Several users on social media this week took note of a product for sale on the website for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, and condemned the item for its apparent Nazi symbolism.
It’s the second time in the past few weeks that the Trump campaign has used such imagery that looks to be derived from Nazi-era Germany, as the campaign had also created a Facebook ad in June that featured an upside-down triangle — an image that was used by Germany under Hitler’s control to denote political prisoners in concentration camps. Facebook removed the ads because they violated the site’s policy against “organized hate.”
It appears that the campaign didn’t learn anything from that ordeal, as it’s now selling clothing items on its website that also look as though they took inspiration from other Nazi symbols.
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The T-shirt in question has the words “America First” emblazoned on its front and at the top — a phrase that was popularized in the 1940s by The America First Committee, an organization with several prominent members who espoused anti-Semitism and were viewed by many as being Nazi sympathizers before the United States’ entry into World War II.
Below that phrase is an eagle that is looking to its left, its wings spread out, and its talons gripping a circular version of the U.S. flag. Users on social media were quick to note the image looked eerily similar to the Iron Eagle, a frequently used symbol by the Nazi Party.
Bend the Arc, a progressive American Jewish organization, posted pictures of both Trump’s campaign T-shirt and the Nazi’s eagle on Twitter to demonstrate how similar the two images were.
“It’s not an accident. Bigotry is their entire brand,” the group wrote in its tweet.
The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection with a Nazi symbol. Again.
On the left: an official Trump/Pence “America First” tee.
On the right; the Iron Eagle, the official symbol of the Nazi party.
⁰It’s not an accident. Bigotry is their entire brand. pic.twitter.com/mSOBxwf7Wa
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) July 1, 2020
While the eagle is also a symbol of the United States, it’s typically portrayed in a much different way than how it was during the 1930s and 1940s by Nazi Germany. The U.S. version of the eagle, for instance, is usually seen holding an olive branch in one talon, as well as a scroll in its beak that reads “E Pluribus Unum” (out of many, one).
Upon close inspection, the eagle featured on the Trump campaign’s T-shirt appears to have more similarities to the Nazi version.
Suggestions that the imagery may be purposeful rather than accidental coincides with the innumerable actions and statements Trump himself has made in the past few years that suggest he harbors authoritarian or fascistic leanings, including the promotion of war-mongering policies and anti-immigrant sentiments in his 2020 State of the Union address, his immigration policy that has separated children from their parents and guardians as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, and the denial of entry to the United States for individuals that come from predominantly Muslim nations.
In the summer of 2019, he wrote race-baiting and contemptuous tweets directed toward Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, telling them to “go back” to the places they came from. And more recently, Trump praised the “good bloodlines” of noted anti-Semite Henry Ford.
Trump also has pushed nativist ideals and promoted himself as an apologetic nationalist during campaign rallies. Additionally, he regularly denounces his political critics and the press, decrying them as treasonous with little regard for what the word’s definition actually entails.