UPDATE, DECEMBER 24: Investigations into whether West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy concluded that the Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen suspected of flashing a white power symbol at cameras during a Navy-Army football game attended by President Trump has found the students did not have racist intent using the gestures.
“We investigated this matter thoroughly,” Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, superintendent at the U.S. Military Academy, said in a statement.
“Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously. We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets,” he added.
Welp, it’s only Tuesday and I’ve already had to Google “history of white power hand gestures.”
God, this year has lasted forever. Anyway, I found myself doing this particularly unpleasant research after discovering that a couple of students were caught on camera giving a hand gesture that could be interpreted as a symbol for white supremacy at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia this weekend. The hand gesture in question is the “okay” sign, when one makes an ‘O’ and a ‘K’ with their fingers, traditionally used to signify consent, content, or satisfaction. However, the sign has obtained some other meanings over the years, including the symbol for ‘white power.’ Ya hate to see it.
— Looky Yonder (@YonderLooky) December 14, 2019
Two U.S. Military Academy cadets and a Naval Academy midshipman who were behind ESPN’s Rece Davis can be seen using the symbol. Both the Army and the Navy have launched internal investigations to decipher whether or not this incident was meant to promote white supremacy. Leave it to the Army and Navy to conduct their investigations internally, but I digress.
Cmdr. Alana Garas, a spokesperson for the Naval Academy, told The Washington Post: “Based on findings of the investigation, those involved will be held appropriately accountable. It would be inappropriate to speculate any further while we are conducting this investigation.”
So, what’s up for debate? The gesture used could have been meant for something else besides bigotry, such as its traditional use of “okay,” or the “circle game,” which you may remember from middle school, when kids would make the gesture somewhere below the waist and if you looked, they were “allowed” to punch your arm. Fun times.
So, maybe these Army/Navy students were simply playing a fun lil’ game that we all deserted when we were 12-years-old. Pretty immature to do on live television, or anywhere, but go off.
But there is also the chance that these guys were using the gesture to represent white power. And who do we have to thank for the new, offensive significance of this gesture? 4CHAN dot com. Why am I not surprised? According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a hoax started in 2017 (approx. 5,000 years ago) on 4CHAN is what started the new meaning of the ‘okay’ symbol. The idea was to promote the ‘okay’ gesture as a symbol for ‘wp’ or ‘white power’ as a joke, hoping it would outrage liberals, make media headlines, and get everybody all riled up for nothing.
However, the hoax was so successful that right-leaning people got in on the “joke” and started using the symbol. From there, white supremacists started using it sincerely, and it has since been seen in actual white power groups and the like. Cool joke.
On ADL’s website, they suggest: “Because of the traditional meaning of the ‘okay’ hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture.”
So, I guess we will have to wait to see what these internal investigations find…
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Images: Twitter (1), Giphy (2)