Denton school district officials are reassigning an assistant principal whose self-published children’s book “drew controversy” and became a “distraction” to the district because of its main character: Pepe the Frog.
“Pepe the Frog” is an internet meme that has been co-opted in recent years by figures associated with the alt-right, a white nationalist movement so named by Dallas native Richard Spencer.
Eric Hauser, author of “The Adventures of Pepe and Pede,” was removed from his position as assistant principal at Rodriguez Middle School on Monday, Denton ISD said in a news release. His new role is yet to be determined, but he will no longer be in an administrative or educator role at the middle school, which was set to open Wednesday for its first year on the east side of Denton.
A description of his book on Amazon says, “Pepe the Frog and his best friend Centipede unite as one as they fight to restore law and order, and bring freedom back to Wishington Farm. This is an adventurous tale for all ages packed with patriotic prominence!”
One reviewer on the site said, “I read the book two days ago. I found it disturbing that the main characters were trying to run a bearded alligator named “Alkah” out of “Wishington.”
But what some decried as “alt-right propaganda,” others have given a “five-star” rating on the site, even though proponents of the book’s message admit it is politically slanted and aimed at children.
“A commentary about our political world today presented in a charming story for children about making their world a better place,” one reviewer wrote.
Pepe the Frog originally appeared in an online cartoon in 2005 titled “Boys Club” about slacker roommates without racist or anti-semitic overtones. However, the meme that he engendered was added last year to the Anti-Defamation League’s database of hate symbols after being appropriated again and again by white supremacists.
Denton ISD’s news release stated that Hauser requested a reassignment after the publication of his book became a prominent news story.
“Due to the controversy surrounding the book I have published, I think it’s best that I not serve as assistant principal at Rodriguez,” Hauser said. “The students, the community and the teachers are too important to me to subject them to all the negativity and disapproval resulting from this book. To my colleagues, I offer my deepest apologies if this has affected them or their families in any negative way.”