Racism remains at the forefront of America as thousands upon thousands of citizens stand in destructive unity, only making matters worse. Violent demands for equality have accomplished little more than ripping the heart out of a nation, that for the most part, had already chosen to leave its past mistakes in the past where they belong.
Tensions are running high as peaceful people without a racist bone in their bodies are being accused of not realizing how racist they actually are. And though these folks may have never condemned anyone based on their skin color, because of these false accusations, and sometimes violent confrontations, sadly, some of them are now understandably becoming this way. They’ve been forced into it.
America witnessed a couple in Georgia pointing weapons at protesters who cut a path through their private property. The couple has faced widespread condemnation, but with everything else we’ve been witnessing, who can really blame them? They were frightened.
An off duty state trooper in Oregon, wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, flashed the OK sign with his fingers at some demonstrators while attending a peaceful rally. Because the trooper is a white man, he was immediately called out for racist behavior, though his intent was nothing of the sort.
4chan is an internet community bulletin board that allows jokes, memes, and comments to be anonymously posted by anyone who chooses to. Because of this, the platform is being used by extremists with the sole intent of heating the pot of discourse to a boiling point.
As such, some less than desirable users have given the okay sign an entirely new meaning, claiming it to be a symbol of white power. As one would rightfully expect, the media was quick to jump on this, but instead of chastising the perpetrators of hate for their falseness, they accepted it as the truth.
The Anti Defamation League was quick to point out the erroneousness of such an implication by stating how the tactic was so successful the symbol has become a popular trolling mechanism. And also as one would expect, the general public bought it hook, line, and sinker.
The league went on to state, “Ironically, some white supremacists themselves soon also participated in such trolling tactics, lending actual credence to those who labeled the trolling gesture as racist in nature.”
Video footage of the event shows the trooper approaching a man, flashing the okay sign, and saying, “You’re good,” in the form of a question. The trooper and demonstrater then high-fived one another. No problem. Right?
This happened only after the trooper had witnessed this demonstrater being knocked to the ground by a violent protestor who was later arrested. The trooper was merely making sure the victim was “okay.”
Oregon state police issued the following statement, “Best available evidence indicates the trooper was simply checking on the man’s status and used the universal signal to signify this inquiry, which the man gestured he was—then patted this trooper and a second trooper on their shoulders in an apparent signal of appreciation. The man was the victim of a crime.”
The agency further stated it “condemns all racist behaviors and does not allow white supremacist behaviors by our officers and staff. We appreciate that the public would be concerned and rightfully outraged if an OSP trooper were to flash an offensive gesture.”
“We would share in that outrage and concern. In this instance, we would ask the public to await the complete information before condemning a trooper with an irreparable and harmful label. Additionally, some members of the public are misidentifying the trooper in the video with another trooper who was working the event.”
This should serve as a blatant reminder of how not everything on the internet is true. Yet, some people will buy into anything so long as it suits their needs and beliefs.
Something as simple as an aged-old okay sign was turned into a fake racist symbol of white power via a social media platform, causing undue harm to an innocent off-duty cop without an ounce of racism in his body.
It goes without saying how we all need to use caution “out there.” But now, it needs to be said, we should also use caution when reading things on social media platforms.