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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pepe in politics: How to be a bigot according to Hillary

    Hillary Clinton’s assertion that the Pepe the Frog meme—as seen in “The Deplorables” poster—is a white supremacist symbol, has been a resoundingly awful attempt at rallying people to her cause.

    Pepe the Frog is a character who originated in the Boy’s Club comic series and was subsequently transformed into a meme. Pepe as a meme has usually been whatever the content creator wanted him to be.

    There are versions used to express happiness, sadness, smugness, disappointment and just about every other emotion. There have been Bane Pepes, Les Mis Pepes, Captain America Pepes and many others.

    The Clinton Campaign released an article on their website on September 12 challenging Donald J. Trump Jr.’s celebration of “The Deplorables,” a movie poster for the film “The Expendables” that had Donald Trump and many of his supporter’s faces superimposed over the original. Included among this group of deplorables is Pepe the Frog wearing Trump’s signature hairstyle.

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    This poster was, of course, created as a response to former Secretary Clinton’s claim that half of Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables”.

    Citing an article written by the Daily Beast, the Clinton foundation claims that Pepe has, in essence, been high jacked by the alt-right —a group supporting white supremacy, antisemitism, and other extremely despicable ideals—and that we should be deeply troubled by Trump’s association with Pepe.

    The Clinton campaign is wrong.

    Pepe the Frog is a means of expression and there is no inherent extremism which should be associated with his use. While it’s true that some have used the blank canvass of this meme to advocate for the disenfranchisement and dehumanization of ethical and political groups, Pepe has been used far more for humor than hate.

    One would be just as able to argue that all books are associated with the alt-right simply because paper has been used to produce anti-Semitic materials.

    The Clinton campaign’s claim that Pepe is a white supremacist symbol has indirectly insulted a large segment of our nation’s young voters. Pepe is a favorite meme among young internet users, it was even Tumblr’s favorite meme of 2015.

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    By publishing this article, the Clinton campaign has basically accused a large part the nation’s youth of being Nazi sympathizers, and in a national election, alienating this much of the population could be a huge mistake.

    The second problem this presents for the Clinton campaign is that it shows how out of touch Hillary is with today’s culture. She “failed to do her homework” on this one and it’s making her campaign’s youth outreach seem like it’s being run from inside a nursing home.

    Two days ago, Pepe the Frog was listed on the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbol Database. But it’s inclusion is based on context.

    “Because so many Pepe the Frog memes are not bigoted in nature; it’s important to examine use of the meme only in context. The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist. However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes.” 

    Follow Jackson Morrison on Twitter.

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