What is the Alt-Right, and why have they taken Pepe?


Screenshot from Donald Trump's Twitter

Trumps tweet which depicts him as as Pepe the frog.

“Alt-Right” sounds like a keyboard key, and many of those who know what it means wish that were actually the case.

NPR defines Alt-Right as a group that supports anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideology. The primarily online movement stands against multiculturalism, immigration, feminism and (most proudly) political correctness.

According to The Economist, the political movement only recently gained traction when Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump fired the CEO of his campaign and hired Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon is former executive chairman of Brietbart News, a conservative political news website that has posted stories and shown support for the Alt-Right movement. Trump himself has tweeted several pictures that were made by the hate group.

Taking a step back from the possible implications of the Alt-Right movement and its support from Trump, there is also it’s mascot to consider.

Political parties have their own mascots. The Republicans have the elephant and the Democrats have the donkey. Alt-Right has decided to troll the nation and make it’s mascot the wildly popular meme Pepe the Frog. 

They have taken Pepe hostage

Since the Alt-Right was founded on the internet, it only makes sense that it chose a meme to be it mascot. 

According to VICE writer Roisin Kiberd, Pepe first appeared in a series of blog posts by MySpace blogger Matt Furie in 2005.

The Alt-Right started on sites such as Reddit and 4chan, where Pepe remained popular even after the fall of MySpace.

In 2015, ten years later, Pepe was declared the sixth most popular meme of the year. By that point, he had also been used by mainstream stars like Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj.

Pepe’s popularity is what makes his adoption by the Alt-Right so troubling.

Many people have retweeted or posted Pepe in some form or another on social media. Sometimes, the frog appears with Trump’s signature hairstyle.

However, now that the Alt-Right has claimed Pepe for it’s own, unsuspecting posters might appear to support the Alt-Right’s ideals, when they often do not.

Alt-Right efforts

Through sites like Reddit and 4chan, the Alt-Right has been able to grow and cause the kind of havoc that internet trolls create.

For example, following the first 2016 presidential debate on Sept. 26, the Alt-Right got together online to help swing polls put out by popular news sites.

Members flooded the polls, saying that Trump won the debate. Many early polls said Trump had won the debate, but later polls that weren’t skewed by the Alt-Right showed the opposite.

Alt-Right has been so successful in propping up Pepe as it’s mascot that he is now classified by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate symbol, residing in the same category as the swastika and the burning cross.

“What am I going to say?” Furie asked. “‘Hey, you anonymous white supremacists, stop making my frog Trump?'”