This last weekend, a writhing mass of fascist invertebrates congregated in Orlando, Florida to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). As expected, it was an infomercial for Trumpism featuring the big orange himself. What nobody quite expected was that CPAC would be festooned with a gargantuan Nazi symbol.
Yes, you read that correctly. It turns out the stage at CPAC was shaped like the Odal rune used by the Schutzstaffel, more commonly known as the SS, which was a Nazi paramilitary organization that, among other things, operated the concentration camps that killed approximately 6 million Jews and over 10 million others. The Odal rune was used in the manufactured Aryan mythos and its use persists among white supremacists generally.
I will say there is a non-zero chance that the shape was unintentionally created. But given everything that’s happened the last five years, I’m going to guess that it wasn’t. Hell, for the sake of argument, there’s enough bad here even if the use was unintentional.
First, even if unintentionally used, the symbol acts as a dog whistle to white supremacists. They see this as a form of silent support. These kinds of people are often conspiracists and loons who love symbolism and read into it wherever they can. QAnon followers are masters of apophenia and pareidolia, for example. You give them an inch of meaningless bullshit and they divine a mile of hate.
Second, it’s absolutely inexcusable that nobody noticed the symbol before erecting the stage or at least pointing it out to the organizers once the event started. CPAC, believe it or not, was attended by not only literate individuals, but a harrowing number of individuals who attended Ivy League universities and graduate schools. They should know a relatively common Nazi-affiliated symbol when they see one.
I don’t need to get into how terrible this use of the Odal symbol would be if it were purposeful. That would be patent Naziism, plain and simple. CPAC was an opportunity for the GOP to start off on a new path and leave Trump in the dust. Instead, it’s looking, quite literally, like it was just meant to be a fascist rally.