Pepe the Frog, an internet meme and a simple cartoon frog has been declared a ‘hate symbol’ by the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) whom have stuck it alongside the swastika and Confederate flag as a passionate image which flames the enraged war of culture and of race which seems so prevalent in this day and age.
This new declaration was made along with an article on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign which declares our little green companion a ‘symbol of white supremacy’ alongside claims of the Trump family propagating a vast conspiracy set up to rile neo-Nazis.
Whilst this may all sound absurd (and it is), what is even more absurd is the nature of what is currently offensive.
When is it okay to be offensive? To whom is it okay to be offensive? To what extent does offense become something that you can be thrown away for? Where does a little green froggy sit in all of this?
Well, as it stands, many have gone out of their way to avoid offending Islam, such as Comedy Central’s South Park whom blurred out a depiction of the prophet Mohammed at the last minute during the episode ‘201’ from the fourteenth season. This was done as a result of the Charlie Hebdo incident, in which the religion of peace spread some pretty hardcore peace in a peaceful manner.
So, with presidential races divided by little green frogs; why exactly is he the new Gadsden flag?
In a race which is uniquely defined through the never-ending assault on Trump, Trump supporters have had to take to the internet. The left wing leanings of entitled socialist children with dyed hair Buzzfeed have even had to declare the enormous support that Trump has on the internet. This online support for Trump is enormous and very simply stems from the humble origins of the online anime board 4chan. Although the site looks like it was lost in the days of dial-up, it still functions as a bastion of free speech and of anonymity (at least when M00T’s not in charge). The sense of an anonymous voice allows your average American voter to hop online and tick-tack away on their keyboard about Mexican rapists without fearing the social consequences. It’s the same driving force that will lead Trump to ascend to the White House in November.
The cries of ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘xenophobe’, ‘homophobe’, ‘bigot’ and ‘Islamophobe’ bounce off of the anonymous masses, because of the simple fact that they are nothing but ad hominem rhetoric. They’re personal attacks on a person’s character and their motivation, as opposed to their arguments. When you’re attacking nameless faces and faceless names, these insults are deflected because of the lack of a reputation to attack.
Not every fat anime-loving, energy-drink swilling, dorito-munching degenerate with a fedora collection can articulate themselves as well as academics such as Richard Spencer when it comes to arguments to denigrate the ideas for mass-immigration. Due to this, they don’t have to defend themselves in a public sphere and can go from one person to the next on /pol/ or /b/.
These sites do, in a sense, bring out the innate need to rebel against societal norms for speech and acceptability. Every concept of free-speech in society is still restricted, regardless of however legal free speech will be. People fear societal expectations.
So, now, in a society for which people are expected to adjust their speech more and more every day for the sensitivities of others, the pushback is bigger, better and more extreme than ever.
The cartoon frog is a dog whistle to let people know that between the polite placation of civilisation, there lies beneath it a dark sphere of anarchism, in which Pepe the Frog dons all sorts of garb, from SS trooper uniforms to Klu Klux Klan robes. The people that say what they say are not (for the most part) Nazis or genuine racists, but rogues and ticking-time bombs of repression. Waiting to blow up at the slightest tinkering of their world.
Enter Donald Trump.
Along with the campaign has been Trump’s son sharing a line-up of alt-right figures is Pepe, angry Trump supporters shouting “PEPE” during Hillary rallies, a barrage of telly shows reporting on memes and Trump himself sharing a Pepe with Donald’s signature golden mop of luscious hair.
The flame has been fuelled.
You can persecute a person, but you cannot persecute a cog in the system, cloaked by proxies and invisible to the world. You cannot, try as you might, persecute a cartoon frog on the internet.
Through the pathetic facade of life, one thing is true: So long as big brother is alive, so too will Pepe be co-existing among us.
Don’t Tread on REEEEEE.
Make America Great Again.
This post was written by David McManus.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.