The Trump White House became embroiled in a new racial controversy on Thursday when a blown-up photo surfaced of a former Trump administration White House intern flashing a “white power” sign for a group photograph taken with the President.
Daily Mail broke the story that Jack Breuer, who interned for former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, showed in the photo a symbol of white hatred that the alt-right has adapted from the universal “OK” sign.
A majority of the interns who posed for the photo gave President Trump’s signature thumbs-up sign.
The photo in tweet form:
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) December 28, 2017
In an ugly twist, the hand sign is traceable to the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville.
Nationalists and far-right radicals used the symbol at the “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia, where a protester was eventually killed during the march. White supremacist Richard Spencer has also been photographed using it.
In the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy, Trump was criticized for not speaking out more directly against Nazis and other far-right groups.
An expert description of the symbolism from Washington Examiner:
Three outstretched fingers while the thumb and the index finger form a circle creates the “OK” sign, but the gesture has also become popular among white nationalists and supremacists such as Richard Spencer to symbolize the letters “W” and “P” for “white power.”
“Context is everything,” one fellow intern told the publication. “Jack is pictured with President Trump, one of the most controversial leaders we’ve had.” But “Jack’s a good kid and is probably doing it as a joke,” the intern added. “Some people do consider it a joke because it is the OK sign.” Despite members of the alt-right adopting the gesture, the Anti-Defamation League has deemed the sign to not represent a hate symbol. The ADL claim the white nationalist and supremacy link to the gesture is an Internet hoax started by online discussion board, 4chan, to mock liberals.
Critics would be correct to point out that Charlottesville felt a little more like real-life than a prank from 4chan.