'OK' Hand Gesture and Dylann Roof's Bowlcut Added to ADL Extremist Symbol List: 'These Are the Latest Calling Cards of Hate'

The "OK" hand gesture has been added to the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) database of hateful symbols alongside far-right memes such as the "Moon Man," Dylann Roof's bowlcut and the "Happy Merchant."

The ADL said it has included 36 new additions to its Hate on Display database, which collects images, slogans and symbols used by the far-right and white supremacists.

The "OK" gesture originally started out as a troll joke by controversial message board site 4Chan. The "Operation O-KKK" campaign was launched in 2017 to trick liberals and the media into thinking that the gesture—often used by President Donald Trump during his speeches—promotes white supremacy as the fingers spell out WP (white power).

As noted by the ADL, the hoax became so widespread that it was eventually used a sincere expression of support for white supremacy while others continued to use it as a trolling tactic.

Brenton Tarrant, the Australian man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque attacks in March, smiled and flashed an "OK" hand gesture during his first court appearance.

In May, a school in Chicago announced they would reprint their 2018-19 yearbook after several photos contained students posing with the "OK" hand gesture.

In a letter, Oak Park and River Forest High School Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said while the school is not accusing the students of deliberating aligning themselves with white supremacy, there were concerns the gesture would be more "closely associated" with the far-right in the future.

Pruitt-Adams said that publishing the photos could harm the students' futures and subject them to a "lifetime of questions or penalty from colleges, employers, etc."

Other memes added to the ADL list of far-right memes include Dylann Roof's bowlcut, which some people use to show support and admiration for the mass shooter who murdered nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

Christopher Cantwell, one of the more high-profile neo-Nazis who attended the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, posted images of himself with Roof's hair superimposed on his head on the infamous social media website Gab in February.

Cantwell also has links to the Bowl Gang, a collection of dozens of white supremacists who openly praise Roof on Gab and podcasts such as Bowlcast.

Elsewhere, the "Happy Merchant," which shows an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jewish man rubbing his hands together, has also been added to the database. The "Happy Merchant" is described by the ADL as "by far the most popular anti-Semitic meme among white supremacists."

The "Moon Man," an alt-right meme similar to Pepe the Frog which reimagines a former McDonald's mascot as a racist rapper, is also included.

"These are the latest calling cards of hate," said Mark Pitcavage, senior fellow at ADL's Center on Extremism. "While some hate symbols are short-lived, others take on a life of their own and become tools for online trolling. We pay special attention to those symbols that exhibit staying power as well as those that move from online usage into the real world."

The ADL has been collating the Hate on Display list since 2000 in order to raise awareness of the potential presence of extremism and anti-Semitism.

"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," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL.

"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."

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(File photo) Man making OK sign as he arrives into the Hell area of the Shangri La field, Glastonbury in 2015. The gesture has been added to the ADL's database of far white and white supremacist symbols. Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty
'OK' Hand Gesture and Dylann Roof's Bowlcut Added to ADL Extremist Symbol List: 'These Are the Latest Calling Cards of Hate' | U.S.