Popular Alt-Right Meme Deemed Hate Symbol By Anti-Defamation League

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September 28, 2016 10:29 a.m.

Where the alt-right sees a patron saint, a civil rights organization sees a symbol of hate.

The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday added Pepe the Frog, the comic-character-turned-meme-turned-alt-right-mascot often invoked by the Donald Trump campaign, to its list of hate symbols.

Pepe, which the nonprofit group notes did not originally have anti-Semitic and racist connotations, has become a popular meme and identifying symbol of the far-right movement on the fringes of the internet. Pepe is now often depicted wearing Nazi garb or Ku Klux Klan robes and drawn in comics that make references to the Holocaust.

The ADL notes these images have been used to harass minorities online.

“Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the group’s CEO, said in a statement. “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.”

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If the symbol looks familiar, it may be because Pepe is frequently used online in relation to the Trump campaign. Users have drawn him with sporting Trump’s infamous hairdo, a meme he tweeted out earlier this year. Pepe also made an appearance on a meme made following Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comments, putting him alongside Trump’s children and symbols of conservative media:

The group has added Pepe to its “Hate on Display” database, archiving symbols used to harass and spread hate online. Other symbols recently added include the (((echo))), used by far-right Twitter users to point out other Jewish users for harassment.

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