‘OK’ hand gesture, haircut from a mass killer and an anthropomorphic moon wearing sunglasses are among 36 new entries in a Jewish rights group’s online database civic symbols of hatred used by white supremacists and other far-right extremists.
The Anti-Defamation League has added the symbols to its “Hate on Display” online database, which already includes flaming crosses, Ku Klux Klan robes, the swastika and many more of the most notorious and overt symbols of racism and anti-Semitism.
The New York-based group launched the database in 2000 to help law enforcement officers, school officials and others recognize signs of extremist activity. It has grown to include almost 200 entries.
“Even though extremists continue to use symbols that may be years or decades old, they regularly create new symbols, memes and slogans to express their hateful feelings,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League , in a press release.
Some of the new entries started as trolling campaigns or hate memes on message boards such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, before migrating to Facebook, Twitter and other mainstream platforms, as well as forums. public and leaflets.
ADL updated its database to include the “OK” hand symbol, which became fodder for a 4chan trolling campaign to trick viewers into believing that the fingers formed the letters “W” and “P” to mean “white power”. But the ADL says extremists are also using it as a heartfelt expression of white supremacy.
Brenton Tarrant, the Australian accused of killing 51 people in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, flashed the “OK” symbol during a court appearance after his arrest. Tarrant had also written the number 14 on his rifle, a possible reference to the “14 words,” a white supremacist slogan, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said context is key to interpreting whether an “OK” symbol is hateful or harmless. He said the ADL had been reluctant to add it to the database “because ‘OK’ just meant ‘OK’ for so long.”
“At this point there is enough volume of hate use that we thought was important to add,” Segal said.
An earlier addition to the database was Grandpa the frog , a cartoon character who was hijacked by online extremists who overlaid the frog with Nazi symbols and other hateful imagery. The ADL called Pepe a symbol of hatred in September 2016 and supported the efforts of cartoonist Matt Furie to reclaim the character he created.
The “Happy Merchant,” one of the new database entries, is an anti-Semitic meme that portrays a stereotypical image of a bearded Jewish man rubbing his hands together. Another addition, the “Moon Man” meme, is derived from “Mac Tonight,” a character from a McDonald’s ad campaign in the 1980s. Internet trolls turned the cartoon moon wearing sunglasses into a vehicle for rap songs with racist and violent lyrics.
ADL also added the “Dylann Roof Bowlcut”, an image of the hairstyle worn by the white supremacist who shot and killed nine black people in 2015 at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Roof’s bowl-shaped hair has become an avatar for extremists, including a Washington, DC, male whose relatives have contacted the FBI to express concerns about his far-right behavior and rhetoric after last year’s attacks Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre . Jeffrey Clark’s username on the social media platform Gab was “DC Bowl Gang,” an FBI agent wrote in a court file on gun charges against Clark.
The logos of white nationalist groups, including the Rise Above Movement and the American Identity Movement, are also among the new entries in the ADL database.
The recently formed American Identity Movement is the successor to the now disbanded Identity Evropa, which has frequently plastered its white nationalist propaganda on college campuses and is one of the groups that has been prosecuted for the violence that erupted at a White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia , in August 2017.
Four members of the Californian group Rise above the movement pleaded guilty this year to attacking counter-protesters at the Charlottesville rally. A federal judge sentenced three of them to prison terms ranging from 27 months to 37 months.