During Saturday’s Army-Navy football game, Army cadets and a Navy midshipman were captured on camera flashing the “OK” sign, which led to many reports that the sign was intended to be the “white power” symbol.
The adoption of the OK sign as a symbol of white power reportedly began as a prank on 4chan and has since been the center of controversy. While some believe the symbol is too commonplace to be associated with white supremacy, others point to its adoption by people like New Zealand mass shooter Brenton Tarrant and believe it now has new meaning in certain situations.
Regardless, conservatives appear to be confident in their stance.
“Obviously this was #circlegame. Childish, but harmless,” tweeted Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw. “Those in outrage media know this, but remember: the goal of outrage culture isn’t the truth, it’s to make normal behavior seem offensive and dangerous, thus giving the mob justification for public shaming and woke scolding.”
Per Dictionary website, the circle game Crenshaw is referring to involves a person making a circle with their fingers and holding it below their waist. If someone looks at the circle while it’s held below the waist, they get a punch to the shoulder. The circle game famously appeared in Season 2 of Malcolm in the Middle in the episode “Dinner Out,” the 20th episode of the series.
Others suggest the symbol is still widely perceived to mean “OK.”
“I’ve been on this earth 51 years and this gesture has meant ‘ok’ then and it does now,” tweeted radio host Wayne Dupree.
Writing on his blog, conservative commentator Mike Cernovich accused the media of attempting to “destroy the lives of innocent people.”
“They hate our military,” he added, claiming that they “want to see America fail.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports that 4chan’s push to deem the OK symbol a white power sign led to many right-wing figures deliberately using the gesture.
“Reaction to the ‘OK’ symbol hoax was so widespread in the spring and summer of 2017 that a number of people on the far right began deliberately to use the gesture — typically making the sign while posing for photographs uploaded to social media — in order to continue the trolling and spread it further,” the ADL reported.
White power sign is everywhere pic.twitter.com/pfEm84NXjO
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) December 15, 2019
NBC News reports that the recent incident has sparked an investigation. According to West Point director of public affairs Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, military officials from the academy are “looking into” the incident. Ophardt noted that officials do not know the intent of the cadets.
The symbol was flashed during pregame festivities that aired on ESPN. During the footage, two West Point cadets and one Naval Academy midshipman were seen making gestures as the camera was fixated on journalist Rece Davis.