Contextual Hate

Symbols, terms, phrases, and referenced themes that have been co-opted by hate-promoting groups and ascribed with contextual meaning.

"Okay" Hand Gesture

In 2017, alt-right activists on alternative social media sites like 4Chan began a deliberate campaign to spread the use of the single-handed gesture. In theory, three fingers form a ‘W’ while the index finger and thumb form a ‘P’ - the acronym for White Power.

The gesture was chosen because of its resemblance to a popular gesture representing “okay”, in the hopes that people would eventually become polarized over whether or not the signal was necessarily racist. In 2019, The Anti-Defamation League officially recognized the gesture as a hate symbol, but emphasizes that “use of the okay symbol in most contexts is entirely innocuous and harmless.

A drawing of a Nazi soldier with a gas mask flashing a White Power/okay sign and saying 'Ok Jew.'

Burger King Crown

Some Burger King restaurants give out free cardboard crowns. The promotional give-away has become a contextual hate symbol after an individual wearing a paper Burger King Crown was ejected from an October 2020 flight after shouting racial slurs at a Black passenger. The crown has since been used online as a semi-ironic symbol of praise for one’s hateful rhetoric, particularly in the context of anti-Black racism. It is often paired with other symbols like the skull mask or Pit Viper sunglasses.

A picture of Adolf Hitler wearing a Burger King crown.

Carillon Sacré-Coeur

An early version of the current day flag of Québec which includes both nationalistic and religious imagery such as the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was used by French Catholic nationalists from 1903 to 1935. It continues to find use with contemporary ultra-nationalist, traditionalist Catholic groups who view it as a symbol of Québec’s past. The flag often appears online with images of past Québec Premier Maurice Duplessis, or hung on the walls of far-right content producers.

Like other Canadian flags that have been appropriated, the Carillon Sacré Coeur is not an inherently hateful symbol, and continues to be used by some mainstream civil society institutions in Québec today. Context must be taken into account when evaluating its appearance.

A blue Pepe in front of a Carillon Sacré Coeur.

Celtic Cross

A specific version of the Celtic Cross has its origin as a white supremacist symbol in the 1930s and 1940s. After the Second World War, several white supremacist organization and movements adopted the symbol. It is still used by a variety of white supremacists today. Stormfront, the Internet’s first white supremacist forum, notably used it as part of its logo. Because it is used across different subcultures, not all uses of the Celtic Cross are hateful.

The symbol was originally a sun wheel, but has since been reinterpreted as a crucifix. Not all appearances of Celtic Crosses are hate symbols, and the term can refer to a variety of symbols used by Christians, pagans, and Celtic nationalists featuring a cross encircled by a ring.

A Celtic Cross cropped from a white power fitness group's propaganda.

Clasped Hands

Clasped Hands can be a visual shorthand for the antisemitic Happy Merchant meme. The gesture is meant to represent conspiratorial stereotypes about Jewish plots and greed.

The close-cropped hands of the Happy Merchant. They are clasped and filled in with a Star of David. A caption below reads "[shekels intensify]".

Dancing Israelis

An antisemitic term used by white nationalists in reference to conspiracy theories involving 5 Israeli men who were detained for displaying ‘puzzling behaviour’ during the 9/11 terror attacks. The term implies that Israelis were involved in, or perhaps masterminded the attack. Its use in hateful online circles gained prominence after American white nationalist Nicholas J. Fuentes directed his followers to reference it in public stunts.

A list of "Right Wing 'Conspriacy Theories'". It includes "Dancing Israelis".

Day of Action

Term used by some accelerationists, particularly neo-Nazis, to describe mass killings. It is used both in praise of mass killers like Anders Breivik and Alexandre Bissonnette, as well as to encourage new mass killings. The term is also widely used by political parties and other advocacy-oriented organizations - as such, hateful usages of the term are highly contextual and must be evaluated carefully.

See also: Sainthood

Calendar date listing two "Days of Action", Alexander Brisonnette, and Eric Rudolph.

Death Rune

The Death Rune is a flipped variation of the Life Rune. Like the Life Rune, it was used by the SS to signify death. After the Second World War the Rune continues to be used by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, particularly in the context of celebrating fallen allies.

Not all uses of the Death Rune are hateful, and context has to be carefully taken into account. The symbol is not to be confused with Death Runes from the popular RuneScape video game.

See also: Life Rune, Odal Rune, Schutzstaffel Runes

A Death Rune on a shed behind Ted Kaczynski.

Early Life

A meme used by antisemitic groups and individuals to call attention to the Jewish ethnicity of prominent individuals by pushing users to look at the ‘Early Life’ section of their Wikipedia page in the hopes of finding that the individual grew up in a Jewish family. It is most often used to spread antisemitic notions that Jews form a global world elite that is responsible for all of the world’s problems, and is used in similar ways to the triple parentheses symbol. However, it is also a popular meme in Jewish Internet culture, and not all of its uses are hateful.

A four panel meme showing a monkey saying 'Evolution can you give me a pattern-seeking brain to avoid predators?'. A strain of DNA then asks 'To avoid predators?'. Upon receiving an affirmative answer, the monkey then sees Patrick Bateman from American Psycho pointing at the Early Life tab on a wikipedia page.

Honk Honk

Honk Honk is a slogan associated with ‘Clown World’ memes on 4Chan and Reddit used to convey absurdist nihilism. Honk Honk’s initials ‘HH’ are a common code for Heil Hitler and it is a common catchphrase of Honkler, a nihilist clown-themed version of Pepe that espouses extreme bigotry.

In early 2022 Honk Honk became strongly associated with Canada’s “Freedom Convoy”, a convoy of anti-vaccine and anti-government activists that used vehicle horns as a symbol of their eventual occupation of Ottawa. Its resurgence was due to both the widespread use of car and truck horns as a protest tool, and by a concentrated effort from white supremacists involved in the convoy. Most individuals sharing Convoy memes that include "Honk Honk" do not mean to express support for Hitler, but there are those that do, and the memes being shared by those that don’t utilize imagery and vocabulary associated earlier, bigoted expressions.

A four panel comic showing Canada geese saying 'Honk'. The last panel reveals their brains are inhabited by Honkler, who presses honk butons.

Jogger

Memes in far-right online spaces attacking "joggers" are references to Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was murdered in a racially-motivated attack while jogging in 2020. Numerous memes were made spreading disinformation about Arbery in the aftermath of his murder and during the ensuing trial. Jogger is sometimes used as a coded anti-Black slur to describe Black people, to invoke the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and to evade censors made for hate speech.

A picture of two Orthodox Jews on bikes. Above, a caption reads 'all this talk about joggers, but no one mentions the bikes'.

Life Rune

Also known as: Elhaz Rune, Algiz Rune

The Life Rune was a name given to the Algiz or Elhaz Rune appropriated by the Nazis. In the context of Nazi pseudoarcheological beliefs it came to symbolize “life” and was widely referred to as the Life Rune in Germany. The symbol was used in Nazi uniforms and iconography, including by the SS body responsible for the “Lebensborn” racial birth program responsible for promoting “Aryans” and the Sturmabteilung. The Life Rune has an inverted counterpart, the Death Rune.

After the Second World War the Life rune continues to be used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. In Canada, the Heritage Front used a Life Rune in their logo. Not all uses of the Life Rune are hateful, and context has to be carefully taken into account.

See also: Death Rune, Odal Rune, Schutzstaffel Runes

A life rune: three points stemming from one line, aimed upwards. It is white and a forest is in the background.

Naming Them

“Naming them”, or “naming the Jews” is an antisemitic concept promoted by white supremacists. When a problem that can be blamed on the Jewish people is brought up without specific names, proponents of “naming the Jew” will advocate for a specific person, practice, or country to be blamed. This can mean naming an individual with a recognizable Jewish name, naming the practice of Judaism, or naming Israel as an alleged cause of whatever is being discussed. Though most often used in response to political discourse, the concept is also invoked in antisemitic memes as a way of espousing conspiratorial antisemitism in a way that might not be immediately recognized by people unfamiliar with the concept.

A parody of the GI Joe logo, which reads 'naming is half the battle' with a Star of David above the I.

Noose

The noose is a symbol of lynching in North America. It occasionally makes appearance at political gatherings to threaten opponents, such as the gallows constructed during the attempted insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. The noose may also appear in far-right memes as a visual shorthand for Day of the Rope, a white supremacist concept originating from The Turner Diaries. The appearance of a noose, even in extreme spaces, isn’t always explicitly hateful. There are numerous memes indicating suicidal feelings or intent that do not target hate against any community.

5 Wojaks filled in with flags surround a wojak filled in with a Canadian flag. The Canadian wojak is labelled "CUCK" with a yellow star. The other wojaks are: A New Zealand wojak with a rainbow flag on him, n Australia wojak with a Swastika on him, an Irish wojak who is being pushed by a U.K. wojak with a Swastika on him, and a U.S. wojak with a Swastika on him. In front of the Canadian wojak is a noose, as though he is about to be hanged.

Odal Rune

Also known as: Othala, Homeland Rune

Odal, also called Othala, is a runic letter appropriated from ancient Germanic alphabets by Nazi Germany. The rune represents “home” or “homeland” and most often appears as one of two different iterations: that with hooked “legs” and that without. Odals were used as the main iconography on the insignias of multiples divisions of the Waffen SS, Nazi Germany’s paramilitary wing. Since the Second World War, the Odal Rune has been a lasting, prominent symbol in a variety of white supremacist movements and appears in mediums including hate group logos, flags, tattoos, and internet memes.

The Odal, like other Germanic runes, is not always a symbol of hate. It is still used in Pagan culture for its original purposes and appears in popular culture representations of Nordic culture and mythology.

See also: Death Rune, Life Rune, Schutzstaffel Runes

An Odal Rune is placed for reference in the corner of a photograph of defaced campaign signs for Yvan Baker. The signs were defaced by Odals.

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman is the protagonist in the 2001 film American Psycho, portrayed by Christian Bale, who has become a meme character. Unlike the movie, which portrays Bateman as thin skinned, shallow and unduly violent, some online subcultures venerate his displays of male aggression, and use his likeness to symbolize praise for one’s extreme politics, in some cases to promote political violence. Due to the character’s expressed misogyny, he is sometimes used in memes to promote gendered violence.

Top: screenshot of Biden/Harris platform description introducing "a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women." Bottom: Patrick Bateman from American Psycho saying "I have to delete some posts".

Pepe the Frog

An early symbol of the alt-right, Pepe was appropriated from a comic book character of the same name. The comic’s creator, Matthew Furie, has repeatedly denounced white supremacists’ use of the character. Pepe is a versatile character whose smile is used to demonstrate ill intent in a wide variety of hate memes. Pepe’s face is often adapted to become an offensive caricature.

Alterations of Pepe based on Canadian iconography originated on the /pol board of 4Chan. Pepes imposed with Canadian flags or merged with visual representations of Canadian stereotypes are used to represent extremism, the alt-right, or 4Chan users in Canada.

Pepe sometimes appears in memes that are not hateful. For example, in 2019 Hong Kong activists used Pepe as a mascot for pro-democracy demonstrations. However, non-hateful uses of this symbol are uncommon in Canada.

Illustration of Pepe with a Swastika on his t-shirt. He is holding his arms wide and a rainbow spans accross his hands. In the rainbow are the words "KILL JEWS".

Pit Vipers

Distinctly branded line of sunglasses, often used as part of an unofficial uniform of white nationalist movements. Pit Vipers are used in hate memes, often alongside other contextual symbols like skull masks, to represent white supremacist accelerationism. Pit Vipers are popular sunglasses within subcultures outside of hate movements. Their use is not explicitly hateful, and the company has denounced the use of their products by hate groups.

A picture of a man taking off his Pit Vipers and staring. Next to him is a Tweet from the Daily Mirror sharing an article, which reads 'Adolf Hitler had a micro-penis, slept with his niece and liked to be kicked during sex'. Below, the man is now putting on his Pit Vipers, and sees the true meaning of the article: 'Oy vey! Hitler is still popular!'

Red Ensign

The Red Ensign was the civil ensign, nautical ensign, and unofficial flag for Canada from 1892 until 1965. In recent years, the Red Ensign has become a frequent fixture of rallies organized by hate groups, who view it as a symbol of Canada’s pre-multicultural and colonial past. Many memes referencing the Red Ensign often feature modified versions of the flag, for example by changing its colours.

Like other Canadian flags that have been appropriated, the Red Ensign is not an inherently hateful symbol. Context must be taken into account when evaluating its appearance.

Red Ensign flag waving in the wind. "KEEP CANADA CANADIAN" is on screen in front of it.

Roman Statues

Roman statues are used by followers of fascist movements and white nationalists to convey artistic achievement in a “Western” society. Roman architecture and art are also used to represent white nationalism under the false pretense that Rome was a white ethnostate. Roman statues are most commonly represented in neofascist movements in Fashwave images and as display pictures on social media. Roman statues were used in vaporwave imagery before their appropriation in fashwave.

Black and white photograph of a statue of Hercules fighting a serpant. Caption: "The reward of tolerance is degeneracy, thus the traditional man has the obligation to be intolerant. Embrace Culturual Virtuism"

Sainthood

In “Siege Culture”, an accelerationist neo-Nazi subculture, “sainthood” refers to an expanding pantheon of historic murderers who are treated as icons. The reverence of these figures is an accelerationist tactic used to inspire potential killings in the future. The practice was inspired by Siege’s calls for neo-Nazis to look for Charles Manson for inspiration. Although Manson and most other “saints” were influenced by white supremacy, mass murders in the name of other far-right ideologies - most often anti-governement and incel killings - are sometimes considered to be worthy of “sainthood”, as they benefit the movement’s goals. Memes praising “saints” such as Timothy Mcveigh, Ted Kaczynski, Anders Breivik, Dylann Roof, and Brenton Tarrant - as well as the days in which their murders were committed - are common in accelerationist neo-Nazi social media spaces.

A drawing of Anders Breivik Standing in front of a sonnenrad. Below, the death rune is present and text reads 'Let the Saints guide you'.

Skull Mask

Balaclavas and bandanas displaying the lower jaw of a skull over the wearer’s mouth, often dubbed ‘skull masks’, are the unofficial uniform of the modern far-right accelerationism movement. Their use in extremist circles was popularized by white supremacist groups associated with the Iron March Network, such as Atomwaffen Division, who featured it extensively in their propaganda.

In memes, they can be added to characters as an endorsement of far-right accelerationism, or to signify one’s status as an extremist. Despite their widespread use by white supremacist groups, skull masks are sometimes used in non-hateful video games and as part of Halloween costumes.

"The Four Covid Personality Types (spotted at the local grocery store)" demonstating a facemask wearer that "Believes in science", an unmasked face that "Denies science", a mask under the nose that "Doesn't understand science" and a skull mask baklava that "Denies the Holocaust".

Triple Parentheses

Also appears as: Echoes, ((( )))

Triple Brackets Three sets of parentheses, also known as “echoes”, are used on social media and online forums and applied to words describing a person or people to communicate in a derogatory manner that they are Jewish. They’re also sometimes used to imply that a non-Jewish target is secretly or unknowingly Jewish. The meme began as a verbal indication of a subject’s Jewish heritage on far right podcasts, and quickly became textual through parentheses.

Before widespread popularity, triple parentheses were an alternative to antisemitic slurs that avoided online hate speech sensors. Since becoming a well-known hate symbol, Jewish social media users have appropriated the triple parentheses as a positive symbol of Jewish pride.

A picture showing Leonardo DiCaprio in his role in Django, smiling and smoking a cigarette by a fireplace. Up top, text reads 'When you're at a party and someone mentions (((them))).

Tyr rune

Also known as: Tiwaz Rune

The Tyr Rune is an appropriated symbol that was widely used in Nazi Germany and was adopted by a Waffen-SS unit. The symbol is associated with a pagan God by the same name, and is used by neo-pagans in worship. Not all uses of the Tyr rune are hateful, and context has to be carefully taken into account.

Left: A plain black Tyr on a white background. It resembles an arrow. Right: Three black Tyr runes stacked atop another on a red background.

White Boy Summer

White Boy Summer was a slogan coined by actor/rapper Chet Hanks in 2021 to celebrate a summer with fewer COVID-19 restrictions in the United States. Though not hateful in intent, the slogan has been co-opted by white nationalists, oftentimes to celebrate what they view as victories for the white race or in opposition to the Black Lives Matter Summer in 2020. The term came to such prominence that it is often referenced without the use of text. It is often used in conjunction with other symbols like Pit Viper sunglasses or a Burger King crown.

A picture of the fight between Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley. The picture is heavily modified and Paul's face is covered by Pit Vipers and a skullmask. Above and below, a text reads 'A king must wear his crown, white boy summer must commence.'

Wolfsangel

The Wolfsangel symbol was traditionally used on German family coats of arms. It is said to be based on the design of a Germanic wolf trap. It was adopted by Nazi Germany and notably used on the insignias of many military divisions.

The Wolfsangel’s use predates fascism. Its appearance is not always explicitly hateful, but it should be viewed with suspicion. It continues to be a popular symbol in neo-Nazi movements. It is currently the centerpiece of the insignia alongside a Sonnenrad for the Azov Special Operations Detachment, a contingent of the Ukrainian National Guard associated with neo-Nazism. The Wolfsangel is also used in emblems for groups such as Aryan Nations and is a common neo-Nazi tattoo.

A man's tricep has a Wolfsangel tattoo on it. For reference, two Wolfsangels are placed on the image.

These lists are continually updated, and should not be considered comprehensive. Suggestions for future inclusions can be sent to neuberger [at] ujafed.org.

French translations of each symbol will be available in November 2022.

Hatepedia was produced by the Online Hate Research and Education Project, which is an initiative of the Holocaust Education Centre. For more information, please visit our website or contact us at neubeger [at] ujafed.org.

Hatepedia and OHREP have been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

Hatepedia et OHREP a été rendu possible en partie grâce au gouvernement du Canada.