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problematic herbie

Nebraska mascot updated to remove hand gesture linked to white supremacy

The University of Nebraska has updated its mascot so that Herbie Husker no longer makes a hand gesture "that some people connect with white supremacy," the Chicago Tribune reports.

Now, instead of raising his middle, ring, and pinky fingers while making an O with his thumb and forefinger, the cartoon farmer will simply raise his index finger in an uncontroversial "We're No. 1" gesture.

According to the Independent, the association of the "okay" hand gesture with white supremacy "started in early 2017 as a hoax. Anonymous users of 4chan, an anonymous and unrestricted online message board, began what they called 'Operation O-KKK,' to see if they could trick the wider world — and especially, liberals and the mainstream media — into believing that the innocuous gesture was actually a clandestine symbol of white power."

Actual white supremacists soon adopted the gesture, and the Anti-Defamation League now includes it in an online "Hate Symbols Database." "Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during a March 2019 courtroom appearance soon after his arrest for allegedly murdering 50 people in a shooting spree at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand," the ADL entry explains.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted on all charges last year after he shot three men during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, also made the gesture in a photo taken with members of the Proud Boys after he was released on bail. He later said he didn't know it was a "symbol for white supremacy," The Daily Beast reported.

"The concern about the hand gesture was brought to our attention by our apparel provider and others, and we decided to move forward with a revised Herbie Husker logo," Nebraska Athletics said in a statement to The Associated Press. "The revised logo is now the only Herbie Husker mark available to licensees."