Pepe Le Pen

Here’s what you need to know about how the so-called right are organizing for Marine Le Pen in France.

Marine Le Pen as Pepe.

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One of the biggest differences I see between the American so-called alt-right and the American left is that the former sees their movement as global and the latter — for the most part — does not. It’s always struck me as interesting that for all the frog squad’s griping and fear-mongering about globalism (which they believe will consolidate power more centrally and take away individual freedom) they’re heavily invested in far right candidates of other countries.

During the election Trump’s campaign signaled that he understood how the so-called alt-right views the world, when he had Nigel Farage, British Nationalist and chief proponent of Brexit, join him on the campaign trail. Farage, speaking at a Trump rally in Jackson, Mississippi, didn’t endorse Trump outright but made his opinion of Hillary Clinton clear: “I will say this: If I was an American citizen, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me.” Farage later tried to distance himself from Trump, but by then, the damage had already been done.

Anti-globalists go global

Post-election, the frog squad has turned their attention to France, where the leader of the far right National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, has officially announced her candidacy for president. Stories and discussions about her candidacy can be found wherever they congregate online. The frog squad are fierce advocates for her candidacy, and some are taking the rather extraordinary step of using the same tactics that helped boost Trump online to amplify her candidacy in Europe as well.

Buzzfeed uncovered an extraordinary organizing campaign where the so-called alt-right was creating fake Twitter and Facebook accounts, a library of materials for creating pro-Le Pen memes, and even guidelines for creating memes that are culturally appropriate for France. The frog squad’s nationalist views clearly don’t prohibit them from interfering in the elections of other countries.

Meme collage of all things Pepe Le Pen.

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Le Pen evidently welcomes the association. On November 9, she tweeted congratulations to Trump and the “free people of America.” Her party’s vice president, Florian Philippot, went even further, ominously tweeting, “Their world is collapsing. Ours is being built.” And Le Pen’s father, the founder of the National Front Party she now leads, tweeted “Today the United States, tomorrow France.”

In January, during a trip to New York, Le Pen apparently did not meet with Trump but did make sure she was photographed in Trump Tower. She’s made no attempt to distance herself or the National Front Party from the so-called alt-right’s social media assistance. One of her senior advisers recently said that if Le Pen wins, she’ll copy Trump’s Muslim ban.

Marine Le Pen has embraced all things Pepe, and I can’t say I blame her. Trump rode a wave of shit posting and dank memes all the way to the presidency. Now his trolls are bringing their A-game to Europe. As appalled as I am by their views, I can’t help but marvel at their strategy. They’re banking on memes as a universal language. They can count on propaganda and fake news support from the Kremlin. And their own version of the frog squad, the fachosphère, is happy to coordinate.


The above is an excerpt from Ctrl Alt Right Delete, a weekly newsletter devoted to understanding how the right operates online and developing strategies and tactics to fight back.

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Melissa Ryan

Politics + technology. Author of Ctrl Alt Right Delete newsletter. Subscribe here: Coffee drinker. Kentucky basketball fan.