There’s been a recent uproar online showing “Make America Great Again” hat-wearing kids standing face-to-face with a Native American man from the Indigenous People’s March. Many people’s reactions are based on several perspectives, but most importantly, the symbol of the MAGA hat has drawn accusations of racism to the Covington Catholic High School students.
This isn’t the first instance the MAGA hat has received negative feedback from the public. Like the controversy over the Confederate Flag, the public must ask themselves: Has the MAGA hat become a symbol of hate?
“Individuals who wear MAGA hats see them as supporting the idea that America should be made great again,” Jeannine Bell, a hate crime scholar and professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, said in a WNYC Studios interview. “It’s not necessarily linked with this idea of white supremacy. Others see the MAGA hats as the racial hatred that was invoked, at particular times, by members of the Republican Party. In that way, the MAGA hat is a very complicated sign.”
“Complicated” describes the situation at best. For many, wearing the MAGA hat shows a sign of pride for President Trump. Others see it as a slap to the face, especially for minority communities who have been verbally attacked and alienated by Trump’s rhetoric.
When Trump launched his campaign with MAGA as his initial slogan, anything that Trump has said or done is now tied to this hat, including:
- Trump’s racist rhetoric against Hispanics, when he said, “[Mexicans] are bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
- Trump’s racist rhetoric when he laid ownership to a black man and said, “Look at my African-American over here.”
- Trump tweeted sexist rhetoric about Hillary Clinton (and said and treated her throughout his campaign) and said, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
- When the Trump Administration banned transgender people from the military.
Likewise, “Make America Great Again” means reversing the progressive strides for all minority communities, including women, and returning to what “made” America great. Considering America’s rich history of sexism, racism and homophobia (not all of which are mutually exclusive), making America great only means making this nation great for some, not all.
Regardless if some don’t view MAGA as a symbol of hate, a large population of the majority sees it that way.
“It’s important for us to be honest with each other about the impressions that we’re creating when we engage with one another,” Bell said. “So individuals who put on the hats, they know how others see them. They have a sense of this. These are polarized times where we talk about things. They may decide to wear them anyway, and that’s of course their right. But this is not surprising that one might see the wearing of this hat as an invocation of racism.”
Out of respect for others, consider the hate the MAGA hat now carries. I hope the hate MAGA holds is not truly how anyone feels.