Politics

Did George Santos flash a white nationalist sign on the floor of Congress?

George Santos
George SantosPhoto: George Santos campaign website

Dishonest gay Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) made a strange hand gesture during a recent House floor vote, and some people have accused him of flashing a white supremacist symbol.

While raising his right hand to signal his vote in support of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for House Speaker on Thursday, Santos made an “OK” hand gesture with his left hand. The gesture was captured in photographs by Reuters and Getty Images.

It’s unclear why Santos made the gesture, but some right-wing trolls have increasingly used the “OK” symbol as a way to signal support for white supremacy, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADF). The gesture’s three upturned fingers appear as a “W” and the circle made by the thumb and index fingers forms a “P” shape on top of the wrist — W.P. for “white power.”

The ADF notes that the hand gesture is still widely used to signify “OK.” But the group also noted that alt-right trolls sometimes flash the sign as a way to bait left-wingers into overreacting against it. This allows trolls to characterize anti-racists as irrationally seeing racism where none exists.

In response to Santos’ hand gesture, The Twitter account of the media outlet The Intellectualist said that Santos made a “White power gesture.”

Rafael Shimunov, a Jewish political and cultural broadcaster, wrote, “So we’re just gonna accept a Congressman Santos? We’re just gonna make a law to prevent it in the future and accept a man who completely lied his way into power? And is now openly flashing white supremacist symbols in the House?”

However, Steve Morris — a former reporter with the watchdog site Media Matters who now works with the political website The Recount — criticized Shimunov’s tweet, commenting, “Some of your brains are so absolutely rotted by Twitter I don’t think you should legally be allowed to drive cars.”

He later wrote, “George Santos is not doing a secret white power sign on the floor of the House. Please join reality… Yes the New York Latino lied his way into Congress because he’s actually a closet white supremacist – something he wanted to signal on national television but only in a subtle, coded way. These [are] the normal thoughts of a person with a very normal relationship with the world… Yes the guy representing a Biden +8 district found it imperative to ‘signal to his base’ with a symbol that is known by [less than 5 percent] of the population.”

Santos has raised distrust by lying about extensive parts of his personal history.

He admitted that he lied about graduating from Baruch College and New York University, working directly for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, and living at a fake address in his congressional district. He provided no additional proof to back up claims that he founded a charity called Friends of Pets, that he attended the Horace Mann prep school, that his grandparents escaped the Holocaust, that his mom died due to the September 11 terrorist attacks, and that he lost four employees in the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.

In the past, he admitted to fraudulently cashing checks in Brazil, but he has since denied it. Brazilian authorities have since re-opened their investigation into his alleged fraud. Even though Santos has said he’s married to a man, he was photographed on Tuesday on the House floor without a wedding ring, and the media has found no public documents verifying their marriage.

Santos — and his questionable history and campaign finances — are currently under investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly (R), Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz (D) and the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York.

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