Phil Garber
4 min readFeb 28, 2021



Walks Like a Duck

The timeless, formerly benign, “OK” hand gesture, an innocent-looking comic book frog, an unstylish bowl-style haircut, a golden icon of Donald Trump and now, a stage at a major, national conservative political conference that was crafted in the shape of a notorious Nazi symbol.

As they keep saying again and again, you can’t make this stuff up, unless you are Trump and evidently any time Trump is involved, the GOP’s audacious and disgraceful support of white supremacists and anti-Semitic groups will only get worse. And you might say that Trump is gone so why does what he says or does matter? Well, don’t look now, but he’s back and despicable as ever as he consistently hints that he’ll run for president again in 2024. God save us.

Symbols are important to quickly and accurately portray a political or social position, whether negative or positive. To those in the know, the latest white supremacist tipoffs are the “OK” hand gesture, the frog, the unusual haircut and the unusual shaped stage set up at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on Feb. 27, in Orlando, Fla.

The conference was set to host Trump as the keynote speaker on Sunday and apropos of his divisive embrace of white supremacist groups, the stage is a square with corners that jut out from the stage from connected back-to-back “check marks.” It is strikingly similar to the ancient Odal rune or Othala rune, a symbol that was used by Nazi SS divisions during World War II and was emblazoned on uniforms of Nazi soldiers. The Anti-Defamation League has said that the Odal rune has became commonly used among white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in both Europe and North America.

The organizers of the conservative conference claim it’s all a coincidence and that the shape of the stage doesn’t refer to the Nazis. That’s like hanging a flag with a swastika and saying it’s not about Nazis but rather refers to the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being” and has been used as a sacred religious symbol in Eurasia for as long as 7000 years, before it was appropriated to represent the brutal Nazi regime. If it walks like a duck…

In November 2016, The National Socialist Movement announced in 2016 they would be replacing the swastika with the Odal rune on their uniforms and party regalia.

And at that same conservative conference, visitors, Trump worshipers all, were greeted with the bizarre sight of a lifesize, gold-painted fiberglass mold of Trump, brandishing a magic wand in his hand and wearing a suit jacket and red tie, American flag swim shorts and flip-flops. Oh and yes, the sculptor, Tommy Zegan, said he made the sculpture in Mexico and painted it in Tampa, Fla.
It’s not the first time a golden idol-like creation has caused a panic. Moses was fairly upset when he came down from Mount Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments and saw that the Israelites had turned away from God and built an alter out of gold. Moses saw the calf and smashed the two tablets, burned the golden calf in a fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on water, and forced the Israelites to drink it. Seems the Republicans have turned away from any greater force.

Next time you see someone flash the “OK” signal and the “thumbs up,” beware that it may not actually mean everything is alright but rather is code for white supremacists. In its innocent form, the phrase originated during the 1840 presidential campaign and referred to the Democratic candidate Martin Van Buren who came from Kinderhook, N.Y., and thus the OK sign for “Old Kinderhook.” Eventually, it morphed into a general symbol for all right.

Extremists have appropriated the OK sign because they say the fingers form the letters “W” and “P” to mean “white power.” Brenton Tarrant, the Australian charged with killing 51 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019, flashed the “OK” symbol during a courtroom appearance after his arrest.

Curiously, Trump flashed the OK sign while referring to New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a speech in 2019 before the a large crowd of cheering, MAGA-cap wearing teenagers at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit 2019 in Washington, D.C. Two months earlier, a leader of Turning Point USA flashed the same gesture while saying “White Power” at a conference in Nevada.

Trump has consistently berated and torn into Ocasio-Cortez, labeling her a left-wing radical and socialist, and she was one of four congresswomen the president said should “go back to their countries.”

And if you see someone wearing an outdated bowlcut, don’t confuse him with Moe of the Three Stooges. The Anti-Defamation League has noted that the hairstyle has become another white supremacist symbol because it was the hairstyle of Dylan Roof, the white supremacist who shot and killed nine black people in 2015 at a church in Charleston, S.C.

And then there is that lovable Pepe the Frog cartoon character who has been appropriated by extremists who superimpose the character with Nazi symbols. Is nothing sacred?



Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer