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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?


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