Cadets from West Point and midshipmen from the Naval Academy who were accused of endorsing “white power” by flashing the “OK” sign during last week’s Army-Navy game have been cleared of racism — but found guilty of being juvenile.
What are the details?
An investigation was launched this week, after students in uniform attending the Army-Navy football game on Saturday sought to grab attention by sneaking in “OK” hand gestures as the cameras were rolling.
Following Saturday’s game, photos of the symbol-flashing went viral, and drew scorn from critics.
While the sign has long been considered innocent, white supremacist groups have attempted to hijack to the symbol — which is also used in a silly game practiced for decades.
The Daily Mail explained that “the game involves someone flashing an upside-down OK sign below the waist who punches anyone who looks at it.” The game has been referred to as the “circle game.” It’s been likened to the “rabbit ears” sign.
To many, this is common knowledge. But given the fact that the OK sign has now been deemed to be a signal of white supremacy, the cadets were attacked and smeared as alleged racists rather than young people seeking attention.
“We investigated this matter thoroughly,” Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams of the U.S. Military Academy said in a statement Friday. “Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously.”
The Navy also conducted a review of the incident, and reported that two students “exhibited genuine shock” at the notion that there was any “racist connotation of the hand gestures,” The Daily Mail reported.
All of the students involved will be disciplined appropriately, academy leaders promised.
The Chicago Tribune featured an article earlier this year about how the OK sign is under siege and noted that in 2017, “members of a discussion board called 4chan mounted one in a series of attempts to ‘troll’ — or mock — liberals with a right-wing hoax, claiming that the OK sign was a symbol of white supremacy.”
The Tribune wrote that “the idea,” according to a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League, “was that ‘the libs’ would take up the cry that the OK symbol was racist and, in doing so, make themselves look ridiculous.”
The Tribune writer pointed out that the late President Ronald Reagan, former President Barack Obama, and musician Paul McCartney have all flashed the sign.