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Here’s the short version: Pepe is a cartoon frog who began his internet life as an innocent meme enjoyed by teenagers and pop stars alike.
But in recent months, Pepe’s been almost entirely co-opted by the white supremacists who call themselves the “alt-right.” They’ve decided to take back Pepe by adding swastikas and other symbols of anti-semitism and white supremacy.
“We basically mixed Pepe in with Nazi propaganda, etc. We built that association,” one prominent white supremacist told the Daily Beast.
Trump has retweeted his white supremacist supporters with regularity, but the connection between the alt-right and his campaign continues to strengthen. Trump has been slow to disavow support from Ku Klux Klansmen and white supremacy groups, and he recently hired Breitbart.com’s Steve Bannon as his campaign CEO (and Bannon isn’t shy about the fact that his “news” organization is the “platform for the alt-right”).
Now white supremacists have given Pepe the cartoon frog some Trump hair—and the candidate’s own son says he is “honored to be grouped with” him.
“Basically, I interspersed various nuggets of truth and exaggerated a lot of things, and sometimes outright lied — in the interest of making a journalist believe that online Trump supporters are largely a group of meme-jihadis who use a cartoon frog to push Nazi propaganda. Because this was funny to me,” Swift told TheDCNF.
“The idea that every major Trump supporter online is secretly a neo-Nazi, for one. I mean, it’s just not true. But it’s the kind of thing that a journalist will readily believe.”