The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has declared “Pepe the Frog,” a cartoon character used on social media to “suggest racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted notions,” as a hate symbol.
According to the organization, the cartoon was added to ADL’s online “Hate on Display” database, because the meme was used on websites like 4chan, 8chan and Reddit to promote “anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas.”
Pepe the Frog, also referred to as the “sad frog meme,” did not originally have anti-Semitic connotations when he first appeared on the Internet in 2005 in artist Matt Furie’s “Boy’s Club” cartoons. But the ADL said times have changed, the frog is often portrayed with a Hitler-like mustache, wearing a Klan hood or donning a yarmulke. The League also added that images of the frog have become more prominent in recent weeks with hateful messages aimed at the Jewish community.
“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 ADL CEO Jonathan A. 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.”
ADL founded the “Hate on Display” database in 2000 in an effort to track down hate groups and help law enforcement and educators to identify symbols that were used by extremists and anti-Semites. The Echo symbol, the Swastika and the Blood Drop Cross are already listed in the database.