Part of the world dealing with the aftermath of the Friday terror attack targeting New Zealand Muslims that left 49 dead includes facing the ugly reality of the pervasive spread of white supremacy. During his first court appearance on Saturday, shooter Brenton Tarrant reportedly smirked and flashed an apparent white power hand symbol while shackled and facing authorities. In footage of the scene, his hand can be seen in an “ok” sign, which has been adopted by white nationalists as a symbol of “white power,” with the “w” and “p” included in the gesture.
Watch the moment:
The gesture’s nefarious double meaning originated as a troll meant specifically to “own the libs” and get them to erupt in outrage over something supposedly harmless. That doesn’t erase the fact that it’s white nationalists doing the trolling and using the symbol as a sort of twisted rallying cry, although in other situations the gesture certainly remains completely harmless.
Tarrant flashing the sign accompanies a long list of similar white supremacist rallying cries that have emerged in his behavior. For instance, he seemingly mockingly cited American conservative commentator Candace Owens as an inspiration in his manifesto, and during a livestream he started of the attack, he shouted “Subscribe to PewDiePie!” before shooting.
“PewDiePie” is the alias of YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, who has repeatedly freely affiliated himself with alt-right causes to the point of Disney severing ties with him in 2017. Their Maker Studios had been producing a webseries for the “YouTube Red” streaming service focusing on him. He claimed that the anti-Semitism that sparked the outrage in his videos simply constituted a “joke” that went “too far” — but those “jokes” haven’t stopped spreading, as made abundantly clear by the Friday New Zealand shooting.
Repeatedly in his manifesto, Tarrant utilizes internet “in-jokes” to make his point, portraying himself as a fearless crusader for white culture against the “white genocide.”
That toxic concept doesn’t only reside in Australia, where the shooter is from. Repeatedly in the United States, those espousing similar views have made themselves known. Avid supporters of President Donald Trump have claimed that immigrants are threatening the American and Western way of life, to say nothing of the rhetoric to that same effect from Donald Trump himself.
Many of the president’s and white nationalism’s fans have used the exact same “trolling” hand symbol the New Zealand attacker flashed in court this Saturday, including the Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich and Jim Hoft and internet agitators Cassandra Fairbanks and Mike Cernovich, all of whom were photographed making the gesture in the White House press briefing room, although there have been varying explanations for the symbolism.
As the world reeled from the New Zealand shooting, no matter what troll worked or didn’t work, Trump made his commitment to the exact same ideology that inspired the attacker clear. During a gathering in the Oval Office for a veto of Congressional attempts to cancel his recent national emergency declaration over the nonexistent crisis at the southern border, he denounced undocumented immigration over that border as an “invasion,” which is the exact same language the New Zealand shooter used.
Featured Image via screenshot from the video