The militiamen presented themselves proudly bearing the emblems of their groups – American flags with the stars replaced by the Roman numeral III, crests bearing the inscription “Oath Keepers”. The Alt-right guys wore Pepe the Frog masks, and QAnon adherents could be seen in t-shirts urging people to “trust the plan.” White supremacists brought their variant of the crossed cross.
And then there were thousands of Trump supporters with MAGA gear – flags, hats, T-shirts, thermos, socks. A flag represented President Trump as Rambo; another featured him riding a Tyrannosaurus rex and carrying the kind of rocket-propelled grenade launcher seen on the streets of Mogadishu or Kandahar.
The iconography of the American far right was on display during the violence on Capitol Hill last week. The dizzying array of symbols, slogans and imagery was, for many Americans, a stark aspect of the unrest, revealing an alternate political universe where violent extremists, racists, and conspiracy theorists march side by side with Christians. evangelicals, suburban Trump supporters and young men who revel in creating memes to “own the libraries.”
To unite them is a loyalty to Mr. Trump and a firm belief in his false and discredited insistence on the stealing of the election. The absurdity of many of the images only masked a devotion that inspired a crowd to mount a deadly attack on Congress.
“It’s often a caricature – it looks like military fan fiction – until it isn’t and it crosses a very dangerous line,” said Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Harvard Kennedy School Media, Politics and Public Policy.