United States of Resistance

Shortly after the presidential election, “Trump Nation/Whites Only” was written on the wall outside a majority-immigrant church in Maryland. The response is to either quietly wash the wall or stand against hatred and promote tolerance. “All citizens of good conscious must join the Resistance to Donald J. Trump’s authoritarian administration,” writes public relations consultant Len Stein. To visualize and unite the various resistance groups and present the movement with a unifying symbol, Stein proposes that resisters wear a triangle ‘R’ badge on their sleeves when protesting—immigrants, refugees, people of every ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. The ‘R’ triangle symbols were designed by Tucker Viemeister. I asked Stein to talk more about this act of resistance.

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What prompted this logo?
At this time of existential threat to American democracy, we felt the need to support the full spectrum of resistance movements and discovered that there is no unifying visual symbol to support Resistance at large.

The triangle reminds me of the color-coded prison emblems used at concentration camps—any relation?
Exactly! We sought to co-opt the notorious system of Nazi camp badges by using their colored triangles as the foundation for the ‘R’ for [the] Resistance badge logo. In doing so, we want to subconsciously warn people of the dangers of authoritarian rule that we now face and provide an instantly recognizable image that will create a strong emotional reaction.

How should the Resistance use these? Like V for Victory?
Like ‘V’—yes. We plan to contact leading resistance groups in the hopes that each will select the appropriate colored badge for their organization, from immigrants (brown) to LGBTQ (rainbow) to American patriots (red, white, blue striped), etc. Our goal is to see masses of protesters proudly wearing their ‘R’ badges, which they can easily print onto pressure sensitive labels or sew upon their sleeves.resist-jpegs-003

How will you make this universal?
We’ve created a color-coded badge for groups ranging from generic (red) to Jewish (yellow) to artists (orange) to African Americans (black), etc. Or, any group is free to create their own ‘R’ badge color. In this way, the color system makes a universal resistance statement.

Do you think identifying oneself as ‘R’ will have an impact?
One hopes that by showing the commonality of Resistance, whatever your specific cause, we can unite the many disparate groups into one huge movement with a common goal—save our democracy from the threat of a wannabe authoritarian regime.


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14 thoughts on “United States of Resistance

  1. Steven Heller Post author

    This column reports and comments on issues and concerns about design and designers. This re-application of the infamous Nazi symbol worn by victims of the concentration camp atrocities is one approach to address personally what its creators believe is a need to resist the “new normal.” That it has offended some is endemic to the issue itself. I have long written about how signs and symbols have been tarnished and burnished. As with the Swastika, some symbols should never be revisited or reborn. Some are ripe for reinterpretation. The passion shown by these critics is admirable and thought provoking. The rationale of its creators has merits too. As noted in the interview, it builds on the concept Act-Up used when branding their AIDS movement with the pink triangle. We live in very difficult times, when many of us are trying to come to grips with a new reality and a alternative democracy — and take back respect that is being lost. I respect the creators and the critics. There are large issues at stake when truth is on the chopping block, so I believe it is important to show some of the individual expressions of dissent, even if they don’t please everyone. Designers have a responsibility to be responsive to the crises we are facing and this column will do that when possible through reportage and criticism.

  2. Zona

    If you think that wearing a concentration camp patch that identifies you as “American” is a remotely good idea you are maybe the most sus person in a world with no shortage of incredibly sus people.

  3. Hanawalt

    This is stunningly poorly conceived in the way it cavalierly turns symbols associated with mass murder into a personal branding project; appropriates those symbols (like the pink triangle) from groups who have already reclaimed them; insultingly redefines symbols (for instance, changing the meaning of the red triangle from political prisoners and socialists to conservatives); defines visual language on behalf of people who already have their own; and conflates the mass persecution and murder of millions with protestors who are “Bored” or conservative and feeling remorseful.

    From conception to execution this is a seriously flawed project, and to see it presented without any critical thinking is very disappointing. Hopefully other designers don’t look to this as a model of how to contribute their skills to social movements.

    I wrote more about it here, if you’re interested in hearing more about why it’s getting pushback from the communities that are expected to adopt it: https://medium.com/@hanawalt/some-identities-dont-need-a-redesign-20a25764470d#.qg88e14ve

  4. Throwaway329

    Sorry, I’m back. I had the sudden realization that I might need to spell out my last comment for you, since you probably don’t get it. Ahem.



  5. Throwaway329

    I literally created an account just to tell you how stupid and insulting this is, and how you should feel bad. Yes…the nazis famously persecuted conservatives….sure.

    Read a book. Read any fucking book.

    Also, a category for black?! Really?! Yes, a black person is going to put that on before leaving the house, to make sure people know. JFC man.

  6. Laemo

    I’m in agreement with the comments on how appalling this is.
    Shame on Print for leveraging clicks of this offensive, attention seeking nonsense.

  7. Brendon

    If your mission in producing this post was to trivialize the atrocity of the Holocaust by “ironically” appropriating Nazi symbology into a protest-chic fashion statement, congratulations. You have officially conducted the dumbest, most counterproductive work of “resistance” possible.

  8. patricking

    I have so many issues with this. it is absolutely inappropriate to overlay one single identity over a myriad of identities, and use that identity’s symbols of imprisonment as the de facto symbol for everyone else.

    I am absolutely sure that there are many of us—Japanese American citizens whose endured internment camps, Native Americans whose families have been deeply affected, not to mention Black Americans—who are not cool with having our own visual symbols replaced it with the visual symbol for Jewish citizens of European descent.

    on top of that, using these symbols literally visually replaces everyone else, making Jewish identity Lead Minority in this conversation, and that is totally unacceptable in a modern conversation about the American collective.

  9. Tucker Viemeister

    First of all, diversity is good. So being different is required.
    Being labeled by someone is else can be bad, like it’s OK to call ourselves names, but when someone else uses the same name, now it becomes derogatory!
    We are proud of our differences and are making them more apparent with this color coding system!
    Meanwhile, choosing colors is really hard. Doesn’t yellow now have more to do with those yellow ribbons? and the womens march seems to have taken over pink . . .

  10. Ray Kampf

    Does anyone else see an issue with this? It’s labeling and categorizing ourselves – and using the Nazi standard to do so.
    The pink triangle has long been a symbol of the gay community – and although it was taken from the Third Reich’s systematic tagging of people and was successfully re-appropriated and turned a negative symbol into a positive one, it was done singularly. Not en-mass.
    The Resistance Symbol (R in the red triangle) is a fine looking mark. And even the inspiration is somewhat appropriate if not already been done. However The remainder – the color coding triangles – isn’t not necessary. And it does EXACTLY what the Third Reich wanted in the first place. For each group to be labeled.
    These individual triangles do not unite us – they divide us. One symbol is all that is needed.