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NAT’L – GUN RIGHTS – What Do You Do When Extremism Comes for the Hawaiian Shirt?

It’s one of the most discussed street styles of the spring: tactical body armor, customized assault rifles, maybe a sidearm and helmet, paired with the languid floral patterns of a Hawaiian shirt. While it’s not uncommon to see heavily armed white men toting military-grade gear on American streets, the addition of the Hawaiian shirt is a new twist. It turned up in February at gun rights rallies in Virginia and Kentucky, then in late April at coronavirus lockdown protests in Michigan and Texas. Think of the shirts as a campy kind of uniform, but for members of extremist groups who adhere to the idea of the “boogaloo” — or, a second civil war in the United States. If that sounds silly to you, consider that these groups settled on the Hawaiian shirt thanks to a string of message board in-jokes. The joke, for the uninitiated, involves a farrago of convoluted references to the 1984 film “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” and sound-alike terms like “big igloo” and “big luau.” Each is a reference to the movement’s insurrectionary appetites, which range from civil libertarian rebellion against the American government to full-fledged race war instigated by white nationalists, as reported by investigative journalism site Bellingcat. The boogaloo has taken to announcing itself with images of igloos and floral prints in memes, battle patches and flags — and by wearing old Hawaiian shirts. Awareness of the boogaloo movement has grown in recent weeks because of the surreal appearance of its members and its quizzical moniker, coupled with the movement’s professed desire to incite high-impact violence on American soil. From a distance, it’s a potentially disarming mixture of symbolism. Up close, it looks more like far-right extremism.  [full article]

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