Remember that time you played the "circle game" with your friends back in grade school? Yeah, turns out your friends were actually just vicious White-supremacists.
We've all heard the story by now, but if you haven't, here's the latest controversy. Cadets at West Point, and the Naval Academy were seen at the Army/Navy football game giving the "Okay symbol" on camera while a broadcaster for ESPN hyped up the game. An investigation has now been launched into the cadets involved, and whether or not these cadets were indeed flashing a "white-power" symbol on camera for the world to see.
When exactly did this become a symbol for White-supremacy? The controversy itself can be linked back to the notorious discussion board site "4chan."
The Anti-Defamation League traced this movement to its original source, and released an article detailing the chain of events back in May of 2017:
The “OK” hand gesture originated as one of these hoaxes in February 2017 when an anonymous 4channer announced “Operation O-KKK,” telling other members that “we must flood Twitter and other social media websites…claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy.” The user even provided a helpful graphic showing how the letters WP (for “white power”) could be traced within an “OK” gesture. The originator and others also suggested useful hashtags to help spread the hoax, such as #PowerHandPrivilege and #NotOkay. “Leftists have dug so deep down into their lunacy,” wrote the poster, “We must force [them] to dig more, until the rest of society ain’t going anywhere near that s***.”
Following the cues of the hoax’s originator, 4channers created fake e-mail and Twitter accounts and bombarded civil rights organizations, journalists, and others with messages furthering the “OK” hoax. It is possible that some of the hoaxers were racists or white supremacists themselves, as parts of 4chan are something of a haven for them, and the site itself has been a source of adherents of the alt right segment of the white supremacist movement.
The original launch of “Operation O-KKK” sputtered after a few days and it seemed that the hoax had run its course without spreading too far, but it picked up again in late April and this time was far more successful in spreading across social media—and beyond.
Then, the Media..
What the media has done, has completely vindicated the original intent of the 4chan hoax. If they wanted to incite those on the far-left, they pulled it off perfectly.
It must be noted, that the 4chan community could not have accomplished their goal without the help of the media. It may in fact be true that the symbol might now be used by white-supremacists, but they are only doing that because the media let them know what it "meant." Now that the media has inspired white-supremacists to use this symbol, they may have created a media-fulfilled prophecy.
Has Ties to....
One of the most popular strategies of the media is to use the phrase "has ties to" when they want to make something sound bad. They can say that the Betsy Ross flag "has ties to" slaveholders, that Donald Trump "has ties to" Jeffrey Epstein, or that the Gadsden Flag and the Okay Symbol "have ties to" white supremacists.
But what does it mean to "have ties to" something? Have we let this phrase go too far? For instance, if I bring a Gadsden Flag to a Bernie Sanders rally, does that flag now "have ties to" Socialism? If someone brings an American Flag to a Nazi rally, does the flag now "have ties to" Naziism? If someone brings a Bernie sign to a Libertarian convention, does Bernie now have ties to Liberty? Of course, it would be insane to make that assertion, but that's exactly what the media does on a daily basis.
By the logic of the media, all that needs to happen to destroy anything is to have a white-supremacist use it at any point in time. If a white-supremacist decides to use a hand gesture, then that hand gesture now "has ties to" white-supremacists. But what does that say about the actual hand gesture itself?
What if we decided that the context of the gesture is what actually matters? What if, and I'm just spitballing here, people could use the "okay symbol" for more than one thing? Was it created with this intent in the first place, or has the media simply placed a new meaning on the symbol in a fabricated controversy?
I'm 32, and I plainly remember people in my school playing the "circle game." The Circle Game is quite simple. Hold the okay symbol below your waste, and try to get someone to look at it. If they do look at it, you have unanimous approval to punch them in the arm. You might even be as cute as to say "Made you look." Little did I know, my friends and I would someday be called "white-supremacists" for playing this game. But, were we? No. No one ever mentioned the supremacy of the white race while playing the game. That's because it had absolutely nothing to do with that. It was a game.
The moral of the story..
The moral of the story is, be careful what you listen to in the media. Controversy is King, and the media love controversy. At the end of the day, they get more money because of it. Not to mention, this also plays directly into their narrative of "a world filled with even white-supremacists." White-supremacists do exist. But I'm not buying what the media is selling this time.