THE LAST WORD: Make America Great Again caps: Wear at your own risk

Kerry Hubartt

What does it mean to wear a MAGA cap?

There was a red sea of “Make America Great Again” baseball caps being worn at the Trump Rally in November, when the president packed the Memorial Coliseum to support Republican candidates in the Indiana election.

In fact, I purchased one of the caps that night as a souvenir of my being there to see the U.S. president in person.

It’s in a plastic tub in my closet filled with baseball caps I’ve collected through the years. I haven’t worn it. It’s not that I’m against wearing it, but as a journalist I have always shied away from making personal political statements in my attire. However, I have to wonder whether if I did wear it I would be asking for trouble.

I always assumed the cap and its slogan were merely a patriotic expression of support for Donald Trump and his policies as president of the United States. Shows you how much I know.

It seems that some people think MAGA caps represent much more inflammatory meanings than my apparently naive interpretation of the words “Make America Great Again.”

Check out these recent news items:

* A Kentucky Catholic high school student who was wearing a red MAGA cap was videoed in a face-off with a Native American man in a January confrontation at the March for Life at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that sparked a nation-wide debate. Videos of the incident caused widespread outrage because the teen seemed to be mocking the older man. Turns out that part was fake news.

* An 81-year-old man was allegedly attacked in a New Jersey supermarket on Feb. 25, when he was “confronted” about the iconic red cap he was wearing. Police said a 19-year-old man threw the older man to the ground and tipped over his shopping cart. He suffered minor injuries.

* On Feb. 15, a 23-year-old man wearing a MAGA cap at a Mexican restaurant in Cape Cod, Mass., was allegedly assaulted by a woman from Brazil, who was later detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She had allegedly knocked his cap off his head and berated him for wearing it.

* A California high school student is challenging her school in district court after she was banned from wearing her MAGA cap on campus on Feb. 20. She alleges the decision violates her First Amendment rights.

* And in Indiana last October, the Indianapolis Star reported that a former Indianapolis Department of Public Works employee filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired over voicing support for President Trump and wearing a MAGA cap.

“Make America Great Again,” used by Trump in the 2016 election campaign, is a takeoff of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign slogan, “Let’s make America great again.” Even Bill Clinton used the phrase in his presidential campaign.

Trump said the slogan “inspired me, because to me, it meant jobs. It meant industry. And it meant military strength. It meant taking care of our veterans. It meant so much.”

But a 2017 Voice of America article entitled “Is ‘Make America Great Again’ racist?” stated, “For better or worse, the phrase is a loaded one, with potential to cause trouble between people who do not share the same interpretation.”

The left’s interpretation is that the word “great” means “white” and that “again” means like back when blacks had to drink from separate water fountains.

So, according to some, you are wearing your racism on your head when you don a red MAGA cap in public — the same, according to actress Alyssa Milano, as wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.

“Now the progressive PC cops have launched a marketing campaign to tell freedom-loving Trump supporters what we ‘really’ mean when we wear that red hat,” columnist Lauren DeBellis Appell wrote for Fox News. “It’s just another way for them to silence what they don’t like. … They only succeed if you let yourself be intimidated, accept their stigma and hang up your hat.”

Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.