Spokespeople for West Point and Annapolis told reporters on Saturday that the Army and Navy are “looking into” the possible use of white power hand signals by military personnel during the ESPN broadcast of the two branches’ annual football game.
Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt graduated from West Point. A West Point spokesperson told the reported that right after the sign flashed on TV, according to The Wall Street Journal:
‘We’re looking into it. I don’t know what their intention is,’
His comments were echoed by Cmdr. Alana Garas, who told reporters:
‘[W]e are aware and will be looking into it.’
Two West Point cadets and one Naval Academy midshipman extended the last three fingers on a person’s hand and forming a circle with the remaining finger and thumb. Should this be found by the military officials to demonstrate white supremacy, it would mean a deep concern about the ultra-right and other racist movements within the military.
The Department of Defense had a study done in 1998. It found that the leaders of those far-right extremist groups wanted their members to join the military because it was a good, free training course, NBC reported.
In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security forewarned there could be an economic drop, and the first African American president had caused the military personnel and veterans vulnerable to those white nationalist groups to emerge. President Barack Obama’s people had a major problem with political repercussions.
The Military Times took a poll in 2018. It demonstrated that 22 percent of the young people in the service had seen white nationalism or racist language and ideas inside of the military.
The Anti-Defamation League has expressed caution about definitively declaring the use of the hand signal in question from the Army-Navy game to be white nationalist on all occasions.
‘Because of the traditional meaning of the ‘OK’ hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture,’
The SPLC wrote last year that it saw the gestures perhaps trying to stir up
‘[W]hen it gets flashed during a national broadcast, or during a video being shot to promote the Coast Guard, or by a cluster of Proud Boys and ‘Patriots,” what it’s about most of the time is a deliberate attempt to “trigger liberals” into overreacting to a gesture so widely used that virtually anyone has plausible deniability built into their use of it in the first place.’
The organization noted, however, that:
‘[T]he problem, of course, is that there are white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Klansmen who have increasingly begun using the use of the symbol both to signal their presence to the like-minded, as well as to identify potentially sympathetic recruits among young trolling artists flashing it. To them, the configuration means WP, for ‘white power.’
In 2018, Salon interviewed Roger Stone, one of the president’s advisers and also an adviser to President Richard Nixon. Stone had been photographed displaying the hand signal toward the members of Proud Boys. That is a pro-Trump men’s group.
‘Is that photograph of you flashing a white supremacist hand symbol genuine? If so, I have some thoughts about it as a Jewish person.’
‘Bullshit. It is not considered a White Supremacist hand signal. I am aware of this bogus claim. It is a gesture which means OK. ‘
Salon asked Stone why he denounced racist groups and pointed toward his work with Nixon:
‘You and the Proud Boys chose to flash the ‘OK’ hand signal at this particular moment” as “that doesn’t make a great deal of sense.”
He also said:
‘The gesture is used often by President Trump and is used to connote support for the president in photos of the proudboys [sic] nationwide.’
Salon gave Stone a link to the Anti-Defamation League article about the hand signals. Salon asked about Stone’s opinion of Trump’s 2017 defending the alt-right protesters in Charlottesville. He refused to reply.
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