Simply Southern Nazi Tees

Some friends recently were saying my examples of KKK signaling in the open are just a theory. It’s true, I am proposing theories meant for dialogue, rather than saying I’m the final word on fascist fashion.

Nonetheless, hidden signaling by hate groups is a very real thing. It takes training and some careful observation to reveal the obfuscated messages without looking like you’ve lost your eyesight or joined groups on the wrong side of history. Trust depends on establishing some clear explanations for the hidden signals.

Do you see Australia in this this “bow” pose, or a Nazi salute, or both? (Copyright (c)

Let me now relate to you the type of behavior that I believe needs greater scrutiny. It’s the kind of behavior that sometimes even makes it into the news.

PBS NewsHour profiled a woman volunteering for the campaign who had prominently visible tattoos of widely recognized white power symbols. In the segment, which was first flagged by Gawker, PBS profiles Grace Tilly, who is shown making calls at a Trump campaign phone bank in North Carolina.

Her symbols were a Celtic Cross and the number 88. Would you immediately recognize those as entries in the hate symbols database?

Here’s another example with 14 and 88 from Russia:

‘Miss Charming’ photos revealed she’s either a Nazi or… nope, she’s just a Russian Nazi and was forced to resign.

And here’s what it looked like in 2016 when American social media companies were openly spreading an obvious Nazi campaign for President (archived here and here):

Probably useful to mention that after taking office these flagrant Nazis in 2020 dressed up with a suit and tie — slapped on additional layers of encoding into their passive-aggressive Nazi signals.

I’m definitely not the first to write publicly about all these Nazi slogans in public, or the issue of Nazi t-shirts designed to hide in plain sight.

Recently a man proud to be a descendant of Nazis sent me the following Mel Magazine article detailing Neo-Nazi apparel and provocatively asked if there was anything I would like him to send me for Christmas:

At a cursory glance, the T-shirt looks like an ad for Sea World. An orca, triumphantly jutting out of the sea, splashes water above the words “Antarktis-Expedition.” It takes just a second longer to notice the bold text hovering above the orca: “Save the White Continent.” The shirt was created by the German label Thor Steinar, one of a few clothing brands that cater to neo-Nazis. Like Ansgar Aryan and Erik and Sons, Thor Steinar uses coded references to obscure events in Nazi history, veiled threats and playful imagery to flout German hate-speech laws, which forbid explicit references to the Third Reich.

And I’m not kidding, I really was offered this garbage as a holiday “gift” from a “Nazi family”.

So let’s just say I’ve been, and remain, in the right circles to know when I see something fishy (both puns intended). And that is why, while walking through an airport the other day, I could not help but notice someone wearing a giant 5th SS Panzer-Division symbol on a T-shirt.

First, I will explain the Nazi symbolism I am referencing. There are three parts: the SS, the Wiking and the Panzer-Division. An easy way of explaining these three symbols is to look at the marketplace of Neo-Nazi merchandise.

You perhaps can see how a SS, Wiking, and Panzer-Division ring has been segmented into the three parts around the finger, which makes it kind of unwieldy, gaudy and large.

Now I will explain these three symbols on the ring, left to right:

  • SS (schutzstaffel) = a criminal militant organization of the Nazi Party directly involved in numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity
  • Wiking = volunteers from “Nordic” regions who committed crimes on behalf of Nazi Germany
  • 5th Panzer-Division = “Sonnenrad” (sun wheel swastika) military designation for the SS Wiking motorized (tank and artillery) infantry, deployed to commit war crimes in Eastern Europe

Here’s an example of a Sonnenrad on a Panzer III of the Wiking division in June 1942, for some historic perspective, as it rolls towards committing crimes while losing the war:

And here is a pamphlet from the same time period

Second, I was walking through an airport just the other day when to my great surprise I saw someone wearing a Nazi symbol.

And here is a closer view, where a 5th Panzer symbol becomes less clear as a Nordic-looking SS becomes more apparent. Unlike the ring, however, three symbols have been combined into a single giant one. Not what I was expecting. I had to find out who was wearing this thing and why.

“Does this obfuscated swastika make my…”

Most people I’ve explained this to call it an unfortunate oversight, or poor (ignorant) choice in design.

One guy thought it couldn’t possibly be intentional as the words surrounding the “Nazi rune” (his words) were so peace inspiring. I found that logic to be a bit like saying a hunter isn’t going to shoot a deer because a camouflage suit seems so nature-loving.

Nazi Germany infamously broadcast “make peace” propaganda into France right before invasion:

Excerpt from Article on Radio in Propaganda, Harpers Magazine, August 1941

And Nazi propaganda cells convinced groups of Americans to protest for peace with Hitler, giving him little or no resistance, even during WWII. Note how “America First” disinformation campaigns now are described by historians:

Hitler’s dictatorship repudiated both democracy and human rights. The Nazi empire was the arena in which Hitler’s master race philosophy was to be put into practice. Censorship prevented the German press from exciting the conscience of the nation. There could never have been a successful passive resistance movement against the Nazis. The inability of members of [America First] to recognize this, especially men like Hutchins of Chicago, and Norman Thomas, is remarkable.

Inability of Americans to recognize harms from promoting Nazism definitely is remarkable, then and now.

Here’s a good example: US Marines feigned ignorance recently after posing with a giant SS flag they bought online from an obvious Nazi memorabilia site.

Everyone knows those US Marines were lying about their Nazi SS flag to avoid responsibility for it:

There are also a whole bunch of articles with titles like “Marines: Nazi flag was mistaken for their own,” since the Marine Corps’ official excuse is that the use of the flag was just a naive mistake on the part of Marines who didn’t know what the flag was and just thought the SS stood for Sniper Scout. Really? And just how does someone go about buying a Nazi SS flag without realizing that it’s a Nazi SS flag? Well, I spent hours yesterday afternoon and last night trying to do just that, scouring the web for an SS flag that could be bought by mistake. And, big surprise, I couldn’t find a single place where an SS flag wasn’t very clearly being sold as what it is — a Nazi flag.

Posing with Nazi SS flags today is not entirely unexpected, either. It can be a sad reminder of 35 years ago in 1976 when US Marines harbored domestic terror groups (KKK), then protected and hid them when confronted by anti-racist soldiers.

…Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California was a hotbed of KKK activity–an open secret that was tolerated or aided by Marine Corps brass… white marine Klansmen openly distributed racist literature on the base, pasted KKK stickers on barracks doors and hid illicit weapons in their quarters…

That’s right, the US Marines confronted with obvious KKK evidence denied the domestic terrorist group had infiltrated their ranks and then instead prosecuted the soldiers pointing out how obvious the KKK were being.

Let’s take this even deeper into American military history. It’s probably fair to say these anecdotes about the Marines are almost as bad as the inability of Americans to recognize harms from promoting symbolism of white-supremacist “Confederate” states.

The NSA historians have documented that during WWII the spy agency hired the young white women out of the Jim Crow crowd — insurrectionist racist anti-democracy families.

Most of the civilians that were hired during World War II were from North Carolina, Virginia, and the South. These were white, a lot of them young girls right out of high school. They did not have a history of eating with people of color. I don’t know when it was, but one day, in the cafeteria there was one of the other white workers eating lunch with [a black man]. That took nerve in that time. It took courage for the guy who was doing that because of the social environment.

Thus in a predictable “social environment” of American racism it took “courage” for any white man to even sit down for lunch with a black person, while everyone was supposedly fighting against Nazism for being a form of white insecurity fascism.

Keep in mind that Nazi Germany used America as a blueprint for oppression, or more specifically studied Woodrow Wilson (1912-1920) for ideas on racism, especially as he restarted the KKK in 1915. Nazis looked at America’s Jim Crow laws as inspiration for their development of Nazism.

When we talk about Nazi symbolism, we’re looking for indications of people who align positively with America’s pattern of genocide and systemic racism. Knowing American history thus can set the stage as a sort of blueprint for crimes against humanity.

Think for a long minute why the black American soldiers who were sent to Nazi Germany to ‘promote democracy‘ in the rubble of war were blocked from doing the same thing at home by the forces in America that the Nazis had emulated.

Tying it all together, the symbolism of “Confederate battle” flags wasn’t an issue in America after the Civil War because they were never used again, until… once the Nazis were defeated they needed a new flag to continue their fight. This is why Americans started flying “Dixie” flags after WWII ended, to obfuscate ongoing support for the principles of Nazism, which of course mirrored Confederate ones.

Suddenly a racist flag became popular in 1948 — KKK/Nazis shared a symbol to represent their continued war against American democracy and freedoms.

In the 1950s, as the Civil Rights Movement built up steam, you began to see more and more public displays of the Confederate battle flag, to the point where the state of Georgia in 1956 redesigned their state flag to include the Confederate battle flag.

Here’s a good example: Georgia in 1956 added the battle flag of the enemy of America to their own flag. They couldn’t put a Nazi symbol on it, because that still would be too obvious in 1956. Instead they used the Confederate Battle flag that symbolized Nazism, and promoted viciously killing hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans.

State flags of Georgia don’t even hide the fact they consider themselves at war with America

Georgia’s state flag based on obvious Confederate battle flags is at least as much about white insecurity as their old one, if not more racist because it’s new.

More to the point, and much earlier in 1890, Mississippi re-wrote their constitution in order to purge all blacks from their political system. Next the white supremacist state government in 1894 secretly pushed the Confederate battle flag back up their flagpoles to declare they were not ending a state of war with Americans.

Reading Mississippi political events from 1870 onward (openly flying symbols of white supremacy who oppressed voters at gunpoint and impeached black politicians) is basically like watching Nazi Germany unfold 60 years earlier.

Ok, enough history.

With all that in mind, of course I had to walk up to this woman in an airport wearing obfuscated white supremacist imagery and ask her “what’s with wearing a giant Nazi symbol?”

She gasped for air in feigned shock and said “Oh no. Oh my god. Don’t look. I don’t mean to offend anyone” and then quickly turned and walked away.

Let’s be clear now about the company she bought her shirt from.

Simply Southern (SS) is based in North Carolina, just like that racist Republican phone bank worker Grace Tilly I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Perhaps Grace, or her family, even worked there and designed T-Shirts for them.

The company describes itself as a “brand to reflect the values of a southern lifestyle“. They don’t define those values so the reader is left to wonder if they reject the bad ones. In their “giving back” section of the website also they curiously depict black children next to helpless animals.

I’ve written before about this kind of racist “giving” imagery. Do the purported “values of a southern lifestyle” mean we are to look upon Blacks like some kind of animal (e.g. Babar — no matter how hard he tried, he would always remain an elephant) desperate for the white savior?

So after greater scrutiny, what’s your call?

Update May 2020:

A reader pointed out that fascists couldn’t pass up a free “patriot” t-shirt offering, which only displayed a hidden anti-fascist message when they wore it in heat.

The t-shirts were advertised as patriotic t-shirts, but actually pointed out that “St George was Syrian” when worn. The heat-activated message included the hashtag #DefendDiversity. A spokesperson for the charity Tell MAMA said: “The St George’s cross has become an icon of far-right xenophobia. Somewhat ironic considering St George had Syrian, Greek, Turkish and Israeli heritage. We distributed t-shirts to far-right nationalists celebrating St. George’s Day. When they proudly donned their new t-shirts, little did they know that their body heat triggered the message to appear.”

Also the Economist has published an expose of Hawaiian shirts as a new signal by fascist groups in America, which reminded me of The Secret History of the Banana Split.

And as it turns out, because a white hood or swastika is so well known, hate groups wear a “Red Hat” as an anagram of “HATRED”

Update January 2020:

Company That Listed ‘Camp Auschwitz‘ Shirts Has User Records Leaked by Prolific Hacker Group

10 thoughts on “Simply Southern Nazi Tees”

  1. Good read, with info I must read up on. Great speaking with you brother. Now I must go dig through your mind(blog).

  2. In August we were on holidays near Cancun and noticed pink T shirts on an entire family with Nazi symbols. They disgusted me. It was like they wanted to prove they could do it. Another time they wore T shirts that said “Ocean life matters”. How can we stop it?

  3. I first saw the SS brand on drinking glasses in the German town of Frankenmuth, Michigan. The logo immediately seemed to me like the Nazi SS imagery, in Frankenmuth no less.

    I have since seen it in the South, popular with white women who look like they’d be nostalgic for plantation life.

    To use two S’s in their logo, they could’ve done it in a different way, especially as a women’s clothing brand, I’d have expected something softer, more curvy, feminine, lines thinner, not so bold. But they didn’t, they used the bold lines, the same thickness, the outline around the SS, the shape – all highly evocative(?) of the German SS symbol.

  4. Yes @Ann, popular coast to coast and all over America with people trying to project power and instill fear by adopting symbols of the enemy and their evil. What’s so strange, as you point out, is when the symbols of human suffering are transferred onto regular drinking glasses in “Michigan’s Little Bavaria”. This is a town that tries to use its “cuisine” to attract tourists.

    Perhaps it’s related to 2017 when “the 9th SS Hohenstaufen Living History Group, which is based out of Metro Detroit” was proudly flying Nazi flags at a tourist festival.

    It also reminds me when a friend invited me into a Milwaukee house built in the 1930s and the tiles of the entrance and over the fireplace were small arrangements of swastikas. Nobody in that town had ever thought to have them changed.

  5. I wish I could say the article is filled with blatant lies, because as “vorv88” usually I’m a whiny ass white bitch, but honestly as Jeremiah I find this all uncomfortably true.

  6. I see what you mean! That simply southern logo is simply wrong. To compare that to a swastika. Would be comparing the star of david to a hexagram.

  7. My favorite part of this great article is saying the Hawaiian shirts are nazi symbolism. I know a lot of boog bois and they falsely claim to be anti fascist. Some of them even try to say they see themselves as left politically, even though generally a libertarian symbol. I know it gets confusing as some claim say they thought boog boi were marching with BLM and offering protection during the protests last year. But you are totally right. SPLC spells is out pretty cleanly:

    “The boogaloo meme itself emerged concurrently in antigovernment and white power online spaces in the early 2010s. In both of these communities, “boogaloo” was frequently associated with racist violence and, in many cases, was an explicit call for race war. Today the term is regularly deployed by white nationalists and neo-Nazis who want to see society descend into chaos so that they can come to power and build a new fascist state. Even as the boogaloo bois attempt to dissociate themselves from the meme’s origins in the extreme right, they have adopted some of the most prominent martyrs of the antigovernment extremist movement – itself an outgrowth of the antisemitic and racist Posse Comitatus movement of the early 1970s – as their own.”

    So you’re spot on calling out the boog bois for what they really represent.

  8. I found this article after doing a quadruple take when I ran across the image of a logo on the back of a pair of jeans listed on a popular clothing resale site that I use. I’m familiar with the Simply Southern brand but had never seen the logo and I was so taken aback by the blatancy of the image I almost didn’t believe what I was seeing and immediately had to ask the Google “Am I crazy or does the Simply Southern logo look like a swastika!?” The background info provided here helped me confirm what my gut reaction to that hateful symbol had already told me. Thanks for dropping some well researched knowledge and not making it sound like a typical lefty rant (I’m a lefty and I frequently rant but I prefer my information to be delivered in rational manner than is usually available on the interwebs) so thank you.

  9. Reader in the UK here.

    I was moved to look up Simply Southern’s website and found I could not access it, there was an error message telling me they were using protective software and giving me a Cloudfare number, date and time of day and my own IP address.
    This seemed like an excessive level of security for a clothing manufacturer who would presumably be keen on new customers, and I am not sure what the point of telling me what my IP was. I mean, I really don’t know whether that is to inform me or intimidate me.

    I was curious enough to boot up my VPN and try a few more locations. From the US I could browse their twee garments without difficulty, from Canada ditto, but from Mexico I was once more blocked.

    Almost seems like they are a bit paranoid about something.

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