What messages are we sending out when we don our Trump hats?

This is a story about Trump hats, one that I sometimes wear and two that I saw on some very enthusiastic Trump supporters in Charleston.

I own a Trump 2020 hat. It’s a very nice hat that looks rather like the one in the picture illustrating this post. My problem is that I’m afraid to wear it in public. I’m not afraid that I’ll be attacked. It’s more subtle than that.

My new home is in a neighborhood that reflects South Carolina’s overall demographics: 30-ish percent black and 70-ish percent white. Without exception, every neighbor I’ve met when going on dog walks (and I’ve wandered over large parts of the community because I take my dog on 3-4 mile walks)  is friendly. People always wave. I often stop to talk to people about their lovely gardens or their own dogs.

What worries me about wearing my hat is the effect of the pervasive, and utterly false, propaganda that Trump is a racist. Will my black neighbors, when seeing me wearing my Trump bucket hat, conclude that I’m doing the equivalent of wearing a swastika in a Jewish neighborhood? That is, I’m concerned that when they see my hat, rather than understanding that I’m showing my preference for a Republican candidate in America’s usual two-party race, will they believe that I’m a race-hater, deliberately trying to inflict pain on them? I don’t think they’ll attack me but I do worry that I’ll hurt them. I don’t want to turn into a one-woman Skokie march.

Of course, my neighbors may surprise me. Blogging is light today because I had a guest who’d never seen historic Charleston before. We spent the day wandering around one of the most beautiful historic areas in America. On King Street, we passed an outdoor restaurant table at which two women were seated. Each was covered from head to foot in Trump regalia, including hats. “Ladies,” I said, going up to their table, “I love your outfits.” They smiled, delighted. “Go Trump 2020,” one cheered.

Both women were black.

I may be doing my neighbors a great disservice, both in thinking they hate Trump or, even if they do hate Trump, in worrying that they’re incapable of recognizing an ordinary difference of political opinion in a two-party system. Still, the media’s relentless propaganda does have its effect on people….

On my last walk with the hat, I ended up compromising — I still wore it, but I put it on backward. That way, as I approached my neighbors, they saw only a friendly person in a red hat. And then, as I walked away, assuming that they even bothered to glance back at me, they saw that this friendly person supports our President.