Once just a "gross but versatile" cartoon frog, Pepe slid the rage-greased chute of chan culture into the toilet of offensive memes and popped up on the other side in the Anti-Defamation League's archives. There, he takes his place beside the swastika and the Confederate flag.
Also referred to as the "sad frog meme," Pepe the Frog did not originally have anti-Semitic connotations. But as the meme proliferated in online venues such as 4chan, 8chan and Reddit, a subset of memes came into existence promoting anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas. And those have spread virally on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere.
Images of the frog, variously portrayed with a Hitler-like moustache, wearing a yarmulke or a Klan hood, have proliferated in recent weeks in hateful messages aimed at Jewish and other users on Twitter.
"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 A. Greenblatt, ADL 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."