"OK" and Other Alt Right Memes and Slogans Added to ADL's Hate Symbols Database

Burning swastika, Happy Merchant and Roof Bowlcut among new symbols on extremism watchlist

New York, NY, September 26, 2019 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) has expanded and updated its online resource of hate symbols to include 36 new entries, including white supremacist symbols adopted in recent years by the alt right segment of the white supremacist movement.

The symbols, including the Dylann Roof Bowlcut, the ”Moon Man,” the “Happy Merchant” and logos for a number of new white supremacist groups have been added to “Hate on Display,” ADL’s longstanding online database that provides explanations for many of the symbols, memes and slogans most frequently used by a variety of white supremacist and other hate groups.

“Even as extremists continue to use symbols that may be years or decades old, they regularly create new symbols, memes and slogans to express their hateful sentiments,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We believe law enforcement and the public needs to be fully informed about the meaning of these images, which can serve as a first warning sign to the presence of haters in a community or school.”

Many of the newly added symbols are identified by ADL’s Center on Extremism as being adopted by the alt right segment of the white supremacist movement. Such symbols have appeared at white supremacist events such as the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and were painted on the guns used by white supremacist mass killer Brenton Tarrant. These slogans and symbols also frequently appear online in venues such as 4chan, 8chan and Reddit. Some have also spread into other more popular mainstream platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, or gaming platforms. A July 2019 ADL survey found that nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of all online gamers have been exposed of white supremacist ideology while gaming.

“These are the latest calling cards of hate,” said Mark Pitcavage, Senior Fellow in ADL’s Center on Extremism and an expert on hate symbology. “While some hate symbols are short-lived, others take on a life of their own and become tools for online trolling. We pay special attention to those symbols that exhibit staying power as well as those that move from online usage into the real world.”

Some of the slogans, such as the phrase, “It’s Okay to be White,” have recently appeared in white supremacist fliering campaigns both on and off campus. During the 2018-2019 academic year, ADL documented 313 cases of white supremacist propaganda on campus, a 7 percent increase from the prior year.

Newly added symbols, slogans and memes in ADL’s “Hate on Display” resource include:

  • The “OK” hand symbol – Begun as a hoax by members of the website 4chan, the OK symbol became a popular trolling tactic. By 2019, the symbol was being used in some circles as a sincere expression of white supremacy. Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during his March 2019 courtroom appearance soon after his arrest for allegedly murdering 50 people in mosques in Christchurch.
  • Burning Neo-Nazi symbols – Neo-Nazis have adopted the Ku Klux Klan practice of symbolic burnings, substituting swastikas and other neo-Nazi symbols such as othala and life runes, for crosses.
  • Dylann Roof’s “Bowlcut” – The “Bowlcut” is an image of a bowl-shaped haircut resembling the one worn by white supremacist mass killer Dylann Roof. Those who use the bowlcut image or other “bowl” references admire Roof and call for others to emulate his 2015 mass shooting attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Happy Merchant – An anti-Semitic meme depicting a drawing of a Jewish man with heavily stereotyped facial features who is greedily rubbing his hands together. The meme is by far the most popular anti-Semitic meme among white supremacists.
  • “Anudda Shoah” – An anti-Semitic phrase that first became popular among white supremacists in 2014 to mock Jews, whom they claim bring up the Holocaust (“Shoah” is the Hebrew term for Holocaust) when confronted with anything they don’t like.
  • Diversity = White Genocide – A white supremacist slogan intended to suggest multiculturalism will mean the demise of the white race.
  • Logos of various hate groups, including the neo-Confederate white supremacist League of the South; the neo-Nazi National Socialist Legion; the white supremacist Rise Above Movement (RAM); the white supremacist group Patriot Front; and the American Identity Movement, the white supremacist group that is successor to Identity Evropa.

ADL founded the Hate on Display hate symbols database in 2000 as part of its effort to track hate groups and help law enforcement, educators and other members of the public recognize symbols that serve as a potential warning of the presence of extremists and anti-Semites.

A print version of the resource, in brochure form, will be distributed to local law enforcement and made available to school districts across the country.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.