Mary Hart, a television icon, local resident and long-time Mistress of Ceremonies of the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Awards Gala, is receiving backlash after some believed she flashed a ‘white power’ sign at President Trump’s Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore.

Hart, 69, a former Miss South Dakota winner, made an appearance in her home state on Friday to host the Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration as Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived on Air Force One.

But Hart’s speculated use of a white power hand gesture left some audience members shocked and social media users outraged.  Some are referring to the former Entertainment Tonight host as “Mary Heartless.”

At issue is Hart’s alleged use of a white power hand gesture.

‘Thank you, incredible audience. You have been here for hours!’ Hart said at the rally as she joined her thumbs and index fingers while stretching out her remaining three fingers.  Some argue it is a white power symbol.

The hand symbol, once harmless and typically meaning ‘OK’, was initially associated with ‘white power’ as an online joke, but has since been adopted by fringe racist figures.

‘By 2019, at least some white supremacists seem to have abandoned the ironic or satiric intent behind the original trolling campaign and used the symbol as a sincere expression of white supremacy’, according to The Anti-Defamation League.

However, the ambiguous nature of the gesture is part of the appeal to extremists, according to the Daily Mail.

The historic hand sign for OK — touching the forefinger to thumb with other three fingers raised — is a formerly innocent symbol that has recently been co-opted by the far right.

The symbol’s co-option by racists began as a joke on far-right messaging site 4Chan – where users took an innocent gesture and pretended there was a hidden meaning behind it, hoping to trick left-leaning people into outrage.

But the joke escalated and soon the symbol was being widely used among far-right extremists, leading some people to conclude it has changed its meaning.

One of the outraged is local activist Bill Holzhauer of Cathedral City.

“I think the picture speaks for itself, it shows the intent and the purpose of the entire event,” Holzhauer told Uken Report. “It’s sickening when families’ lives are being torn apart by COVID 19 that a local would participate in what was presented as a patriotic event. She has cast a shadow of hate across the Coachella Valley in one photo. She does not represent us and now because of her actions people will assume that the valley is in support of racism.”

Holzhauer told Uken Report that he plans on speaking at the next Palm Springs City Council meeting  as well as reaching out to organizers of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.meetHolzhauer is also calling for her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars to be removed. She was inducted last year.

Hart most recently led the festivities along Palm Canyon Drive as the 1029 Celebrity Grand Marshal for the 27th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade.

“Racism must never tolerated and must be removed,” Holzhauer said in a Facebook post.

Image Sources

  • Mary Hart: White House YouTube