"Make America Great Again" has transcended its identity as an American political statement. For anti-immigration white nationalists around the entire world, it's a symbol that goes beyond a specific place or time: it’s a symbol that white supremacy is the only true way the world should be organized. It’s a symbol that the direction that we’re currently moving toward—a society of diversity and acceptance—is a threat worth risking lives to fight.
That’s why Canadian Alexandre Bissonette flaunted his MAGA hat in photos before he killed six Muslim men in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.
“The hat and the MAGA acronym have really become shorthand for this white nationalist movement,” said University of Ontario Institute of Technology professor Barbara Perry, who is also an expert on far-right extremism.
According to Perry and her research colleagues, MAGA symbolism is one of the easiest indicators to identify extremists and hate group members online, HuffPost reports. A 2018 study by extremism expert J.M. Berger found that "MAGA" was the most common word in tens of thousands of alt-right Twitter profiles, while "Trump supporter" was the most frequent pair of words.
And its not just social media that is flooded with Trump-related symbols. The infamous red hats have appeared in large numbers at anti-Muslim rallies in Britain, while banners in Australia following the Christchurch terror attack flaunted Trump's slogan.
The far-right in Canada especially has an affinity for MAGA merchandise.
“In Canada, the MAGA hat is widely seen as a hate symbol—a middle finger to other Canadians, especially to women and people of color,” said Canadian Anti-Hate Network executive director Evan Balgord.