That is, people who despise Donald Trump are now aiming their anger at those who wear the red caps in support of the president.
This is dangerous stuff, and not just because of the absurdity that fashion has become the latest political battleground.
The sudden burst of invective aimed at those wearing “Make America Great Again” hats crosses an important line.
If Trump’s liberal critics want to call him racist, fascist, incompetent, unhinged or all the other highly charged insults hurled at him, have at it. He’s the president, he’s fair game, and he obviously doesn’t hesitate to slam his opponents.
But when they’re denouncing people in MAGA hats — and this is obviously an outgrowth of the Covington controversy — they are blaming people who support Trump. They are saying that anyone who likes this president is, by definition, a racist.
In short, they are denouncing the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump, regardless of their choice of haberdashery.
CNN contributor Angela Rye went there the other day, saying she is “triggered” by the hats.
“This ‘Make America Great Again’ hat is just as maddening and frustrating and triggering for me to look at as a KKK hood,” she said. “That is the type of hatred his policies represent.”
Think about that. It’s like a hood. She is comparing people who back Trump to members of the Ku Klux Klan. They are, in this view, just out-and-out, torch-bearing racists.
Actress Alyssa Milano, a leader of the #Me-Too movement, is also in this camp. She tweeted that “the red MAGA hat is the new white hood.” Not much nuance there.
Writing on The Wrap, Milano complained that “right-wing pundits and anonymous trolls alike screamed for my head — literally and figuratively. My husband received death threats on his cell phone. Many demanded an apology.”
I don’t condone threats of any kind, but when you make that kind of inflammatory accusation, you should expect some pushback.
But Milano insists she was right: “I won’t apologize to these boys. Or anyone who wears that hat.”
The reason why the hats have become intertwined with the national uproar over the Covington Catholic High School students from Kentucky is clear. If some of them hadn’t been wearing the MAGA hats, this never would have become a story. The video of their standoff with Indian activist Nathan Phillips would never have gone viral. The narrative was that Trump-loving kids were harassing this Native American elder.
Of course, we now know it was Phillips who initiated the confrontation, changed his story several times and falsely claimed to be a Vietnam veteran (though he did serve in the military). But never mind: we’re still debating the hats.
The ugliness directed at Trump supporters has its roots in the campaign. As I point out in my book Media Madness, the Huffington Post ran a post-election headline that said: “A VOTE FOR TRUMP WAS A HATE CRIME.” Lovely.
During the debate over ObamaCare, some respected liberal pundits said they hoped Trump supporters wound up losing their health insurance, that it would serve them right. Again: If you back the president, you deserve an awful fate.
Robin Givhan, the provocative Washington Post fashion critic, went off on the hats yesterday, saying they have been “transformed into an open wound, a firestorm of hate and a marker of societal atavism. An aesthetically benign baseball cap is a 21st-century grotesquerie.”
Givhan, who is African-American, makes her feelings about Trumpism clear. While the MAGA cap’s definition has evolved, she writes, “there’s nothing banal or benign about the hat, no matter its wearer’s intent. It was weaponized by the punch-throwing Trump rallygoers, the Charlottesville white supremacists, Trump’s nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Kanye West and proponents of the wall, the wall, the wall.
“The hat has become a symbol of us vs. them, of exclusion and suspicion, of garrulous narcissism, of white male privilege, of violence and hate.”
I’ve never worn a hat with a political statement, unless you include a Yankees cap. But it’s really no different than a bumper sticker or T-shirt with a message.
Imagine what liberals would say if there was a backlash against people who wore a sweatshirt with the famous Obama “HOPE” logo.
The message from some on the left is now clear: if you associate with President Trump in any way — especially with a visible red cap — we will brand you a KKK-style racist. And yet they don’t see themselves as fueling the divisiveness in America.