Racist frogs and the race for POTUS


The meme I’ve chosen to write about this week concerns both political ideologies from seventy years ago and ideologies in the 21st century. Surprisingly however these ideologies have many common characteristics in policy and beliefs. It is the Pepe the frog meme. He was created by Matt Furie as part of his fictional series’ of comics called Boy’s Club. The controversy behind the meme refers to the claims spread by the Hilary Clinton’s campaign that Pepe the frog was a symbol of white supremacy. The claims from Clinton’s campaign resulted in several other news organisations covering the story.

The beginning of what still remains as one of the most ridiculous parts of the abysmal Presidential election held by the USA is said to be dated to July 22nd 2015 when a Malaysian artist Maldraw posted an image on the website known as 4chan to those familiar with the darker side of the internet. The photo in question depicted Pepe as a smug Donald Trump overlooking the US-Mexico border, with two stereotypically drawn mexicans with a less than ecstatic face about them. I can’t blame them, I wouldn’t be happy entering a country where Donald Trump is President either. As 4chan contains a devoted audience the image didn’t surface far until the Pepe/White Supremacist gained popularity again in October 2015 when Donald Trump retweeted a photo of himself depicted by Pepe standing at a podium as if he were about to make a speach.


The hype upon the internet wasn’t really covered upon a broad scale until deep into the presidential election. On September 9th 2016 Hilary Clinton was quoted calling half of Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables”. In response to this Donald Trump jr. thought it’d be appropriate to photoshop the movie poster for “The Expendables” but replacing the faces of the actors with people associated with and including his father Donald Trump. One of those was indeed Pepe the frog because that is what this election has come to. The writing across the text was then changed to “The Deplorables”. 

Following this on September 11th NBC new’s station covered the “story” if that’s what you can call it. Within this Pepe was described as a “popular white nationalist symbol”. That same day several other news organisations covered the story including the Vanity Fair and CNN. Which both made similar remarks concerning Pepe and mentioning him as a “White Supremacist meme” and “white national symbol”. Then going whole circle, on the 12th of September Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign blog posted an article titled “Donald Trump, Pepe the frog, and white supremacists: an explainer,” which also labeled Pepe as a “symbol associated with white supremacy”.

I believe that no single group or ideology has ownership of the meme. Through sensationalism of the story and the gravity of it, it was covered by so many news organisations. It altered the perception of the people and made them focus upon a minimalistic fact concering the election. Emails leaked by Wikileaks showed that the Economist publisher Lynn Rothschild had advised the Clinton campaign in 2015. That honestly set off triggers in my mind to doubt the whole situation when the name “Rothschild” is mentioned. I believe this story was picked up by the American media as part of a light story to play down a serious political issue, the vast difference in parties within a democratic state. How that is supposed to work I’m not sure. But, people will ingest this news and become bothered with it because of implicit beliefs.


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