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Commotion: Nazi Imagery On New Trump Cards

Megan Healey Megan Healey
16th August 2021
Commotion: Nazi Imagery On New Trump Cards
The eagle symbol has been appropriated by white supremacy groups (Getty Images).

The Claim

The new Trump card references Nazi imagery.

Emerging story

Last week, Trump’s PAC launched an official “Trump Card,” which looks like a credit card, but its function appears to be only symbolic. In a series of emails, the launch released four official designs and asked supporters to vote for their favorites. 

Several significant social media users quickly began comparing the eagle imagery on the cards to the eagle icons used in Nazi symbolism.

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Misbar’s Analysis

Art historical instances of the eagle symbol point back to the Roman Empire, and to Nazi Germany in modern history. The bald eagle appears on the official seal for the US president, and it was selected by the founding fathers shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence to be the country’s national bird. Eagles are also present on a number of countries’ national flags, including Egypt, Albania, and Mexico.

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The eagle on the official US presidential seal (Getty Images).

Despite so many historic uses, eagles have been appropriated by neo-nazi and white supremacist groups in recent years. Trump’s campaign graphics are often compared with Nazi imagery, and many have suggested that these are intentional nods to his white supremacist supporters. In several instances, Trump has notably refused to condemn known hate groups, which have included an endorsement from a former KKK leader. Even the campaign slogan “America First,” was originally coined by the KKK, who has tried to copyright the phrase.

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 A Trump campaign t-shirt compared with Nazi imagery (Wiki Commons).

Comparisons may also be valid in the formal details. The Nazi eagle’s talons are pulled in towards its body, often perched on a swastika, while the US eagle’s talons are outstretched, shown holding arrows and an olive branch. The Nazi eagle faces the viewer’s right; another similarity to the Trump card’s design, which veers away from the US’s official seal. Graphic design scholar and author of the book, The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today told Hyperallergic last year,  “I find it hard to believe that the direction of the eagle’s head was flaunted by Trump’s designers without knowing the symbolism.”

Most graphic designers consider it an ethical responsibility to be aware of the historical and cultural implications of the symbols they use. Symbols are impactful for the way an audience receives them, sometimes regardless of a designer or artist’s intentions. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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