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Hullabaloo


Sunday, July 31, 2016

 
A fascinating story of a racist meme


by digby



You really have to read the whole story of this internet meme by Olivia Nuzzi and how it originally came to be and how it has been turned into a Donald Trump white supremacist emblem for Donald Trump. This excerpt takes up the story after the "alt-right" decided to use it to advance their cause:

It began in late 2015 on /r9k/, a controversial 4chan board where, as on any message board, it can be difficult to discern how serious commenters are being or if they’re just fucking around entirely. Nevertheless, /r9k/ has been tied to Elliot Rodger—the UC Santa Barbara shooter who killed six people in 2014—who found fans there, and GamerGate. There, Pepe transformed from harmless cartoon to big green monster.

“We basically mixed Pepe in with Nazi propaganda, etc. We built that association,” @JaredTSwift said.

He sent me a “rare Pepe,” an ironic categorization for certain versions of the meme: Pepe, his eyes red and irises swastika-shaped, against a trippy rainbow backdrop. “Do with it what you will,” he said.

Building the Trump association came next, after which @JaredTSwift said the images got crossover appeal. They began to move from 4chan to Twitter, which is when “journalists were exposed to it via Trump memes.”

On Jan. 7, Cheri Jacobus, a Republican consultant and pundit who is suing Trump for defamation and has been harassed by Trump supporters, tweeted, “The green frog symbol is what white supremacists use in their propaganda. U don’t want to go there.”

#FrogTwitter considered Jacobus, the first prominent person to be duped, its first scalp and inundated her with ever more Pepe images and Trump memes, some of which were violent and sexually explicit.

In one, a blond woman is decapitated before Pepe has intercourse with her headless body. In another, Jacobus’s face is photoshopped onto a topless woman kneeling before Trump, who is himself photoshopped to wear a Nazi uniform.

“When they adapt Pepe the green frog and turn it into an anti-Semite, staring into the screen with the World Trade Center behind it, is that cute or funny?” she asked when reached by phone Wednesday.

“Does that make it OK? I don’t know,” she said. “Violent and disturbing images are violent and disturbing images regardless of what their stated reasons are.”

Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at National Review, a conservative publication opposed to Trump’s candidacy, asked Twitter on Jan. 30, “Does anyone know what that green face is that ‘alt’ and ‘cuck’ people put in their avatars and their other images?”

@TopKanker replied with an image of Pepe dressed as a Nazi soldier and holding a Star of David.
On May 16, Ben White, a reporter for Politico, tweeted a drawing of Pepe and asked, “What/who is this character and why do I see it associated with Trumpsters/Alt-Right types all the time?”
#FrogTwitter descended on White’s mentions, with predictable results. @DonaldjBismarck, a self-described “Nationalist,” replied with a meme of Hillary Clinton, squinting at a computer screen and asking, “WHO THE HELL IS PEPE?”

“Turns out asking about Pepe was a bad idea,” White tweeted, in conclusion.

But Pepe’s twisted transformation wouldn’t be complete until a few hours after White’s foray down the froghole, when Margarita Noriega, an executive editor at Newsweek, tweeted a Pepe at Marco Rubio.

Benny Polatseck, who runs the public relations firm Colossal PR, accused Noriega of employing an image “used by racists to make fun of latinos.” Noriega deleted the Pepe.
“Most memes are ephemeral by nature, but Pepe is not,” @JaredTSwift told me. “He’s a reflection of our souls, to most of us. It’s disgusting to see people (‘normies,’ if you will) use him so trivially. He belongs to us. And we’ll make him toxic if we have to.”

@JaredTSwift said some of the support for Trump was in jest, but for most of his cohorts, it’s sincere. He even claimed to have voted for Trump in the primary himself, wherever it is he lives, and said he’d vote for him in the general, too.

“In a sense, we’ve managed to push white nationalism into a very mainstream position,” he said. “Trump’s online support has been crucial to his success, I believe, and the fact is that his biggest and most devoted online supporters are white nationalists. Now, we’ve pushed the Overton window. People have adopted our rhetoric, sometimes without even realizing it. We’re setting up for a massive cultural shift.”

There is a sickness at the center of Donald Trump's support. This is a big part of it.


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