Media outlets are putting pressure on the US Military Academy and the US Naval Academy after video footage emerged of multiple Army and Navy cadets making the OK sign during today's Army-Navy game.
“Army-Navy game: White Power hand symbol appears to be used during pregame broadcast,” reads the headline from USA Today – saying very clearly that the cadets appear to be using a “white power” sign.
Other media outlets did the same, as did several journalists on Twitter.
TODAY: 3 images of cadets throwing up White Power signs on ESPN at the Army-Navy game.
FLASHBACK: Trump did it too, when talking about @AOC.
The cadets that did this should be removed. There’s nothing funny about white supremacy in our military (or the Oval Office). pic.twitter.com/UVL97mGlj8
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) December 15, 2019
As the camera was focussed on ESPN's Rece Davis at the Lincoln Financial Field, a Cadet held up a flag that said “Go Army Beat Navy” and began to laugh.
Some of those out of the frame began to make the OK symbol and lower their hands so that it could be seen on camera.
Officials at West Point and Annapolis are now in the process trying to determine the if motives of the kids who flashed the OK sign could have been trying to promote “white power” after being asked for comment by the media.
The campaign to trick the news media into believing that the OK hand sign was actually a sign for “white power” was one that was born on the internet as a meme and was a coordinated effort from 4chan – one that obviously succeeded.
The campaign was initially launched in 2017 as “Operation O-KKK.” The anonymous mastermind of the meme told other members on the site, “we must flood Twitter and other social media websites…claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy.” The user said it would be easy to convince leftists that the letters “WP”, which in this case, would stand for White Power, could be traced within the OK gesture.
The inability for the media to understand when they've been played is an increasing phenomenon – but as the overlap between the online and offline world is greater than ever, the internet becomes the home of the inside joke – leaving much of the more legacy media on the outside looking in. And by making no real attempt to understand what's going on with internet culture, media outlets are arriving at dangerous conclusions – ones that can end careers before they've even started.
The accusations that the OK hand sign is genuinely some kind of white power symbol and not one that's actually designed to troll the media, is one that has already cost people their jobs.
When media make these assertions, careers end.
The Wall Street Journal asked officials at West Point and Annapolis for comment about the kids making this symbol “that in certain contexts are associated with white power.”
“We’re looking into it,” said Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, “I don’t know what their intention is.”
“We are aware and will be looking into it,” said Annapolis spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas.
The Wall Street Journal then went as far as contacting The Pentagon for comment.
After seeing that the media were intent on taking this as far as they could, users on Twitter pushed back.
Here we go again. This time it’s @ByMikeBrehm of @usatodaysports trying to ruin the lives of cadets for playing the circle game, because in some alternate reality they just MUST be white supremacists. At some point someone’s gotta bring a defamation case against these lunatics. https://t.co/2Y8iaB1kVw
— Cliff Sims (@Cliff_Sims) December 15, 2019
Right, and those not using it as an ok sign are likely using it to play the circle game or every so often… Trolling
Anyone who thinks white supremacists are unironically signalling each other with the "ok" sign outside of episodes of Watchman is delusional.
— ringtrick (@ringtrick) December 15, 2019
You realize that the whole OK sign thing was a 4CHAN prank, right? You do realize that? Please tell me you are not being serious.
— William White (@WilliamWhiteNY) December 15, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen, #WhitePower is about more than a hand sign. If I do this 👌🏻is it truly a sign of white power? NO! Are you insane? It’s the OK sign
— Chad McNabb (@Chad_Paddy) December 15, 2019
Trial lawyer and columnist Kurt Schlichter, said “You bastards will not Covington these cadets,” making reference to the time when the media falsely accused Covington High School kids of intimidation and caused a massive media storm before having to retract their stories.
You bastards will not Convington these cadets.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) December 15, 2019
Model Christine Teigen today delighted Twitter users by pointing out how silly the idea that the OK hand sign as a White Power symbol actually is.
“Let’s pretend for a second these people really are doing the white power/white nationalism hand gesture. What does it even do for anyone? Do you get points for each time it’s seen like? Is there a boss out there keeping score? Or is it like paging someone?” Teigen said.
Let’s pretend for a second these people really are doing the white power/white nationalism hand gesture. What does it even do for anyone? Do you get points for each time it’s seen like? Is there a boss out there keeping score? Or is it like paging someone? pic.twitter.com/sZKdcDo4hW
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) December 14, 2019
Exactly. It does/means nothing. It’s not a real thing. You figured it out. https://t.co/wbWsW0CMCt
— Austen Fletcher (@fleccas) December 15, 2019
This year, someone who actually understands internet culture, PewDiePie, highlighted the dangers of media outlets accusing people of making hate signs as it trivializes serious issues with real hate groups.