Army Navy InvestigationDecember 16, 2019
It has been announced that West Point and Annapolis are investigating possible white supremacist signs that were flashed by cadets and midshipman at the Army/Navy football game this past weekend (See article here).
The gesture flashed by the cadets is commonly known to mean “ok.” However, it has recently (2017) become a symbol used by many white supremacists. The history of the “ok” hand symbol by white supremacists is fascinating. It originally started as a joke to get the media and liberals to overreact and condemn the use of a common hand symbol. However, the campaign worked so well that it led white supremacists to actually adopt it as a hate symbol. It originated in irony because of the symbol’s common use but has evolved into an actual hate symbol. See this article for more information.
Cadets and Midshipman are now under investigation for flashing this symbol. I hope that the investigating officers and Academy Leadership consider the overwhelming likelihood that these Cadets and Midshipman were likely just playing “the Circle Game.” In this game, which I have played with my friends at various times throughout my life, if you can get someone to look at an “ok” hand symbol that you are making below your waist, you get to punch them. It is a stupid, but common game. See more information about the circle game here. Of note, this game has no relation to the use of the “ok” hand symbol by white supremacists.
As a former West Point Cadet, I can confirm that Cadets played the circle game. At a place that values tradition, it would not surprise me that Cadets are still playing the game. In the context of the Army/Navy game, it appears that the Cadets and Midshipman were holding the “ok” symbol below their waists and could therefore punch anyone who saw it on live TV. Childish, but not criminal.
I hope that Academy Leadership does not succumb to media and/or public perception. Of course, if the investigation reveals that these Cadets and Midshipman harbor racists views, appropriate action should be taken. However, if the only evidence that exists is the use of a common hand symbol, it would be ridiculous to punish these Cadets and Midshipman at all for playing a game on national television.
It is important to note that the use of the “ok” hand symbol by white supremacists was a joke. They chose a common symbol and attempted to get everyone to overreact when it was used. With an investigation on-going, it seems like that is exactly what is happening. The individuals that started this are laughing at the nation’s top military academies now conducting an investigation into the use of a common hand symbol.