Anti-Defamation League deems Pepe the Frog meme an anti-Semitic hate symbol.
The fight against anti-Semitism has now resulted in “Pepe the Frog” being declared a hate symbol. After a series of hate posts made against Jews on online forums using Pepe the Frog, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) declared the popular meme as a hate symbol. The decision to add Pepe the Frog to its online database of hate symbols was announced by ADL through a press release on Tuesday.
Pepe the Frog in itself does not have anti-Semitic connotations. It started out as a comic character, which was later used on social media as a meme to describe emotions across a variety of situations. The facial expressions of Pepe the Frog have often given cause to people to laugh and find something relatable in a humorous way. However, a trend was noticed where the meme found to be increasingly used to spread anti-Semitic sentiments through racist humor.
Bigots love to use symbols to market hate.
We have added ‘Pepe the Frog’ meme to the hate symbol database https://t.co/E2b0updsHK
— ADL New England (@ADL_NewEngland) September 29, 2016
Pepe the Frog was slowly fading into obscurity and then the ADL dragged it back into the spotlight. Basically giving trolls ammo.
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 29, 2016
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan A. Greenblatt, expressed his disappointment, “These anti-Semites have no shame. They are abusing the image of a cartoon character, one that might at first seem appealing, to harass and spread hatred on social media.”
Pepe the Frog's anti-Semitic connotation began when the “alt-right” began using it to spread their white supremacist ideology. The alt-right is a movement that seeks to bring back the old ideas of white supremacy over other ethnic groups. It also seeks to recast the old norms of gender inequality, conservative beliefs and racial discrimination back in fashion. The alt-right is often associated with Donald Trump, who critics accuse of promoting racial discrimination. As such, the alt-right began posting memes that combine racist thoughts intended to be humorous.
Pepe the Frog memes have just been placed on the ADL list of hate symbols for white supremacy, along with the Swastika and Confederate Flag.
— Olly S ? (@olly3661) September 29, 2016
The memes reached the peak of racism when a post was published of Pepe in a yarmulke, a Jewish skull-cap, sporting a Hitler-like mustache. The meme has been making rounds on the internet, spreading anti-Jewish messages, prompting the ADL to mark Pepe as another hate symbol.
Anti-Semitism has been on a rise for a very long time now on online platforms, especially Reddit and 4chan. Jewish users, especially journalists, have been targeted by alt-rightists, prodding other alt-rightists to join in attacking these journalists. This targeted attacks have recently prompted the ADL to start a new department to specifically tackle this issue. As of now, Pepe fans are disappointed that their favorite meme has now become a “hate symbol.”
- The Verge
- Anti-Defamation League – “ADL Adds ‘Pepe the Frog’ Meme, Used by Anti-Semites and Racists, to Online Hate Symbols Database”
- Anti-Defamation League – “Hate on Display”
- CBS News