If you’ve been reading the news, you have probably already heard about it: politicians are flashing the “okay” symbol at rallies, press conferences, and more all across the country. The odd trend seems to be especially popular with Republicans and other right-leaning VIPs, leading the left to concoct a dramatic story about how it’s a secret White Power symbol with ties to everything from neonazism to the Illuminati. FAKE NEWS!
• The symbol we’re talking about involves bringing the index finger and thumb together while keeping the other three fingers straight. This is the same gesture thousands of people have used to indicate “okay” for decades. It’s so common that even chat programs like Skype and Facebook messenger have emojis representing it – hardly indicative of supremacy.
• But how exactly did we go from a common and innocent social phenomenon to “white power gang sign?” It seems the entire thing started on a well-known trolling forum named 4Chan. Labeled the “rear end of the Internet,” by many, 4Chan has a long and prolific history of creating “trolling campaigns” where thousands of users work together to achieve the same goal – including convincing people that the okay sign is racist.
• The problem? The so-called “campaign” used to spur on the idea that the gesture means “white power” was a complete and utter hoax. In reality, 4Chan users coordinated on a mass attempt to gaslight most of the country by having thousands of users spread the “word” that it was either part of a game or a part of white supremacy.
• In the first instance, called “the circle game,” users spread the idea of using the gesture as a subtle social game. Someone would make the sign in an image, video, or even in real-life, taking care to be subtle and non-obvious. If anyone noticed the symbol, they “lost the game.” Stupid, yes… but we are talking about the same generation that eats Tide Pods.
• In early 2017, 4chan users launched Operation O-KKK. Their mission? To send thousands of users off the site and into other platforms, including websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, where they would then concoct a carefully laid-out story about it being a symbol representing white supremacy. Users knew, and actively participated in, trying to convince the Internet that it WAS real.
• Posts drew parallels between subtle okay symbols and other more obvious white power gestures, such as this two-hand position that reflects the hands creating a “w” and “p” side-by-side. 4Chan users created hashtags like #PowerInPrivilege and encouraged members to create fake accounts with images of young, impressionable white women. They stole photos from social media accounts to create their fake personas.
• As this image shows, all of these efforts were a direct attempt to “drive the left further into their own lunacy so that they would implode.” Despite attempts from major media outlets to squash the fake campaign, millions fell for it hook, line and sinker. It became a trend, then it went viral. And that’s when things went a little pear-shaped…
• About six months ago, actual white supremacist groups (including several violent neo-nazi groups) decided there was an opportunity to “get the word out” by adopting 4Chan’s campaign. It isn’t clear whether they believed what was being said or simply took advantage; either way, they began using the okay gesture as a subtle way to say “white is better.”
• Then, things got even weirder. 4Chan moderator Jay Irwin posted an article on the Observer stating that the trend originally started with a picture of rapper Jay-Z and wife Beyonce Knowles flashing an “okay” symbol. Irwin claimed they originally joked about it being an Illuminati hand symbol. Despite clearly indicating that it was a joke, that became part of the story, too.
• We now have five distinct groups using the symbol in very different ways. The first, Americans who believe the whole thing is rather silly, using it ironically to taunt the left. The second, people who truly and honestly believe it will get them into the Illuminati. The third? Actual white supremacists who have bastardized the fake campaign to “get the word out.” And last but not least, people who are actually playing “the circle game” and real 4Chan trolls.
• It isn’t hard to see why everyone is so confused about the okay gesture, especially when we lay out the history and how it’s being used. But the absolute, bottom-line truth is that it was never intended to be a white supremacist symbol. It’s just another stupid Internet trend from jobless, basement-dwelling welfare bums with nothing better to do.
• That said, we do have to acknowledge that yes, there ARE some white supremacist groups who seem to be taking advantage. However, the actual number of REAL groups that fall into this category is incredibly tiny, and most are really more far-right than they are neo-nazis in the first place. Some would include the KKK and the “Proud Boys” in this category, while others would include just the KKK.
• Here’s what’s creating much more chaos than even tiny questionable groups using the symbol: people making absolutely CRAZY accusations against politicians. Like this one, where Zina Brash (who is Jewish, by the way) crooked her thumb and forefinger together to secure her crossed arms. Probably for comfort, maybe out of nerves.
Here’s another example. In this instance, Coast Guard commander allegedly “flashed a white power symbol” and was removed from duty in the middle of a video interview. Accusers called it obvious, but it looks to us as if he was simply supporting his head comfortably. The CG was forced to remove him from duty in one of the most major hurricanes in recent years, calling it a “frustrating distraction.”
So, let’s get down to what’s most important. Is it a white supremacist symbol? NO. The idea that it is should be viewed as patently false. It’s the epitome of “FAKE NEWS;” don’t fall for it. Even though some extremist groups may be trying to take advantage of the situation, this is just another silly Internet trend spiralling out of control and causing chaos in America.