In some ways shocking, and in others not surprising at all.
In two Facebook posts, Donald Trump’s reelection campaign tied the loose network of anti-fascist activists known as “Antifa” — which he suggests naming a terrorist organization — to an upside-down red triangle, a symbol strikingly similar to one used by Nazis in concentration camps to identify political prisoners, communists and people who protected Jews.
“Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem,” the post reads, citing no evidence for the claim. “Please add your name IMMEDIATELY to stand with your President and his decision to declare ANTIFA a Terrorist Organization.”
The triangle symbol does not appear to be widely used by people or groups aligned with Antifa, which is more commonly identified by a red and black flag logo. Some people aligned with Antifa, however, will carry a flag used by anarchist movements, which is solid red and black, bisected on the diagonal, creating one red and one black triangle. One Antifa Facebook page, based in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, has a red triangle in its logo.
Beginning in 1939, Nazi-run concentration camps used a system of different colored triangles, sewn into their prison clothes, to mark prisoners, according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia. Political prisoners wore red, gypsies and “vagrants” wore black, queer people were given pink triangles and Jehovah’s Witnesses brown. Jews wore the infamous yellow star, unless they were part of another group — in the case of a Jewish communist, for example, the upside-down red triangle would be sewn over a yellow right-side up triangle.
Occupy Democrats noted the Trump campaign are running 88 such ads.
The Trump team used the official Facebook pages of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the “Trump Team” to run 88 ads asking users to sign a petition demanding that “antifa” be declared a terrorist group alongside an inverted red triangle.
Historians and Jewish groups quickly pointed out that this symbol was used by the Nazis to identify political enemies such as communists and Freemasons in the concentration camps.
The choice to run eighty-eight ads is clearly deliberate; white supremacists use the number 88 as a numerical code to represent “Heil Hitler,” often in conjunction with “14,” which represents the white supremacist slogan “the Fourteen Words.”
Nazi expert Jacob S. Eder told The Washington Post that the Trump team’s ads are “a highly problematic use of a symbol that the Nazis used to identify their political enemies. … It’s hard to imagine it’s done on purpose, because I’m not sure if the vast majority of Americans know or understand the sign, but it’s very, very careless to say the least.”
All of which, if you didn't see it, sounds like some crackpot conspiracy theory. Except it's really happening. And we're just standing around watching it.
The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection using a Nazi concentration camp symbol.
Nazis used the red triangle to mark political prisoners and people who rescued Jews.
Trump & the RNC are using it to smear millions of protestors.
Their masks are off. pic.twitter.com/UzmzDaRBup
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) June 18, 2020
The Washington Post captured three such images.
The Trump campaign have replied to hundreds on Twitter now, asking what the hell they're doing posting Nazi symbols. This is their standard response.
This is an emoji. 🔻
It's also a symbol widely used by Antifa. It was used in an ad about Antifa.
It is not in the ADL's Hate Symbols Database. pic.twitter.com/hoTnEuXuVq
— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) June 18, 2020
So it was intentional, as something they found on the Internet. Google images seems to be no help at all in finding this "widely used" symbol, of course.
UPDATE: Facebook has now taken down the ads as violating their terms of service, breaching their policies on hate.
New York (CNN Business) Facebook (FB) on Thursday said it had take action against ads run by President Trump's re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate. The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as "Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups," featured an upside-down triangle.
The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday the triangle "is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps."
"We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group's symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol," Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told CNN Business.