Last year, after Donald Trump’s election win, white nationalist posters began appearing on college campuses using fascist imagery and the slogan, “We have a right to exist.”
Now, a month after a white supremacist rally and deadly violence in Charlottesville, a progressive group is trying to seize these tools of white nationalism and use them against the Trump White House, distributing 4,000 anti-Nazi posters around the nation’s capital.
They are not subtle. One features Trump in boxer shorts branded with swastikas — a version of a famous poster of Adolf Hitler with his pants down created on the eve of World War II, as WAMU pointed out. Another shows Uncle Sam warning that there is “No room for racists!”
“We need to be more aggressive in our approach,” said Arianna Jones, creator of Project Scholl, the group that developed the posters. “We need to find ways that will make people smile in the midst of all of this.”
A spokeswoman for D.C. police said they had not received complaints about the posters.
Project Scholl is named for Sophie Scholl, an activist associated with the “White Rose” movement in Nazi Germany — a German group that spoke out against Hitler. She was executed in 1943 at age 21 for distributing anti-Nazi literature.
“At great risk, ‘White Rose’ members transported and mailed mimeographed leaflets that denounced the regime,” according to the Holocaust Memorial Museum website. “In their attempt to stop the war effort, they advocated the sabotage of the armaments industry. ‘We will not be silent,’ they wrote to their fellow students. ‘We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!’ ”
Jones said she got the idea to distribute the posters from Trump’s attempts “to co-opt American nostalgia” — and her own grandfather’s work against Benito Mussolini in Italy.
“The 1940s was when everyone came together to fight for humanity — that’s when America was great,” she said.
The posters were designed by Los Angeles-based artist Robert Russell, who looked to World War II-era poster art as well as artists like Shepard Fairey, creator of the iconic Obama “Hope” image, and Robbie Conal for inspiration. Nuance was not part of the program.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment where I have to sit down and do something explicit,” Russell said.
As with any street art, it’s not clear how long the posters will last. One was photographed on the street in front of the Trump International Hotel, and Jones said many were distributed in Petworth.
“We have that opportunity to tell our own stories to our own kids about what we did when it was our turn to stand up,” she said.