All is not well with the ‘OK’ hand gesture as the symbol that is often seen as a way of indicating that all is well has been classified as a symbol of hate.
The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, added 36 symbols to its ‘Hate on Display’ database including the index finger-to-thumb sign that in some corners of the Internet has become associated with white supremacy and the far right. The OK hand gesture and its link to white nationalism began as a hoax on website 4chan where users took the gesture and pretended there was a hidden meaning behind it; in hopes it would spark outrage from media or people with liberal ideals. But the joke was so successful and widespread among the far-right, that many believe the OK hand sign is actually changing meaning.
The ADL has also stressed that the “overwhelming usage” of the hand gesture today is to still show that someone is OK. Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism said, “Context is always key. More people than not will use the OK symbol as just ‘OK.’ But in those cases where there’s more underlining meaning, I think it’s important for people to understand that it could be used, and is being used, for hate as well”.
Other symbols that have been added to the list include the burning neo-Nazi symbols and the bowlcut hairstyle worn by American white supremacist and mass shooter Dyand Roof. The ADL’s ‘Hate on Display’ list started in 2000 in order to help people recognise signs of extremism. There are more than 200 entries, including the swastika and Ku Klux Klan’s burning cross.