Ignorant, Calculated, or Just Weird?

 

PepePipeHillary Clinton’s website has published an “explainer” about Pepe the Frog, an omnipresent character in the meme-verse. Despite being used in every possible way for years — many highly unsavory, this being the Age of the Internet — the Clinton machine explains that poor Pepe is “a symbol associated with white supremacy.” But how?

Pepe is a cartoon frog who began his internet life as an innocent meme enjoyed by teenagers and pop stars alike. But in recent months, Pepe’s been almost entirely co-opted by the white supremacists who call themselves the “alt-right.” They’ve decided to take back Pepe by adding swastikas and other symbols of anti-semitism and white supremacy.

Sounds legit, if you ignore the “almost entirely” and the equivalence of “white supremacists” and “the Alt-Right.” But what about the cooption? The source is described as “a prominent white-supremacist” via the Daily Beast. Although it turns out that rather than “prominent,” the source is better described as “anonymous.” The name? Maybe it’s @JaredTSwift or, perhaps, @PaulTown_, both of whom are referenced elsewhere in the piece. Or perhaps not.

It is, of course, easy to find offensive Pepe memes. But to ask people to think that every Pepe reference is always and necessarily an invocation or approval of white supremacy is an idea so ridiculous that only a Democrat or a journalist (but I repeat myself) could believe it.

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  1. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    So are you saying Hillary is singing a different Toon about Trump?

    I really would like to know where Kermit is on this issue.

    • #1
  2. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    The only place I’ve ever seen this meme is in anti-Semitic cartoons, and I see it there all the time. It is a staple of white nationalist online activity. Hillary and the Left lie about all sorts of things, but this is not one of them.

    • #2
  3. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    Son of Spengler:The only place I’ve ever seen this meme is in anti-Semitic cartoons, and I see it there all the time. It is a staple of white nationalist online activity. Hillary and the Left lie about all sorts of things, but this is not one of them.

    SoS,

    Why would they use that image? I can’t see a connection.

    Thanks for the info.

    • #3
  4. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    pepe is a 4chan thing.

    • #4
  5. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    10 cents:

    Son of Spengler:The only place I’ve ever seen this meme is in anti-Semitic cartoons, and I see it there all the time. It is a staple of white nationalist online activity. Hillary and the Left lie about all sorts of things, but this is not one of them.

    SoS,

    Why would they use that image? I can’t see a connection.

    Thanks for the info.

    I don’t know for certain. My understanding is that Pepe became popular as a rebellious figure. In that vein, someone edited an image to include a “Bane” mask, at which point it was picked up among users at 4chan and elsewhere to symbolize a “burn it down” attitude to polite society. It wasn’t a far leap from there to white nationalist use.

    But my understanding to the evolution is VERY limited, so I welcome correction by anyone with better information.

    Separately, here’s an example I see a lot of: image

    • #5
  6. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Pepe Explainer (trigger warning – Potty Mouth)

    • #6
  7. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Another explainer, with slightly less profanity but an incredibly annoying repeated mispronunciation of “began”.

    • #7
  8. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Wow. I thought it was Jabba the Hut and couldn’t figure out the reference.

    • #8
  9. She Member
    She
    @She

    I didn’t know the first thing about Pepe the Frog before I read this post, but that is one creepy, condescending website, in the link.

    • #9
  10. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    So the use of the Pepe the Frog meme is now de facto evidence of racism?

    This election, and the #Nevertrumpers, are getting ridiculous.

    • #10
  11. Jordan Inactive
    Jordan
    @Jordan

    You could say Pepe is part of a vast right-meme conspiracy.

    • #11
  12. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Meanwhile the (Russian owned) website, and former newspaper, The Independent, swallows it hook, line and sinker. Extra points for the Milo reference.

    • #12
  13. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei
    If you kick the interwebs, they kick back

    If you kick the interwebs, they kick back

    • #13
  14. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    So weird.

    Okay, it seems there might be something to the idea that after 8 years of life as a happy-go-lucky internet meme, Pepe is now strongly associated with white supremacists. But the internet being the internet, you can find pretty much any common image or character being appropriated for maximum offensiveness. That doesn’t mean that Calvin peeing on a Ford logo makes him wholly-owned by Chevrolet. That doesn’t mean Bert and Ernie are now a symbol of the gay mafia.

    But above all, the strangest thing here is that the Clinton campaign felt it necessary to create an explainer about an internet meme.

    The Clinton campaign’s new slogan appears to be “White supremacists, everywhere! Booga booga booga!” Or to put it another way, their Get Out the Vote approach is to use fear-driven McCarthyist tactics. Not just this, of course, but their ongoing “reds under the bed” paranoia, which is all the more hilarious for how Democrats mocked Romney for suggesting that Russia was a threat.

    Someone at Clinton HQ is panicking. Lots of someones.

    • #14
  15. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    billy:So the use of the Pepe the Frog meme is now de facto evidence of racism?

    This election, and the #Nevertrumpers, are getting ridiculous.

    Um, no. But if you encounter a Trump meme with Pepe in it, the chances are overwhelming that it came from a racist website.

    • #15
  16. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    DrewInWisconsin:above all, the strangest thing here is that the Clinton campaign felt it necessary to create an explainer about an internet meme.

    I think it’s newsworthy when a candidate’s son and senior campaign operative disseminates white supremacist propaganda. Call me crazy.

    • #16
  17. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Son of Spengler:

    billy:So the use of the Pepe the Frog meme is now de facto evidence of racism?

    This election, and the #Nevertrumpers, are getting ridiculous.

    Um, no. But if you encounter a Trump meme with Pepe in it, the chances are overwhelming that it came from a racist website.

    Really? On what basis do you make this claim? Or are you characterising as a ‘racist website’ any website upon which one or more racist messages has ever appeared? Is Reddit a racist website? Is 4chan?

    • #17
  18. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Son of Spengler:I think it’s newsworthy when a candidate’s son and senior campaign operative disseminates white supremacist propaganda. Call me crazy.

    Maybe. There’s two things going through my mind. The first is that a long-running internet meme (which has been around for the entire Obama administration) can become a “symbol of white supremacy” overnight just because bad people are appropriating the image. Like I said above, on the internet you will find all sorts of characters being appropriated for some of the worst imagery. You might as well say that “Trollface” is racist, because I’m sure you’d have no problem finding Trollface used in racist memes. But does the use of Pepe for racist purposes automatically make Pepe a “symbol of white supremacy”? Or is this just the internet being the internet.

    As I say, I’m open to being convinced that Pepe is “irredeemable” (to quote Frau Clinton) now because the appropriation is pretty much all being done by deplorables. But I think we also need to keep in mind that the internet warps our perceptions.

    The other, more prominent thing going through my mind is that the Clinton campaign is absolutely using McCarthyist tactics as a GOTV strategy. It’s all about which awful people Republicans (and now Trump specifically) associate themselves with — Russians, “deplorables” . . . really whoever the left decides is now irredeemable and non-American. McCarthyism all over the Democratic Party. It’s the only tactic they seem to employ.

    • #18
  19. Isaac Smith Member
    Isaac Smith
    @

    billy:So the use of the Pepe the Frog meme is now de facto evidence of racism?

    This election, and the #Nevertrumpers, are getting ridiculous.

    Please explain the link to #Nevertrumpers – I don’t see it.

    • #19
  20. Matt Upton Inactive
    Matt Upton
    @MattUpton

    DrewInWisconsin: But above all, the strangest thing here is that the Clinton campaign felt it necessary to create an explainer about an internet meme.

    The quoted is my main thought. Discussion proving whether or not Pepe has been co-opted by the nastier veins of the alt-right seems pointless. So what if it is? Shall we start trolling reddit for offensive anti-Trump memes and make it a mainstream talking point?

    • #20
  21. Tyler Boliver Inactive
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    genferei:

    Really? On what basis do you make this claim? Or are you characterising as a ‘racist website’ any website upon which one or more racist messages has ever appeared? Is Reddit a racist website? Is 4chan?

    You seem to be trying real hard to pretend that Pepe is not being used by the alt right, right now. All you have to do is go on Twitter for few minutes and you’ll find the character dressed up in a Nazi Uniform,or as Donald Trump, or as a guard at Auschwitz who’s gassing a group of famous Jewish reporters, politicians, or celebrities.

    The swastika came to the west from Indian religions. The symbol is used by Buddhist, and Hindus to this day. Now though the symbol reminds the west mostly of the Nazi Party despite whatever religious symbols it still holds in the lands of it’s origin.

    This meme is not that different. Yes it started as a web comic turned meme mostly from 4chan. It came over to the right largely because of Gamer Gate, most of the Gamer Gate boys are dedicated followers of Milo, many of who moved onto white supremacy and they’ve brought the same meme the used as teens with them. Because of this many people now connect it with the white nationalist movement, even if it wasn’t invented by a white nationalist in the first place.

    • #21
  22. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Ever notice that Hillary Clinton and her campaign seem to be experts on anti-semitism and white supremacy?  They seem to know more about it than people who are actually actually part of those movements.  Why is that?

    • #22
  23. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    She:I didn’t know the first thing about Pepe the Frog before I read this post,

    I rely on Ricochet to keep me up to date on stuff I maybe should have already known about a long time ago.  I guess it works but mostly I still never understand.

    • #23
  24. Tyler Boliver Inactive
    Tyler Boliver
    @Marlowe

    Matt Upton:

    The quoted is my main thought. Discussion proving whether or not Pepe has been co-opted by the nastier veins of the alt-right seems pointless. So what if it is? Shall we start trolling reddit for offensive anti-Trump memes and make it a mainstream talking point?

    It’s to make people understand a symbol used by the fascists alt right. Of which Pepe has been co-oped as a symbol. Did the alt-right create him? No. The Nazi’s didn’t invent the swastika either, but it’s the symbol most identified with them.

    • #24
  25. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Tyler Boliver: You seem to be trying real hard to pretend that Pepe is not being used by the alt right, right now.

    Not at all. Pepe is in constant use by the alt right, right now.

    All you have to do is go on Twitter for few minutes and you’ll find the character dressed up in a Nazi Uniform

    I also readily concede this. Although I find troubling the assumption of equivalence between alt-right and neo-nazis.

    Yes it started as a web comic turned meme mostly from 4chan. It came over to the right largely because of Gamer Gate, most of the Gamer Gate boys are dedicated followers of Milo, many of who moved onto white supremacy and they’ve brought the same meme the used as teens with them. Because of this many people now connect it with the white nationalist movement, even if it wasn’t invented by a white nationalist in the first place.

    But here you string together a bunch of “many”s to prove too much.

    In my experience – but whose experience can encompass ‘the Internet’ – a tiny proportion of Pepe-using Trump-related memes (let alone non-Trump related ones) have a white nationalist or supremacist connotation. Similarly, a tiny proportion of English-language-using Trump-related messages have such content. For memes – such as Pepe – are just the vocabulary of (parts of) the Internet. White supremacists have co-opted Pepe in just the way they have co-opted English. Not.

    • #25
  26. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Matt Upton:

    DrewInWisconsin: But above all, the strangest thing here is that the Clinton campaign felt it necessary to create an explainer about an internet meme.

    The quoted is my main thought. Discussion proving whether or not Pepe has been co-opted by the nastier veins of the alt-right seems pointless. So what if it is? Shall we start trolling reddit for offensive anti-Trump memes and make it a mainstream talking point?

    The reason it matters is that Trump’s son — and campaign surrogate — took an image that was practically branded as having racist origins, “from a friend”, and broadcast it. This is the same campaign that lifted that Hillary-money-Star of Da- er, Sheriff’s Star image from an anti-Semitic website and used it as an ad. Pepe has become an issue because of the Trump campaign, not because of Hillary. The Trump campaign is either not learning its lessons about where the materials come from, or it has no real problem with getting close to racist and anti-Semitic sources.

    • #26
  27. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Matt Upton:

    DrewInWisconsin: But above all, the strangest thing here is that the Clinton campaign felt it necessary to create an explainer about an internet meme.

    The quoted is my main thought. Discussion proving whether or not Pepe has been co-opted by the nastier veins of the alt-right seems pointless. So what if it is?

    It allows the DNC-MSM to change the conversation from Hillary’s lies and illness to a full-court press on Trump’s scary racism. The order has gone out from Clinton central, and the press will fall into lock step, as usual.

    • #27
  28. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    billy:So the use of the Pepe the Frog meme is now de facto evidence of racism?

    This election, and the #Nevertrumpers, are getting ridiculous.

    Everything is racist so what else is new.

    • #28
  29. Craig Inactive
    Craig
    @Craig

    Guruforhire: pepe is a 4chan thing.

    That’s all I need to know, I’m sure these people can’t believe anyone took ‘Pedobear Rickrolling’ seriously.

    • #29
  30. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Tyler Boliver: This meme is not that different. Yes it started as a web comic turned meme mostly from 4chan. It came over to the right largely because of Gamer Gate, most of the Gamer Gate boys are dedicated followers of Milo, many of who moved onto white supremacy and they’ve brought the same meme the used as teens with them. Because of this many people now connect it with the white nationalist movement, even if it wasn’t invented by a white nationalist in the first place.

    So the antisemitic, white supremacist, nationalist alt-right movement very much like and followed a very gay, British journalist that prefers black men and is also Jewish?  Something about that does not add up.

    • #30
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