Illinois Republican leaders denounce ‘jihad squad’ post on GOP Facebook page

The bogus movie poster appeared on the Facebook page of the Republican County Chairmen’s Association of Illinois on Friday and featured the four women of color nicknamed “the squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

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Congresswomen Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar, And Pressley Hold News Conference After President Trump Attacks Them On Twitter

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), speaks while Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) listen during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019, in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they’re not happy in the United States “they can leave.”

Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The trickle down impact of President Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and racist tweet about four freshman Democratic House members triggered someone to create a fake movie poster about the “jihad squad” on an official Illinois Republican Facebook page, which top state GOP party leaders denounced on Sunday.

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The bogus movie poster appeared on the Facebook page of the Republican County Chairmen’s Association of Illinois on Friday and features the four women of color nicknamed “the squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

Pressley, who was raised in Chicago and is a graduate of the Francis W. Parker school in Lincoln Park, is pictured in the mock poster aiming a handgun, and Omar appears to be holding a semi-automatic rifle.

Under their pictures is the line “political jihad is their game,” followed by “if you don’t agree with their Socialist ideology, you’re racist.”

A Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “jihad” is “a war fought by Muslims to defend or spread their beliefs”; in this context the word is simply there to provoke and incite Islamophobia.

The socialist reference is there for Republicans who want to distance themselves from Trump’s racism by giving themselves the cover story that they are merely highlighting the far left policies of the four.

But don’t get fooled. We know what’s going on, and on Sunday, so did the leaders of the Republican County Chairmen’s Association of Illinois, the Illinois Republican Party and the Cook County Republicans.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider said in a statement, “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. Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates and further divides our nation. My intense disagreement with the socialist policies and anti-Semitic language of these four congresswomen has absolutely nothing to do with their race or religion. I urge everyone who also opposes them to keep the rhetoric focused on policy and political ideology.”

Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison said in a statement, “I am appalled by most recent post on the Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association and their use of hateful rhetoric, and I am calling on them to immediately remove this post.

“There are civil ways to express political differences that do not involve going 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.”

Lake County GOP Chairman Mark Shaw, who is the president of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association, later on Sunday apologized and said in a statement the “unauthorized posting” has been deleted. “I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents.

“This unauthorized posting is an unfortunate distraction from the serious debate surrounding the policies advocated by these four socialist members of the United States House of Representatives of which I strongly disagree. Republican opposition to their proposed “Green New Deal”, elimination of all private health insurance, open borders and anti-Semitic posturing has nothing to do with these Representative’s races or religion.

“The RCCA has a multi-stage, approval process for all social media posts on any of the RCCA’s social media properties. Nevertheless, the RCCA’s internal review process is being re-evaluated to insure that any content posted in the future represents the “big-tent” nature of the Republican Party.”

Trump going after “the squad” is his latest use of race to appeal to his base. He attacked the four again on Sunday in a tweet.

On Sunday afternoon, Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell said in a tweet, “I have some very dear friends in the Illinois Republican Party, my hope is that they’ll step up to denounce this plainly bigoted attack.”

Cook County Democratic Party Chair Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board president, also called for the post to be taken down.

It took a few days, but on Sunday the GOP Illinois Party leaders issued strong statements deploring that post. We’ll see if they have more to say about Trump, who after all, got this ball rolling.

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