The Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association is apologizing after an apparent posting of a bigoted meme on its Facebook page calling several Democratic congresswomen of color the “jihad squad.”
The image shows Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who are known collectively as “the squad” in a mock movie poster.
A screenshot was posted on Twitter by local Chicago reporter Craig Wall of ABC-affiliate WLS-TV. The poster appears to have been shared on Friday and then deleted. The RCCA has not confirmed whether it created the image, though the screenshot shows that the poster bears the organization’s insignia on the bottom right-hand corner.
“Political jihad is their game,” the poster reads. “If you don’t agree with their Socialist ideology, you’re racist.”
On Sunday, RCCA President Mark Shaw released a statement acknowledging that “an image which was not authorized by me was posted on the Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association.”
“I condemn this unauthorized posting and it has been deleted,” he added. “I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents.”
Shaw went on to call the post “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.”
Cook County Republican Party Chairman Sean Morrison also spoke out against the post on Sunday, blasting it as an appalling “use of hateful rhetoric.”
“There are civil ways to express political differences that do not involve going to racist extremes,” he said.
The meme mimics the movie poster for the 2013 action film, “Gangster Squad.”
The image capped off a whirlwind week of racist remarks from President Donald Trump, who appeared to target the four congresswomen in a series of tweets urging them to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”
During his Greenville, North Carolina campaign rally on Wednesday, the president singled out Omar by name, sparking “send her back” chants from the crowd.
He has since done little to denounce the chants, defending his supporters as “incredible patriots.”
In an interview with CBS News, part of which aired Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence neglected to condemn the chants, offering no guarantee that Trump would stop the racist line from being repeated in the future.