Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has joined forces with the Anti Defamation League to “take back the popular internet meme from racists and use the frog’s likeness as a force for good.”
“The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is joining forces with the artist who created ‘Pepe the Frog’ in an effort to take back the popular internet meme from racists and use the frog’s likeness as a force for good,” announced the ADL in a statement. “Pepe artist Matt Furie reached out to ADL after a proliferation of hateful Pepe memes appeared on the internet and social media, prompting ADL to designate the frog as a calling card of racists in its online database of visual hate symbols.”
“To that end, Furie will create a series of positive Pepe memes and messages, which ADL will promote on its social media channels with the hashtag, #SavePepe,” it continued.
“ADL will encourage others to retweet and share positive images of the frog an in attempt to rehabilitate him and move his image out of the realm of hate speech,” concluded the organization.
The cartoon frog was added to the ADL’s hate symbol database in September, where it currently sits alongside the swastika, Nazi SS lightning bolts, and various Ku Klux Klan imagery, since prompting many users to fight back against the ADL’s ruling, branding it a “war on memes.”
Hillary Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, Katy Tur, and even Louise Mensch’s Heat Street have also branded the cartoon frog as a symbol for white supremacy, seemingly basing their claims on a Daily Beast article that interviewed two notorious trolls, Jared Taylor Swift and Paul Town.
During the interview, Swift and Town attempted to link the meme to white supremacy, with Swift boasting that he had managed to trick the media afterwards. Pepe has since been used as a scapegoat by the left to brand internet-dwelling conservatives, libertarians, and even Donald Trump Jr., who happened to post a fan image including the popular meme, as racist.
“Pepe was never intended to be used as a symbol of hate,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblat. “The sad frog was meant to be just that, a sad frog. We are going to work with Matt and his community of artists reclaim Pepe so that he might be used as a force for good, or at the very least to help educate people about the dangers of prejudice and bigotry.”
Greenblat’s description of Pepe’s original depiction as a “sad frog” demonstrate his ignorance of the meme’s origins. Pepe the Frog first gained popularity depicted as a smiling character accompanied by the phrase, “Feels good man,” in memes.
“It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate,” said Furie. “It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate.”
“As the creator of Pepe, I condemn the illegal and repulsive appropriations of the character by racist and fringe groups,” he continued. “The true nature of Pepe, as featured in my comic book, ‘Boys Club,’ celebrates peace, togetherness and fun. I aim to reclaim the rascally frog from the forces of hate and ask that you join me in making millions of new, joyful Pepe memes that share the light hearted spirit of the original chilled-out champion.”
Furie is currently scheduled to speak at the ADL’s “Never Is Now” summit, where the topic will be “online hate.”