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Military Investigating After Cadets Flash Supposed White Power Sign During Army-Navy Pregame Coverage

Military Investigating After Cadets Flash Supposed White Power Sign During Army-Navy Pregame Coverage

During a televised broadcast of the annual Army-Navy game this year, several academy students caused an online uproar by flashing the "ok" hand symbol that has come to represent "White Power" in recent years.

Now, after intense backlash attacking the West Point cadets and Navy midshipmen, officials at West Point are investigating the incident.

Stills and video were shared online.

Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt of West Point told The Wall Street Journal:

"We're looking into it. I don't know what their intention is."

The "white power" symbol began as a joke on the anonymous message board 4chan. Basically, to troll liberals, people on the site began spreading the idea that the "ok" sign, which forms the shapes of a W and P, is actually a secret white supremacist symbol.

If you're not sure what the difference is between sincerely and ironically displaying a "white power" gesture, then you see the problem. If one were to throw up the Nazi salute on live television, they can claim to be doing so as a joke, but the effect the gesture has on people remains the same.

The "Ok" hand symbol was added to The Anti-Defamation League's list of hate symbols last year, and is now being used as a sincere gesture among many white supremacists.

Many online, however, believe the cadets were simply playing the "circle game," in which the "ok" gesture, when held below the waist, means whoever looked at the gesture will receive a punch in the arm.

It's very possible 4chan chose this gesture because of its use in games such as this—all the better for making people seem paranoid and unreasonable.

Despite the fact that none of the circles seen on camera were held below the waist, many people believe the multiple cadets flashing the gesture were all completely ignorant as to its well-known double meaning and simply playing a game.

Because it's not like that information has been everywhere.


As always, the double standards at play are staggering.

Last year, a Coast Guard midshipman was reprimanded for flashing the hand symbol in the background of yet another television broadcast.

Many are calling for disciplinary action against the cadets involved.

There is no such thing as a joking hate symbol in real life, just like it's never ok to use a racial slur, even in a joke.

It's important that we all remember the effect gestures of hate can have on people. Even if they're done in jest, they can act as a reminder of a person's lower social status, or the danger they've faced because of who they are, and mock them for it.