The swastikas. The bolts. The bastardized crosses. While polite society may want to believe these well-trodden images are anachronisms, the truth is these brands of hate are surprisingly enduring. And, like any other brand, they are also subject to evolution and changing tastes.
This is how the use of hate symbols is evolving, and how people hide them in plain sight.
The cultural weight
The visibility of hate symbols also makes them prime fodder for trolls and other ne’er-do-wells who know such symbols are shorthands for fear, pain and outrage — like teenagers tagging the sides of buildings or a recent incident in which a group online tried to convince the Internet a simple bird meme was actually a hate symbol by photo-shopping a swastika on it.
“People know it will attract attention,” he says. “I always consider three things: If you see someone spray paint KKK, it’s not the Klan. If you see someone spray paint 666, it’s probably not a Satanist, and if you see someone spray paint a swastika, it’s not a Nazi.”