Hurricane Florence — which is now technically a tropical storm — slammed into the Carolina coast this past week, bringing massive amounts of rain and wind with it. A number of people have already been confirmed to have died from the storm, but the severity of the situation didn’t stop one member of the Coast Guard from flashing an apparent white power symbol in the background of a live broadcast. That unidentified individual has been removed from the agency’s Florence response efforts, they said.
The symbol flash came during a live appearance Captain John Reed was making on MSNBC on Friday. While the captain was explaining his agency’s response to the changing nature of the storm, the man behind the symbol — who was sitting at a computer in the background — seems to notice Reed is appearing live and then aim to inconspicuously but still noticeably flash the “OK” hand symbol, which has been co-opted as a white power gesture.
— Eunice Burns (@TheEuniceBurns) September 14, 2018
Coast Guard Lt. J.B. Zorn commented:
‘Whatever that symbol means, it doesn’t reflect the Coast Guard and our core values. It won’t be tolerated… We’re not going to let one person detract from the good work the Coast Guard is doing in the region. We’re going to stay focused.’
The U.S. Coast Guard also issued a statement via Twitter reading:
‘We are aware of the offensive video on twitter – the Coast Guard has identified the member and removed him from the response. His actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard.’
The symbol has been in the news recently in an entirely different context. During public confirmation hearings for Trump Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, administration official Zina Bash was alleged to have made the gesture while sitting behind the nominee in full view of the main camera shot. Multiple interests — including her husband U.S. Attorney John Bash — lashed out against the allegation, and in a follow-up appearance during the Kavanaugh hearings, Dina seemed to mock the allegations against her via very obviously making the gesture — although even that could be reading too much into the situation.
Others who have been knocked for making the gesture include far right wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich and his ally Cassandra Fairbanks, who were photographed making the symbol in the White House press briefing room.
The increased attention to possible symbols of hate comes in the midst of a tense national environment that President Donald Trump has helped enact through his incessant antagonism. He’s claimed, for instance, that there needs to be a wall between the United States and Mexico and that Muslims pose inherent national security threats to the United States. He’s also claimed that immigration as a whole is eroding the foundation of European and Western civilization — even though that’s how white people founded much of “Western civilization” in the first place.
The controversy comes as the nation continues to grapple with ongoing issues that haven’t gone away just because the president is a racist — like, for instance, Hurricane turned Tropical Storm Florence.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot