“Pepe the Frog” — a meme co-opted by white supremacists and recently shared on social media by both Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump, Jr. — has been declared an anti-Semitic hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
“Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
“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.”
Trump retweeted the “Pepe” meme in October 2015 — among the other instances he has retweeted white supremacists and white supremacist memes — and earlier this month Trump, Jr. shared a meme featuring the character on Instagram.
Last month, the Trump campaign officially brought onboard former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon, a site that has served as a hub of the so-called “Alt-Right”, white supremacist movement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
A friend sent me this. Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables??? All kidding aside I am honored to be grouped with the hard working men and women of this great nation that have supported @realdonaldtrump and know that he can fix the mess created by politicians in Washington. He’s fighting for you and won’t ever quit. Thanks for your trust! #trump2016 #maga #makeamericagreatagain #basketofdeplorables
“Pepe the Frog is a huge favorite white supremacist meme,” Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center has said about the Pepe. “It’s constantly used in those circles.”
It’s not uncommon to find replies to Trump’s tweets filled to the brim with Pepe avatars, and the frog is a fixture in alt-right breeding grounds like 4chan and Trump’s dedicated Reddit community, r/The_Donald. The ADL likens it to the use of the (((echo))) symbol, which the alt-right has used in the past to identify Jewish users for harassers to target.