News & Politics

West Point, Annapolis Find Cadets' Hand Gestures Were Not 'White Power' Signals

West Point, Annapolis Find Cadets' Hand Gestures Were Not 'White Power' Signals
(Image via Pixabay)

Last week, both the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy launched an investigation after several cadets and plebes at the Army-Navy football game were seen on TV making the “OK” hand gesture to each other. The gesture almost always means “everything is fine” but some white supremacists use the gesture to symbolize a “W” and “P” standing for “white power.” (I don’t see it myself, but, unlike most white supremacists, I have an IQ over 80).

Are the Naval Academy and West Point full of white supremacists?

We can all breathe a sigh of relief. It was a false alarm. It turns out the kids were playing a stupid game.


The US Naval Academy and US Military Academy at West Point said Friday that the hand gesture some cadets and midshipmen were seen making on camera was part of a game known as the “circle game” and not a white supremacist symbol.

The circle game is commonly played when a person forms an “OK” with their hand below their waist to trick a second person into looking at it. If the second person is caught looking at the hand gesture, that person is then punched by the person who made the gesture.

When I was about 5 years old, we called it “Made ya look” (“Made ya look, made ya look, made ya buy a pennybook!”). This does not reflect well on the intellectual maturity of the next generation of junior officers in our military.

That the academies even felt the need to investigate is very sad.

“We are confident the hand gestures used were not intended to be racist in any way. However, we are disappointed by the immature behavior of the two Fourth Class Midshipmen, and their actions will be appropriately addressed,” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a written statement. “The Naval Academy is fully committed to preparing young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps; in this case, we recognize there is more work to be done.”

“We investigated this matter thoroughly,” Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th superintendent of the US Military Academy said in a separate written statement. “Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously. We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets.”

According to a report from the officer in charge of the Naval Academy’s preliminary inquiry, the involved midshipmen “were playing the circle game without any racist or white supremacist intent.”

Isn’t there something else those fine officers could have been doing besides investigating if the “OK” gesture is racist or not?

We, as a nation, are walking on eggshells trying our best not to offend anyone lest it becomes a trending topic on Twitter. God forbid those kids would have been signalling “white power” instead of playing a game. Both academies would have been accused of racist teachings and harboring white supremacist sympathies from the top command to the lowliest cadet or plebe. The leadership would have been fired and the damage done to the reputation of those schools would have been real and lasting.

West Point and Annapolis are safe — for now. That is, until the next incident occurs that starts tongues wagging and fingers pointing.