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As of September 26, the Anti Defamation League (ADL) has officially declared the “OK” hand sign and bowl-cut haircuts hate symbols in their databases.
The ADL had previously been hesitant to declare the ‘OK’ hand sign a racist hate symbol due to its frequent and popular use. However, due to the frequency of use by various extremists or online creators trying to be edgy, the symbol has been too greatly associated with white supremacy to ignore any longer.
“At this point, there is enough of a volume of use for hateful purposes that we felt it was important to add,” says Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism.
Segal also says that context will be very important in determining whether the hand sign is being used in a hateful way.
“Because of the traditional meaning of the “okay” hand gesture, as well as other usages unrelated to white supremacy, particular care must be taken not to jump to conclusions about the intent behind someone who has used the gesture,” the ADL wrote on their website.
The ADL has also acknowledged that many actual white supremacists have gotten tired of the OK sigh and have acknowledged that the entire OK sign being white supremacy was part of a 4Chan trolling operation.
“The ‘okay’ gesture hoax was merely the latest in a series of similar 4chan hoaxes using various innocuous symbols; in each case, the hoaxers hoped that the media and liberals would overreact by condemning a common image as white supremacist,” the ADL writes.
“In the case of the ‘okay’ gesture, the hoax was so successful the symbol became a popular trolling tactic on the part of right-leaning individuals, who would often post photos to social media of themselves posing while making the ‘okay’ gesture.”
Despite knowing that the OK sign was never meant to be hateful, merely a meme, it has been logged into their databases.
“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,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.
Additionally, bowl-cut haircuts have been added to the hate symbols database, due to their connection to Dylann Roof.
Though bowl cuts haven’t seen popular use in real life, the ADL determined that the use of the haircut for avatars and logos of select white supremacist groups or content creators was enough to deem it a white supremacist hate symbol.