The University of Nebraska- Lincoln has altered its mascot logo to remove an “OK” hand gesture that white nationalists have co-opted in recent years.
The original logo featured a cartoon version of mascot Herbie Husker making the gesture: a pointer finger and thumb connected in a circle, with the remaining three fingers standing up.
But now, Herbie Husker will be depicted with just one finger up, signifying No. 1, available for licensing, the university’s athletics department confirmed Sunday.
“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,” the department said in a statement. “The process of changing the logo began in 2020, and we updated our brand guidelines in July of 2021.”
The change was first reported Friday by the Flatwater Free Press.
Some might be confused by the association of a common hand gesture with “white power,” but the symbol was adopted by well-known alt-right figures, such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, at least as early as 2015, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Internet trolls then adopted the symbol and created a plan on 4chan, a website that operates as a modern-day bulletin board, to flood social media with the symbol, the organization says. Users hoped to create upset and stimulate an overreaction to the symbol, it says.
The Anti-Defamation League added the gesture to its Hate on Display database in 2019, calling the 4chan plan in 2017 a “hoax” that was adopted by some white supremacists.
The Anti-Defamation League says that at some point, many people “abandoned the ironic or satiric intent behind the original trolling campaign and used the symbol as a sincere expression of white supremacy.”
Both organizations caution, however, that the symbol itself is not automatically a reason to believe someone might hold white supremacist ideals, as it has been a common gesture used across cultures for centuries.
The Associated Press contributed.
Source: This post first appeared on NBC News