Apropos this, if you saw a vehicle with this


on its windows, would you interpret it as “Heil Hitler?

In related news, the Dallas Cowboys are going to have their 1st round pick, Dez Bryant, wear jersey number 88, following in the tradition of Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson.  Are they sending a secret, racist message to those players, who are all black?

(Note that I’m not disputing the apparent fact that “88” is a code for “Heil Hitler” to some neo-Nazis.  I’m just noting that the nature of code is such that others will use the same code for something completely different — often if not usually completely oblivious to the other interpretations.)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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.


  1. Jimmie says:

    Of course not.

    Not only is it insanely popular because it’s Dale Earnhart Jr’s NASCAR car number, but it’s also stylized such that it is unmistakable as a “sports number”.

  2. Rachel says:

    The number though, even when used in sporting, or even innocent clothing at Target is often hijacked by the right (one time they made a shirt with 88 and the neo-nazis had a field day buying them up). The number 14 also comes with a negative association and is everywhere. Again to most people its simply 14, but to the white supremacist set it’s meaningful. Often times neo-nazis and the like use these otherwise innocuous numbers on their clothing to help identify one another. You don’t ban the use of these numbers because it’s beyond ludicrous, but you have to take into context where you see them.

  3. Joe says:

    Since when did the number 88 stand for neo-Nazi racism? I didn’t get that memo.

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    I have created my own number and word secret message list. I then compared this to Obama speeches. The result shows Obama is the secret love child of Brezhnev and is part of a long term KGB infiltration plan. Obama also eats babies and strangles kittens.
    It is amazing what secrets you can discover if you look for them hard enough.

  5. markm says:


    …Heil Hitler huh?….

  6. Restless says:

    Of course “88” can mean different things to different people, I don’t think anyone’d seriously dispute that the number itself means all kinds of things to different people. It’s the presentation that’s the issue. If I see symbols like “14/88” or “14CV88” or whatever other cutesy variations are popular with a certain subgroup on someone’s car or shirt or whatever — particularly in concert with other symbols popular with white supremacists like the Confederate battle flag — I’m going to draw certain conclusions about the values, beliefs and intentions of that individual. Namely, they’re an idiot and someone I’d rather avoid.

  7. Phil Smith says:

    The only thing 88 means to me
    Is the number of piano keys

  8. Highlander says:

    I would place a wager, that if the allegedly offensive material was fielded by a Muslim,and aimed at the west, this site would have taken no notice.

    August 9,378 AD grows near. Our world is soon changing permanently.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    “88” has a bit of a Nazi association for me.

    As a military buff, the Germans made a lot of cannons in the 88mm size, of various calibers and uses. And they were superb, especially in anti-aircraft and anti-tank roles. Considering that our tanks had 75mm cannons, the Germans with their 88mms had us outgunned.

    There was also a branch of the family that ended up on warships, especially U-Boats, and it was very effective there.

    The Germans tended to make very good weapons. And the “88” was one of the finer ones.


  10. mannning says:

    Ok I’m a nitpicker. Caliber is the bore diameter of a gun, and if it is an 88mm gun, that is its bore dimension. One cannot make an 88mm gun with a different caliber, but you can make an 88mm gun with a different barrel length.

  11. just me says:

    I would think NASCAR not neo nazi. Especially in that style.

  12. floyd says:

    Strangles kittens? My gramma always said; “There’s a little bit of good in the worst of us, and a little bit of bad in the best of us”!
    I guess it’s a matter of perspective. [lol]