In the two days following former President Donald Trump’s appearance in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday in support of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, numerous high-profile leftist commentators suggested attendees gave Trump the Nazi salute when they pointed their index fingers outward in solidarity during his speech.

The gesture doesn’t very closely resemble the Sieg Heil gesture that German fascists made to signal adherence to Adolf Hitler in the 1930s and ’40s, in which saluters held all their right-hand fingers side-by-side. Progressive pundits nonetheless exclaimed, with varied degrees of self-assurance, that Trump supporters were adverting to either Nazism or the conspiracy-trafficking QAnon movement, or both. 

“The display bore an uncanny resemblance to the infamous Nazi salute,” the formerly conservative and now far-left Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote on Monday. “The delusional incitement and zombie-like response should put to rest the notion that President Biden (or anyone) should be ‘reaching out’ to these people. They are unreachable, and pretending otherwise misleads voters.”

Rubin wrote with certainty that the finger-raising was a “QAnon symbol.” That assertion elicited sharp reproof from conservative talk-show host Erick Erickson, often a strong critic of the ex-president.

The Washington Post has finally allowed its columnists to fully and openly compare Republicans to Nazis,” Erickson lamented on Twitter in response to Rubin’s column. “I know Jenn Rubin has some serious issues, but this should be a bridge too far. That it is not and is acceptable to the Washington Post is a bad sign.”

Some commentators who were quick to excoriate the former president and his fans admitted they didn’t know the origin of the finger-pointing gesture.

“Not even Trump forums know why his followers held up one finger at his rally tonight,” NBC News reporter Ben Collins wrote after watching the Ohio “Save America” rally. “Some people think it’s for Where We Go 1 We Go All — the QAnon catchphrase. Others think it’s to symbolize America First. Whatever it is, it’s deeply weird and I haven’t seen it before.” 

Leftists’ insistence that those who gathered at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown acceded to fascism will likely outrage political fence-sitters at what they may determine is an unfair smear of Trump supporters, retired Vanderbilt political science professor Carol Swain opined via Twitter. 

“I suspect this media clip will backfire and bringing more liberal Americans to the conservative time,” Swain tweeted. 

Trump opponents have also objected to the music played in the background during Saturday’s event, saying, as per a New York Times report, that it “sounds strikingly” like a QAnon theme song called “Wwg1wga,” an abbreviation of the movement’s slogan. The former president’s aides have said the song is actually called “Mirrors,” a work of the composer Will Van de Crommert. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo JD Vance and His Supporters” by JD Vance.