A Legendary piece of Destiny 2 armor features a very slightly tweaked version of the "KEK" logo featured on the Kekistan flag, which has become a popular white supremacist symbol in the United States and elsewhere. It's the Road Complex AA1 gauntlets, and you can look at them in the screenshot above.
A reader sent us a link to the item on Bungie's website this morning, saying that they hadn't been able to get a response from the Destiny social accounts. We've reached out to Activision and Bungie for comment on what happened here, what the items removal process is, and what actions will be taken internally regarding this situation. If we receive comment, we will update this story.
In the meantime, Bungie just announced that they are now aware of the problem and will be removing the item.
Which is a start, but they are reaching when they say, "It is not intentional." I'm sure it's not intentional on the part of Bungie or Activision. But it's the intent of someone.
Without going into the long lineage of bullshit memes that are the signs and sigils of modern white supremacy's public face, the "Kekistan flag" combines a popular internet shorthand that became a symbol of white supremacist sympathies with the German military flag of Hitler's Third Reich. Drawing an explicit connection to Nazi violence was of course the point of the flag, allowing white supremacists to reskin the classic symbols of Nazism in a way that would fly under many people's radars, providing a bit of camouflage to their efforts to reassert themselves into public spaces and modern political discourse.
Which is why the flag was so prominently on display at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist aimed a car into a crowd of protesters and murdered one of them and injured dozens of others.
After those events, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy organization which monitors hate groups in America, offered analysis about the flag's purpose in these groups:
The "national flag of Kekistan" mimics a German Nazi war flag, with the Kek logo replacing the swastika and the green replacing the infamous German red. A 4chan logo is emblazoned in the upper left hand corner. Alt-righters are particularly fond of the way the banner trolls liberals who recognize its origins.
To be clear, the iconography on the Road Complex AA1 gauntlets is not identical, but its green coloration, and the shape of the KEK lettering are obvious signals. Doubtless there will be people who refuse to acknowledge the very clear symbolism here, much in the same way that the Kekistan flag itself was designed to give overt symbols of Nazi allegiance an ironic cover story. The entire cartoonish nature of modern white supremacist symbolism is to make clear, sincere statements of belief that believers can then turn around and masquerade as an edgy joke.
But that's a shell game where in the name of fairness someone can be asked to provide endless proof of what is evident to the naked eye. It's a way to make victims and targets seem ridiculous while their abusers and assailants are portrayed as mere jesters from the court of internet dadaism, with no connection to real-world harassment and violence.
It's how the unspeakable and shameful has become commonplace in this moment, and we cannot continue to buy the innocent explanations for actions with a clear, violent intent.