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Hillary 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.Published in