Liberal legal scholar Jonathan Turley observed that an NBC News national security contributor, Frank Figluizzi,
“voiced a bizarre criticism of President Donald Trump after Trump ordered flags to be flown at half mast because of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Figluizzi said that the date, August 8th, meant that the shorthand date of 8/8 could be viewed as a reference to 88 which could be a reference to HH (the eighth letter in the alphabet) which could be viewed as a salute to “Heil Hitler.”
Figluizzi went on to say that this was an example of the “ignorance of the adversary… The numbers 88 are very significant in the neo-Nazi and white supremacy movement.” Really.
This reference is so obvious and so hurtful that I had never heard of it. Maybe it’s like the Masons’ double secret handshake and code words. If I misuse one of them, will I be assaulted with a trowel? We could go on about “reader response theory” and “preferred pronouns,” but that would divert us from a more serious (?!?!) consideration of the actual number.
Our first stop has to be the AntiDefamation League. If anyone would know about Nazi symbolism and its hateful impact, this Jewish organization would know. And certainly, since the President’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Jewish, there’s no way they would let such an insult slip by.
“88 is a white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler. One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis.”
OMG! A few hundred nutjobs have a specific symbol they use in private conversations and publications that no one else reads. It’s obvious that everyone should be mind readers and avoid using those numbers. But what about a Jewish male child born on August 1? He must be circumcised “on the eighth day” (Lev 12:3). But a bris is a celebration of the child’s life and his covenant relationship with Yahweh. Must the Jews change Torah because Yahweh’s preferred day might be misconstrued? Let us consider what else the ADL says.
“It should be noted that 88 can be found in non-extremist contexts. The number is used by ham radio operators to mean “hugs” or “hugs and kisses.” Also, a number of NASCAR drivers, including several very well-known ones, have used the number 88, resulting in various automobile stickers and other forms of merchandise sporting that number.”
To which we might add that hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros wore number 88. And nine – count-em – nine pro football Hall of Famers also wore the number, with exactly one white player in the mix. Seven were black and one Hispanic. So the NFL and NHL are racist as well. Hmmm…
The basic idea behind the “88” usage Figluizzi complained about is that letters stand for numbers. This ancient gematria was used as late as the Roman Empire before Roman numerals were invented. Arab mathematicians moved away from it by inventing the numerals we use today. But that hasn’t stopped moderns from toying with it, fueled by speculation about the “number of the beast” in Revelation 13:18.
“666” has been applied to a vast number of personages. Early on, Roman Emperor Nero was called the “Beast” because a variant spelling of his name added to 666. Islam’s prophet Mohammed got tagged because of an obscure multinational transformation of his name. “Ronald Wilson Reagan” was said to be the Beast since each of his three names have six letters. As a teacher of biblical interpretation, I have to condemn all of these as lacking any foundation whatever. And that brings me to the conclusion of this rant.
There is no rational basis for making the claim that Figluizzi makes. Donald Trump could be sending “hugs and kisses” to the survivors and families of the victims. Of course, that assumes that he is familiar with Ham Radio lingo, which developed in the Morse Code environment (something else I have been part of). “88” was much shorter to send than “hugs and kisses.”
As Jonathan Turley notes, Figluizzi’s claim is “perfectly insane.” And since Turley is an accomplished attorney, he may be using the term in its legal sense: incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. Of course, that seems to be quite common on the Left.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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