'Hook 'em Horns' sign has different meanings in other cultures
FORT WORTH, Texas -- President Bush, who's had difficulty at times holding alliances together, may have inadvertently ruffled feathers overseas by flashing a "Hook 'em Horns" sign during last week's inaugural parade.
Bush and the rest of the first family raised their right hands in the traditional "'Horns" salute -- customary among University of Texas Longhorns -- as the school's band marched in front of the presidential reviewing stand Thursday.
But in Norway and some other parts of the world, a nearly identical hand gesture is considered an insult or, worse, a sign of the devil. In Mediterranean countries, it implies a man is a cuckold, the victim of an unfaithful wife. In parts of Africa, it's used as curse and in many European countries it's used to ward off "the evil eye." In Russia, it's a symbol for so-called New Russians, the newly rich, arrogant and poorly educated.
A headline in the Norwegian Internet newspaper "Nettavisen" expressed outrage at the first family's collective gesture last week, saying "Shock greeting from Bush daughter" above a photo of Bush's daughter, Jenna, smiling and waving the sign, according to The Associated Press.
The originator of the "Hook 'em, Horns" sign said he doesn't see what all the fuss is about.
"I think 'silly' would be a very kind word for it," said H.K. Pitts, 73, who was a University of Texas student in 1955 when he came up with the hand signal. "It's much to do about nothing," said Pitts, who went on to teach history at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
"I wouldn't think many Norwegians up there watch Longhorn football," he added. "So I'm not concerned about it that much, to tell you the truth."
Chris Plonsky, women's athletic director at University of Texas-Austin, defended the hand gesture: "It is sort of a symbol that is unifying. You know you're around a Longhorn when you see that symbol," she said. http://www.staugustine.com/stories/012305/nat_2842992.shtml