Coast Guard Guy 'Removed' for This Hand Gesture

Many on Twitter took it as a 'white power' sign
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2018 9:40 AM CDT
Coast Guard Guy Fires for This Hand Gesture
A screen capture from the MSNBC broadcast.   (MSNBC)

A Coast Guard member has been removed from the response to Tropical Storm Florence for flashing what some took as a white-power sign, the Washington Post reports. During a live MSNBC Coast Guard briefing, the man—sporting a crew cut at a desk in the background—looks at the camera and flashes an "OK" sign by making a circle with his thumb and index finger while scratching his face (see the video here). The clip quickly hit Twitter, where many people called for the guy's firing ("This needs to be investigated and this man needs to be ousted/removed/discharged!" reads one). Not long after, the Coast Guard sent the unidentified member packing: "The Coast Guard has ... removed him from the response," the organization tweeted. "His actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard."

Now media outlets are revisiting the roots of "OK" as a possible white-power sign. Seems it all started on a Feb. 28 thread on 4chan's /pol/ board, where commenters invented the notion that the thumb-finger circle sign means white power, Buzzfeed reported in April. The comment "Our goal is to convince people on twitter that the 'ok' hand sign has been co-opted by neo-nazis" was followed by others reading "We successfully false flagged" and "HAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA..." It later became an issue when GOP operative Zina Bash made the sign during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and sparked a tweetstorm of criticism (her husband said Bash was just resting her hand in a "random way," per the Post). Which leaves it uncertain: Is this an online joke or a white-power symbol—or did one become the other? (More white power stories.)

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