Cadets Accused of Flashing 'White Power' Gesture at Army-Navy Game, Under Investigation


So, was it a white power symbol or just military academy members playing the “circle game?”

The reputations of several cadets hang on the answer. It shouldn’t be that way.

The situation is this: During the run-up to the Army-Navy football game on Saturday, ESPN was shooting footage of the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

According to NBC News, as the camera panned on the midshipmen side of the field, one of the students made a hand motion that, if one were to go by the immediate reaction on social media, was absolutely motivated by white supremacism:

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In the footage, two West Point cadets and one Naval Academy midshipman can be seen making gestures, including what we’ve become accustomed to calling the “white power sign.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (sigh) defines the symbol as “the thumb and forefinger joined together in a circle, the remaining three fingers splayed out behind.”

This, of course, is also known as the “OK” symbol, which has presented some issues in the past. There’s also a question of how much of the interpretation of the symbol was part of a prank by the degenerates over at 4chan. In this case, however, it’s not being flashed upwards, which sort of eliminates the “OK” symbol explanation from the equation.

So, does that mean it’s a secret white power sign thrown by someone at the game? Well…

For the uninitiated, defines the “circle game” thus: “The Circle Game is an activity where one person makes a ‘circle’ with their fingers and holds it below their waist, convincing a second person to look at it. If the second person looks, they receive a punch to the shoulder.”

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As RealClearInvestigations’ Mark Hemingway pointed out, this was even the subject of a joke on “Malcolm in the Middle”:

The “circle game” — another potential explanation for what people saw these cadets do on Saturday, and arguably more plausible — wasn’t mentioned in the NBC article, nor in many accounts of the incident. Instead, we got sobering quotes from officials at West Point and Annapolis.

“West Point is looking into it and we do not know the intent of the cadets,” Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, the academy’s director of public affairs, said.

“We are aware and will be looking into it,” Cmdr. Alana Garas of the Naval Academy said.

Assume this is the “circle game.” Did it demonstrate fantastic judgment? No.

Do you think this was a racist gesture?

Some on Twitter have said that fact alone should be the determining factor in this debate — that the rush to adjudge three individuals as having engaged in a subliminal act of hatred on national television is acceptable because they engaged in a moment of ill-advised tomfoolery. When this isn’t a cultural flashpoint being used to justify someone’s pre-existing biases toward how the world should work, I hope that these individuals go back through their Twitter histories, look at these posts and cringe. I have doubts.

If this story was going to be examined with such intensity, it should have been through the lens of doubt. Instead, the establishment media jumped to the same reactive conclusion about these hand gestures that certain people on social media did. The question asks itself, then: What’s the point of the media? Why don’t we just let online slugfests determine how a subject is reported on and be done with it?

These are cadets and midshipmen who have sacrificed much and studied hard to be where they are. If this was an act of hate, that’s one thing. Crucify them. But until we’ve determined it was, they deserve better than this.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture