Last week’s takeover of the U.S. Capitol unleashed all kinds of questions—about the fragility of democracy and the future of the republic, about policing, about accountability, about America’s most violent fringes and how fringe they really are. But also: What’s up with all the animal skins? Why, during one of the scariest periods in recent national history, were hinterlander cosplayers parading through the Senate? Since when are raccoon furs a crucial emblem of the Pizzagate front?
Take Aaron Mostofsky, who arrived at the Capitol wearing what appeared to be a fox-hide hood and a fuzzy gameskin, looking downright Neanderthalian, save for the owlish glasses perched on his nose and the bulletproof vest strapped tight around his torso. Or Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli, the self-proclaimed “QAnon Shaman,” who wore patriotic warpaint, a horned Viking headdress, and detailed body art that evoked white-nationalist motifs. (The valknut, an insignia associated with Viking-style Germanic paganism, rests above his left pectoral muscle, and the thick stack of black bricks on his arm reportedly represents Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along the southern border.) January 6’s riot encompassed all style of MAGA agitators: camo-outfitted paramilitary Proud Boy types, Confederate revivalists, 4chan dirtbags dressed in the style of Milo Yiannopoulos, older folks decked out in classic Trump-rally gear. But these seditionist frontiersmen represented a strange new flavor for the movement, further proof that America’s New Right will continue to mutate in unprecedented ways.