U.S. high school students will have free digital access to the New York Times through September 1, 2021.
Selected article: “Deciphering the right-wing extremist symbols in the Capitol Uprising” by Matthew Rosenberg and Ainara Tiefenthäler
The mob that rioted in the Capitol on January 6th displayed militia flags and hand gestures by extremist groups, but there were also comic logos and shirts with slogans uniting far-right and right-wing groups. In this visual investigation, two Times reporters decipher the symbolism displayed on that day.
In this lesson, students will learn who participated in the Capitol Riots and consider the power of symbolism in movement. Then they will investigate hate groups in the United States.
In your diary, consider the question: What power do symbols have to create movement and to divide or unite people? Make a list of powerful symbols, past and present. Choose two symbols and answer:
What does the symbol mean?
How do groups use this symbol – and for what purpose?
Has the meaning of the symbol changed over time? If yes how?
Questions for writing and discussion
Read the article and answer the following questions:
1. The picture at the top of the article shows some of the many symbols displayed during the Capitol Uprising. The first two paragraphs of the article list extremist groups and their key symbols and emblems. Do you recognize any of these symbols? What associations do you have with them?
2. The authors write:
The dizzying array of symbols, slogans, and imagery was a noticeable aspect of the riots for many Americans, revealing an alternate political universe in which violent extremists, downright racists, and conspiracy theorists march side by side with evangelical Christians, suburban Trump supporters, and young men who enjoy making memes to “own the libraries”.
What details do you notice in this description? What are you asking yourself? What united the thousands of people who participated in the Capitol riots?
3. The remainder of the article is divided into six sections, describing different groups and their symbols: the militias; Boogaloos and proud boys; Pepe and “Kek”; QAnon; Trump supporters; Comics and Science Fiction. Select two of these sections to answer the following questions:
4th What is one additional detail you learned about the people who took part in the uprising when you were reading this article?
5. What’s a question you still have?
The article describes banners, emblems, and symbols – such as the Crusader Cross, the OK hand gesture, and the green and white flags of Kekistan – used by hate groups that participated in the January 6 uprising. How many hate groups are there in the United States? Where are you? Who are they aimed at?
Navigate the hate map created by the Southern Poverty Law Center. To begin with, don’t look for a specific state or hate ideology, just move your mouse over the map to illuminate the names of the states and the total number of hate groups. Then answer these questions from our What’s Going On This Graph section? Feature:
What do you notice?
What are you asking yourself?
How does this affect you and your community?
What’s going on in this card? While the SPLC has already created a heading, write your own heading that captures both the main idea of the chart and your reaction to it.
About the lesson of the day
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