Resurfaced photo shows Rep. Ocasio-Cortez flashing so-called ‘white power’ sign

March 19, 2019

During the highly controversial Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings last fall, a former law clerk and Republican operative seated behind the judge casually made an unwitting hand gesture that momentarily set the internet on fire. Anti-Trump resistance activists were triggered when Zina Bash made what could be loosely construed as a crude “OK” symbol — a hand gesture that has come to be affiliated with white supremacism and the alt-right movement.

“They literally want to bring white supremacism to the Supreme Court,” complained one prominent anti-Trump progressive. Now, however, it seems that one of the left’s own has some explaining to do after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was spotted flashing the alleged white power sign in a recently unearthed Instagram photo taken in 2013.

A dose of their own medicine

Is AOC — as progressive fans call her — an undercover white supremacist? Of course not. But based upon the evidence-free standards that leftists have applied to conservative figures unlucky enough to be caught brandishing the OK symbol, Ocasio-Cortez is a card-carrying xenophobe.


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Happy (soon-to-be) New Year from 20,000 feet!

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Bash was just the latest Republican who was publicly smeared on social media because of an innocuous gesture. White House intern Jack Breuer stood out in a class photo for making the OK sign while everyone else was giving a thumbs up sign.

“I’m proud of my Jewish heritage and strongly reject the hateful views associated with racist white power organizations. I would never make common cause with them,” Breuer explained after rumors began circulating that his class photo was proof of a KKK connection in the White House.

Trolling the left

Later, conscious of the hysterical response the benign symbol could precipitate, right-wingers began flashing the gesture merely to create controversy. “There was a troll meme going around saying that it meant white power,” said conservative commentator Cassandra Fairbanks, after she was photographed deploying the symbol from the White House press room. “But it was a joke because Trump supporters are always being called Nazis even when it isn’t true.”

Mainstream media journalists exploring the OK symbol phenomenon invariably concluded that they have been the victims of an alt-right prank that started on the internet message board 4Chan. “Operation O-KKK” was started by conservative trolls who knew that the otherwise harmless hand signal would generate controversy if it were connected to the odious alt-right.

Even then, however, liberal reporters all seemed to reach the same conclusion: it doesn’t matter if conservatives have been inappropriately slandered by a left-wing conspiracy theory, because we all know Trump is a racist anyway. “You don’t need a hand signal to know that … the Trump administration contains racists who want to use policy to harm nonwhite people,” a Vox report on the hand gesture ultimately concluded.

When YouTube global head of music Lyor Cohen made the gesture while standing next to conservative rapper Kanye West, reporters sprang into action to determine if this was some sort of super-secret racist dog whistle. It wasn’t; Cohen’s record label is 300 Entertainment, explaining the three-fingered gesticulation.

But if you’re a writer from Lifehacker, there’s still plenty of reason to be offended. “All right, so, was the OK sign in the Kanye photo a white power sign? Probably not. But kind of yes. Sorry,” wrote staff writer Nick Douglas after acknowledging that the accusation had been debunked [emphasis original].

The inconvenient truth

To the left, intentions are irrelevant. Anything even resembling something racist is evil and should be punished. Take, for instance, the media’s insulting coverage of President Trump, who naturally comes up in any article dealing with the OK symbol and white supremacism.

The same old canards are constantly recycled to paint Trump as an unapologetic racist. Progressives love to cite the “Muslim ban” as evidence of his overt racism.

Nevermind that this executive order is actually a travel restriction targeting countries which the Department of Homeland Security has determined do a terrible job of vetting their own citizens. Each nation was given the opportunity to fix their background check protocols and properly share the names of suspected terrorists with U.S. customs before these bans became semi-permanent.

Early on in his presidential candidacy, Trump was labelled a racist for suggesting that illegal Mexican immigrants import crime into American neighborhoods. Yet, anyone familiar with U.S. prison demographics would know that Trump was speaking an unfortunate truth when it comes to illegal immigration.

It’s time to hold the mainstream press and their liberal allies accountable for their actions regardless of their intentions. It’s time to give them a dose of their own medicine.


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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.