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In the wake of two mass shootings in the U.S. last weekend that claimed the lives of 31 people, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. flags to be lowered to half-staff until sunset today.
U.S. flags are flown at half-staff to symbolize a nation in mourning and can be authorized to do so for varying lengths of time. When President George H.W. Bush passed away, flags were flown at half-staff for a month.
But was Trump’s decision to re-raise flags the flags after today a way to help a country begin the healing process? Or was it a secret wink and nod to neo-Nazis?
That claim came from NBC News contributor and former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi, who said, in a bit of a roundabout way recently, that Trump’s decision could be taken that way.
That’s because today is Aug. 8, also written 8/8. Because “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet, 88 is code for “HH,” which stands for “Heil Hitler.”
Along with 14, 88 is a well-known code in the white supremacy and neo-Nazi online community.
So was the president making an effort tip his cap to white supremacists? That he had to do lower flags to appease the nation, but he wants you to know he gets it, and is re-raising the flags on a day of honor for racists?
No. If Trump really wanted to send that message, he would have raised flags to full staff today. Per his order, they’re flown to half-staff till sunset today. Aug. 9 will be the day flags are at full-staff, which is not neo-Nazi code for anything.
Inaccurately claiming the president is sending a coded message to the white supremacist community from his perch at the White House is essentially fear-mongering, no matter how much you believe Trump is a white nationalist. Especially when the dates are wrong.
But at the same time, in this warped reality of ours, the intentions of Trump don’t always matter. The president has a fan base that includes white supremacists, and if they believe he’s sending a message, no amount of convincing them that Trump isn’t actually counting to eight will matter.
These days what people believe may matter more than what may be the truth. But that doesn’t mean you need to claim he’s outright doing it.
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David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]