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Ilhan Omar is holding an automatic weapon; a smiling Ayanna Pressley is pointing a handgun. Off to the left is Rashida Tlaib, her face contorted into a fierce gaze. In front is a devilish Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, attired in a flaming red dress.
This is the “Jihad Squad,” at least according to the social media meme.
Social media is a no-holds barred type of place, so juvenile and offensive creations are no surprise.
But in this case, the image was reportedly tweeted out not by college students who downed too many beers, but the Sussex County Republican Committee.
A group of Sussex County Democrats brought attention to the “Jihad Squad” image by attending Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s community college board to confront Jerry Scanlan, who is both board vice president and chair of the Sussex County Republican Committee. But Scanlan didn’t attend.
Undaunted, Katie Rotondi, the Sussex Democratic chair, dashed out a release condemning the GOP’s Twitter account for exhibiting racism, sexism, religious intolerance and the like.
It’s hard to quibble with that assessment.
Among the examples cited by the Dems are images from the GOP Twitter account that call the four Democratic congresswoman at issue “bitches” in one instance and “whores” in another.
But there’s more. In another image, Donald Trump is credited for keeping “lesbian hags” out of the White House. Pictured are Hillary Clinton and soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Michelle Obama is a target as well. An image of the former First Lady has her holding a “race card” in a takeoff of the TV commercial that asks,”What’s in your wallet?”
It’s always amazing how attacks of this type seem to avoid all levels of common sense and awareness. Rapinoe was the captain of the World Cup-winning U.S. soccer team; a team celebrated in front of thousands at a ticker tape parade in Manhattan. Michelle Obama is one of the most respected women in the country and the author of a recent biography that has posted record sales.
Scanlan, the Sussex GOP chair, has not responded to two phone messages left for him.
But county Republicans did issue a rather laughable statement blaming the dustup on Phil Murphy. It’s all, you see, a diversionary tactic.
So, what happens next?
Published reports suggest the college board of trustees will look into the tweets, as opposed to simply ignoring them.
If Scanlan was serving on a local board of education, he’d likely face some consequences. But a community college board is a different animal.
There is nothing at all surprising that a local Republican committee is going to criticize four Democratic representatives and others who have earned the ire of the president. But there has to be, or at least there should be, some standard of decency. That’s certainly not the case with the tweets being circulated here.
Looking beyond – or above – this fracas, two points must be made.
Sussex County is not without some problems. It is losing population, which eventually can lead to closing schools and other service cutbacks.
And Republicans are the county’s dominant party.
It’s hard to see how offensive posts can help the county attract the redevelopment it needs.