“Who knew Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a white supremacist?”
Conservatives have resurfaced an old photograph of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flashing the “OK gesture” to highlight the purported absurdity of equating the gesture with a white power sign.
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The post was shared Monday to the r/conservatives subreddit. In the photograph, the freshman congresswoman is seen sitting alongside brother Gabriel Ocasio-Cortez and performing the “OK gesture,” which is done by “connecting the thumb and index finger into a circle, and holding the other fingers straight or relaxed away from the palm.” Accompanying the image is a tongue-in-cheek caption that reads: “Who knew Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a white supremacist?”
The original source of the photograph is a post shared by Ocasio-Cortez to her Instagram account in December of 2013.
Many liberals (and media outlets) have pointed to seemingly innocuous hand movements by right-leaning figures as evidence of their bigoted views.
Kavanaugh’s former law clerk Zina Bash is flashing a white power sign behind him during his Senate confirmation hearing. They literally want to bring white supremacy to the Supreme Court. What a national outrage and a disgrace to the rule of law. https://t.co/uQGOpNa6xg
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) September 4, 2018
Such reactions have earned widespread mockery from conservatives who have countered by presenting instances where liberals have flashed the “white power” symbol.
After the #KavanaughConfirmation lunacy today over Zina Bash… let's not forget those times that the left was outraged that Obama, Beyonce and Oprah threw up "White Power" symbols… pic.twitter.com/I6AZAvLeXM
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) September 4, 2018
Various media outlets have traced the “OK sign’s” path from innocent gesture to alleged nod to white supremacy. A contentious debate has emerged over whether those who use the hand signal are doing so to announce their support for white supremacy or whether they’re doing it because they know it angers liberals. Complicating the matter is a hoax campaign launched by users of the controversial imageboard site 4chan in 2017 to troll leftists by popularizing the association of the gesture with the white power movement.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, white nationalists’ adoption of the signal preceded 4chan’s hoax. The SPLC cited the use of the gesture by alt-right figures, such as Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos, prior to 2017.
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Muddling matters even further is the use of the hand signal by truly vile individuals such as the suspected white supremacist who massacred 49 people at two New Zealand mosques last week.
The Anti-Defamation League initially dismissed equating the “OK” symbol with a white supremacist hand sign. However, the organization has since updated a blog post on its site with a more expanded discussion of the issue. According to the ADL, only “if the gesture occurs in context with other clear indicators of white supremacy can one draw” the conclusion that “such a gesture is intending or exhibiting an association with white supremacy.”
The organization notes “that the ‘OK’ gesture is a nearly universal hand gesture and most usage of it is completely innocuous.”
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