The MAGA hat denotes support for him, yes, but also unapologetic patriotism and a certain boldness. In large swaths of the country, the hat is commonplace. The Covington kids go to school in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, where support for Trump was strong in 2016; surely many of their parents, teachers, and priests voted for him.
In such places, the cap isn’t widely considered a provocation, although it carries some risk wherever it is worn. People occasionally get assaulted for doing nothing other than wearing it.
And is that a surprise, if the cap symbolizes only one thing for the left? As Commonweal magazine columnist Mollie O’Reilly wrote of the Covington controversy, “You don’t let your kid wear a MAGA hat and then act offended when they get taken for a racist.”