On the OK Sign And Linguistic Shift

I am sure you have seen the white power sign. It is like everywhere. A Coast Guard member was pulled from duty. A friend of Ken Kavanaugh flashed it during the hearing (she is Jewish, so this takes us to even crazier ground.) Oh and then there is the Twitter feed showing four members of law enforcement flashing it. The photo has since gone viral.

Where all of a sudden did we start getting these things. 4Chan of course.

This started as a way to troll the very gullible, or not, mainstream media. It really depends on your take on this.

However, what started as a pun, a troll, has now linguistically shifted. They won. Many of us tried to tell people, stop it, and think. Who else has used this sign? Well, like every president for the last fifty years. It has been used by ground personnel to signal things are ok for aircrews in some contexts as well. We used it when I was in EMS as a hand signal during disasters. Bless their hearts, the military actually has a set of approved hand signals to avoid this shift.

So now it is clear that 4Chan, with the help of a few other folks, have managed to take a common hand gesture, and make it into a racist hand signal. So if you want to avoid trouble, avoid using it from now on. I also must add, for a shift, this was very fast. I guess those of us who did not want to surrender to the inevitable were outgunned by people desperate to flash their gang sign on national tv.

As of now, I do consider it a white supremacy sign. It has shifted from its origins. Which brings me back to people who should know better. And by that, I mean people like Stephen Miller, who is the far right favorite Jew, and a few others in the tribe. When you start embracing white supremacy as an ideology, but quite frankly you are considered “mud people” or worst, it only means that you will be among the last to be eliminated.

It is amazing how the lessons that history teaches are erased by distance and time. The Holocaust was not that long ago. (Incidentally, before you scream, it did not just involve Jews.) But there are Jews who are embracing the same exact politics of race and purity that condemned their grandparent and great-grandparents to the gas chambers.

It is a very small minority but speaks to the lack of empathy by some, which is part of the human condition. It also speaks to how humans can fear others who are not like themselves. This is universal. It is part of the in-group, out-group dynamics. But now that we are seeing passport refusals and confiscations, we are getting closer to what looks eerily familiar. That is ethnic cleansing. I will tell these young men and women, some not so young, that they will not be spared. The people they are assisting have them somewhere on the list. Perhaps near the end, but they are on that list.

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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