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Symbols of Hate at WordCamps

Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.
Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech.
Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert conference organizers if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.
Participate in an authentic and active way. In doing so, you help to create WordCamp CITYNAMEHERE and make it your own.

WordCamp Code of Conduct

I’ve spoken, attended, or organized over 50 WordCamps over the last 10 years in large part due to the overwhelming acceptance and respect in our community. WordPress as a whole is a place that people generally are able to work together towards the common mission of Democratizing Publishing and WordCamps are a physical manifistation. However, over the last few years I’ve started to see something crop in which worries me. Outright symbols of hate and oppression.

The red “Make America Great Again” hat is a potent symbol of racism. It’s a symbol used by white supremacists that is just as vulgar as a swastika or “14 words”, and it’s one that has no place in a community that seeks to have people who are “considerate, respectful, and collaborative.”

Symbols have been co-opted before. The swastika has its roots in ancient religions. The word comes from Sanskrit and means “conducive to well being”, but the adoption of it by the Nazi party has effectively ruined it for everyone.

While the origins of the hat is in political speech, that has changed. “…I think what happened is that the hat was essentially kidnapped, weaponized by Charlottesville and by white supremacists and by the violence that went on in some of those rallies by a minority of people at those rallies.” Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan told NPR.

Does the red MAGA hat have a place at WordCamps? I don’t think so based on the first two points at the top of the code of conduct.

Be Considerate, Respectful, and Collaborative.

There is nothing considerate, respectful, or collaborative about a symbol of hate. A symbol meant to divide. “Make America Great Again” is a phrase meant to inspire folks to inspire white supremacists to “Make America White Again.” The phrase doesn’t even get used as a dog whistle at times:

In June 2016, a Tennessee politician even put that on a billboard. Rick Tyler, running for a congressional seat in mostly white Polk County, Tennessee, explained that his “Make America White Again” billboard was meant to evoke the mood of 1950s America, when television shows idealized the image of the happy white family. 

Is ‘Make America Great Again’ Racist?

Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behavior and speech.

While MAGA can appear to not break this part of the code of conduct, due to it’s being used as a symbol of white power around the globe, that is not the case. A mass murder who shot up a masque in French speaking Quebec wore a MAGA hat. Throughout the world, the most common word in biographies of the altr-right is MAGA. This isn’t a strictly America problem, it’s one being faced by much of the world. MAGA and localized derogates is used to harass immigrants, refugees, and anyone that doesn’t fit the local definition of normal.

We, the WordPress community, wouldn’t be ok with someone walking in to a WordCamp with a swastika, why should we be ok with someone wearing a Make America Great Again hat? People are welcome with all political beliefs, but when those political beliefs cross over to hate speech, our code of conduct needs to step up. I think our code of conduct should be clear that symbols of hate are just as unacceptable as overt sexual imagery.

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