One of the most cringe-worthy sights I face living in DC today is bright red hats. I find myself preparing for the rage that’s sure to come when I read the ridiculous phrase displayed on them. Whether someone is wearing one or selling one (ironically usually right next t-shirts depicting the Obamas), the sight of a Make America Great Again hat makes my skin crawl.
Recently, I was at Union Station when I saw a boy who couldn’t have been more than ten years old place one of the hats on his head. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at his parents, but then I thought about him as a parent. Would he teach his children that “make America great again” was a phrase of patriotism or hate? If patriotism, would it be because he truly believed it or would it be because he was slightly ashamed to admit the true meanings behind the message?
This brought me to a story that my friend Jaylin told me earlier that week. Jaylin had encountered a lady who was sure that the confederate flag on her chest was a sign of pride; the woman even preached to Jaylin about her rights as an American as if she wasn’t wearing a symbol of treason. This woman knew as little about what she was wearing as those chanting “make American great again” while living off of the Affordable Care Act know about what they’re supporting.
This leaves me with the question, “what will be the future of the Make America Great Again memorabilia?” Will it be viewed as a symbol of ignorance for those who understand history to laugh at, or will it be viewed as a symbol of an important shift in American history?
Obviously, my hope would be the former, but I’m not sure. It seems laughable that Trump’s ideologies will be the governing principles for more than fours years (if that), but last October it seemed laughable that they’d become the governing principles at all. Only time can tell what will become of the red hats.
When I say that fashion is an invaluable indicator of time, this is what I mean. I hate to call those bright red eyesores “fashion,” but they are a textbook political fashion statement. As scary as it may sound, when people read the phrase “make America great again” in decades to come they’ll think of today. The only question is what kind of thoughts the words will conjure.
Be the zeitgeist.