A T-shirt being sold on the campaign website features an eagle perched on top of a circle that is strikingly similar to the official national insignia of Nazi Germany.
The “America First Tee” is available for both men and women and sells for $30. It features a blue-outlined eagle, turning to its left, gripping a circular stars and stripes flag above a banner reading “Trump 2020”. The words “America First” appear in bold red above the image.
While the bald eagle was chosen as the centre of the seal of the United States by the Founding Fathers in 1782, the design of the T-shirt is much more reminiscent of the Reichsadler, the imperial eagle adopted as Germany’s national symbol after a decree from Adolf Hitler in 1935.
In the Nazi symbol, a stylised, modernist, black eagle looks to its right, and the circle it clutches in its talons is a wreath with a swastika at its centre.
Social media users were quick to react when the similarity was pointed out by Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, who said of the Trump/Pence campaign: “It’s not an accident. Bigotry is their entire brand.”
The incredulity that the campaign might even unwittingly use a symbol so close to Nazi iconography was palpable given the brevity of some responses.
The Lincoln Project tweeted the images with the words: “Come. On.”
General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, tweeted: “Holy sh*t.”
The Trump campaign has dismissed the allegations as “moronic” according to the Daily Caller.
The Anti-Defamation League lists the Nazi eagle as a hate symbol that was later appropriated by neo-Nazis and white supremacists after World War Two. Where the swastika is forbidden, it is replaced by SS bolts, a Celtic cross, or is left blank.
A Twitter user appeared to track the graphic used by the Trump campaign to a stock image website that now appears to have removed it. Other eagle and flag images in a similar style with shields or banners remain.
Facebook decided to remove dozens of Trump campaign ads citing the use of a “banned hate group’s symbol”.
The campaign used an upside-down red triangle — which the Nazis had sewn onto the clothes of political prisoners in concentration camps — in ads that referred to Antifa, the decentralised grouping of anti-fascist protesters that the president calls a terrorist organisation.
The Washington Post reports that Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh called the red triangle an Antifa symbol. A more common symbol for anti-fascist groups is a circle containing red and black flags.
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