A rally scheduled for September 18, 2021 in Washington is being billed as an attempt to support those who are facing criminal charges for their involvement in the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol.
Many of the same groups that participated in January are expected to return to the nation’s capital for the demonstration. Capitol police are reportedly preparing for violence and erecting protective fencing around the building.
The groups involved in the January attack on the Capitol carried a variety of political and ideological flags and signs. The Conversation asked scholars to explain what they saw – including ancient Norse images and recent flags from American history – and what those symbols meant.
Here are five articles from coverage of The Conversation, explaining what the many symbols mean.
1. Confederate War Flag
Perhaps the most recognized symbol of white supremacy is the Confederate war flag.
“Since its beginning during the Civil War, the Confederate war flag has been regularly flown by white rebels and reactionaries fighting against the rising tide of newly won black political power,” writes Jordan Brasher at Columbus State University, who studied How the union has been.
He notes that in a photograph from inside the Capitol, the flag’s history came into sharp relief as the person carrying it “stood between portraits of two Civil War-era US senators—one a staunch supporter of slavery and the other at once a The abolitionists were beaten unconscious for their views on the Senate floor.”
2. Yellow Gadsden Flag
Another flag with a racist history is the “don’t walk on me” flag. An emblematic warning of self-defense, writes Iowa State University graphic design scholar Paul Brusky, it was designed by slave owner and businessman Christopher Gadsden when the American Revolution began.
“Due to the history of its creator and because it is commonly flown alongside the ‘Trump 2020’ flag, the Confederate war flag and other white-supremacist flags, some may now view the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hatred. are – or even racism.” He explains.
It has been adopted by the Tea Party movement and other Republican-leaning groups, but the flag still carries the legacy and name of its creator.
3. Powerful Anti-Semitism
Another arm of white supremacy does not target blacks. Instead, it showcases the Jewish people. As Jonathan D. Sarna points out, many anti-Semitic symbols were displayed during the riots.
Sarna is a Brandeis University scholar of American anti-Semitism and describes the ways that “[c]The extermination of Jews is common in all far-right and white nationalist circles. It also included a gallows hanging outside the Capitol, adding a disturbing element to the 1978 novel, which depicted the Washington takeover along with the mass lynchings and murders of Jews.
4. Co-opted Norse Mythology
One of the most striking images of the January riots was that of a man wearing a horned hat and shirtless, with several large tattoos. He is known as Jake Angeli, but his full name is Jacob Chansley, and he has pleaded guilty to one of six charges as part of a plea deal for his role in the riot.
Tom Birkett, a lecturer in Old English at University College Cork in Ireland, explains that many of the symbols Chansley wore are from Norse mythology. However, he points out, “these symbols have also been co-opted by a growing far-right movement.”
Birkett traces the modern use of Norse symbols back to the Nazis, explaining that they are a form of code hidden in plain sight: “If some symbols are difficult for the general public, they will certainly be used by rapidly growing members of the public.” There are dog whistles for the global white supremacist movement who know what they really mean.”
5. an outlier, of sorts
Another flag was prominent in the Capitol riot, which does not strictly represent white supremacy: the flag of the formerly independent country of South Vietnam.
But Long T., a global studies scholar at the University of California, Irvine. Bui explains that when flown by Vietnamese Americans, many of whom support Trump, the flag is a symbol of militant nationalism.
“[S]Some Vietnamese Americans see their fallen homeland as an extension of the American push for worldwide freedom and democracy. I have interviewed Vietnamese American soldiers who fear that American independence is failing,” he explains.
Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation Archives and an update to an article previously published on January 15, 2021.