Hootin’ and hollerin’, so quick to act a fool. Boys will be boys, yeah? As if offering excuses for a history of poor choices makes the ones committed in the present okay. As if it’s impossible for the adults in the room to provide restraint.
How difficult is it to let boys know that symbols matter? That when you step foot out your door into a public space, how you present yourself is no longer completely in your control. What symbols you’ve brought along with you are read and interpreted. Attached to you, their meaning can be reinforced or not, amplified or not, ignored or not.
Wear a MAGA hat while serving food to the homeless at a soup kitchen, that’s unexpected. Wear a MAGA hat while hollering at young girls, seems about right. Wear a MAGA hat, you have a lot more to answer for than simply your own identity and your own presence. Because you’re carrying with you the weight of a tired slogan many of us now wearily associate with white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, and fascism.
It may not seem fair. Especially if you’re caught up in national outrage. Even more crucial for the kids to firmly grasp the concept that symbols have power, both hidden and obvious. Both for the person wearing the symbol, and those confronted by it.
Walk out your door wearing a MAGA hat, there are real consequences. Just as there have been real consequences felt by the application of the MAGA ethos. For the kids locked in cages, or the soldiers who can’t serve their country, or the workers who trudge on without a paycheck.
I personally have yet to come into contact with someone wearing a MAGA hat. Not sure what I’d do, how I’d react. Maybe I’d just laugh in its face. I’d certainly be disgusted, and I feel like I’d know all there is to know about the person wearing the hat because the symbol has been used so repetitively. That’s the power of branding, the bludgeoning of the senses through hyper frequency. They hit us everywhere, and the meaning of the symbol burrows its way into our brains, forever lodged in between memories of weddings and funerals.
Again, it may not seem fair. But that’s where we are.