Archives for category: Racism

Veteran blogger Steve Hinnefeld writes about education in Indiana. In this post, he describes a controversy in the Legislature about whether a portion of a district should be allowed to secede in order to join a “whiter” district.

Some Indiana House Republicans lost their cool last week when Democratic colleagues dared to raise the issue of race. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Republican legislators “shouted down and booed Black lawmakers during floor debate on a bill that some see as discriminatory.”

Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, became emotional and walked off the House floor when Republicans interrupted his attempt to speak, the Star reported. Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, began talking about his own experiences with racism and “was met with ‘boos’ from several … GOP lawmakers.”

But Porter and Smith were right. Lawmakers were debating House Bill 1367, which would allow Greene Township in St. Joseph County to secede from South Bend Community Schools and join John Glenn School Corp. Greene Township’s population is 98% white, according to census data, while nearly three-fourths of South Bend students are Black, Hispanic or multiracial. John Glenn’s enrollment is 90% white and less than 1% Black. How can you debate a bill like that and not talk about race?

Indiana’s Legislature is encouraging school choice, of course, despite the fact that these choice policies are desegregating schools across the state. Black legislators are outraged, as they should be.

When legislators promote laws that make schools more segregated, their actions should be scrutinized.

The same should apply to Indiana’s state-sanctioned open enrollment policy, in which families may transfer their children from the school district where they live to another, provided there’s room. The policy accounts for about half the “school choice” in the state. In theory, it lets parents choose the public school that best fits their children’s needs, as long as they can provide transportation. In practice, families are leaving racially diverse urban schools for mostly white suburban or rural districts.

Muncie Community Schools, for example, where 57% of students are white, lose nearly a quarter of their prospective students through inter-district transfers. Many go to nearby districts where over 90% of students are white. Figures are similar for Marion Community Schools, where 48% of students are white and many leave for districts that are 80% or more white.

The resegregation that is occurring across the nation, especially in the South, has been hastened by the secession of white families who want their children to enroll in a whiter district.

The VOX article continues:

In one recent case in Alabama, white families in Gardendale–a suburb of Birmingham–attempted to secede from the Jefferson County school district. A lower court judge approved their request, but it was overturned by an appeals court.

While the Gardendale plan was ultimately halted, other school secessions have been allowed to occur, the secession study authors note. “It’s hard not to look at many of these instances of secession and see them as a modern-day effort by Southern whites to avoid diverse schools,” Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, a study co-author and an associate professor of educational leadership, policy, and justice at Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a press release. “This is especially true given the obstacles to comprehensive cross-district integration policies.”

As these efforts continue, and in some cases accelerate, the study authors caution that more attention needs to be paid to the impacts of school secessions, which they call “a new form of resisting desegregation amid the growing diversity of the South’s public schools.”

“Secession has weakened the potential for greater school integration across the South’s broadly defined communities,” the researchers note, “fracturing White and Black and White and Hispanic students into separate school systems.”

The secession movement in the South has reached Indiana, where it appears to be gaining traction. Will the courts stand by the Brown vs. Board decision of 1954?

Al Franken is the former Senator from Minnesota. He wrote this retrospective on Rush Limbaugh in the New York Daily News.

Rush Limbaugh died this week. His impact on our nation’s discourse and polity will long outlive him.

Many Americans had been puzzled when President Trump bestowed upon Limbaugh our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After all, previous honorees include Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King and the crew of Apollo 13. I, however, was not surprised. Because without Limbaugh, there is no (former) President Trump.

Rush was the first broadcaster to take full advantage of the FCC’s little-noticed 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. Since its adoption in 1949, the rule had required broadcasters to present controversial issues in a fair and balanced manner. Its repeal cleared the way for disreputable broadcasters to present manifestly dishonest and unbalanced content, and Rush, it turned out, had a real talent for just that kind of thing.

And when I say talent, I mean it. Limbaugh created right-wing talk radio, holding court three hours a day, five days a week for 32 years, attracting an audience of 20 million listeners because he was compelling, sometimes funny, always provocative, if routinely sexist, homophobic and racist.

Racist? He once asked his audience, “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”

Homophobic? In 1990, Limbaugh ran a recurring segment entitled “AIDS Update,” in which he’d mock the death of a gay man who had just recently died of AIDS, cheekily playing ironic popular songs like Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again.”

Sexist? You may remember Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who testified before Congress in 2012, on an exception within the Affordable Care Act that would allow religious institutions to opt out of covering contraception. Here’s Limbaugh referring to her testimony that contraception can cost as much as $3,000: “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke (sic), who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.”

Rush went on like that for quite a while. He had three hours to fill.

But mainly, he was a shill for the right wing of the Republican Party. Along the way, he promoted conspiracy theories: Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered; global warming is a hoax; Barack Obama was born in Kenya; COVID-19 is no worse than the common cold and is being used by the media to prevent Donald Trump’s re-election. And, yes, the election was stolen.

Here’s what he told his listeners on Jan. 7: “There’s a lot of people out there calling for the end of violence…lot of conservatives, social media who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable regardless of the circumstance…I am glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual tea party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn’t feel that way.”

In 1995, I wrote a book, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot And Other Observations.” The book was satirical, but its intent entirely serious. Limbaugh’s radio show had become an effective arm of the right wing of the Republican party. The previous November, Republicans had won the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and the new Speaker, Newt Gingrich, named Limbaugh an honorary member of the class of ’95.

At the time, Limbaugh had a TV show in which he referred to “The White House dog” while the control room put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton.

The show’s producer, Roger Ailes, would go on to run Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel, whose slogan, ironically, would echo the “fair and balanced” language of the Fairness Doctrine, purporting to provide a balance to the liberal mainstream media.

Fox’s right-wing propaganda machine had built a huge, rabid audience by relentlessly attacking Democratic administrations and then functioning as virtual state TV for President Trump. Currently, the network is faced with a $2.7 billion lawsuit from election software company Smartmatic, for spreading false rumors that the company had helped Joe Biden steal the election in several states (none of which, by the way, had used Smartmatic’s software).

Right-wing radio. Right-wing TV. Then came the internet, where websites like Newsmax and Breitbart and social media platforms like Facebook have created a more opaque world where far more extreme and untethered worldviews fester and grow.

This is how you get QAnon. How not a small number of Trump supporters believe that not a small number of Democrats are blood-sucking pedophiles. It’s how you get a member of Congress who blamed Jewish lasers for starting the wildfires in California. It’s how you get Jan. 6.

The most dangerous problem facing America today is the existence of two universes of information. The second universe, a universe of disinformation, has been expanding since 1989. Rush Limbaugh was the Big Bang.

Bette Midler wrote about Limbaugh’s death on Twitter and was not as polite as Franken.

On Wednesday February 10, I will host a Zoom discussion with Raynard Sanders about his new book, The Coup D’état of the New Orleans Public Schools: Money, Power, and the Illegal Takeover of a Public School System.

Sanders was the principal of a public school in New Orleans before the takeover of the district in 2005.

As you might guess from the title of his book, he considers the takeover to be illegal. It’s “results,” he contends are disastrous for the children of the district.

Listen in to hear the other side of the story.

Open the link and register to join the Zoom.

North Carolina adopted a new social studies curriculum, despite the efforts of the newly elected Lieutenant Governor to remove any references to “systemic racism.”

(CNN)The North Carolina State Board of Education has passed a new standard for teaching social studies that will include a more diverse perspective of history.

The board added language for educators to teach about racism, discrimination and the treatment of marginalized groups. But due to pushback from some lawmakers, the new standard does not include the word “systemic” before racism and discrimination or the word “gender” before identity. 

The new standards passed in a 7-5 vote on Thursday, but only after State Board Superintendent Catherine Truitt removed the two words. 

“For nearly two years, the Department has worked to create consensus among hundreds of educators and stakeholders statewide over the history standards. I’m disappointed there was not a unanimous vote on these standards today because the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education created them to be both inclusive and encompassing,” Truitt said.

Truitt also added a preamble stating, “The North Carolina Board of Education believes that our collective social studies standards must reflect the nation’s diversity and that the successes, contributions, and struggles of multiple groups and individuals should be included.”

According to the preamble, this means teaching the hard truths of Native American oppression, anti-Catholicism, exploitation of child labor and Jim Crow.”Our human failings have at times taken the form of racism, xenophobia, nativism, extremism, and isolationism. We need to study history in order to understand how these situations developed, the harmful impact they caused, and the forces and actors that sometimes helped us move beyond these outcomes,” the preamble said.

The measure was opposed by several Republican members of the State Board who said the new standards presented an overly negative picture of the nation’s history.Among those opposed was Mark Robinson, the first Black lieutenant governor of the state.

“I do not believe we live in a systemically racist nation, nor have we ever lived in a systemically racist nation,” Robinson said. Robinson voted against the standards even after the word “systemic” was removed and said that enough people in the state have questions and concerns about the standards and they needed to go back to the drawing board.

Stuart Egan, an NBCT teacher in North Carolina, was upset by the statements made by the newly elected Lieutenant Governor’s claim that “systemic racism” is a myth, and that anyone who teaches otherwise is wrong. In other words, writes Egan, the Lt. Governor wants to indoctrinate students into a fake version of history, in which people of color were never discriminated against as a matter of law and custom. That’s fake history.

Back in the 1980s, the culture wars were at full pitch, with ethnic groups competing with one another for time and space in the social studies and history curriculum. In 1987, Jesse Jackson led a demonstration of 500 protesters at Stanford University chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go!” In 1989, the introductory Western Culture program was replaced by “Culture, Ideas, and Values,” which taught an inclusive approach to race, class, and gender.

The battles over inclusion and diversity were numerous. Ultimately, it seemed over the past twenty years, we as a society reached a new equilibrium. We (that is, in movies, television, the media generally, in sports, in politics, in government, in industry, and in the school curriculum) recognize that many different groups and individuals played important roles in forging this nation and continue to do so today. Inclusion and diversity are more than words, they are an ideal for which we continually strive.

Trumpism revived an old and toxic element: White Supremacy. His praise of groups like the Proud Boys, his refusal to disavow them or even the Ku Klux Klan, allowed such groups to come out from under a big rock of infamy and crawl back into the edges of the mainstream.

The resurgence of hate groups and their open advocacy of violence against others is a direct rebuke to what seemed to be (at least for a time) the triumph of multiculturalism and inclusion.

Once you open this spigot, it is hard to turn it off, and the demands for group recognition and flow in many directions.

Consider the heated reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement. Critics called it racist, when in fact it was a demand for the recognition that systemic racism is deeply institutionalized and needs to be confronted and changed. The widespread and multiracial protests that followed the murder of George Floyd energized allies of racial justice and angered the newly awakened White Supremacists.

When loosely organized and disorganized groups began pulling down Confederate statues, that caused a backlash. Trump refused the Defense Appropriations Bill because it included a provision to rename military bases named for Confederate generals (who were, after all, traitors to the United States). Congress overrode his veto, not necessarily because they disagreed with him, but because they wanted the armed forces to get a deserved pay raise.

In San Francisco, the school board voted 6-1 to strip the names of prominent individuals from 44 school buildings, which led to an outcry because some of the names that will be removed are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Louis Stevenson, Paul Revere, and Dianne Feinstein. The school district, which has more than 57,000 students enrolled, is changing the schools named after historical figures linked to “the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide; or who otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” according to the text of the resolution.

For starters, it is always a bad idea to name a building for a living person. There should be a rule against it.

Schools that will be renamed include: Abraham Lincoln High School, George Washington High School, Dianne Feinstein Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School, Jefferson Elementary and Alamo Elementary. Lincoln was chosen based on “his treatment of First Nation peoples,” teacher Jeremiah Jeffries told the San Francisco Chronicle in December 2020. Washington and Jefferson were slaveowners. Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, was listed for reportedly ordering a Confederate flag to be replaced after it was torn down, according to the Sacramento Bee. The news also comes more than a year after the school board voted to cover a controversial mural depicting images of slavery and dead Native Americans at George Washington High School.

The board was partially motivated to draft the resolution after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. “This resolution came to the school board in the wake of the attacks in Charlottesville,” said San Francisco Board of Education President Gabriela López. “And we are working alongside the rest of the country to dismantle symbols of racism and White supremacy culture. “San Francisco is not the only city to take pass such a resolution.

In recent years, city councils and school districts nationwide have renamed buildings and removed monuments dedicated to Confederate leaders who fought to preserve slavery and White supremacy in America. In September of 2020, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) identified more than 240 schools across the country that bear the name of a Confederate leader. More than 30 schools in the US have been renamed since 2014 in order to eliminate any link to Confederacy, according to the EJI.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said she endorses the move to rename the schools but wonders why the board was not making plans to reopen the schools.

The board has invited suggestions for new names for the schools.

I suggest that they be called by numbers, not by names. Why not High School #1, Public School #2? That way they will never offend anyone and their names will live forever.

I went to a junior high school in Houston named for a Confederate general, Albert Sidney Johnson Junior High. The name and the school are long gone. Good riddance! (I still remember the marching song, however, which was catchy.)

But it gets wilder still in North Carolina. There, the newly elected Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, who is African American, accuses the schools of indoctrinating students and calls for changing the state social studies curriculum so that it does not acknowledge systemic racism. Lt. Governor Robinson has collected nearly 20,000 signatures to endorse his views. His petition says:

THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION will vote Thursday, Feb. 4, to adopt new state social studies standards, kindergarten through high school.

The (CL.B.1) standard states: “Explain how individual values and societal norms contribute to institutional discrimination and the marginalization of minority groups living under the American system of government.” 

The proposed standards are political in nature and paint America as being systematically racist. These divisive standards consistently separate Americans into groups in an effort to undermine our unity. The proposed standards indoctrinate our students against our great country and our founders. The standards are not age-appropriate in the elementary grades. Will you stand with Lt. Governor Robinson in rejecting the current standards the State Board of Education is planning to vote on?

There may be a moral to this story, but I am not sure what it is.

My takeaway: Tell the truth as best you know it. Respect other people. Listen to them. Don’t try to push your views on others who disagree. Pay attention to historians. Rely on reputable sources. Teach the conflicts and debates. Don’t die on the wrong hill.

Clifford Thompson writes in the liberal Catholic journal Commonweal that that ostensible reason for the Insurrection on January 6 was anger that Biden “stole” the election from Trump; the mob “knew” because Trump said it was so. Of course, it was a lie. Trump decisively lost both the popular vote and the electoral college. He thought he could inspire the mob to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote and intimidate them into overturning the results and installing him for a second term. The strategy was as stupid as the man who incited the mob. Congress was not going to overturn the election. Period.

Thompson says that the true basis of the Insurrection was the fear that white supremacy was losing its dominance. This is our country, our culture, our heritage, and “they” (non-whites) are “taking it away.” So they thought.

Not long ago, I wrote an article for Commonweal about the benefits and dangers of what I call rootedness. I define the word as a sense of belonging in the world based on an identification with a particular thing, whether that is a religious faith, a geographical community, a shared activity, or a philosophy. The benefit of being rooted is that we feel less alone. The danger is that when made to choose between our rootedness—which provides our sense of who we are—and the truth sitting right in front of us, many of us, perhaps most, find a way to ignore the truth.

The negative extremes of rootedness were on full and frightening display on January 6 during the storming of the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead. What the rioters demonstrated nearly as well as the fact of their rootedness was its particular variety. I say “nearly” because while the idea that the rioters are actually rooted in, that is, white supremacy, was on full display too (witness the Confederate flag being paraded through the Capitol), it was not the ostensible reason for their collective criminal action. No, for that they took their cue from President Trump, who filled their heads with lies about the 2020 presidential election being “stolen” from them—lies that a clear-eyed look at the facts would refute—and then sent them, with all the justification they felt they needed, to wreak havoc on the world’s most important site of the business of democracy.

On the day before the election, Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing a “1776 Commission” to rewrite American history. This commission was intended to refute the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which told the story of American history from the view of African Americans. It was also, allegedly, an answer to “critical race theory,” which you can be sure Trump could not define. I thought this was a bad idea, since history should be written by historians, not by presidential commissions packed with cronies and ideologues.

On December 18, with 33 days left in his term in office, Trump announced the members of his commission, all predictably conservatives and reactionaries. The group was headed by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, a Trump ally. I called this “absurd.”

Many thought that the commission couldn’t possibly rewrite American history in the few days allowed to them, but miraculously they issued a report just a few days ago. Presumably, it was written before the commission ever met (if it ever met). The commission said that slavery was unfortunate but it was widespread and everyone did slavery. So there.

Talk about looking on the bright side!

Ironically, the not-long-awaited report was released on Martin Luther King Day. MSNBC host Chris Hayes said it read like a sophomore year term paper by Stephen Miller, Trump’s minister of hate. He interviewed Christina Greer, a professor at Fordham University, and said that Hayes was too generous. She said it read like the term paper of a sophomore in high school.

Peter Greene, who specializes in reading horrible reports so that others don’t have to, gave the report its due: It is awful. Beyond awful. It is rightwing drivel.

The 1776 Commission released their thing today, and pardon my French, Mom, but holy shit is it bad. You knew it was going to be bad. It’s really bad. You probably didn’t know that Progressivism is on the same Challenges to American Principles list with slavery and fascism. Slavery, by the way, is addressed primarily through a massive whataboutism. 45 pages, and every one of them is filled with horrific, racist, dumb, awful awfulness (okay, pages 2 and 4 are blank). 43 pages of awful (without any footnotes or endnotes or citations or bibliography in sight for this work of ultimate scholarship). I don’t have the time at the moment to pick apart all of it (I’ll link to it, but you really shouldn’t read it on a full stomach, and empty stomach, or at the end of a hard day)...

It’s like someone managed to take the 1950s version of squeaky clean white American life and mash it up with 1950s style Soviet Commie borg-style mind-melding. No critical thinking here. This is “education” that rejects pluralism, inquiry, actual thought and scholarship, while simultaneously nodding at and minimizing injustice, asserting that victims of such injustice should stay calm and love their country because it includes people who have the right values (and the right personal circumstances). 

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and may the Biden administration swiftly drop this damned thing into the deepest circular file in DC. 

President Joe Biden signed an executive order last night wiping out Trump’s 1776 Commission.

I reviewed three books in the New York Review of Books, which seemed to me to be complementary.

Together they offer a fresh interpretation of the history of public education and of school choice.

The choice zealots would have you believe that they want to “save poor kids from failing public schools,” but the history of school choice tells a very different story. School choice began as the rallying cry of Southern segregationists, determined to prevent desegregation and integration of their schools.

School choice was their response to the Brown Decision of 1954.

The states of the South passed law after law shifting public funds to private schools, so that white students could avoid going to school with black children.

Libertarian economist Milton Friedman published an essay in 1955 on “The Role of Government in Education” in which he argued for vouchers and school choice. He said that under his approach, whites could go to school with whites, blacks could go to school with blacks, and anyone who wanted a mixed-race school could make that choice. Given the state of racism in the South, his formula would have been translated by white Senators, Governors, and legislatures as a formula to maintain racial segregation forever. They loved his ideas, and they adopted his rhetoric.

The best way to remove the cobwebs in your mind, the ones planted by libertarian propaganda, is to read the three books reviewed here:

Katharine Stewart: The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism

Steve Suitts: Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement

Derek W. Black: Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy

Prosecutors charged former Governor Rick Snyder for “willful neglect of duty” for his role in the Flint water crisis, which led to death and poisoning of that city’s population after a Snyder-appointed emergency manager tried to save money by switching the source of the city’s water to the Flint River.

The charges, revealed in an online court record, are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The charges are groundbreaking: No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist….

The alleged offense date is April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.

The corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later….

Authorities counted at least 90 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County, including 12 deaths. Some experts found there was not enough chlorine in the water-treatment system to control legionella bacteria, which can trigger a severe form of pneumonia when spread through misting and cooling systems.

The disaster made Flint a national symbol of government dereliction, with residents forced to line up for bottled water and parents fearing their children had suffered permanent harm. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system and cause learning and behavior problems. The crisis was highlighted as an example of environmental injustice and racism.

ProPublica identified several well-known hate groups that took part in the storming of the U.S. Capitol, including the “Proud Boys,” the “Oathkeepers,” the “Bougaloo Bois,” and other white supremacist groups. Some promised a return to D.C. on January 19.

The Anti-Defamation League posted a guide to the leading figures of the white supremacist, anti-Semitic hate groups. This post is a “who’s who” of what ADL calls the “alt right” and the “alt lite.”

These are the people who inject a steady flow of bigotry and hatred into the public sphere.

Here is one of the entries:

Who’s Who: The Alt Right

Andrew Anglin runs the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. Anglin claims that his website “is designed to serve as a hardcore front for the conversion of the masses into a pro-White, anti-Semitic ideology.” His preferred audience is men, specifically “all disenfranchised and angry White males under the age of thirty,” and he has banned women from contributing content. Anglin promotes the hatred of Jews and the denigration of minorities, particularly black people, and encourages his followers to troll and harass their “enemies” – including journalists and private citizens. Anglin is a self-identified leader of the hardcore faction of the alt right. He also wrote a piece for the The Daily Stormer titled “A Normie’s Guide to the Alt Right,” in which he explains different facets of the movement.

If you open the link, you will see that Mr. Anglin is wearing a MAGA cap.

The New York Times published a description of the Far-Right symbols seen at the Insurrection.

It would be best if you get a subscription to the NY Times, so you can actually see the symbols. The omnipresence of these symbols demonstrates the absurdity of the claim that the mob was led by “Antifa,” which loathes Trump and his fascist enablers.

Militiamen showed up proudly bearing the emblems of their groups — American flags with the stars replaced by the Roman numeral III, patches that read “Oath Keepers.” Alt-right types wore Pepe the Frog masks, and QAnon adherents could be seen in T-shirts urging people to “Trust the Plan.” White supremacists brought their variant of the Crusader cross.

And then there were thousands of Trump supporters with MAGA gear — flags, hats, T-shirts, thermoses, socks. One flag portrayed President Trump as Rambo; another featured him riding a Tyrannosaurus rex and carrying the kind of rocket-propelled grenade launcher seen on the streets of Mogadishu or Kandahar.

The iconography of the American far right was on display on Jan 6. during the violence at the Capitol. The dizzying array of symbols, slogans and images was, to many Americans, a striking aspect of the unrest, revealing an alternate political universe where violent extremists, outright racists and conspiracy theorists march side by side with evangelical Christians, suburban Trump supporters and young men who revel in making memes to “own the libs.”

Uniting them is a loyalty to Mr. Trump and a firm belief in his false and discredited insistence that the election was stolen. The absurdity of many images — the patches that read “Zombie Outbreak Response Team,” for instance — only masked a devotion that inspired hundreds from the crowd to mount a deadly attack on Congress...

The Militias

Out in force were right-wing militias like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, whose symbol, the Roman numeral III, could be seen on patches and flags. Both groups are anti-government, pro-guns and, nowadays, devoted to Mr. Trump.

Others on the right who share the militia’s anti-government views often signal their beliefs with the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner dating to the American Revolution with a rattlesnake and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me.” Dozens were waved at the Capitol last week.

And then there is the Confederate battle flag. A man carried the banner of secession and slavery through the halls of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Boogaloos and Proud Boys

The Boogaloos marked themselves by wearing their signature Hawaiian shirts. A group of Proud Boys showed up in orange hats.

Both the Boogaloos and the Proud Boys include racists and anti-Semites, though the outright white supremacists tend to keep a lower profile. Some wear Crusader crosses or Germanic pagan imagery that has become popular on the racist and anti-Semitic fringes. Others have adopted the “OK” hand gesture as their own, seeing it as mimicking the letters “W” and “P,” for “white power.” [Trump frequently makes that hand symbol.]

Pepe and ‘Kek’

Pepe the Frog, the smirking cartoon amphibian that has become a widely recognized symbol of the alt-right crowd, was a common sight.

Also on display were the green-and-white flags of Kekistan, the fictional country that is home to the deity “Kek.” In the meme-driven culture of the alt-right, a satirical religion has sprouted up around Kek “as a way to troll liberals and self-righteous conservatives,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. “He is a god of chaos and darkness, with the head of a frog, the source of their mimetic ‘magic,’ to whom the alt-right and Donald Trump owe their success.”

The flag is partly derived from the Nazi flag, a design that is treated as a provocative joke in alt-right circles.

QAnon

This conspiracy theory falsely claims that there is a cabal of Democrats, deep-state bureaucrats and international financiers who use their power to rape and kill children, and that Mr. Trump was elected to vanquish them.

The canard is convoluted and confusing, but its iconography is clear and was plentiful: There were shirts with the letter “Q” or slogans like “Trust the Plan”; signs saying “Save the Children”; and flags with the abbreviation “WWG1WGA,” which stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All.”

There were a few more categories. You get the idea. They are conspiracy theorists and insanely gullible, susceptible to the lies of a con man.