Portland Press Herald music journalist Aimsel Ponti was so triggered by a sign she saw in Portland that she couldn’t help but share it with the world Wednesday.
“It’s ok to be white,” reads the sign, to which Ponti appended the comment: “And then there are the racists who stand out in a public spot in the middle of the day broadcasting their message in downtown Portland, Maine.”
Another Herald scribe, who has not one or two but three Ukrainian flags in her username, jokes: “Are you sure it’s not just that one guy? I only ask bc he can’t get help holding up his banner”.
The joke seems lost on Ponti.
“He doesn’t need help,” she clarifies. “It’s tied to the lamp post.”
In reacting this way to the message, Ponti appears to be falling for an old trolling campaign that started out on some alt-right message boards.
The originators of the devious prank sought to prove that you could spark a liberal media outcry by taking a statement that would be non-controversial for any other group and inserting “white.”
Some left-wing commentators have theorized that the seemingly innocuous phrase is actually a coded white supremacist message, with august bodies like the Anti-Defamation League saying that, while the original promulgators of the troll might have been innocent pranksters, the slogan has now been adopted by actual white supremacists and is now, therefore, hate speech.
So while it may be permissible — even praiseworthy — to hold up a sign that says “It’s OK to Be Native American” or “It’s OK to Be Asian,” it is not, in fact, okay to hold up a sign that says “It’s OK to Be W****.”
Tragically, thanks to Ponti’s tweet drawing attention to the irredeemably racist slogan, more than 50,000 people saw the demonstration than otherwise would have.