Instead of keeping a low profile after admitting to lying about significant portions of his biography, New York Republican Congressman-elect George Santos has put himself front and center in photos from the floor of the House of Representatives, including one in which he appears to flash a white power symbol.
On Thursday evening, the incoming lawmaker gestured as he stood to cast a vote for Kevin McCarthy in the 10th round of votes for speaker of the House.
Waiting to be called, the incoming lawmaker stood in the aisle of the House chamber listening for his name to be called for the 10th time.
“Santos,” the clerk called out.
With his right hand raised and his left hand across his midsection, he made a sideways “OK” gesture by making his index finger and thumb meet.
Rep.-elect George Santos making what appears to be a white power gesture while voting on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“McCarthy,” Santos said, revealing the gesture briefly as he waved his other hand before turning around, walking away, and moving both hands back down to his sides.
C-SPAN video of the incident shows that Santos had pre-positioned his hand along his body in an unusual way to create the gesture.
Far-right extremists, mainly white supremacists, have coopted the gesture to symbolize a “W” and “P” for white power, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The Southern Poverty Law Center also categorizes the gesture as a white power gesture but explains that on the right, the gesture is often used to troll liberals.
Because the gesture is similar to the innocuous “OK” symbol, context matters, the hate-group monitoring organization says.
When groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Front conduct their activities, they have been photographed flashing the gesture.
In those cases, the intent of the meaning of the sign is clear, but through gaslighting, those who make it claim just to be indicating that everything is all good, while often sporting a disingenuous smirk or grin, the SPLC reports.
According to the popular culture site Know Your Meme, in 2017, users on 4chan flooded social media platforms with posts that connected the “OK” gesture to the white power movement. The campaign was a prank.
However, in the easy confusion over the symbol, many white supremacist groups have adopted its use mainly because of the plausible deniability.
On Twitter, users recognized the symbol and had a lot to say.
Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Alejandra Caraballo took Santos to task.
“The guy who lied about everything turns out to be a white supremacist who flashed a white power hand gesture on the house floor,” she wrote.
Because of the incoming lawmaker’s documented history of misrepresentation, one user joked, “That’s not a white power sign. George Santos is a world-renowned sign language expert.”
As of publication, the House of Representatives has entered the 13th round of votes to elect a new speaker of the House for the 118th Congress.