August 24, 2014

Gale Minchew

How to spot the secret images that far-right extremists use to recognize each other

Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin



  • Far-right extremists are exchanging old symbols of hatred for new ones 
  • Some want to make their beliefs more mainstream with less stigmatized icons 
  • But others want to show their allegiance without mainstream society knowing
  • The US National Socialist Movement has swapped its swastika for a Norse rune
  • And the KKK has replaced its white cross with a single ‘blood drop’
  • Other symbols have secret codes only other extremists will know 
  • Don’t assume someone is far-right; they may have a similar, innocent, symbol

For decades far-right extremists have used well-worn symbols like the swastika and the white cross to signify their affiliation to racist causes.

But as right-wing US hate groups have risen in prominence over the past year, their members have found themselves looking for new ways to show their allegiance without being spurned by society.

That means creating new, secret methods of communication, Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League, told CNN.

The far-right is replacing old symbols of hate, such as the KKK's blood drop cross (pictured in red circle tattoo), with new, lesser known symbols that allow them to communicate secretly

The far-right is replacing old symbols of hate, such as the KKK’s blood drop cross (pictured in red circle tattoo), with new, lesser known symbols that allow them to communicate secretly

Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan continue to hold racially charged meetings and ceremonies, but hide their iconography to mingle in mainstream society

Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan continue to hold racially charged meetings and ceremonies, but hide their iconography to mingle in mainstream society

Changing ‘fashions’

Changes are happening fast in modern far-right groups, as a rise in right-wing extremism has been met with an equal amount of attention from the press.

Some of the new symbols exist to put a friendlier face on fascism, such as the US National Socialist Movement’s decision to replace the swastika on its logo with the old Norse Othala rune.

Jeff Schoep, the movement’s leader, told The New York Times in December that the decision was ‘an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream.’

Others have an even more insidious purpose.

While some racists sport swastikas and other symbols in order to intimidate or openly proclaim affiliations, others want to continue operating in mainstream society, undetected by those not in the know.

They now have new symbols, deliberately chosen to look innocuous. Some are adaptations of existing codes; some have been co-opted from benign cultures.

That means not everyone sporting them on tattoos or clothing is an extremist – some may have worn them because of their original meaning, or may just have a symbol that is similar to these, but different.

However, these are the hateful new icons now circulating in extremist groups.

The new swastika: the Othala rune

Variations on the Norse; Othala rune, which is replacing the swastika as the main symbol for neo-Nazis. Previously it was used (with legs, as on the far left) on an SS infantry flag in WWII

Variations on the Norse; Othala rune, which is replacing the swastika as the main symbol for neo-Nazis. Previously it was used (with legs, as on the far left) on an SS infantry flag in WWII

This variation on the Othala rune is now being used by the US National Socialist Movement, replacing the swastika it used before

This variation on the Othala rune is now being used by the US National Socialist Movement, replacing the swastika it used before

Nazis have a long history of stealing benign cultural symbols and infusing them with hate.

The most famous of these, of course, is the swastika, which originated on the Indian subcontinent at least 11,000 years ago and is still used by Hindus and other cultures.

But another symbol has been seized upon by right-wing extremists to represent their hateful ideology: the Elder Futhark Odal rune, also known as the Othala rune.

Runes were used to represent Norse and proto-German language before the adoption of the Latin alphabet.

That made them especially attractive to Nazis, who idolize Nordic people.

‘The Nazis believed that Scandinavians were pure Aryans just like Germans were,’ Pitcavage said.

The Othala rune (ᛟ) represents the concepts of ‘homeland’ or ‘inheritance’ and was used by Nazis – with ‘wings’ added to its bottom – by an SS infantry division in the Second World War.

The Othala is now gaining in popularity with neo-Nazis since the US National Socialist Movement announced last year that it was making the rune its new official symbol.

However, the ADL notes that the rune can be found in non-extremist contexts too, such as when used by pagans who write in the old alphabet.

The KKK’s secret symbol: The blood drop

Some KKK members have removed its white cross to make a new symbol
The new icon only has the 'red blood drop' which is less well known than the original

Some KKK members have removed its white cross (pictured left) to make a new symbol. The new icon only has the ‘red blood drop’ which is less well known than the original

When the Ku Klux Klan created its emblem – which it terms the ‘MIOAK,’ or ‘Mystic Insignia of a Klansman’ – in the early 1900s.

Originally the symbol was of four white K’s on a red circle, with a yin-yang symbol in the center.

Over time the Ks were realigned and became a white cross, while the yin-yang symbol lost its white half and became a single red swirl.

They then decided the ‘blood drop’ would represent the blood they imagined would be shed in ‘defense of the white race,’ the ADL says.

But as the KKK has become better known over the past 100 years, the blood drop cross has become more recognizable.

That’s why Klansmen will sometimes use just the blood drop as a more subtle symbol of their allegiance to the group.

The secret dice code

These dice have the numbers 1, 4 and 8 (5+3). The code 1488 is a common one in neo-Nazi circles and represents a white separatist ideology and the phrase 'Heil Hitler'

These dice have the numbers 1, 4 and 8 (5+3). The code 1488 is a common one in neo-Nazi circles and represents a white separatist ideology and the phrase ‘Heil Hitler’

To the untrained eye, these may look like a perfectly ordinary pair of dice.

But the truth is their dots hold a secret neo-Nazi code.

The first die shows one and four dots – representing the number 14. The second has five and three dots – which add up to eight.

Together, they form the hate code ‘1488’.

The number 14 is used to represent ‘the 14 words’ slogan of white supremacy: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’

The number 88 represent the phrase ‘Heil Hitler,’ because the letter ‘H’ is the eighth in the alphabet. It’s commonly seen in neo-Nazi contexts.

Dylann Roof, for example, took 88 bullets with him when he murdered nine black people at an African-American church.

The code is often written as 1488 or 14/88 in digits – some racist stores even sell merchandise for $14.88 – but the dice allow the message to be carried, and passed on, in secret.

Of course, the code relies on the idea that dice aren’t unusual in tattoos – and so it’s important to not assume that anyone with a dice tattoo is secretly an extremist.

The lettered grave

Tombstones are common in tattoos, but some have the initials of white supremacist heroes in them - such as 'RJM,' for neo-Nazi terrorist Robert Jay Mathews

Tombstones are common in tattoos, but some have the initials of white supremacist heroes in them – such as ‘RJM,’ for neo-Nazi terrorist Robert Jay Mathews

Another subtle symbol is a grave with initials marked on it.

Like the dice, a tattoo or drawing of a grave isn’t especially notable or unusual.

But members of the far right use tattoos of graves to secretly signal to others that they are extremists.

They use initials of prominent white supremacists, fascists or other similar figures to show their views.

In the example to the left, the initials ‘RJM’ represent Robert Jay Mathews, an American neo-Nazi terrorist and the leader of American white supremacist militant group The Order. He died in a gunfight with law enforcement agents in 1984.

Rising hatred

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the numbers of hate groups rose from 2015-2016, something they link to Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

Most of the hate groups noted by the SPLC were white separatist or supremacist, or anti-Semitic. They included the KKK, neo-Nazi groups and skinhead gangs as well as racist publications.

The total number of hate groups increased from 892 to 917, the SPLC’s Intelligence Report 2017 said.

Anti-Muslim groups also nearly tripled from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016.

On Presidents Day 11 Jewish centers received bomb threats, and last month a Texas mosque was torched after the Trump administration issued an executive order suspending travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Donald Trump has come out against the rising numbers of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks - but his rise has also seen a rise in the number of hate groups in the US

Donald Trump has come out against the rising numbers of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks – but his rise has also seen a rise in the number of hate groups in the US

‘The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists,’ said Mark Potok, senior fellow and editor of the Intelligence Report.

That thought was echoed by Gerald Martin, a retired public-school teacher from Dallas, and veteran white supremacist.

He told the New York Times that he was delighted when Trump made election campaign remarks about building a wall to keep out Mexican drug dealers and rapists

‘I’d been waiting to hear those words from a mainstream political candidate all my life,’ he said.

In the past week Trump has worked hard to fight that image, visiting the Museum of African American History and announcing that anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish community centers are ‘horrible and are painful’.

But those cries are falling on deaf ears for some. On Wednesday the director of the Anne Frank Center complained that it took two days for Trump to voice opposition to the Jewish Center attacks.

‘His silence was deafening,’ she said. ‘His silence is why there is a cancer of anti-Semitism in the White House. It was just a Band-Aid on a cancer.’



Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin



Maralyn Chase: Fully believes in your Second Amendment rights, HOWEVER…

Attention Ms. Chase:

  1. You have a Constitutional right to own a firearm. A home or car is not a Constitutional right.
  2. You do NOT have to purchase insurance (unless you are financing in which case it is usually required). Sure, you take on higher risks and even fines yet there are plenty of people who opt out of purchasing insurance.

From The Washington State Legislature is considering a series of gun control measures that includes Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s assault weapon ban and a gun lock safety bill.

One senator has introduced a measure that takes on the issue a different way, requiring liability insurance before someone can buy a gun.

Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Edmonds) says people have to buy insurance for their homes, their cars, and other items, so having it for guns makes sense to her (of course it does – she’s a democrat).

Chase insists her bill is not about gun control, but rather public and private protections.

“I fully believe in Second Amendment rights, however, with those rights come great responsibilities,” Chase said. “We see the destructive power of guns almost nightly on the news and yet we do not require gun owners to have any type of liability insurance. Requiring liability insurance may cause an irresponsible gun owner to exercise extra care in preventing firearm-related accidents, especially in tragic accidents involving children.”

Dave Workman, senior editor of, doesn’t believe gun liability insurance will do anything to cut down on crime or gun related accidents. “This is one more hoop that somebody is trying to throw out there to require people to jump through before they can exercise a civil right,” he said. “If they did this, or tried to do this, the howling would be heard all the way from our Washington to Washington D.C.”

Workman says politicians can only go so far with something like this before getting a negative reaction from the public. He doesn’t believe the bill will get much traction in Olympia.

Senator Chase agrees. She admits it will be difficult to get it out of the Senate given the current political makeup. But, she says, it’s important to get the discussion started. For now, her bill sits in the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee, with no hearing scheduled.

There is one group that’s in favor of gun liability insurance — insurance companies. Insurance companies sell policies for self-defense use of guns and concealed carry. It’s even NRA-endorsed. As described in a video promoting “Second Call Defense,” the “legal aftermath of a self-defense shooting can sometimes seem worse than what causes you to use lethal force in the first place.” (See the video at the article.)



Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin


Did you know that at present, Obamacare makes it legal for insurers to charge older Americans a health insurance premium that’s three times more than what younger Americans pay?

That, of course, is tantamount to an age health tax.

To make matters worse, a new bill in Congress means to actually INCREASE it to as much as 5 times or more. 

The bill is H.R. 708: State Age Rating Flexibility Act of 2017, the purpose of which is to amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act “to increase the permissible age variation based on age for health insurance premiums for coverage offered in the individual or small group market from a factor of three to a factor of five, or to a factor determined by the state.

To top it off, this age-discriminatory bill was introduced by a Republican! — Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana). At present, there are no co-sponsors. On January 27, 2017, H.R. 708 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


Casey Dowd reports for Fox News, Feb. 16, 2017, that AARP Senior Vice President Joyce Rogers lashed out against H.R. 708 in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond told FOX Business:

“This legislation has a simple explanation — it would be an age tax — charging older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare a penalty of five times what others must pay for health insurance. The term ‘age rating’ is Washington-speak for overcharging older Americans by thousands of dollars for their health care.”

According to a new study from AARP’s Public Policy Institute conducted by the independent actuarial firm Milliman, if H.R. 708 is passed, on average, adults age 60 and older would see their insurance bills go up by $3,200 — making their average annual premium a whopping $17,900.

LeaMond said:

“Seniors already spend one out of every six dollars on healthcare—they can’t afford to spend more.

A typical senior without insurance in the individual market has a median income of only $20,000.  Asking moderate and middle income older Americans to pay over $3,000 more out of pocket for insurance will put a major squeeze on other necessities.  And, this group is already dealing with added expenses from the high prices of prescription drugs.

Add to that the fact that many parents pay for their children’s insurance until they turn twenty-six, a bill many are happy to foot, but that certainly adds to their financial burden.”

LeaMond said this week, AARP launched a new campaign to stop the age tax that includes advertising and recess visits by AARP staff and volunteers to members of Congress in the states:

“Our latest efforts follow letters we have sent that lay out the negative impact of the age tax. The ads also come as an addition to AARP’s Medicare campaign, which takes on ‘premium support,’ a proposal that would harm Medicare beneficiaries by turning the successful program into a private voucher program.

We are encouraging our members to call their representatives in Congress at 844-617-2688 and urge them to oppose H.R. 708, the bill that would allow insurance companies to charge 50- to 64-year-olds thousands of dollars more for their health care. Remind Congress they should be standing up for their constituents, not insurance companies. You can also send a message to your Representative by going to the following website Opens a New Window. .

Contact info. for Rep. Larry Buschon:

1005 Longworth House Office Building
(202) 225-4636


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