Things That Matter

Students Under Investigation After Flashing White Power Symbols On National TV During Army/Navy Football Game

The United States Military Academy has opened a formal investigation into whether Army cadets and Navy midshipmen flashed white power symbols during a nationally televised broadcast of the Army-Navy football game Saturday. At least three individuals flashed the upside-down “ok” hand gesture, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate symbol meant to signify “white power.” Footage of the gestures went viral on Twitter as folks circulated allegations that the military students were flashing white power symbols on nationally televised media “because they fully understand that most people in the dominant society share their views, and there will be no serious punishment against them.” President Trump attended the game and visited both locker rooms before the start of the match.

“The United States Military Academy is fully committed to developing leaders of character who embody the Army values,” Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, The United States Military Academy’s superintendent, said in a statement. Meanwhile, Naval Academy officials appointed a preliminary inquiry officer to head up the internal investigation. 

Twitter is calling for the expulsion of the students who flashed the symbol, which seemed especially telling when flashed behind the head of a black cadet.

CREDIT: @BIGKAHUNAVAN / TWITTER

Two cadets clearly flash white power hand signals; one of them does it right behind the head of a black cadet. This is on live TV at the Army-Navy game. The @NavalAcademy should kick these students out,” one Twitter user called out. Another person wants to expel them and fine them for the taxpayer dollars that went toward their education thus far. “Imagine how these young black men will feel when they see this footage of their classmates flashing white power signals directly behind their heads. This is shameful and horrific behavior,” comments another user. 

Meanwhile, others are saying that the gestures are far more sophomoric. “IT’S THE FREAKING CIRCLE GAME!,” tweeted one POC. The alleged game is based on tricking someone into looking at the hand gesture which would allow you to playfully punch that person. If you ever played the VW Beetle game as a kid, it’s pretty similar. Others don’t buy it. “Right behind the head of the black guy? Come on…” asks one user. “I ain’t buying it either. If it were true, the black guy or other minorities would be playing the “game” as well. Funny, the “game” signal givers hands are NEVER BROWN. Why’s that now?” asks another Twitter user.

That said, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) details a much more insidious and increasingly common use of the “O.K.” hand gesture that began in 2017.

CREDIT: @GININATEACUP1 / TWITTER

Both the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Anti-Defamation League have described the symbol as hate speech. White nationalists first started using the symbol because of how it creates a “W” and a “P” to denote “white power.” In 2017, internet gateway to the alt-right, 4chan, started disseminating the symbol as a way to “trigger liberals.” SPLC says that the symbol is a “deliberate attempt to “trigger liberals” into overreacting to a gesture so widely used that virtually anyone has plausible deniability built into their use of it in the first place.” According to SPLC, the hoax started when the following post went viral: “We must flood twitter and other social media websites with spam, claiming that the OK hand signal is a symbol of white supremacy. Make fake accounts with basic white girl names and type shit like: OMG that’s so truuuuu…” It seems to be working. 

Before the 4chan hoax went viral and spread to anyone who was simply anti-liberal, it was used by alt-right figures and white nationalists. In fact, the white supremacist who murdered over 50 worshippers in the Christchurch mosque flashed the symbol in court.

Plausible deniability remains the crux of the issue. The “O.K.” signal is so ubiquitous, it makes it difficult to prove malicious intent.

CREDIT: @HAMDIA_AHMED / TWITTER

Still, at least three different young men flashed the symbol on national television this weekend, knowing President Trump was in the audience. Several Trump supporters have expressed glee in using the symbol simply because of its underlying intent to prove liberals and minorities as triggered.

Military officials feel its “inappropriate” to speculate any further on the students’ intent while the investigation is underway. 

CREDIT: @HAMDIA_AHMED / TWITTER

The SPLC cites the use of the “O.K.” hand gesture as a ploy to “trigger” liberals as participation in a “toxic subculture.” The Center cites such a troll as someone with a “direct gateway not just to the alt-right, but also to even more poisonous cultures such as that of woman-hating “incels.” The Center says that “it’s easy” for a simple “troll” to morph into a white supremacist surreptitiously signaling your presence to other white supremacists.

READ: A Family At Universal Studios Had Their Trip Ruined By A Character From ‘Despicable Me’ Who Flashed A White Power Symbol

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Trump Labels Cuba A State Sponsor Of Terrorism As His Own Supporters Face Similar Allegations

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Trump Labels Cuba A State Sponsor Of Terrorism As His Own Supporters Face Similar Allegations

Yander Zamora/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a move that is sure to complicate things for the incoming Biden administration, Trump has moved to put Cuba back on the list of nations that allegedly sponsor terrorism.

Obama had taken Cuba off of that list in 2015 and with four years to Cuba back on the list, many agree that Trump has simply put Cuba back on the list to make life difficult for President Biden.

The Trump administration has put Cuba back on the list of countries that “sponsor terrorism.”

With just days left in office, Trump has moved to label Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in a last-minute move that is sure to complicate things for the incoming Biden administration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo justified the controversial move which reverses Barack Obama’s 2015 decision to remove Cuba from the list after more than three decades – by accusing Havana of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists”.

Pompeo also alleged Cuba was engaging “in a range of malign behavior across the region”, highlighting its support for Venezuela’s authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro who Trump has unsuccessfully tried to overthrow.

The controversial step places Cuba alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria as state sponsors of terror.

However, most officials agree that Trump’s claims about Cuba are bogus.

Many international observers – including U.S. allies – aren’t impressed by the administration’s claims that Cuba is sponsoring terrorism.

In an interview with The Guardian, Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, said “These are trumped up charges. Terrorism as an international definition is committing acts of violence against unarmed civilians intended to frighten the population. Cuba doesn’t do that. Yes, it represses its own people – but so does Saudi Arabia.”

Groups that favor greater U.S. engagement with Cuba criticized the announcement.

“There is no compelling, factual basis to merit the designation,” according to Ric Herrero, executive director of the Cuba Study Group, a Washington DC-based organization that supports engagement with the island. “Instead it appears to be another shameless, last-ditch effort to hamstring the foreign policy of the incoming Biden administration and set the stage for the next election in Florida, all at the expense of the Cuban people and relations between our countries.”

Many observers agree that Trump’s move is simply a gift to party hardliners in Florida, and likely a deliberate attempt to make life difficult for the incoming Biden administration who may wish to end deténte with Cuba.

Of course, Cuban officials reacted angrily to the announcement.

After the announcement, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted: “We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of #Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism. The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”

Reversing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s action would require the Biden administration to certify to Congress that there has been a fundamental change in leadership in Cuba and that the government is not supporting acts of international terrorism, has not for the previous six months and will not do so in the future.

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Selena Gomez Is Holding Tech And Social Media Accountable After Trump Mob Shuts Down Congress

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Selena Gomez Is Holding Tech And Social Media Accountable After Trump Mob Shuts Down Congress

VALERIE MACON / AFP via Getty Images

A pro-Trump mob stormed Capitol Hill Jan. 6 following months of President Donald Trump and his allies attacking the 2020 elections. Selena Gomez, like most Americans horrified by the attack, spoke out on social media about what happened. She made it clear that part of this falls on tech companies and social media companies.

Selena Gomez called out social media and tech companies for enabling hateful rhetoric.

President Donald Trump and his supporters have used social media to spread misinformation since he was elected in 2016. Americans have watched as President Trump used Twitter to spread falsehoods and conspiracy theories. There have been so many debunked claims that President Trump and his allies have spread with no consequence.

Recently, Twitter started to flag some of President Trump’s tweets as disputed or misleading. It was the first time a social media platform did something that checked President Trump and his rhetoric.

People quickly came to Gomez’s side to uplift her statement.

President Trump has a long history of hateful and dangerous rhetoric on social media. He has misled her supporters with false statements and has incited violence. The president has defended white supremacists on multiple occasions and even retweeted a video of a man shouting white power.

Social media platforms are finally muzzling President Trump with bans and suspensions.

Twitter has put the president on a temporary suspension after he incited the crowd that breached Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg enhanced the original 24-hour ban to a indefinite ban that will last at least until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. However, people think it is a little too late for these actions.

“Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms,” Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., said in a statement. “As I have continually said, these platforms have served as core organizing infrastructure for violent, far right groups and militia movements for several years now – helping them to recruit, organize, coordinate and in many cases (particularly with respect to YouTube) generate profits from their violent, extremist content.”

What happened Jan. 6 at the nation’s Capitol was avoidable, but it’s clear who incited this violence.

Congress has officially certified President-elect Biden’s win. What should have been a quick process to certify an election turned into a horrifying scene. It is a day that will always define President Trump’s legacy.

READ: Far-Right Trump Supporters Violently Storm The US Capitol Forcing Lockdown

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