Home Penny blacks Insurgency 2.0? The Capitol police are preparing for the bacchanalia of criminals.

Insurgency 2.0? The Capitol police are preparing for the bacchanalia of criminals.

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By Jonathan D. Sarna, Jordan Brasher, Long T. Bui, Paul Bruski and Tom Birkett

A rally in Washington, scheduled for September 18, 2021, is being touted as an effort to support people facing criminal charges for their involvement in the January 6 insurgency on the U.S. Capitol.

Many of the same groups that participated in January are expected to return to the nation’s capital for this protest. The Capitol Police would prepare for the violence and erect protective fences around the building.

Groups involved in the January attack on Capitol Hill wore a variety of political and ideological flags and signs. The conversation asked researchers to explain what they saw – including old Nordic images and more recent flags from U.S. history – and what those symbols mean.

Here are five articles from the cover of The Conversation, explaining what many symbols mean.

1. The Confederate Battle Flag

Perhaps the most recognized symbol of white supremacy is the Confederate Battle Flag.

“Since its inception in the Civil War, the Confederate battle flag has been regularly hoisted by white insurgents and reactionaries battling the rising tides of newly conquered black political power,” writes Jordan Brasher at Columbus State University, who studied how Confederation was commemorated.

He notes that in a photo taken inside the Capitol, the history of the flag is clearly evident as the man wearing it stands between “the portraits of two Civil War-era US senators. – one a staunch supporter of slavery and the other an abolitionist once beaten until he lost consciousness for his views on the Senate floor.

2. Gadsden’s yellow flag

Another flag with a racist story is the “Don’t step on me” flag. A warning symbol for self-defense, it was designed by owner and slave trader Christopher Gadsden at the start of the American Revolution, as Iowa State University graphic design specialist Paul Bruski writes.

“Due to the history of its creator and because it commonly flies alongside the ‘Trump 2020’ flags, Confederate Battle Flag, and other white supremacist flags, some may now see Gadsden’s flag as a symbol of intolerance and hatred – or even racism. ”he explains.

It was adopted by the Tea Party movement and other Republican-leaning groups, but the flag still bears the heritage and name of its creator.

3. Powerful anti-Semitism

Another branch of white supremacy does not target black people. Instead, he demonizes the Jewish people. Many anti-Semitic symbols were on display during the riot, as Jonathan D. Sarna explains.

Sarna is a specialist in American anti-Semitism at Brandeis University and describes the ways in which “[c]anything to exterminate Jews is common in far-right and white nationalist circles. This included a gallows erected outside the Capitol, evoking a disturbing element from a 1978 novel depicting the takeover of Washington, as well as mass lynchings and the slaughter of Jews.

4. Co-opted Nordic mythology

Among the most striking images of the January riot were those of a man wearing a shirtless, horned hat, sporting several large tattoos. He is known as Jake Angeli, but his full name is Jacob Chansley, and he pleaded guilty to one of six counts as part of a plea deal for his role in the riot.

Tom Birkett, professor of Old English at University College Cork in Ireland, explains that many of the symbols Chansley wore are from Norse mythology. However, he explains, “These symbols have also been co-opted by a growing far-right movement.”

Birkett traces the modern use of Nordic symbols back to the Nazis and points out that it is a form of code hidden in plain sight: “While some symbols are difficult for the general public to spot, they are certainly global white supremacist movement who know exactly what they mean.

5. An outlier, in a way

Another flag was clearly visible during the Capitol Riot, a flag that does not strictly represent white supremacy: the flag of the former independent country of South Vietnam.

But Long T. Bui, a global studies researcher at the University of California at Irvine, explains that when flown by Americans of Vietnamese descent, many of whom support Trump, the flag symbolizes militant nationalism.

“[S]Some Vietnamese Americans see their fallen homeland as an extension of the American push for freedom and democracy around the world. I interviewed Vietnamese American soldiers who fear that American freedom is failing, ”he explains.

Editor’s Note: This story is a summary of articles from The Conversation’s archives and is an update to an article previously published on January 15, 2021.

Jonathan D. Sarna is a university professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun is professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University. Jordan Brasher is Assistant Professor of Geography at Columbus State University. Long T. Bui is Associate Professor of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Paul Bruski is associate professor of graphic design at Iowa State University. Tom Birkett is Senior Lecturer in Old English at University College Cork.

The conversation


The Conversation arose out of deep concerns about the degradation of the quality of our public discourse and the recognition of the vital role that academic experts could play in the public arena. Information has always been essential to democracy. It is a societal good, like drinking water. But many now find it difficult to trust the media and experts who have spent years researching a topic. Instead, they listen to those with the loudest voices. These uninformed views are amplified by social media networks that reward those who spark outrage instead of insight or thoughtful discussion. The Conversation seeks to be part of the solution to this problem, to make the voices of real experts heard and to make their knowledge available to everyone. The Conversation is published every night at 9 p.m. on FlaglerLive.


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