Just say no: Why the Welsh national movement should shun Pepe the Frog

Dylan Llŷr

Welsh nationalism has long had to fight off false and lazy insinuations that it is linked to fascism.

Indeed, Professor Richard Wyn Jones has written a whole book on the history of this malicious tactic, and why the accusation is baseless.

But Welsh nationalists still need to be vigilant. Anything that can be twisted to suggest a whiff of extremism will be pounced on, so it’s important not to give opponents such opportunities.

It’s therefore distressing to note a handful of Welsh nationalist Twitter accounts and Facebook pages that are propagating imagery popularised by the self-described ‘alt-right’.

Some of these accounts feature Pepe, the cartoon frog who became the symbol of internet Trumpism, in their profile images.

Much of the content posted by these accounts is standard Welsh nationalist fare, and many sensible people will readily agree with a lot of it.

But amongst the ordinary complaints about Wales’ woeful infrastructure and neglect by Westminster, there is some worrying stuff.

Specifically, there’s more than a whiff of toxic masculinity. A very small number of these accounts are also outright racist.

Even some of the memes that are ostensibly quite benign are versions of running jokes from proto-fascist cyber-swamps like 4chan and certain corners of Reddit, so they’re a problem by association.

This might not be a problem if these memes were left to fester in the darkest corners of Twitter and Facebook, but I have noticed some prominent members of the national movement – who might just not know any better –  liking and sometimes even sharing this content.

Anti-establishment

In some instances, the use of memes with links to the far-right could be due to naivety by the account owners. They may simply not have realised that such a connection exists.

But we also know that the far-right has a record of creating groups and accounts that seem mild at first in order to attract followers, before gradually turning on the extremism.

With that in mind, the fact that most of the content is benign shouldn’t necessarily comfort us.

The ‘alt-right’ is anti-establishment, and so is Welsh nationalism, so one can imagine how the former could consider the latter a fertile recruiting ground.

In truth, of course, the two are anti-establishment in very different ways. But while the overlap is, hopefully, minimal, it would be a stretch to deny that it exists at all.

I haven’t named any specific accounts or groups since the whole point of this article is to recommend that we shun them and deny them a platform.

They aren’t numerous by any means, so this is written in the hope that we can nip things in the bud.

Avoiding racist accounts goes without saying. We also ought to avoid those that depict favoured ideologies as masculine and their opponents as effete.

Certainly, If you see a frog avatar that isn’t Kermit, that’s a very reliable sign that the account in question should be avoided like the plague. We can do without this stuff. We need to.

Articles via Email

Get instant updates to your inbox

We do not moderate comments before they appear. The views expressed in the comments are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nation. Cymru. Please read our community standards and participation guidelines before contributing.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Could you give a link to – “a handful of Welsh nationalist Twitter accounts and Facebook pages” – so I can see the evidence and make my own conclusion?

Royston Jones
Guest

A very vague and uninformative post that may have more to do with fears of a new nationalist party than with the appearance of a Welsh Alt-Right. I have never seen this amphibian used in a Welsh context so I too would welcome specifics.

Dan Jones
Guest

Surely it would pay dividends to repurpose the fascist memes to a more benign use, thus negating the association and taking the ammunition off such fascists? These accusations seem like a baseless attack, and frankly, not including the names of the twitter handles or facebook pages seems like a cowardly attack that is done in such a way as to deliberately avoid any scrutiny or counter-criticism.

DT
Guest
DT

unless the author is willing to give details of these far right nationalist movements then this article could be accused of spreading fake news from the left leaning liberal political spectrum in order to discredit the nationalists without providing any substance.

glasiad
Guest

Dylan is quite right to sound the alarm about these thought criminals invading our safe spaces. Simply having them banned is not enough – they would go underground where toxic masculinity and wrong-think could go on unabated. We need to round them up and have them re-educated. Those who remain resistant to re-programming should be put on pubic show trials, appropriately denounced, and severe punishment inflicted, preferably corporal. How else are we to keep people in line? It worked in the Soviet Union. There is no reason why it wouldn’t work here too.

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Good idea! Still works in, North Korea… Just as an add on, we could have re-education officers dressed in black, masked – “alt left” – like Antifa as camp guards: they enjoy a bit of violence in pursuit of justice.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

Glasiad – “Those who remain resistant to re-programming should be put on pubic show trials,……” Your enthusiasm for a bit of “correction” has slipped out of control here, mate …..”pubic show trials ” ? What kind of pervert are you aiming to cater for ?

Rob Bruce
Guest

“recommend that we shun them” and “should be avoided” somehow translates as “having them banned”, does it?
I agree that Dylan’s coyness in naming names is unhelpful and patronising, but some of the responses here look a little, I don’t know, over-defensive?

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

no one said anything at all like what you’re suggesting, so stop being disingenuous

what *was* said was that this particular association is bad for welsh independence. it will undoubtedly be used as a stick to beat independence movement, whether rightly or wrongly, and that’s the important thing

if you feel you’d like statement is incorrect then go ahead and fight for your right to spread this rubbish. otherwise, might i suggest you take your typically pathetic strawman argument and bugger off?

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

God people … Glasiad is making a sarcastic joke!

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

oh of course. we can tell it’s a joke cause it’s really funny! :p

more like glasiad is trying to make argument through a reductio ad absurdum strawman, and in doing so invalidates his argument

i personally welcome glasiad’s input (even though i always disagree) because it’s good for all of us to be challenged, but if he’s just going to make it up then i see no point to him commenting?

henacynflin
Guest

Dylan is correct to say that memes such as these are easy quick methods to know the ideology of the person using them – phrases such as “toxic masculinity” serve exactly the same purpose

Benjiman L. Angwin
Guest
Benjiman L. Angwin

Le Mythe de Sisyphe, Albert Camus (1942). And absurdism.

That’s all I have to say. Hwyl.

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Bit like a Kafka character fishing in a bathtub…Love, Camus a real “outsider”…

JD
Guest
JD

Never seen nor heard of this frog?!?

Bobi the fire engine
Guest
Bobi the fire engine

The solution to this horrendous problem is obviously Men Camps where men can finally be detoxified of their masculinity and shown the error of their men ways. Here, an intense reprogramming curriculum can be carried out by enlightened non binary,intersexual, asexual persons who will fully train the miscreants in inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity. Those asking for tolerance towards their difference and diversity of opinion will be shot on the spot.

Signed

A self identifying non binary fire engine named Bobi – if replying, please refer to me using the correct gender-neutral pronouns

Royston Jones
Guest

Bobi, I am in love with you!

Bobi the fire engine
Guest
Bobi the fire engine

Oh ow, did you just commit a gender binary microaggression?

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

looks like someone can’t handle the fact that some people’s body chemistry makes them feel like the opposite gender and they wish not to be bullied for it!

can someone says ‘reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’?

if you need a safe space away from these scary, other-gender people then i can certainly find one for you. just let me know, brawd bobi

Dylan Llyr (@dylanllyr)
Guest

If you haven’t heard of the frog, well, honestly, good for you. Really, all you need to know is that he’s used as a mascot by far-right Trumpists. If far-right Trumpism disgusts you, as it should, then you should wish to avoid any associations between it and Welsh nationalism. The article enables you to keep an eye out for the warning signs. But if far-right Trumpism doesn’t, in fact, disgust you, then I have nothing more to say to you. There’s nothing to be gained from naming the accounts. As I said, I think we shouldn’t give them a platform,… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

What part of the US did you live in?

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Sorry but, I don’t think you can show the accounts, Dylan: I’m scepical you can produce them. I’m of black origin and I see no evidence that, Trump is far right either. Actually, Mexican votes and blacks saw him across the line.

Ralph McSmell
Guest
Ralph McSmell

These accounts are easily found and it’s been terrifying to see Welsh people sharing this stuff so casually – especially since words like ‘cec’ and ‘pepe’ can be found in these accounts’ biogs.

It’s also disappointing to see the response here, especially on a day where this is literally top of the global news agenda, with Trump sharing Britain First propaganda!

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

Trump posted Tweets of a, Jayda Fransen and was highly unlikely ever to have heard of, Britain First or the people who advised him about them. Also. I tried to find, these eaisly found accounts but was unable to find any . Please direct me to them, Ralph.

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

i feel there is a point to be made that not sharing the accounts under discussion is unacceptable this is the prime twitter account that i can see sharing these memes: https://twitter.com/WelshIndyMemes. it previously said ‘cec a pepe yw’r gorau’ and now says ‘I’m not alt-right or a nazi, I just like memes’ in fairness to this particular account, it is very benign and simply seems to be an pro-independence account that uses popular, modern, internet memes to make the cause of indepence seem fun and cool. in addition, cec/kek and pepe are not exclusively alt-right memes (even if the… Read more »

Dylan Llyr (@dylanllyr)
Guest

Look, this shouldn’t be tricky. The article is aimed at people who don’t want Welsh nationalism to be associated with the ‘alt-right’, and explains how to identify it so they can react accordingly. There’s a great big picture of the bloody frog right there in the article so that people know what too look for if this is new to them. You shouldn’t need any more. Frankly, the defensive “but who do you mean?!” comments here sound disingenuous. If your true problem with the article is that you actually have a soft spot for the ‘alt-right’, just say so and… Read more »

Ralph McSmell
Guest
Ralph McSmell

“well done to the owner of this account for fighting the good cause and being receptive to the worries of the community”

The state of these comments. Well, if he says he’s not a nazi then we’re all fine to keep sharing racist memes from the alt-right’s neckbeard jester wing. I’m sure it won’t do any harm to the independence movement to have it infiltrated by shitposts and racist dogwhistles.

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

i don’t want to distract from dylan’s core point, because he’s absolutely right. i am likewise disappointed by the many disingenuous, strawman arguments from those feeling a little bit too threatened on the other hand, i feel in this case there has been a genuine misunderstanding around this particular account, and not just because the poster says so. i know these memes and they are not exclusively alt-right memes. i wasn’t aware kek was even used by the alt-right at all. it’s just video gamer speak as far as i know (my friends and i are known to say this… Read more »

Royston Jones
Guest

The truth is that if Welsh nationalism appealed across the political spectrum instead of being confined to a small number of prissy, self-righteous leftists it would have far more chance of success. Which is it to be – success or political correctness?

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

definitely we need broad support and to respect each other (so maybe insults like ‘prissy, self-righteous leftists’ don’t help? :p)

but we don’t need extremism, and especially this hypocritical, destructive, divisive extremism imported from across the atlantic

Royston Jones
Guest

That’s how I see them, that’s how I’ll describe them. Are YOU saying I can’t? Are YOU telling me what I can and can’t say?

And by the way, I’ve imported nothing from across the Atlantic. I am what I have always been – a Welsh nationalist who believes in freedom of expression.

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

i’m not talking about YOU, i’m talking about others. i believe YOU are jac o’ the north? if so, YOU can see i’ve complimented YOU below. if not, well, i don’t know YOU from a bar of soap

YOU can say whatever YOU want of course. i just thought it contradictory to say YOU want everyone to get along under the banner of independence but then label the other side (ie. reinforce the divisions). was but a mere suggestion, my good friend royston

perhaps a pint’s in order. i’ll go get one now

N.B. YOU

Royston Jones
Guest

No, no, no, I don’t expect everyone to get along under the banner of independence, that’s the very point I’m making. A varied and diverse independence movement will reach more people because it will have different appeals to different people in different areas with different concerns. This will lead to debate and even hostility within the independence movement, but as long as we agree on independence it doesn’t matter. But if the independence debate is monopolised by “prissy, self-righteous leftists” then it will never appeal to anything other than a minority. For too many people Plaid Cymru is the face… Read more »

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

right, i see… it had never occurred to me that get coming together meant not getting along. i guess it makes some sense in a right-wing sort of way? haha

it’s the middle of the night here for me so a perfectly good time to drink

Royston Jones
Guest

Not coming together, just agreeing on independence to broaden its appeal.

Because if in the minds of Welsh people ‘Independence = Plaid Cymru’ then we’re fucked.

Dylan Llyr (@dylanllyr)
Guest

You’re saying there’s a binary choice, between something called ‘self-righteous leftism’ on one hand and embracing sexist and misogynistic imagery on the other. That is silly.

Appealing to a broad political spectrum is fine and sensible. But that shouldn’t include the ‘alt-right’, because the ‘alt-right’ is disgusting.

I know you’re just going to come back and deny that the ‘alt-right’ is racist and misogynistic, so to avoid going round in boring circles I’ll just say beforehand that you’re clearly and obviously wrong. Leave it there.

kim erswell
Guest
kim erswell

I “deny that the ‘alt-right’ is racist and misogynistic…”

Rob Bruce
Guest

“you’re clearly and obviously wrong”

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

i suppose you would say that since you seem to have drunk at the fountain of trump/alt-right 😉 you can deny it all you want but the facts speaks for themselves – it is hyper-masculine and misogynistic (being associated with pick-up artistry and a specific strain of body building/improvement that are male-centric and promote selfish, misogynistic attitudes; and there’s gamergate) – it is utterly and hypocritically intolerant (they feel it’s their right to say and do whatever they want without any regard for anyone else, which in my book that just makes them selfish pricks. they go on about snowflakes,… Read more »

Dylan Llyr (@dylanllyr)
Guest

In fact, you can’t possibly appeal to a broad and diverse spectrum unless you shun the ‘alt-right’. So even by your own terms, you should be thanking me for the useful advice I gave in the article.

Dafis
Guest
Dafis

Alt right is just another label for people who have clustered a mix of age old prejudicies, predispositions, blinkers, etc etc. Within this fabled self promoted alt right there is a range of stances and some of those are pretty intolerant of other alt right before they look at anything else ! . Something like “my alt right is bigger ( or purer) than yours”. Homophobia is a classic feature yet many “prophets/ advocates” of alt right are happy to “engage” with their fellow males. Sort that out. Perhaps we should get back to focusing on the real challenges like… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

This is one of those things that at the present stage in Welsh nationalism I believe needs to be handled with care, so Dylan, I need you to hear what I’m saying then go have a very, very long think. Lets start with “Trumpism” and anything that might be “imported across the Atlantic”. You see similarities between Brexit and Trump are in the fact that politics stopped listening to the people – that the voter wanted to hold those who no longer seem to represent them to account. But whats happened is those people have become entrenched in their views… Read more »

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

I’m not fully convinced. I could meet you in the middle, in terms of both being Welsh nationalists, because you seem very reasonable! I might not be able to meet the hardest Brexiteer or Trumpist in the middle politically. The reason for this is not self-righteousness, many people voting for Brexit simply prefer not to share UK power with Brussels, but I have a concern about the racist element.

It doesn’t seem that Welsh nationalists using these graphics are expressing a Trump-type nationalism. It is to do with youth culture. Now I sound old.

Dylan Llyr (@dylanllyr)
Guest

Look, the article had a simple purpose. It was simply to describe the ‘alt-right’ aesthetic, so that people who would rather not have Welsh nationalism associated with it don’t inadvertently share or follow these accounts. That’s it. I really had zero interest in having a debate about whether the ‘alt-right’ is, in fact, all bad. Because it is, and that’s that. Sometimes there simply isn’t a middle ground to be found, and the very act of pretending that there is serves only to give false legitimacy to wrong and harmful bullshit. Sometimes one side is right and the other is… Read more »

CambroUiDunlainge
Guest
CambroUiDunlainge

Extremism is bad. The “Far Right” kind as well as the “Far Left” kind in terminologies that you can understand. What you’ve done here is post an opinion and expected Welsh people to accept it without question nor sources – which goes against who we are as a people and more important the foundation of the Welsh nationalist movement. You also stupidly have tried stifle anyone questioning what you have said essentially tell us just to accept it. I do not accept people telling me what to think nor do, I am Welsh. If I have questions and you are… Read more »

Dylan Llyr (@dylanllyr)
Guest

If you agree that the extreme right has no place in Welsh nationalism, why the fuck are you arguing? Just leave it there.

Daniel Cavanagh
Guest
Daniel Cavanagh

i think it’s that cambro sees the same attitude here as the one that caused brexit and trump, ie. an outright dismissal of those with opposite views; a refusal to engage with these people. people’s feelings are what’s important. you might know they are wrong (which is why you’re being dismissive, and fair enough), but they *think* they are right and when you dismiss them as if you are always right and they mean nothing you drive them in the opposite direction. for all their bravado, most of the alt-right are precious little things on the inside and they are… Read more »

glasiad
Guest

So, the conversation continues … Perhaps some of the confusion is that we have different ideas about what the alt-right frog movement is all about. Simply dismissing it as ” disgusting” doesn’t really tell us much at all. So here is I link to a short talk (12 minutes) about the alt-right by Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked magazine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-VwHGWL1HU He describes it as a rebellion against political correctness that in a peculiar way turns it into the very thing their are rebelling against. Or something like that. Certainly food for thought.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Over-intellectualising it. Alt-right is a simply deliberate re-branding by people who know that calling themselves what they are, i.e. hipster-Nazis, would be a PR disaster.