(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League has added the internet meme Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has become a popular symbol for white supremacists, to its online hate database.
Images of the frog, variously portrayed with a Hitler-like mustache, wearing a yarmulke or a Ku Klux Klan hood, have proliferated in recent weeks in hateful messages aimed at Jewish and other users on Twitter, according to the ADL.
Pepe, a character created for an online comic in the mid-2000s, was later co-opted by followers of the alt-right, which advances an insular conservatism promoting white power. White nationalists attach Pepe illustrations to their Twitter handles or share doctored Pepe “memes” on anonymous internet message boards.
Earlier this month Donald Trump Jr., son of the Republican presidential nominee, posted to Instagram a movie poster parody of himself heroically grouped with Pepe and others. It was deemed “The Deplorables,” parodying Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s comment referring to half of Donald Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.”
“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 Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO. “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.”
Other symbols have been added to the “Hate on Display” database in recent months, including the (((echo))) symbol, a triple parenthesis used by white supremacists to single out Jewish journalists and users on social media for harassment.
A movie poster parody posted on Instagram by Donald Trump Jr. and including Trump Jr., third from right; his father, Republican nominee Donald Trump, and Pepe the Frog, a symbol adopted by white supremacists, Sept. 11, 2016. (Screenshot from Instagram)