Sorry folks, it looks like the ‘OK’ hand gesture is no longer ‘OK’ to do in public since it is now considered a hate symbol. Turns out the Anti Defamation League added the symbol to their long-standing database of slogans and symbols that are used by extremists.
It’s no secret that the finger and thumb OK sign is universally known for meaning everything is alright or approval of something, but the ADL says even though some people don’t mean it to be hateful, the sign has been co-opted by the alt-right. For example, back in May, NBC Sports Chicago reporter Doug Glanville was providing analysis on live television when a fan in the background flashed the ‘OK’ hand gesture. Twitter quickly associated the gesture with racism and “white power.”
According to the ADL, the OK hand sign and its link to white nationalism began as a complete hoax cooked up by users of the website 4chan, who then falsely linked it to white supremacy. The feature was meant to “bait the media or people with liberal ideas to overreact.” Therefore, look ridiculous for “condemning such an innocuous sign.” But, in 2019 the gesture was adopted by some white nationalists.
The ADL focused on Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who stands accused of massacring a total of 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March 2019. Tarrant was pictured using the OK symbol during a courtroom appearance after his arrest. He later pleaded not guilty.
CEO of ADL Jonathan Greenblatt explained their reason, stating, “We believe law enforcement and the public needs to be fully informed about the meaning of these images, which can serve as a first warning sign to the presence of haters in a community or school.”
Along with the “OK” Symbol, the following signs have also been considered symbols of hate:
- Burning Neo-Nazi symbols: Neo-Nazis have adopted the KKK practice of symbolic burnings, substituting swastikas and other neo-Nazi symbols such as othala and life runes, for crosses.
- The “Bowlcut”: The bowl cut is an image of a bowl-shaped haircut which resembles the one worn by white supremacist mass killer Dylann Roof who shot to death nine black people in 2015 in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Those who use “bowl” references are said to admire Roof.
- Happy Merchant: An anti-Semitic meme which depicts a drawing of a Jewish man who is rubbing his hands together, which is meant to symbolize greed. This meme is one of the most popular anti-Semitic memes among white supremacists and hate groups.
- “Anudda Shoah”: An anti-Semitic phrase that became popular in 2014 to mock Jews, whom they claim bring up the Holocaust (“Shoah” is the Hebrew term for Holocaust) when confronted with anything they don’t like.
- Diversity (White Genocide): A white supremacist slogan intended to suggest multiculturalism will mean the demise of the white race.