A visual database of extremist symbols
Symbols are the most powerful communication tools that have ever existed. Because they have the ability to convey so much meaning, intent and significance in such a compact, immediately recognizable form, the effect that they have is tremendous. One need only reflect on the reverence or passion that symbols ranging from the American flag to the Star of David to the Christian cross to the Red Cross can evoke to be able to understand exactly how powerful a symbol can be.
Unfortunately, symbols can convey negative connotations as well as positive. Some symbols are meant to convey feelings of hate or anger, or meant to instill in those who see the symbols feelings of fear and insecurity. Hate symbols, for instance, can be found scrawled on the outside walls of synagogues, churches and schools; tattooed on the bodies of white supremacists; or displayed on jewelry or clothing. These symbols give extremists a sense of power and belonging, as well as a quick way of identifying others who share their beliefs. This database provides an overview of many such symbols frequently used by neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, racist skinheads, racist prison gangs and other hate or extremist groups or movements.
Users of this database should keep in mind, however, that few symbols ever represent just one idea or are used exclusively by one group. For example, the Confederate Flag is a symbol that is frequently used by white supremacists but which also has been used by people and groups that are not racist. To some it may signify pride in one's heritage but to others it suggests slavery or white supremacy. Similarly, other symbols in this database may be significant to groups or individuals who are not extreme or racist. The descriptions here point out significant multiple meanings but may not be able to relay every single possible meaning of a particular symbol. For this reason, all of the symbols depicted here must be evaluated in the context in which they are used.