GIBSON: "Joining me to talk about this, Malcolm Nance, author and MSNBC contributor. You are a Navy veteran. What is your take on this?"
NANCE: "I am an old Navy veteran. That is bad for this take since I am a chief. Let me tell you as an old chief I take a very dim view of their behavior in front of the camera. I cannot tell you whether it was a white power symbol or whether it was the make you look game. One of them appeared to be the make you look game. The other didn’t. You know what? I’m going to leave it to the commandant of West Point. The commander of the U.S. Naval academy who, believe me, they are going to be going through this with a scythe. The appearance of dignity of West Point and the naval academy have been breached and that is precisely why by tomorrow morning we are going to have some very decisive looks into precisely what happened. Sign of the times? Why do we see more and more of these sentiments?"
NANCE: "We are not sure whether we are seeing that sentiment. As you know, alt-right hijacked the okay symbol doing this in front of, you know, television cameras and photographs, which makes the symbol WP for white power. For a long time the media was playing this role and believing that that was just a hoax that was being used. It is now being used everywhere as a symbol of white supremacy, white power, pro-Trumpism. We have seen police officers, including one who was on a security detail for the vice president, was fired because they were using these symbols. But, you know, there does exist this subculture within the armed forces that plays this stupid little game in which you put your, you know, an okay symbol below the waist and the other person has to try to put his finger through it or you get punched. That has been around since before my time in the armed forces, and my father’s time in World War II. But what we are seeing now is you may be seeing people who have, you know, not doing good order and discipline in the ranks, but you may also be seeing people who have an opportunity to present a white power symbol. And again we are not going to be the arbiters of this. The armed forces are, and they are going to take an extremely dim view of it."
GIBSON: "Every single — anybody who played basketball knows that’s also a sign for the three-pointer. So like we said, it’s all about intent. Back to the students, what disciplinary action do you think these students could possibly face?"
NANCE: "Well, they are already facing it because by the time that they got back to their buses to go back to the academy or up at West Point they will have been identified by their senior non-commissioned officers or senior cadets who were actually very clear who they were. By that point it will have gone up the chain of command. By to when they arrived back at the academies, and preliminary investigations have been started at the cadet leadership level, not to mention a large hammer coming down from the commandant’s office and commander’s office at the naval academy. This is now a national scandal even though it might not be a scandal. But you know what? We are going to find out and all of their senior non-commissioned officers, senior ranking officers are going to be coming down on top of them like a ton of bricks because they have disgraced the armed forces, whether they were, as we say, lallygagging and playing around, or whether they actually had the intent to make that symbol in front of a national audience."
GIBSON: "Malcolm, thank you, sir, for your expertise and your service."