Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen were emboldened Saturday to display white power hand signs because President Donald Trump was present and wearing his MAGA hat at the football rivalry game in Philadelphia. Also 16 African American female cadets were justified in their black power salutes three years ago because they had to endure what previously happened in Ferguson and to Trayvon Martin. So says Carron J. Phillips, race writer for The Shadow League blog.
During Saturday’s Army-Navy pregame show, three students were seen displaying the A-OK sign. Some reports claimed they are symbols of white power, others said they could be part of the Circle Game in which viewers of the hand signal get punched in the shoulder. Army and Navy officials are investigating what it was all about.
The Shadow League subhead for the story read: “Trump wore a MAGA hat at the Army/Navy game, making his supporters in the military more than comfortable with displaying their hatred and racism.”
Phillips said he’s certain the students’ motives were “boldly” racist, but predicts no one will be punished. “The pageantry and patriotism that embodies that annual Army/Navy game has been hijacked. And there’s no telling when the purity of the rivalry will ever return,” he started.
“The future servicemen who are on their way to protect and fight for the freedoms this country supposedly stands on, were on national television laughing and purposefully spreading hatred and white nationalism.
“It was a level of boldness and arrogance that only resembles that of their Commander-in-chief. In the middle of an impeachment process, the president was cheered at the game to shouts of ‘Trump!’ and ‘Let’s go Trump!’ Recently, the Anti-Defamation League added the hand gesture to its database of hate symbols, as it often resembles a downward or horizontal version of the ‘OK’ symbol.”
Phillips also referred to a 2016 incident when West Point investigated 16 black female cadets who raised their fists for a graduation photo. It was assumed by some to be a show of support for Black Lives Matter. Phillips defends them because they had to endure everything that happened “with Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Ferguson.”
“Raising their fist in solidarity wasn’t a violation of the Army’s rules that prohibit political activities while in uniform,” Phillips wrote. “It was a group of black women showing the world that despite all they endured, they made it.
“Ultimately, West Point ruled that the women didn’t break any rules as the picture was referred to as ‘among several taken in the spur-of-the-moment,’ and ‘was intended to demonstrate ‘unity’ and ‘pride,’ according to the findings of the inquiry.’ ”
Last May, a record 34 black women graduated from West Point, and Phillips said that “history tends to happen when institutions don’t deny black people their humanity.”
West Point did the right thing by not punishing those 16 black women, Phillips said. “But in 2019, under the Trump regime, I fear that West Point and the Naval Academy will let the cadets and midshipmen that brought shame and disgrace to our armed forces get off scot-free.
“The raised fist has never been a symbol of hate. While the ‘white power’ symbol oozes racism, bigotry, and supremacy.”