Journalists Get It Wrong: No, The ‘OK’ Sign Isn’t a Reference to ‘White Power’

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 5:56 pm, April 30, 2017

The “OK” hand gesture isn’t an anti-Semitic gesture referencing support for white supremacism—but some journalists are absolutely convinced that it’s been co-opted by neo-Nazis to mean “White Power.”

Photo via Cassandra Fairbanks

This weekend, Emma Roller, a Fusion blogger afflicted with a terminal case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, tweeted out a screenshot of conservative provocateurs Cassandra Fairbanks and Mike Cernovich, who were making the “OK” symbol at the White House press podium.

“Just two people doing a white power hand gesture in the White House,” wrote Roller, who is a senior reporter for the Univision-owned liberal media operation.

She linked to an article on the Anti-Defamation League to educate her audience of 23,000 about the “OK” symbol’s hidden meanings with an accompanying image that’s not from the article.

The ADL article (seen below) does not back up Roller’s erroneous claim that the “OK” symbol holds any racist connotations.

Anti-Defamation League

Not keen on listening to reason, Roller rebuffed claims that Fairbanks and Cernovich were simply doing so to “annoy the libtards,” [her own words]. Her views were backed up by equally deluded TDS sufferers who insisted on claiming that Fairbanks, who is Puerto Rican, and Cernovich, were cryptofascists.

The Independent boosted Roller’s claims with an article stating that “two members of alt-right accused of making white supremacist hand signs.” In the piece, Emily Shugerman repeated the false claim that the Anti-Defamation League had condemned the “OK” symbol as racist.

Shugerman wrote: “The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) characterizes the symbol as a ‘racist hand sign.’”

The Alt-Right Trifecta (via CursedE)

The journalist also referenced an earlier controversy when Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich and Jim Hoft made the OK sign. Their use of the “OK” sign sparked outrage (and ridicule towards that outrage) on social media.

The OK sign became popular in America in 1836 as a gesture to show support for then Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren (his nickname was Old Kinderhook, derived from his hometown of Kinderhook, NY). Van Buren believed that slavery while legal was morally wrong and was not, even for the time, considered a white supremacist.

The interpretation of the OK gesture as a racist dog whistle can be traced back to a 4chan operation from /pol/ to convince people on Twitter that the “OK” sign had been coopted by neo-Nazis. Members of the forum even produced the image Emma Roller posted. As predicted, some members of the media took the bait.

Cassandra Fairbanks says she’s considering lawsuits against Emma Roller and Emily Shugerman for defamation.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.