New York, NY – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has added the “okay” hand gesture and 35 other images and slogans to its list of hate symbols.
“Even as extremists continue to use symbols that may be years or decades old, they regularly create new symbols, memes and slogans to express their hateful sentiments,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a press release on Thursday.
“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,” Greenblatt added.
The myth that the okay sign actually means “white power” was started by internet trolls on 4chan, an anonymous message board, in February of 2017, the ADL previously said.
“We must flood twitter and other social media websites with spam, claiming that the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy,” the anonymous poster wrote, according to the civil rights organization. “Leftists have dug so deep down into their lunacy. We must force [them] to dig more, until the rest of society ain’t going anywhere near that s–t.”
Users encouraged people to perpetuate the hoax using hashtags such as #PowerHandPrivilege and #NotOkay, created fake social media and email accounts, and bombarded journalists and civil rights organizations with the misinformation.
But in 2019, the hand gesture “was being used in some circles as a sincere expression of white supremacy,” the ADL said on Thursday.
The civil rights organization also noted that a white supremacist accused of murdering 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in March was photographed flashing the OK sign in court after he was arrested, CNN reported.
It appears that the killer was making the sign for the “circle game” rather than trying to flash the OK sign.
Also added to the list was the bowl-cut image or emoji that white supremacists allegedly use to symbolize another white supremacist who sported the haircut when he murdered nine black people at a South Carolina church in 2015.
The “Happy Merchant” meme, which depicts a Jewish man “with heavily stereotyped facial features who is greedily rubbing his hands together,” has also been designated as a hate symbol, according to the ADL’s press release.
The ADL denounced the slogans “Diversity=White Genocide” and “It’s Okay to be White,” as well as a slew of logos associated with various hate groups.
The image of a man wearing a crescent moon costume – dubbed the “Moon Man” – was added to the list because some alleged white supremacists have made videos of the character rapping racist lyrics, CNN reported.
“These are the latest calling cards of hate,” ADL Center on Extremism Senior Fellow Mark Pitcavage said in the press release. “We pay special attention to those symbols that exhibit staying power as well as those that move from online usage into the real world.”