Roger Marolt: The making of an ugly hat trick
What would you think about a McDonald’s golden arches symbol plastered on the back window of a car ahead of you in traffic, when you have time to ponder such things? Fitness instructor, nutritionist or doctor probably would not come to mind. But, I don’t have to tell you what you might think, because you already know what you would think. The simple design has become a brand. For better or worse, it carries embedded connotations.
This is my lead-in to standing up for Aspen city councilman, Skippy Mesirow, again. I did this before when he suggested in social media around the holidays that our town might not be attracting some “right kind of people.” It wasn’t the kindest thing to say, but it was honest, and I was sure that he wasn’t the only one who thought this. The same thought has crossed my mind many times, even though I fully appreciate that tourism affords me the opportunity to make a living here. It is but one of my life’s copacetic contradictions. Besides, I know these visitor invasions of irritation pass quickly, more so when I write-off “stewing in my own injured local status” from the menu of mental comfort foods.
This time Mesirow hung MAGA hats on the same rack as Confederate kepis and Nazi visor caps, figuratively speaking of course. To place this recent posting in context, it occurred shortly after the U.S. Capitol was attacked by domestic terrorists, many of whom wore MAGA hats and waved Donald Trump flags to fan the flames beneath logs of hatred and defoliated branches of a stolen election conspiracy stacked deliberately on top of our Constitutional foundation attempting to martyr democracy. Mesirow graphically conveyed that both the Nazis and Confederates lost the foul wars they waged and suggested so too would the MAGA mob. The message wasn’t gentle visually. It wasn’t subtle emotionally.
Be that as it may, and getting back to my McDonald’s example for a moment, Ronald’s food products are not generally good for health. It is loaded with fat, salt, cholesterol and sugars and void of nutrients. To sugarcoat things, it makes weight control hard. Bluntly speaking, it kills people.
I doubt McDonald’s founders set these outcomes as goals. But, I do know they must be aware of them and don’t do much to change course to correct the undesirable consequences of consuming their product. They will tell you there is demand for it, which is true. People like it. And so, that their product is detrimental to human health is of little interest, because they are getting rich selling it. Let the buyer be ill! The brand remains strong.
You see where I’m going. I do not know the original intentions of the MAGA movement’s creators. I have my suspicions, but those are irrelevant. What matters is, due to their intentions and actions, or maybe something else, MAGA has attracted many racists, misogynists, xenophobes, climate change deniers, conspiracy theorists and purveyors of — not fake news, because that is too generous a term here — but rather, real nonsense. We saw the MAGA hats at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virgina, on the steps of the brutalized Capitol, at every maskless Trump rally during the pandemic and many places between. Impressions were formed.
Like it or not, an image has been baked into the MAGA brand. It is rancid from mixing ingredients into its batter too similar to what Nazism and slavery were concocted from. History is publishing the ingredients list, and there is little of nutritional value. Many see it as junk food, at best, or poison. Pointing this out, like Skippy Mesirow did, no matter how harshly, is not the problem. The problem, if it even is one, is that millions instinctively see the red hat and cringe. If you don’t like the associations that are now inextricable from MAGA, take your hat out of the ring and toss it in the dumpster. You can’t make people change their minds about MAGA, you can only influence what they think about you.
Finally, it’s curious why the critics decided to single out Mesirow to shame publicly for an idea that so many others hold as well? There is no way they could have reasonably believed this action could change people’s minds about MAGA. Was it only to give the rest of us a taste of what similar humiliation might befall us if we speak up, too? If so, I’ll hang my hat on the same rack as Skippy’s.
Roger Marolt thinks you ought to have a look inside the room before you hang your hat on the rack outside. firstname.lastname@example.org