The creator of Pepe the Frog, a cartoon that has become a symbol frequently circulated by anti-Semites online, is joining forces with the Anti-Defamation League to reclaim the image as a “force for good.”
Matt Furie will create a series of positive Pepe internet memes that the ADL will promote through its social media channels with the hashtag #SavePepe, the organization announced in a news release Friday.
The character, which Furie created for an online comic in the mid-2000s, has been co-opted in recent months by white nationalist groups such as the alt-right.
“Pepe was never intended to be used as a symbol of hate,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “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.”
— Oren Segal (@orensegal) October 14, 2016
Furie is also scheduled to speak at the ADL’s inaugural “Never is Now” summit on anti-Semitism in New York City next month.
“It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate,” Furie said in the ADL release. “It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate.”
Images of Pepe, often depicting him in Nazi garb or with a Hitler style mustache, are frequently included in anti-Semitic and other attacks on Twitter. Donald Trump Jr. stirred up a controversy last month by posting a photoshopped image of Pepe alongside himself and various Trump advisers.
The ADL added the frog to its online hate database last month.