Publisher’s Point: I’m OK With The OK Sign, Are You?

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

There are days when media madness just gets to me, and Wednesday, September 5, was one of them. I was ahead of the game as far as putting this edition of Athens Now “to bed,” and I honestly thought I would finish early and put myself straight to bed, literally. It was not to be, and here is why: nothing “popped” as far as a topic for a Publisher’s Point. Not only that, but the hours I spent combing through my own “stack” were serving to depress and frustrate me, and that doesn’t happen all that much. Usually I draw from any number of sources — movies I have seen, books I am reading, conversations I have had, the news or the lack of true news these days, sermons, things both inspirational as well as infuriating, and most of the time it takes me about an hour and a half tops to find a topic and make it my own.

I started in the morning, took about an hour break in the late afternoon, and by 10:30 p.m. I was feeling fried. Then, there it was, a little gem of utter ignorance that had been waiting for me all day, and it had to do with the “OK” sign. You know what I am talking about: the time-honored gesture wherein one makes an “O” with their thumb and forefinger, and the other three fingers are straightened up. It shows up as an emoji on one’s phone, it is the universal sign for divers that they are alright, and in America, it means not only that things are alright, but most often has at least a measure of positive energy attached to it.

My husband says, “You learn something new every day, and some days you even learn two,” and here’s what I learned — supposedly the OK sign has become a sign of white power! Who knew? The great irony is that this came to light when a Hispanic female lawyer by the name of Zina Bash, whose grandparents on one side were not only Jewish but had survived the Holocaust, made the OK sign while sitting behind Brett Kavanaugh during the confirmation hearings, er, grillings to determine whether or not he is fit to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The tweets over the supposed “gotcha” became frantic and vicious, and the “secret handshake” of the OK sign was parlayed into a symbol that, if true, would make attorney Zina Bash’s sanity come into question. Pure logic would demand the following: Why would a woman who is not white, whose relatives would have been killed by whites over the fact that they were not white, flash a symbol that supposedly represents white supremacy in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing for a former boss, as in Brett Kavanaugh? She wouldn’t. And, in case you didn’t know it, Barack Obama uses the OK sign, too.

Turns out, the OK-sign-white-power brouhaha is a hoax. Shocker, no? Yep, it was started on the website of an outfit called 4chan, and even Wikipedia was careful to say that it had been proven to be false. So, if nobody minds, let’s go back to a pleasant form of non-verbal communication that, at least in this culture and country has always stood for something quite wonderful and rare these days — things being alright and unashamedly OK.