Pepe the Frog has been added to the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbol Database, where it currently sits alongside symbols such as the Nazi swastika, burning crosses, and SS lightning bolts.
“In recent years, with the growth of the ‘alt right’ segment of the white supremacist movement, a segment that draws some of its support from some of the above-mentioned Internet sites, the number of ‘alt right’ Pepe memes has grown, a tendency exacerbated by the controversial and contentious 2016 presidential election,” wrote the ADL on their Pepe page. “Though Pepe memes have many defenders, not least the character’s creator, Matt Furie, who has called the alt right appropriation of the meme merely a ‘phase,’ the use of racist and bigoted versions of Pepe memes seems to be increasing, not decreasing.”
The ADL’s entry of Pepe the Frog into the Hate Symbol Database is accompanied with various modified images, portraying the cartoon frog as a Nazi, a Ku Klux Klan member, a negative stereotype of a Jew, and a black person.
Hate on Display, otherwise known as the Hate Symbol Database, was launched as a definitive collection of some of the world’s most hateful icons and symbols. It currently includes such entries as the Nazi swastika, the burning cross, “1488”, the Blood Drop Cross, the Confederate flag, the iron cross, Ku Klux Klan robes, a noose, the apartheid-era South African flag, SS lightning bolts, and Stormfront’s logo.
It is unknown as to why Pepe the Frog, a cartoon frog meme whose minimal links to “white supremacism” have been proven to be the result of two notorious trolls, is listed among the other symbols on the site, but it is likely to do with the debunked recent reports from both the mainstream media and the Clinton Campaign that claim Pepe to be a new symbol for white supremacy.
Hillary Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, Katy Tur, and even Louise Mensch’s Heat Street have all 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 (who has “PARODY ACCOUNT” in his Twitter bio) and Paul Town.
During the interview, Swift and Town attempted to link the meme with 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.