by Jennifer Hall Lee
This presidential race was bound to be close and I thought I was prepared. I was going to power through this election. I didn't foresee that Donald Trump, and then a frog, would stop me in my tracks and make me think hard about our current situation.
It is surprising how many people identify as nazis and anti-semites. They are called white nationalists and Trump has brought them out into the wide open. They are also called the alternative right, or alt-right. They are the far, far-right who are bound together by their disdain for everyone else. They hate immigration.
Trump, Pepe, the alt-right. They all go together in a big basket.
Like all groups the alt-right has images and symbols that help identify them on the web. One of these images is a frog.
His name is Pepe and he is the defacto mascot for the alt-right. He isn't pretty. In fact he is paunchy, crudely drawn and he barely smiles.
It's a disturbing time in America, but I haven't yet seen a collective shudder among the electorate. Either people haven't put the pieces together or they are rationalizing the bizarre behavior on the part of Trump. It's time to put the bricks together and form the structure that is hiding in plain sight.
The alt-right. The name isn't going away anytime soon. They are super excited that Hillary gave them a big shout-out which identified them to the country. The alt-right is now on the political map. They refer to themselves as racialists and believe in the separation of the races.
Alt-righters are everywhere and they have been hidden in the deep layers of the web, until now.
Proud and emboldened they even have a logo: two letters A and R, both constructed out of three triangles.
Richard Spencer, a prominent white supremacist gave a press conference two days ago before Trump gave his speech on values.
For them, it is their time. They have arrived.
The Fascist Mascot
The alt-right trolls the web with their icon Pepe the Frog. Some of us post kitten pictures or images of Gene Wilder for a laugh. The alt-right pushes Pepe.
Pepe harasses, insinuates, leers and when depicted with Hitler and Mein Kampf, he is downright evil.
I know there are many who say, “Time Out! Many people have tweeted Pepe with no ill will.” This is true, Pepe was not born in the alt-right world, but the alt-right claimed him as one of their own.
Pepe has been born-again. He has a message, “Pepe is one of us and we will prevail.”
This frog is a bully and his online antics have placed him in a lawsuit filed by GOP communications pro Cheri Jacobus against Donald Trump and his past campaign manager (now a CNN commentator) Corey Lewandowski. She is suing both of them for defamation.
Her Trump travails start on May 17, 2015 when Ms. Jacobus gets contacted by a man connected to Trump (the campaign was in its early stages) who asked Jacobus to join the Trump train as the Communications Director. Trump is a high profile guy and Jacobus is a professional so she takes the meeting.
The second meeting is where it gets tricky. Corey Lewandowski, according to the summons, behaves in an “erratic” way. He was talking loudly and inappropriately and was generally a "powder keg." He even brags about yelling at Megyn Kelly.
Jacobus smartly declines their offer of employment and goes back to her role as news commentator. Her brief foray into Trump's world safely behind her, or so she thought. Jacobus was at the start of another round of unprofessional behavior.
What happens to her is a roller coaster of a ride through the Trump sewer of retaliation and lies.
While on the Don Lemon show, in January, she criticized Trump's debating skills among other things. She is, after all, a commentator. But Jacobus got under Trump's thin skin.
Both Trump and Lewandowski engaged in a takedown of Jacobus' character on talk shows and on the web. For weeks they claimed that she “begged” them for a job and was turned down..
Many other anonymous tweeters joined in and they brought Pepe along to help them fight their sordid battle. (Who are these hidden tweeters?) In early January one tweet showed Pepe, with blond Trump-style hair, pointing a machine gun with a message for Cheri: this triggers @CheriJacobus
Pepe reads Mein Kampf
Then later that day another tweet appeared. It is a two-paneled image of a blond woman with her head on a chopping block and her hands tied behind her back. She has a hatchet on her neck. In the next panel Pepe is raping the headless torso.
The message to Cheri: #MakeAmericaGreatAgain
That image is cited in Jacobus' lawsuit.
Trump continued his tirade against her. In his signature juvenile style he tweeted about Jacobus: "A real dummy!"
Trump can't stop, he continues the online assault against Jacobus.
The tweeting persecution of Jacobus contines to this day. Just recently another tweet appeared showing Pepe holding Hitler's Mein Kampf with a message to Jacobs: Do you really think you can win against Shitlords? #LOL
And two days ago, on September 11, a day of rememberance and honor, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an image with Pepe standing to the right of Donald Trump's shoulder. It's a parody of the movie poster for The Expendables. All of the heads have been photoshopped. These are Trump loyalists, all men.
By placing Pepe in the image this becomes a direct message to the alt-right Trump followers. No shame for the hateful.
We can rationalize these events and say to ourselves "It's just Trump being Trump. Pepe is a character used by many."
Pepe is used specifically by the alt-right.
People lie to themselves all the time when we don't want to see the truth. We can be forgiving or dismissive of cruelty as in the case of Cheri Jacobus, or we can be brave and admit to ourselves that this no ordinary election.
These alt-righters are the “basket of deplorables” that Hillary alerted us to and for good reason. She wanted us to see them.
Beware of Pepe.
- Read the lawsuit for yourself, it's pinned at the top of her Twitter page