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Pepe the Frog: Hate Speech Disseminated by Fairfax County Public School Board Member?


Less than a month ago, the headline read Fairfax County unites against hate.  At least one FCPS School Board member doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo, as exemplified by sharing news of the French election with a prominent white-nationalist, (neo-)Nazi symbol.

For those somehow unaware after lots of news coverage about this, that’s Pepe the Frog associated in the image with National Front’s Marine Le Pen.  Pepe has morphed over the past decade from an amusing (to many, tasteless) cartoon figure into an “Alt-Right” / Nazi symbol — a symbol that got heavy play and much media attention during the US 2016 presidential election.

“Pepe the Frog” first appeared in 2005 in the comic “Boy’s Club” … The comics depict Pepe and his anthropomorphized animal friends behaving like stereotypical post-college bros: playing video games, eating pizza, smoking pot and being harmlessly gross. …

That Animal House-like ‘innocence’ has been tarred by a white-nationalist, (neo)Nazi embrace …

In some instances, Pepe wears a Hitler mustache, and his signature message is replaced with “Kill Jews Man.” In others, Pepe poses in front of a burning World Trade Center, dressed like an Orthodox Jewish person with a yarmulke and payot. He’s also been spotted wearing a Nazi soldier’s uniform and in a KKK hood and robe.

For an interesting perspective on the sharing of white supremacist memes and imagery, Vice

put together a field guide of some phrases and memes white supremacists share with one another so that, if you happen across one in the wild, you’ll be able tell whether your old college friend, Gary, is simply a fan of 11th-century history or secretly wishes to eradicate all non-whites.

As that analysis of white-nationalist ((neo)Nazi) discussions laid out re use and dissemination of Pepe imagery,

Despite the disingenuous incredulity offered by the alt-right after the ADL added Pepe to its official list of hate symbols, there is no reason to believe that anyone using the character today is at all unaware of the Nazi sentiments attached to it and [they] should therefore be regarded as complicit in spreading said sentiments with his or her usage of the cartoon. Plausible deniability divorced itself from Pepe usage a long time ago. The swastika was once an innocent religious symbol, too. People have a tendency to ruin nice things.

While it should trouble all that a Fairfax County School Board member shares out material that is on the Anti-Defamation League’s list of online-hate symbols’ even innocently, what should proactive (or oblivious to implications?) defense of that action when confronted with Pepe’s neo-Nazi symbolism (here, here, here, …) indicate?

Is it unreasonable to suggest that

Perhaps a FCPS School Board Member should not be promoting anti-semitic, white nationalist symbols?

The Fairfax County Public School’s Student Rights & Responsibilities handbook explicitly states:

In FCPS, students have the responsibility to refrain from using words, images, or gestures that are obscene, violent, disruptive, or disrespectful.

Is it unreasonable to expect that FCPS School Board members should hold themselves to the standards expected of students?

  • A_Siegel

    As another example of “ThinkSchultz”‘s seeming inability to backdown from erroneous and/or inappropriate public statements and engagements, there was her promotion of the concept that Donald Trump won the popular vote. See http://bluevirginia.us/2016/11/far-right-fairfax-county-school-board-member-tweets-false-popular-vote-count / https://twitter.com/A_Siegel/status/798292264061648896 https://twitter.com/A_Siegel/status/798712088688467968

  • A_Siegel

    Schultz’s climate science denial is another item at odds with basic expectations from FCPS students. See https://twitter.com/A_Siegel/status/841982838920609792 https://twitter.com/A_Siegel/status/841983580582629376

  • More Schultz insanity/extremism/bigotry:

    Audio: “Only voice of reason on the Fairfax County School Board” Goes Nuts Over Transgender Directive (http://bluevirginia.us/2016/05/audio-voice-reason-fairfax-county-school-board-goes-nuts-transgender-directive)

    Far-Far-Right Fairfax County School Board Member Recommends Video by Rabid Bigot, Extremist (http://bluevirginia.us/2016/08/far-far-right-fairfax-county-school-board-member-recommends-video-bigoted-extremist)

    Audio: EW Jackson Talks to Anti-#LGBT Fairfax County School Board Member Elizabeth Schultz (http://bluevirginia.us/2015/05/ew-jackson-to-talk-to-antilgbt-fairfax-county-school-board-member-elizabeth-schultz-at-noon)

    Just When You Thought Fairfax County School Board Member, Anti-LGBT Extremist Elizabeth Schultz Couldn’t Get Any Crazier… (http://bluevirginia.us/2016/10/just-thought-fairfax-county-school-board-member-elizabeth-schultz-couldnt-get-crazier)

    • disqus_20o4lqdcqp

      So i looked through these because the headlines are very troubling. However, are each short hit pieces that have no basis in fact. Her tweets are not that controversial. Do YOU think 10 year-old children should be allowed to take medical hormones that affect their puberty without a doctor’s consent? I could easily write a headline about you like “SICKO WANTS TO GIVE YOUNG BOYS PENIS ALTERING DRUGS” but it wouldn’t be fair; and being trans is not a black and white issue for us to skew either way.

      I have no idea why you hate this woman so much that you wrote multiple articles slandering her. If it is really because she’s a Republican that is sad. You should really spend some time reflecting on your life.

  • James Morgan

    Jesus f’ing Christ, you jews just keep pushing and pushing – then wonder why you’ve been BTFO’d from 109 countries……. and counting.

  • disqus_20o4lqdcqp

    My comment got deleted

  • disqus_20o4lqdcqp

    It’s an effing cartoon frog! SOME Pepes are racist, not *every* Pepe is racist. There are lots of Pepes all over the Internet that are just used for comic effect and have no racist connotations whatsoever. This is so ridiculous—you could get this person fired with these allegations.

  • TOp Kek

    Le Pen all the way

  • KW

    A. Siegel must be a mysogynist the way he is always hating on Elizabeth Schulz! Remember that it was Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map that inspired a shooter to shoot up FRC a few years ago. Really who are the fascists here? Who are the haters? Stop picking on moms and parents and call out the true haters please.

  • VirginiaHH

    Seriously, Pepe is hate? Maybe some extremists stole it’s likeness for hate, [Yes. And, an FCPS School Board member chose to forward material from one of them to a broader audience.] but it’s been around and used for humor for years.

    A quick search shows Katy Perry tweeted Pepe, as well as did Nicki Minaj and many others. Seems like in most cases, Pepe is used as a harmless meme without any hate implied. In this case, I don’t see that it was used for hate.

    • A_Siegel

      1. “Seriously, Pepe is hate?” As robustly documented in the post and its linked material, Pepe has become a used tool/meme for Alt-Right/white-nationalist communication. It has been identified/defined as a hate symbol in those uses. That does not mean that Pepe is hate speech in all cases. To be clear, the ADL is working with the Pepe originator to try to ‘liberate’ it from those connotations.

      2. As to images of LePen & Pepe as emblematic of that neo-Nazi/white-nationalist framing, try spending even a few seconds looking at discussions of Marine LePen + Pepe. For example:

      “The [Pepe] cult has exploded in Europe whe[re] the US alt-right offered it to the French extreme Right as a weapon.”

      “Enter Pepe Le Pen (or, in some circles, Le PenPe). Alt-right groups are now memifying the presidential hopeful to resemble Pepe the Frog. “They’re trying to get the LePenPe squad ready, 100 per cent,” an insider of a right-wing Facebook group told me. “We’re gonna meme Marine Le Pen into office,”

      “As French magazine Les Inrocks reported last month, Pepe Le Pen has since spread across social media and forums like Reddit and 4chan, marking yet another permutation of what began as a harmless internet meme. During last year’s US presidential election, Pepe the frog became a mascot for the alt-right: the pro-Trump online movement that has been linked to white nationalism and anti-Semitism. Now, with their own presidential election on the horizon, far-right groups in France are embracing and adapting the meme to galvanize online support for Le Pen.”

      • manofsan

        I think people were born with the ability to experience and express all emotions, and hate is just one of them. People should be allowed to express ordinary images, even if you feel they’ve been hijacked for “hate”. Your Thought Police agenda is going off the rails.

        I’m in favor of free speech, because this “hate” label can easily be hijacked for Thought Policing purposes. It can easily be used by any unscrupulous person(s) (yourself?) to force all of society to dance to your tune, even for illegitimate purposes.

        Seriously – grow up, buttercup – stop being a snowflake. Learn why freedom of expression of ideas is important, even those you construe as “hate”.

  • manofsan

    So if someone went around posting “Kill Jews” under the name “A Siegel” then should A Siegal’s name be banned everywhere, for things outside of his/her’s control? It sounds crazy and ridiculous. Someone once posted a picture of Bert from Sesame Street with Osama Bin Laden – so should Sesame Street be banned for something outside of their control? Makes no sense. I’m not even white myself – I’m a dark skinned Asian, but if the overzealous Left are allowed to ban anything for alleged assocations with Nazism, then we should all start posting all kinds of ordinary pictures to create associations with “Nazism”, to get the Left-wingnuts to ban images of anything and everything. Let’s then see how well the PC-Left wackos succeed at that.