"Rockefinger,” “Rockefeller salute” and “Rockefeller gesture” are names for the middle finger protruding from a clenched fist—also called “the finger,” “the bird,” “the one-finger salute” and “the one-finger peace sign.” United States Vice President Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979) made the gesture to hecklers in 1976 at a campaign stop in Binghamton, NY.
The gesture is usually called “giving (someone) the finger,” but the Rockefeller nicknames are still sometimes used, especially in New York State (when Rockefeller served as governor).
Wikipedia: Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (July 8, 1908 – January 26, 1979) was the 41st Vice President of the United States, the 49th governor of New York, a philanthropist, and a businessman.
A leader of the liberal wing of the Republican Party, he was Governor of New York from 1959 to 1973, where he launched many construction and modernization projects. A member of two of the world’s richest families, he failed repeatedly in his attempts to become president, but he was appointed Vice President in 1974. He served from 1974 to 1977, but did not join the 1976 GOP national ticket with President Gerald Ford. He retired from politics when his term as Vice President was over.
After Gerald Ford’s elevation to the Presidency, Rockefeller was named Vice-President, and he was initially mentioned and reportedly considered running for President for a fourth time in 1976, if Ford declined to seek his own term. During the subsequent campaign, Rockefeller was caught on a news camera “flipping the bird” at a group of demonstrators at a Republican Party rally at New York State University. This gesture was referred to thereafter as “The Rockefeller Salute”. Bob Dole, who was also there campaigning with Ford, was asked by a reporter why he didn’t join Rockefeller in “the salute”. He replied, “I have trouble with my right arm”.
one-finger peace sign n. the raised middle finger, intended as an insult; one-finger salute; the finger; the bird; Rockefeller gesture.
1987 Jamie Simons, Jon Lapidese Los Angeles Times (July 5) “Reebok Diplomacy; Allan Affeldt of Newport Beach, the Activist Behind the Peace March on Moscow” p. 16: Last year, as he and 500 others walked across the country on the Great Peace March, onlookers—“Some with a smile, some displaying the one-finger “peace sign’” as one marcher put it—yelled: “Why don’t you go do this in Russia?”
1994 Tom Hritz Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) (Oct. 25) “The right to bear arms and fingers” p. B1: After Kimberly flashed the one-fingered peace sign at a fellow motorist last week, she was cited for disorderly conduct, found guilty by a district justice and fined $170.…Do you really think the constitutional framers had the finger in mind when they wrote the First Amendment?
1999 Judith Tarr, Harry Turtledove Household Gods (Sept.) p. 382: Nicole started to flip him off, but she hadn’t ever seen the one-fingered peace sign here.
Google News Archive
17 September 1976, Ellensburg (WA) Daily Record, pg. 3, col. 4:
In Binghamton, Rockefeller responded to derisive gestures from hecklers by raising his own middle finger to them. Dole, whose right arm is crippled from war wounds, joked that he did not respond in kind also because “my reactions are limited.”
23 September 1976, New York (NY) Times, “Carter in Playboy” by William Safire, pg. 41:
New ground in this area of political speech was broken in Binghamton, N.Y., by Nelson Rockefeller. Angered by hecklers, he returned their salute, raising his middle finger and jabbing it upward. That gesture is unambiguous. By any standard, it is intended to be, is taken to be, and is—obscene.
Google News Archive
25 September 1976, Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), pg. 4, col. 6:
It was beneath the dignity of a responsible press as the Rockefeller salute was beneath the dignity of our country’s leadership.
19 October 1976, Anderson (IN) Daily Bulletin, “Things I’d Like to See” by David R. Jackson, pg. 4, col. 4:
. Henry Kissinger giving Jimmy Carter a Nelson Rockefeller salute.
. Jimmy Carter giving Henry Kissinger a Nelson Rockefeller salute.
Google News Search
26 December 1976, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, TV- Radio Dial, pg. 43, col. 4:
It was Jackie Mason—and he wasn’t thumbing his nose, but was making a more profound gesture, similar to the famed Nelson Rockefeller “salute.”
By Roland Flint
Published by Dryad Press
You saw it too, when he gave those hecklers the finger, now called the rockefinger: “Sir, do you think that was an appropriate gesture for a Vice President to make?”
Airwaves: a collection of radio editorials from the Golden Apple
By William O’Shaughnessy
New York, NY: Fordham Univ Press
Behold even the cocky twenty-year-old Steve Hunt, who earlier this year gave thirty-five thousand people a glorious Rockefeller salute with his middle finger after the crowd got on him for an
August 29, 1977
Maledicta: Finger Gesture
Davis’ Infamous Finger Salute
Has Had a Big Hand in History
San José Mercury News
June 20, 1996
By Michael Oricchio
In 1976, then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller flipped off hecklers at a campaign stop in Binghamton, N.Y. That incident gave the maneuver a new moniker, according to San Francisco folklorist Archie Green: ‘’People who wrote about it began to call it “the Rockfeller gesture.’ ‘’
Hatchet Jobs and Hardball:
The Oxford dictionary of American Political Slang
By Grant Barrett
Published by Oxford University Press US
Rockefeller gesture n. [see 1996 quot.] an obscene gesture of contempt made by closing the first and extending the middle finger, often with a jab upward; the bird; the finger; L. digitus impudicus.
1986 Chicago Tribune (Jan. 6) C1:
He saw them give the old thumbs-up (a sign of approval except in certain place, such as Sardinia, where it is tantamount to the infamous Rockefeller Gesture).
1996 San Jose Mercury News (June 20):
In 1976, then Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller flipped off hecklers at a campaign stop in Binghamton, NY. That incident gave the maneuver a new moniker, according to San Francisco folklorist Archie Green. “People who wrote about it began to call it ‘the Rockefeller Gesture.’”
Armand’s Rancho del Cielo
Monday, November 3, 2008
Obama Gives McCain The Bird
There he goes again! Brack Obama gave his opponent the bird, this time to John McCain.
Back in the primaries, Obama was caught giving Hillary Clinton the bird or, as we used to say, “The Rockefeller Salute.”
New York (NY) Times
Abbreve That Template
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Published: May 21, 2009
In a recent column on signalese — communication via hand gesture, from the Churchillian “V” sign to the Rockefinger — I noted the lack of an agreed-upon signal to acknowledge the unexpected courtesy of fellow drivers.
New York (NY) Times
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Published: May 29, 2009
Drawback: “I like that three-ring sign, but I’m told it’s like an upraised middle finger to a Brazilian.” Others warned of that Rockefinger meaning in other cultures.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, May 30, 2009 • Permalink