As the election draws near, with more and more women coming forward to share their stories of being sexually harassed by Donald Trump, it seems just about every self-respecting man, woman and child has jumped off the quickly self-destructing ship that is Trump’s hate-mongering campaign.
There is, however, one amphibian whose political preferences have remained ambiguous ― until now, that is. Yes, friends, we’re talking about Pepe.
After a bizarre dalliance with Trump’s most deplorable supporters, who adopted the frog as a symbol for the alt-right, the Anti-Defamation League and artist Matt Furie are fighting to bring back the Pepe they know and love. To do so, they’re urging the Light Side of the internet to band together and #SavePepe.
One of the stranger side-effects of this nightmarish election cycle has been the alt-right’s adoption of Pepe the frog, a character originally created by Furie as part of his 2005 stoner zine “Boy’s Club.”
In an earlier interview with The Huffington Post, Furie described Pepe as a slacker frog whose passions include smoking weed, eating pizza and goofing around with his bros. Due to a freakish chain of viral events, however, this once innocent frog became the mascot for a variety of racist, anti-Semitic and Trump-tastic causes.
After images of Pepe engaging in ugly practices like policing the U.S. Mexican border and operating a gas chamber began crowding the web and frightening frog devotees everywhere, the ADL got involved, designating this debased Pepe a hate symbol.
Furie explained that while surely Pepe had gotten into the hands of some truly bigoted internet users, there was nothing inherently hateful about the frog himself.
“In my mind, frogs are one of the most peaceful creatures,” he said. “They just chill on lily pads and eat. You never really feel threatened by frogs in nature. I think that’s why they’re so popular in fairy tales. They’re just ... chill.”
To redeem his beloved froggy from a future of all prejudice, no party, Furie is teaming up with the ADL to return Pepe to his former glory ― or at least, his former state of drinking beers and farting on the couch without being wildly offensive.
“Pepe was never intended to be used as a symbol of hate,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, explained in a statement. “The sad frog was meant to be just that, a sad frog. We are going to work with Matt and his community of artists to reclaim Pepe so that he might be used as a force for good, or at the very least to help educate people about the dangers of prejudice and bigotry.”
To start, Furie and the ADL are encouraging all the non-racist corners of the internet to spread the hashtag #SavePepe across social media platforms, to overshadow Pepe’s more profane alter egos.
Furie is also scheduled to speak at ADL’s inaugural “Never Is Now” Summit against anti-Semitism on November 17 in New York, where he’ll participate in a panel discussion focused on “the manifestations and consequences of online hate.”
Just when things were looking down for our web-footed friend, we’re glad to see that the internet is using its power to redeem our bro Pepe once and for all.
Come on, internet! Let’s bring back the old Pepe, a simple frog, who never hated anyone or anything. As Furie put it: “Before he got wrapped up in politics, Pepe was an inside joke and a symbol for feeling sad or feeling good and many things in between. I understand that it’s out of my control, but in the end, Pepe is whatever you say he is, and I, the creator, say that Pepe is love.”
You heard him. The power to #SavePepe starts with you.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.