, 01.21.2019 01:34 PM

Make America White Again

It’s the hat.

The initial coverage of the Kentucky Catholic kid and the Indigenous veteran decidedly favoured the latter over the former.  A short video of the pair was everywhere, and the outrage was everywhere, too: the kid in the Make America Great Again hat had treated the Indian – that’s what Americans still call Indigenous people – with disrespect, or worse.  The fact that it involved fourteen and fifteen-year-olds didn’t matter.

Anyway.  A longer video has emerged, and I believe it tells a somewhat different story.  You can see it here.

The kid has defended himself, too, on the record.  That’s here. (A lawyer undoubtedly wrote it for him, and he was a rude little bastard but, still.)

I don’t know which narrative will end up dominating.  Like Charles Adler, Keith Baldrey (and other journalists I respect) have said, this mess doesn’t look as clear-cut to me, now.  It’s harder to assign blame. Which then raises a key question: why did so many – me included – immediately believe the kid was the bad guy?

Because of the hat, that’s why.

He’s a kid, and I don’t expect him to be as sophisticated about politics and culture as the readers of this web site are. But the kid’s parents?  And the D.C. field trip’s chaperons? And his teachers, at that private, all-boys, mostly-white private school in Kentucky?  They have no excuse.  None.

Letting hundreds of boys run around Washington wearing MAGA hats is profoundly, deeply stupid.  It’s making a political statement, and every one of them knows it.

In the past two years – because, yes, it has been two years since that white supremacist cheated his way into the White House with the assistance of the similarly-racist Russians – that hat has become as distinctive as a Klansman’s white robes or a neo-Nazi’s stiff-arm fascist salute.  It is much more than a hat, now.

Ask a neo-Nazi.  Ask a committed racist.  They’ll tell you: it means Make America White Again.

It’s the “again” that changes the meaning.  Studies have been written about it.  If Trump had said “Make America Great,” he would’ve sounded like any other politician.  It’s the addition of that final word – plus Trump’s personal history of racism, because other, decent Republicans have used the phrase, too – that suggests going back to an earlier time. When things were whiter.  When things were Christian.  When fathers ran America.

As one writer put it:

To what specific period of American greatness are you wanting us to return? When black folk suffered segregation after slavery? When women had no right to vote or control their own bodies? When gay brothers and lesbian sisters felt ceaseless hate? When we stole land from the Native Americans? When we sent Japanese families to internment camps? When America lynched Mexicans?

Perhaps the kid didn’t actually mean to intimidate that indigenous veteran. Perhaps the veteran was a bit wrong in his assessment of the situation. Perhaps the media got it wrong.

Perhaps, perhaps. About that hat, however, there can be no doubt anymore: it means something.

And what it means, now, is hate.


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    Bill Templeman says:

    Warren, What can you tell us about that disturbing photo? Does this well-trimmed guy know what the swastika stands for?

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    Steve T says:

    Nope nope nope. We cannot allow ourselves to go down this path. We can’t start taking multi-leaps of logic to fit our own biases about people, or political parties.

    The media, and many of us in the public (me included) screwed this one up royally. We desperately wanted to see a particular narrative to that tiny snippet of video, so we allowed ourselves to be sold that story. The students’ own school was more than happy to cover its ass and throw these kids under the bus, before any substantive review was done.

    Everyone who purports to strive for a just society should be ashamed of how this went. Wearing the hat can cause us to judge the person for supporting a bad person, but thousands of people wear that hat every day and we don’t splatter the news with their pictures and attribute heinous acts to them. We took it too far this time, and it was wrong. Period.

    This is the sort of thing that will give the Trump mouth-breathers fodder for their “fake news” tropes for years to come.

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      Warren says:

      Did you even read what I wrote? Any of it?

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        Steve T says:

        I did, and my takeaway was that it was an attempt to excuse everyone (me included) who jumped to the incorrect conclusion – because of the hat. And a more general condemnation of the hat.

        My point is that the MAGA hat is not analogous to a swastika armband, or other overt symbols of racism. Yes, Trump is a despicable person, but as has been discussed on your forum previously, a lot of reasonable people voted for him. The policies of the Trump administration are nowhere close to those of Nazi Germany, or other regimes where the logo is equal to horrific transgressions.

        MAGA does not equal Make America White Again. I’ve seen people of colour wearing it. It also does not equate to hate. Some haters wear it, but some haters wear NDP t-shirts too.

        I guess my overall view is that we shouldn’t make any excuses for ourselves on this matter. Let’s defeat Trump and his ilk by pointing out the (countless) actual racism, xenophobia, etc., rather than priming ourselves to assume everyone in MAGA hats are probable racists.

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          P T says:

          You have some serious issues, bigotry is probably the top of the list. Seek help.

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          Steve T says:

          Um… so now being anti-abortion means you are likely to be a racist?? Wow.

          And just to clarify: kids who are sent to pro-choice rallies by their parents are today’s dynamic youth walking on the side of the angels. But if it is a pro-life rally, then they are just brainwashed robots. Is that how the narrative goes?

          If you wonder why otherwise-reasonable people vote for a-holes like Trump, it is attitudes like these. They feel they’re going to get labelled a racist anyway, so why not back someone who promises them other things they want.

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          doconnor says:

          “so now being anti-abortion means you are likely to be a racist??”

          Going to an anti-abortion rally while wearing a MAGA hat does bring up the odds substantially.

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    Daryl Gordon says:

    I’ve been in sunny Florida for quite some time now, watch local news daily,read local newspapers regularly. The only mentions of the hatboy and the American Indian came and went quickly. The Buzzfeed fiasco coupled with the release of the complete video showing the context of the incident just feeds red meat to the fake news narrative.

    Never Trumpers and left leaning media pounce on these stories immediately, then look foolish (again) when all the information emerges. Trump has no problem putting his foot in his mouth all by himself, his base don’t care, biased reporting only adds to their resolve.

    My very informal survey of patrons of golf courses, bars and restaurants shows quiet support for immigration control , lower taxes and no one is discussing a trade for our incompetent pretty boy leader any longer.

    Go Patriots.

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    James West says:

    Diversity just means less White people.
    China does not have diversity and it seems to be doing just great.

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      The Doctor says:

      Yeah I hear the Chinese justice system is the bee’s knees. And that multi-party democracy that they have is vibrant. Freedom of speech is also alive and well.

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        Fred from BC says:

        Missed his point entirely, didn’t you?

        When you read something that you can’t quite understand, there is no shame in asking for an explanation, Doc…

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          The Doctor says:

          I also forgot to point out that the Chinese have been doing a marvelous job stamping out troublesome Tibetan diversity and Muslim Uyghur diversity. Yep, they’re doing just great.

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    James Mathieson says:

    The Trump derangement syndrome runs strong in the writer of this slanderous conspiracy theory fantasy you people are sick in the head

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    Pedant says:

    I am the only one who watched the initial video (before the longer video came out) and scratched my head at all the fuss?

    The highschool kid is just standing there. He’s not assaulting anyone. He’s not even yelling at anyone. He has a smirk but what teenager doesn’t?

    THAT is what the Left was going bonkers over? A teenager with a snarky attitude? This fake outrage will not win anyone over to their side.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Ditto, that was my first reaction as well. It didn’t look like attempted intimidation to me. But it also did not seems to be respectful or polite.

      When I saw that armband (from another rally?)…it brought me in line with Warren’s thinking.

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        Walter says:

        Was that 1 of the Coventry kids wearing the Swastika armband?
        Maybe I was wrong when I said the kids did nothing wrong.

        The story has nothing to do with the protest, where although the kids behaved best – nobody was outrages (well maybe the Black Hebrews a bit). The story is how the media could take a nothing story, do nothing to verify the story, and attempt to ruin a child’s’ life.

        Now maybe if the other kids wore the Swastika, the school is not innocent, but the kid who was singled out is.

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    Blair Thomson says:

    From where I sit, is it not surprising that those who cannot see what a MAGA hat represents (especially after two years, as Warren observes) cannot see the difference between a smirk and a smile. A pathetic spectacle, especially so when viewed through an historical lense.

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      Walter says:

      Based on the past 2 years, I would say the MAGA hat means returning a strong economy to the USA. It means jobs for Black, Hispanics, and all others. It means treating all law abiding people with respect.

      It seems hard to believe that some people oppose these ideals.

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