is the left, not the phrase and not the hat. (Just like the time I got a drink thrown at me on campus for nothing more than wearing a McCain/Palin T-shirt.) Go re-educate yourself about the importance of political speech in this land and stop rationalizing *actual violence* out of your distaste.

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  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    You can’t look at the hat on a person’s head and think you know that person’s soul.

    No I can’t, but as I said in my first comment, a person proudly wearing the MAGA hat may not be a racist, but they sure as shit are OK with a racist in the White House. That much I know.

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  29. charon says:

    A very, very long time ago there was a book titled “Dress for Success.” The premise was very basic; how you are dressed signals people what kind of person you are.

    I do not doubt for an instant that a person in a MAGA hat understands how that is perceived. The same would apply to a “Fvck you, We’re Full” tee-shirt, or a “Fvck your Feelings” tee shirt.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Franklin: I’d like to take credit for the hat, but it was my son who gave it to me about a month after the inauguration. Later found out it was an old friend of mine who had them made.

    As to the “F-You Libtards” maybe you know a different type of MAGA hat wearers than the ones here in trumpistan. As KM noted above, it’s their team hat. Just before and right after the election, they were everywhere. These days, not so much. So if you see someone wearing one, it’s a pretty safe bet on who they hate.

  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    This is, to put it mildly, an uncharitable view of their fellow citizens, who voted by the tens of millions for the guy who invented the red cap.

    Repubs have this weird belief that something can’t be racist if it’s also popular.

    not everyone who supports [Donald Trump] or wears his political paraphernalia is a hater.

    Some are just people willing to collaborate with haters for money.

  32. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    No I can’t, but as I said in my first comment, a person proudly wearing the MAGA hat may not be a racist, but they sure as shit are OK with a racist in the White House.

    Maybe they don’t believe Trump is racist.

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  33. R. Dave says:

    @James Pearce: If you saw someone listening to Nickelback would you conclude they have terrible taste in music?

    Wait, do you not?

  34. MarkedMan says:

    James, I think you had the better analogy for the hat when you compared it to the Confederate flag. Whatever the history and the context in which people were raised, someone with even a modicum of self awareness realizes that, once taken out of a local social group, walking around with that flag has a good chance of pressing a lot of buttons.

    So where do fifteen year old kids fit into this? Well, adolescent behavior is often astoundingly unaware of social conventions. But it is also often deliberately provocative, as they “try on” different things and see what reaction they get. The sad thing about these kids is that MAGA-heads and Trumpers have circled the wagons and decided they were blameless saints. That kind of positive reinforcement for dickish behavior is the last thing a 15 year old needs. They could easily grow up to be Ted Cruz.

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  35. Kathy says:

    I’d take the complaints from the right more seriously, had they not engaged in pretty much the same kind of opprobrium about teens wearing Che T-shirts not that long ago.

    For the record, I disapprove of Che T-shirts as well.

  36. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    You can’t look at the hat on a person’s head and think you know that person’s soul.

    That’s asinine. If a man is wearing a cap that says “F**k the Police”, it certainly gives you insight into the man’s soul. Same as a cap that says “Abortion is Murder”, or “NRA”, or “F**k ICE”, or “Socialism is the ONLY way”.

    Almost every cap with a slogan is meant to convey a message. Some are benign. Some are not.

    As an aside: I wear an authentic Colin Kaepernick SF jersey a few times a month, especially when I’m going to be in very white, conservative areas. Can you look into my soul when I wear that jersey? I sure as hell hope so.

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  37. gVOR08 says:

    Dyam. Half way through the post mentally composing a comment about how Lowry’s column could have been written about Confederate monuments and the surprisingly popular Second Naval Jack and it turns out that’s where James was going.

    Small quibble, Park Hills, where the school moved years ago from Covington, Ky, is a near suburb of Cincinnati. If you’ve ever driven from CVG to Cincinnati you’ve driven past it. It’s on the left a few miles before the WKRP opening shot. The metro area is something like 4 million. I don’t have the statistics, but I expect most of the students are from Ohio.

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I can relate re: the Che shirts. To you or I they represent someone who, however he started, ended up with innocent blood on his hands. But… sitting on my front porch are two white ceramic Mao statues, about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall. Every time I see them I am mortified, as to me they represent heinous crimes. But to my wife, they represent kitsch, and she bought them at the Shanghai “antique” mart without asking me. She also has a red army baseball cap and some reproduction communist posters. She just doesn’t see any of this as a political statement. Long ago I realized that it is not my job to police my wife’s view of the world, so I’ve never said anything. But… good thing neither of us ever intends to run for office.

  39. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    That’s asinine

    No, this desire to stereotype people based on what they wear is asinine and you know it.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    The MAGA hat denotes support for him, yes, but also unapologetic patriotism and a certain boldness. – Rich Lowry, above

    That’s just stupid.

    The message intended is not always the message received. When I see a MAGA hat or Trump bumper sticker (saw a Trump 2020 this morning) my thought isn’t, ‘there’s a racist’, although that’s likely, but, ‘Why is this person carrying a sign that says, “I’m an ignorant hillbilly”?’ I always wonder what said person would say if I wore a WARREN 2020 hat. I never put bumper stickers on my car, too concerned some MAGA hatter might key my car. And it would certainly have caused me problems at work.

  41. SKI says:

    @James Pearce: In another situation, you might have an argument BUT if a person puts on a piece of clothing with explicit political messaging, they are publicly stating that they support that political message. Trump’s #1 political message is one of nativism – to be most charitable.

    Someone who wears a MAGA hat is espousing nativism. No stereotyping necessary.

  42. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Have you thought about getting a kitten? You can blame all sort of major, catastrophic damage on the little fur ball, and they don’t seem to mind

  43. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    @EddieInCA:

    That’s asinine

    No, this desire to stereotype people based on what they wear is asinine and you know it.

    No. Wrong. In fact, I KNOW the opposite.

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    Maybe they don’t believe Trump is racist.

    If they are smart enough to vote, to drive, to grocery shop, do laundry, get a burger and fries at McD’s, they are smart enough to know trump is a racist.

  45. KM says:

    Look, this is pretty damn simple.

    (1) If they were just supporting Trump as their fav celebrity / reality TV star /personality, they’d be wearing something that just says TRUMP on it. There’s no shortage of crap he sells that they wouldn’t be able to find anything else to show they just like him as a person.
    (2) Wearing something with Trump’s political messaging (MAGA, Trump 2020, etc ) means you are supporting Trump as politician and his views. The MAGA hat only came into existence during his candidacy so it’s EXTREMELY tied to said views. Wall and all of its racist connotations were there from day one since it was *designed* to be symbol of his views.
    (3) Therefore, wearing a MAGA is supporting Trump’s political views. There is no way in hell you can claim you don’t know a MAGA hat has political connotation if you are able to read or watch TV.

    You wearing a MAGA hat out in public? You are supporting what Trump’s doing politically. Period. Now, you can ignore all the nasty stuff like locking children in cages, screwing up the economy and just generally being a racist ass if you want but the rest of the world doesn’t have your blinders. If you don’t want to be associated with the negative, then DON’T WEAR THE HAT. We don’t get the warm fuzzies you do, we don’t have the positive association and we don’t understand why you’re shooting yourself and us in the foot. I’m very sure there’s someone who looks at the hammer and sickle fondly but wearing it in America is gonna get you the American viewpoint on it and it’s not a happy one.

    You have the right to wear what you please. You have the right to associate a symbol with what you please. You do NOT have the right to demand everyone else only use your association and not view the symbol with their own. Lay down with dogs and get fleas – hang out with racists wearing specific clothes and those clothes (and you wearing them) are going to be associated with racism.

  46. the Q says:

    I saw a guy at a militia rally with an IRS AGENT ball cap. He got the same reception as the MAGA cap at a BLM rally.

    Go to a Raiders game with a Chargers jersey on….same thing.

  47. gVOR08 says:

    Re Che shirts and socialist realism posters and Hammer and Sickles (Hammers and Sickles?), I was surprised several years ago that Macy’s pumped up their red star logo. I think Heineken’s red star has been the same for a long time.

  48. James Pearce says:

    @SKI:

    Someone who wears a MAGA hat is espousing nativism. No stereotyping necessary.

    According to you.

    You’re this close to saying that anyone who wears a Metallica T-shirt might commit Satanic child murders.

    @EddieInCA:

    In fact, I KNOW the opposite.

    Do you recognize who I’m referring to with my Metallica T-shirt comment?

    @KM:

    You wearing a MAGA hat out in public? You are supporting what Trump’s doing politically. Period.

    No shit. They’re quite clearly Trump supporters. Why they should fit all the stereotypes from lefty haters is what I don’t understand.

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  49. An Interested Party says:

    They’re quite clearly Trump supporters. Why they should fit all the stereotypes from lefty haters is what I don’t understand.

    Perhaps you also don’t understand why Trump is a racist…

  50. James Pearce says:

    @An Interested Party: Whether Trump is a racist or not is debatable.

  51. Hal_10000 says:

    Boy, if there was ever a thread of commentary that demonstrated just how encapsulated online leftism is within its own thought bubble, this is it. Do you even hear yourselves? MAGA hats like a Klan Hood (or “hood-adjacent)? Are you inane? How many people have the MAGAs lynched even on their worst day? How many churches have they blown up? How many crosses have they set on fire? How many civil rights workers have they murdered? Trump is an awful President but you guys, in response, have lost your minds. You are so filled with gibberish about symbols and microaggressions that you’ve lost sight of the difference between that and macroagressions. When I was a kid, the Klan burned a cross on the lawn of my synagogue. Wearing a MAGA hat isn’t even the same damned solar system as that.

    “Oh, but Hal, his policies are racist, etc.” Sure. But is this how we do it now? Showing support for a President means you now bears responsibility for everything he does? So now I can say that everyone wearing an Obama hope shirt believes in droning teenagers to death? Or getting us into pointless quagmires in Syria, letting torturers off the hook, letting the CIA spy on Congress and arresting opposition reporters? If I wear a Clinton lapel pin, that means I love mass incarceration?

    Get a grip. You’ve finally got a Congress that will actually resist him and you’re going to grind the moment into the dust on this sort of garbage.

    (And I know I’ll get down-voted to heck, but this hysteria has gone way too far.)

  52. Hal_10000 says:

    PS – Sullivan addressed this today. Remember that most people are not political junkies. They only know what Trump is doing in the vaguest sense. And to a lot of them, the cries of racism sounds identical to the cries the Left Wing has hurled at any political opposition for the last few decades.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Just a few days ago at the middle school for the more middle classed kids in my little town (on the side of town with the $300,000+ houses) one of the students asked if he could raise his hand for attendance by flashing that “Proud Boys” hand sign (and dared me to challenge his “freedom of speech” at the same time). I just smiled as pleasantly as I could and suggested that he should be careful about what he advertises about himself and where. When he raised his hand, he forgot how he had intended to show his presence. A small victory, but a win just the same.

  54. An Interested Party says:

    Whether Trump is a racist or not is debatable.

    Oh yes, it’s just so “debatable”

  55. MarkedMan says:

    @Hal_10000: Well put. I mostly agree, which is why I compared it to the confederate flag and not the white hood. And said that people with even nominal political awareness know it will provoke once they go out side their local area. And that 15 year olds often aren’t even nominally aware of politics and are constantly trying to provoke.

    But, like the confederate flag, it definitely has racial messaging,even if the wearer isn’t aware of them.

  56. James Pearce says:

    @Hal_10000:

    And I know I’ll get down-voted to heck, but this hysteria has gone way too far.

    Nah, you’re right on. I think I upvoted you twice after the first one didn’t take.

    From the Sullivan piece: “It’s a vortex that can lead to nothing but the raw imposition of power by one tribe over another.” Pretty apt description of our politics, I’d say.

    @An Interested Party: Point is that there’s a difference of opinion on that subject. You’re convinced Trump is a racist, but a lot of people aren’t. You can try and convince them to join you in that view, but to do so you have to first acknowledge that “Trump is a racist” is debatable and not a universally agreed upon fact.

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  57. Since a lot of people, even politically-engaged, educated people, will argue that the the Confederate battle flag is not racist (although I personally think they are wrong), then it stands to reason that they would also not see MAGA hats as such.

    And I am even going to agree that many people still don’t think Trump is racist. I think they are wrong there, too, but a lot of people define racism only if it manifests as things like the n-word or people who directly say “I hate black people” or somesuch.

    The bottom line is that if one thinks that keeping out Muslims stops terrorism, or that Latin American immigrants just bring crime and drugs, then one’s views are driven by racism/prejudice. Illogical, unfounded fear of the Other is the motivator, not policy differences. But, people don’t want to admit that to themselves.

    And MAGA itself does raise race-base questions: if you think that the America of the 1950s (back when the US was unrivaled and steel and coal were major parts of our economy), then it is not unfair to note that it was truly great for white males, and far less great for women and blacks.

  58. At a minimum, the MAGA hat is a clear political signifier, and it is one that is provocative. The fact that all those kids were wearing them is just another example of the massive chaperone failure that led to the events of last week.

    If I am taking a bunch of teenagers into a politically charged environment, I am not going to allow them to wear such obvious, attention-grabbing, polarizing symbols into the crowd.

  59. JCC1 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The left does a lot more that’s “provocative”, culturally, than the right does.

  60. @JCC1: That might be true. It might not be true. However, it says nothing about the MAGA hat conversation.

  61. Tony Robinson says:

    What the hell is going on at this place?

    The people running this place have stopped caring about debate at all and have instead just created a huge echo chamber, one full of racists (cough.. Michael Reynolds) and demagogues, who really do nothing but hurl insults at anyone who dares to question anything written here. (Dougie even goes off topic and then complains when people respond to his off topic rants. What an ass.)

    Now you’re saying a campaign slogan on a hat is justification for beating someone up, because KKK and Nazis or something.

    If you have the nerve to raise facts counter to the bloggers here, or if you defend children receiving death threats…. You get banned.

    You sick fucks are actually sitting here justifying violence against children and against a school.

    “Well, they were asking for it with that MAGA hat.”

    What the literal fuck is wrong with you people?

    You are supposed to be adults. You all think you’re so much BETTER that Trump supporters.

    But look at you.

    You are the devils that you imagine others to be.

    If you’re first post here is “Fuck Trump and all his supporters”?…. Instant approval to post here and join the echo chamb…um … Conversion.

    Everything here is confirmation bias and patting yourselves on the back at how much Smarter you are than those Other People.

    BuzzFeed is a credible source here. LOL.

    What a joke you guys have become.

    I’ve had conversions on Twitter with more intelligence and reason.

    What a fascinating little circle jerk you’ve created, cucks.