JEFFERSON PARK — After an embarrassing and racist meme led to a public apology from a state Republican group over the weekend, a Northwest Side Republican group decided to resurrect it.
The meme in question is a fake film poster featuring U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) that calls the women “The Jihad Squad.”
It was originally posted to the Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association over the weekend. It was deleted and denounced by state GOP leaders on Sunday.
“Open discussion: is this meme racist?,” Podgorski wrote on the Facebook post.
When reached by phone Tuesday, Podgorski said he posted the meme to find out if people really thought it was racist through an “open friendly discussion among adults.”
Podgorski insists he wasn’t thumbing his nose at the Illinois GOP by posting the meme after they already denounced it as “bigoted.”
When asked what he had learned from reposting the controversial meme, Podgorski said he’d been too busy with work to look at the 107 comments the Facebook post had received as of Tuesday morning.
“A lot of people who comment on that page aren’t necessarily members, I mean it’s a public Facebook page,” Podgorski said. “Honestly, I haven’t had time to look at the comments.”
Many of the commenters on Podgorski’s post are defending the meme as satire, including former 45th Ward aldermanic candidate Bob Bank.
“I think it’s hilarious. And like all good parody, there’s a lot of truth to it. No, it is not racist…. unless you go by the Democratic meaning: which is, anyone that doesn’t buy in to the Dem propaganda…. is a racist 😝,” Bank wrote.
But one commenter criticized the post as “out of line.”
On Sunday, the original meme was deleted from the Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association after being online all weekend. After it was deleted, the GOP’s state party chair went online to condemn the post.
“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,” said Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party in a statement.
He went on to call the meme “bigoted rhetoric” and said his disagreement with the four lawmakers has nothing to do with their race or religion.
Mark Shaw, co-chair the Illinois Republican Party and leader of the Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association, also denounced the meme and said the posting of it was “unauthorized.”
“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,” Shaw said in a separate Facebook post.
The Cook County Democratic Party also denounced the meme in a statement.
“This language of hatred and bigotry has no room in our society and has dangerous consequences,” the statement read.
The elected women of color, nicknamed “The Squad” by supporters, are outspoken critics of President Donald Trump and his policies.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump tweeted, on July 14.
Three of the women were born in the United States and Omar is a U.S. Citizen who left Somalia when she was six and settled in the United States when she was 10.
At a press conference the day after he posted the tweets about the women, Trump defended them by saying any accusations of racism directed at him don’t bother him “because many people agree with me.”
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