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A Texas man has been removed from his position as an assistant middle school principal after he wrote and published a children’s book starring popular meme and white supremacist icon Pepe the Frog.
Eric Hauser’s The Adventures of Pepe and Pede stars the frog and his friend, a centipede (“centipede” is a common nickname shared by President Trump supporters on Reddit’s controversial r/the_donald forum). The two buddies team up to save their home, Wishington Farm, from an evil, swamp-dwelling alligator named “Alkah.” They defeat him using the blossoms of the honesty tree, which never grew under the previous farmer. The parallels to the Trump administration are only barely disguised.
“Pepe and his centipede sidekick Pede start the book ecstatic that the old farmer has left after eight years of oppression,” the Washington Post reported.
Denton school district took away Hauser’s position as a Rodriguez Middle School assistant principal because “the book’s implied message has been a distraction to his colleagues across Denton ISD,” according to a statement.
Pepe and Pede was initially self-published, but it was quickly picked up by a conservative publishing house called Post Hill Press, whose other pro-Trump books include a kids’ book where a Trumpian rabbit called Thump becomes president; Go the F**k to Jail: An Adult Coloring Book of the Clinton Scandals (Tagline: “Lock Her Up!”); and The Trump Book of Insults: An Adult Coloring Book.
The publisher denied there were any “hidden messages” in the book, and told the Post it was simply a story about “law and order” and “good vs. evil.”
But that’s not the impression the illustrator of the book, Nina Khalova, got. Vice’s Motherboard contacted her about the book, and she shared Hauser’s notes on the art with them. Among other things, he wanted the evil alligator’s minions to look more like a cartoon meme of Muslim women in burkas.
The book also references 4chan memes like the god “Kek,” and includes a dedication “to my fellow centipedes.” If you’re familiar with the meme culture of white supremacists, it’s not particularly subtle.
Hauser denies any affiliation with white supremacists. “This book has a lot of conservative overtones, but I will tell you this: I wrote the book as attempt to break down the barriers of political correctness and embrace truth, honesty, and teamwork,” he told the Dallas Observer.
H/T Washington Post
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.