The open racism on display Saturday by the still-unnamed cadets from West Point and one Naval Academy midshipman from Annapolis before the Army and Navy played their annual football game shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Yes, it was jarring to see how unabashed the cadets and midshipman were in flashing on national TV what has become widely known as a white power hand symbol. However, to anyone who’s been paying attention to the resurgence of white supremacy in the American military, the news probably didn’t even elicit a shrug let alone raising any eyebrows.
In fact, it was only a matter of time before the military joined its law enforcement counterparts in being exposed for its apparent embrace of white supremacy in a disturbing trend that is showing no signs of slowing.
The Naval Academy said it was looking into it. But with the unobscured faces of the cadets and midshipman being blared first on national TV and then immortalized on social media, it was unclear why their identities and punishments were not being announced. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that President Donald Trump, who finally was not booed while attending a major sporting event, was greeted with open arms — especially after donning his red MAGA hat with all its racist symbolism that featured the words, “Keep America Great.” It’s been widely reported that Trump’s election helped inspire white supremacy to become more popular, a premise that seemed to be backed up on Saturday at the game.
But a closer look at recent history shows that the military members’ white power hand sign at the football game was far from an isolated incident.
A similar incident happened last year where a Coast Guard appeared to make the same racist gesture during a news broadcast. The Coast Guard’s official Twitter page released a statement saying that the organization “identified the member and removed him from the response.” They added that his actions did not reflect that of the United States Coast Guard.
And, speaking of the Coast Guard, white supremacy in the military has not been restricted to national news clips. Federal investigators arrested Christopher Paul Hasson, a Coast Guard officer, early this year. Hasson, who allegedly wanted to create a white homeland, collected a stockpile of illegal drugs and weapons in his home that was part of his plot to commit acts of mass terrorism.
That report came about a month after seven active U.S. military service members were outed as being part of Identity Evropa, which the Southern Poverty Law Center said is “at the forefront of the racist “alt-right’s” effort to recruit white, college-aged men and transform them into the fashionable new face of white nationalism.”
The white power hand signals being openly wielded Saturday came a little more than a week after a photo showed a recent group of corrections officers throwing up celebratory Nazi salutes, bringing attention to the proliferation of white supremacy in law enforcement, too.
Historically, police departments were an instrument to enforce segregation and other racist policies. It’s no wonder that the FBI has warned about ongoing relationships between white supremacists and police departments.
And while having racists in police departments is troubling enough, there was a sign — literally — that white supremacy has infiltrated the highest levels of law enforcement in the country: the Supreme Court of the United States. That indication was all but confirmed when a woman flashed the “OK sign” during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh last year. The woman, Zina Bash, has been described as a former assistant for Kavanaugh whose husband also has a relationship with Kavanaugh, a conservative justice credibly accused of sexual assault who still went on to be confirmed to the lifetime position on the highest court in the land.