Illinois GOP Issues Half-Apology After Sharing Racist Meme

An Illinois Republican group issued a half apology after posting a movie-style poster on its Facebook group depicting four Democratic congresswomen of color as “The Jihad Squad.” The Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association (IRCCA) later deleted the racist meme.

The image, which resembled an action movie poster, included Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). It included the words “The Jihad Squad” and added the tagline: “Political Jihad is Their Game” and “If You Don’t Agree With Their Socialist Ideology, You’re A Racist.” According to CNN, the meme included the association’s logo.

On July 21, the association’s president, Mark Shaw, issued the half apology while continuing to attack the four women as “socialist.” Shaw wrote that he condemned the unauthorized posting, calling it “an unfortunate distraction from the serious debate surrounding the policies advocated by these four socialist members of the United States of Representatives of which I strongly disagree.”

He also offered an apology to those offended by the image, but not for the image itself or to the Congresswomen. Shaw’s post came hours after Illinois Republicans joined Democrats in condemning the meme.

“I strongly condemn evoking race or religion as the basis for political disagreement. The recent social media post coming from the IRCCA does not reflect my values or the Illinois Republican Party’s values,” Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement. “Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates and further divides our nation.”

Schneider stated further that his “intense disagreement with the socialist policies and anti-semitic language of these four congresswomen has absolutely nothing to do with their race or religion.” He urged his supporters who oppose the lawmakers “keep the rhetoric focused on policy and political ideology.”

Sean Morrison, chairman of the Cook County Republican Party, said he was “appalled” by the “use of hateful rhetoric.” He said in a statement that there were ways to express political differences without resorting to “racist extremes.”

“The Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association’s post only serves to further the hateful divide within our country, when we should instead strive for an intelligent, civil, and thoughtful discussion of the philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats,” Morrison said, according to NBC News.

The “racist and inflammatory attack” was also denounced by the Cook County Democratic Party, which said the meme perpetuates the attacks by President Donald Trump “promoting lies and racism to alienate immigrants, women, and people of color.” The statement added:

“This language of hatred and bigotry has no room in our society and has dangerous consequences.”

The four female lawmakers of color have recently been the target of racist attacks by Trump. The president has continued to attack the freshmen Democratic congresswomen, who have occasionally clashed with their own party’s leader, for nearly two weeks.

On July 21, the president said the group was incapable of loving the United States. “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country. They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said,” he tweeted. “They are destroying the Democratic Party, but are weak [and] insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!”

The tweet came days after Trump had escalated his attack on the congresswomen during his rally in North Carolina on July 17. As he targeted Omar, Trump’s supporters began chanting, “Send her back!”

Trump previously told the lawmakers on July 13 that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four congresswomen were born in the United States. Omar came to the US as a Somali refugee and is a naturalized citizen.

The House of Representatives later condemned Trump’s racist remarks in a 240-187 vote. Four Republicans and the House’s sole independent, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in favor of the resolution along with the Democratic majority.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.