The Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association shared and later deleted a viral fake action movie poster meme labeling four Democratic congresswomen of color the “Jihad Squad.” Big oofs all around.
The group shared the post via their Facebook page Saturday morning, featuring images of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
The movie poster includes a pouting Omar, a screaming Tlaib, Pressley grinning with a gun in hand and AOC smiling in a Hunger Games-esque “dress on fire,” because it seems Republicans are still stuck in 2012.
“Political jihad is their game,” the poster reads, along with the statement, “If you don’t agree with their socialist ideology, you’re racist.”
The post also included the association’s logo.
A dangerously dumb take on the lackluster 2013 crime drama Gangster Squad, the poster referenced the fact that the four women are often referred to as “the squad.” While it’s unclear who posted the image, it replaces the word “gangster” with “jihad,” a word that refers to war against the enemies of Islam.
Neither Ocasio-Cortez nor Pressley are Muslim. Last year, Omar and Tlaib were celebrated as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. But the post is clearly drawing on the negative connotation of the word “jihad” and its association with Islamic extremism. And equating any person of color, Muslim or not, with Islamic extremist groups is both unfair and grossly racist—not to mention that it adds fuel to the fire of Islamophobia.
The Cook County Democratic Party denounced the post, calling for an apology and for the post to be taken down.
The group called the post “a racist and inflammatory attack” that “perpetuates the recent attacks by President Trump, promoting lies and racism to alienate immigrants, women and people of language.”
The Facebook post comes on the heels of Trump demanding that Congresswoman Omar and other Congresswomen of color leave the country. In a series of tweets that even some Republican leaders have branded as racist, Trump urged members of the “Squad” to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Of course, only one of the women was born outside of the United States. Omar, born in Mogadishu, Somalia, moved to the U.S. as a child refugee, becoming a U.S. citizen as a teenager. That means she’s been a citizen longer than First Lady Melania Trump.
The hateful vitriol reached a fever pitch when Trump lashed out at Omar in particular in North Carolina, allowing his supporters to voice a racist rallying cry, chanting “Send her back! Send her back!”
The post has just been one incident in a long line of attacks from Republicans battering the four progressive Congresswomen due to their race.
“This language of hatred and bigotry has no room in our society and has dangerous consequences,” the Cook County Dems continued, saying they stand in solidarity with the four Congresswomen, who represent the diversity of our nation.
Tim Schneider, the head of the Illinois Republican Party, has launched into damage control, also condemning the post in a statement.
“I strongly condemn evoking race or religion as the basis for political disagreement,” he said, assuring readers that the IRCCA Facebook post doesn’t reflect his values or those of the Illinois Republican party.
Mark Shaw, head of the IRCCA, claimed the post was “unauthorized” and likewise condemned it.
“I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents,” he said in a statement before saying the group would re-evaluate their “multi-stage approval process for all social media posts.”
Democratic leaders and lawmakers have also been quick to denounce the post, with Illinois Democratic state Senator Cristina Castro telling the Chicago Tribune that she was speaking with the American Muslim Council when she heard about the ill-advised Facebook post.
“We were talking about Islamophobia and creating a welcoming community in Illinois and there’s this posting,” Castro told the Tribune. “What is the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association thinking? They have become the party of Trump. They fan the flames. It’s actually really racist rhetoric. You can disagree with people on their viewpoints, but with this, you are continuing to divide and fan the flames.”