A cartoon frog turned hate symbol. Pepe the Frog, an animated anthropomorphic internet meme, was added to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) list of hate symbols late this September. The ADL is an international Jewish civil rights and human relations group based in the United States which was founded in 1913. According to the ADL, they fight anti-semitism and for fair treatment of all.
Pepe the Frog is a character from Matt Furie’s comic series “Boys Club.” The frog quickly spread across MySpace and other social media as an internet meme, which is a humorous image, video, or piece of text that is copied often with slight variations and spread rapidly by internet users.
The reasoning for the ADL’s actions is the alt-right, a group of white supremacist extremists often used Pepe as anti-semitic and making him appear as racist stereotypes. They also made the frog appear as Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and a Ku Klux Klan member as well as other hateful imagery.
Many memers, or internet users who make, distribute, or enjoy browsing memes, became upset with the ADL’s decision. They argue Pepe the Frog’s original intention was not hateful or bigoted at all and that the work of a few should not ruin it for the majority. According to knowyourmeme.com Pepe was used for reaction faces with captions such as “Feels Good Man,” “Sad Frog,” “Angry Pepe,” Smug Frog,” and “Well Meme’d.”