MAGA Hats, White Hoods, and Swastikas: One Big Happy Family


How many of you have ever heard of J. Kenji Lopez Alt? Personally, I’m a pretty big fan. His Food Lab column at Serious Eats, and his Food Lab book (I promise that’s not an affiliate link… I make $0.00 USD if you click that and order the book; I do highly recommend it, however), have been hugely influential on me as a cook. He’s the Jimmy Page of food, as far as I’m concerned (and if you know how much I love Led Zeppelin, then you know how much of a compliment that is from me). He’s opened up his own restaurant in the Bay Area, as well.

Called Wursthall, it’s definitely a restaurant I desperately want to check out. Having made many of Kenji’s recipes in my own home, I already know the food is good. It’s just a matter of getting out there to try it… and I don’t have the money to do that.

Another reason I’m a big fan of Kenji is that when his politics creep into his food, it’s absolutely awesome. Just look at his Twitter bio

Full-time Dad. Author: The Food Lab (I don’t control @TheFoodLab). Chef. Feminist. Atheist.

Yeah I know… we don’t love men who proclaim themselves to be feminists. I don’t call myself a feminist, not because I don’t wholeheartedly support feminism (I very much do), but because of how many “feminist” men have shown themselves to be anything but… causing, obviously, a distinct lack of trust in men who make that proclamation. That said, having followed Kenji for years, he’s shown that he doesn’t just talk the talk… he walks the walk, as well.

Nathan. What does any of this have to do with MAGA hats, white hoods, and swastikas?

A couple weeks ago, Kenji said, in a now-deleted tweet

It hasn’t happened yet, but if you come to my restaurant wearing a MAGA cap, you aren’t getting served, same as if you come in wearing a swastika, white hood, or any other symbol of intolerance and hate.

He followed that up with a later tweet (also now deleted) saying…

MAGA hats are like white hoods except stupider because you can see exactly who is wearing them.

As y’all can imagine, this sparked a ridiculous amount of controversy.

As you can also imagine, I think Kenji is 100% correct, and I fully support his statement (well… I don’t support the use of the ableist slur, but I do support the spirit of the statement).

So let’s talk about why. I’m going to skip the histories of the white hood and the swastika, because those are well known. That said, it’s not a secret what both of those symbols represent: they represent the genocide of people of color. They represent racism. They represent Patriarchal White Supremacy.

The question, of course, is whether or not the MAGA hat represents the same.

My answer is… yes. 100%, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Now let me tell you why.

Actually, I’ll let Jennifer Wright start us off

[Ryan Moore] seems to think that people woke up one day and thought, “I hate American greatness and red hats.”

People don’t decide that items of clothing are hateful arbitrarily. They don’t even decide that because of political differences. Nobody wearing a Jeb(!) fleece is going to get fearful, horrified looks.

Do you know why people think MAGA hats are a symbol of hatred? Because people wearing them keep doing hateful things.

Those guys who waved Tiki torches and murdered Heather Hayer at Charlottesville? The Unite the Right organizer encouraged them to “Bring your MAGA hats if you’ve got ’em.” The result was a slew of people chanting Nazi slogans while wearing Make America Great Again hats.

Would-be terrorist Caser Sayoc who sent homemade pipe bombs to those who he perceived to be Trump’s political enemies, is pictured countless times proudly wearing his MAGA hat.

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland Shooter, boasted a MAGA hat avatar on his Instagram, and was seen around the school wearing one.

David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, celebrated Trump’s victory with a picture of Trump wearing his MAGA hat. In that tweet he claimed “our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump #Maga.”

Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six and wounded 19 at a Mosque in Quebec, is pictured proudly wearing a MAGA hat on social media.

In a particularly bizarre case, the cannibal killer Austin Harrouf was supposedly wearing a MAGA hat while he attempted to eat one of his victims’ faces.

Willie Ames, who threw a Mexican man onto the subway tracks after shouting, “F—ing Mexicans. You people are dirty. You people are nasty” was, you guessed it, wearing a MAGA hat at the time.

And though they were not wearing hats at the time, just this week, the guys who beat up Empire star Jussie Smollet and doused him in bleach reportedly shouted “MAGA country!” along with other racist and homophobic slurs.

It’s no secret that the KKK and the Neo-Nazis in the US rallied around Trump and celebrated his win. Not only did they take his slogan… Make America Great Again… but they also took one of his outfits… a white polo, khaki slacks, a belt, and… of course… a MAGA hat.

Just because racists wear the hat doesn’t make it a racist symbol!

Really? Tell that to the swastika…  or the white hood. Neither were racist symbols until racists got a hold of them. But in the case of MAGA, it’s even worse… because the man who took it as his slogan is a darling of racist, patriarchal right-wing fascists for a reason…

Let’s start with Trump’s racism. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t recent. The man has been racist his entire life. I won’t go over all the racist things he said during and after his campaign… we already know those. Let’s look at the lesser-known ones… like this one

They first met him, on the front page no less, on Oct. 16, 1973. Then 27 years old, Mr. Trump was the president of the Trump Management Corporation, at 600 Avenue Z in Brooklyn, which owned more than 14,000 apartments in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

“Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City,” the headline stated. The Department of Justice had brought suit in federal court in Brooklyn against Mr. Trump and his father, Fred C. Trump, charging them with violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in the operation of 39 buildings.

“The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals ‘because of race and color,’ ” The Times reported. “It also charged that the company had required different rental terms and conditions because of race and that it had misrepresented to blacks that apartments were not available.”

And yes… despite Trump’s claims, they found quite a bit of evidence

But let’s move forward… to the 80’s, where Kip Brown accused one of Trump’s businesses, Trump’s Castle, of discrimination

Now he was looking for work as a livery driver. Brown also used to work in the casinos, at the Showboat, bussing tables, and at Trump’s Castle, stripping and waxing floors. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” he said. “It was the eighties, I was a teen-ager, but I remember it: they put us all in the back.

The Central Park Five case is infamous, so I really don’t have to highlight that, other than to point out the fact that Trump still thinks they’re guilty!

In 1991, John O’Donnell wrote a book in which he quoted the following statement from Trump about a black accountant…

“Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

And let’s not forget the role that Trump played in the extremely racist Birther Movement.

The fact of the matter is that Trump… is hella racist. Dude does not like people of color at all. And despite Jared Kushner, he clearly has an underlying streak of anti-Semitism in his blood, as well.

His misogyny is also well-documented and is yet another reason right-wing fascists absolutely adore him.

This is the guy who said that women just let him “grab them by the pussy” because he’s famous. He’s suggested that women should be punished for having abortions, and he’s said multiple times that he’s attracted to his daughter.

In the 1980s, he had a “fat picture” of Louise Sunshine, that he used whenever she did something he didn’t like in order to shame her.

In 1990, he said he wouldn’t give his wife Ivana any “negotiable assets” like decent jewels.

In 1992, he reduced an Olympian to her looks, completely erasing her accomplishments.

In 1994, he said that “… putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.”

In 1997, he called up the old “gold digger” trope…

Trump’s hatred of people who aren’t straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, wealthy men is extremely well-documented. That is exactly why the KKK and neo-Nazis in the US have rallied around him. That is exactly why his favorite golfing outfit has become their favorite uniform.

Kenji did make a mistake, however… he apologized.

To be entirely fair, he apologize to his business partners and his staff. So I take that back. The apology itself wasn’t his mistake… it was his decision to delete and walk back the original tweets. This is one of those rare cases where I would have preferred some doubling-down… and it would have been even better had his staff and his partners chosen to support him. My guess is that his staff and partners sat him down and said “dude… this is bad”. And that sucks… that almost makes me think that Kenji should take a second look at the people he’s partnered with and hired at his restaurant.

Does he have MAGA-hat wearers working there? Is he partnered with them? Does he know?

The fact is that the MAGA hat, the white hood, and the swastika are birds of a feather. They are family, because they represent the exact same things. It was a MAGA-hat-wearer who called countries that people of color live “shithole countries”, and it was a MAGA-hat-wearer who murdered Heather Heyer.

It will be disgusting if the MAGA hat is not remember as a symbol of Patriarchal White Supremacy. Trump himself, the man who made MAGA famous… who made those hats famous… is a racist, misogynistic, right-wing fascist. So of course his hat is a symbol of right-wing fascism… it was created by one.

Comments

  1. says

    Yup, spot on.

    (Also, I’m a big fan of Kenji Lopez-Alt’s technique for making risotto in a pressure cooker. All the deliciousness of risotto in a fraction of the time 🤤)

  2. DonDueed says

    Hear, hear. Anyone who would wear a MAGA hat now is either utterly clueless or deliberately advertising their racism.

  3. StevoR says

    secon ..no 5th~ing the spot on bit.

    Incidentally, have you seen Samanatha Bee’s take on the whole “Is Trump racist? YES!” issue :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS1NF56-1Dc

    I reckon its sums things up pretty well.

    Sadly Trumpian rhetoric has recently been spewed here in Oz about refugees by our disgusting excuse for a govt & islikely to be ramped up during the soon-to-come election.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    A timely historical perspective on red caps and white robes comes from associate professor of classics and ancient history Matthew A. Sears via an interview by Chauncey de Vega at Salon.com.

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