An Illinois Democrat group came under fire for posting, then deleting a meme that compared Make America Great Again hats to Ku Klux Klan hoods.
The Kankakee County Democrats issued an apology following a tweet that showed the image of a red Ku Klux Klan hood along with the words “Make America Hate Again.”
The image was posted by the Kankakee County Democratic chairman himself but was soon taken down, sparking criticism from Republicans and others, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“I do offer my sincere apology to the members of the Democratic Party and any others who may have been negatively affected by this clumsy misrepresentation of our intended message to purchase ‘Union Made’ and ‘Made in the U.S.A’ products,” Chairman John Willard said in a post on Facebook last week.
Though the tweet and offending image were deleted, others reposted it on Twitter.
— Craig Wall ABC 7 (@craigrwall) July 22, 2019
Before the apology, Willard actually stood by his post, alluding to reports that MAGA hats are produced overseas.
“For me, it’s all about the hypocrisy of this president. He says he’s going to make America great, and then did what he did to these four congresswomen … If he’s going to really make America great, don’t make your stuff overseas,” he told Crain’s Chicago Business.
The group’s chairman also referred to a controversial post from the Republican County Chairmen’s Association of Illinois which apologized after sharing an image of the “The Jihad Squad,” featuring four Democratic freshman congresswomen, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar.
The GOP group noted that its post was not authorized by its leaders as Willard criticized it because it “didn’t show very good taste.”
“My intent wasn’t personal,” he said of his own controversial post. “It was about making stuff in the USA.”
The chairman told Crain’s he saw “no correlation” between attacking a Trump supporter in a MAGA hat and the attacks on the Democrat congresswomen. He also vowed to continue criticizing Trump though he said he would be more “selective” with what he shares.
“In the future, I’ll be more selective in how I post my arguments,” he said.
The state’s Democrat governor, who has also been critical of Trump, condemned Willard’s post as “wrong.” He said it “lacks the civility our politics should demand.”
The recent post by the Kanakee Democratic County Chairman is wrong and lacks the civility our politics should demand.
— JB Pritzker (@JBPritzker) July 23, 2019
“Heated racist rhetoric has no place in Illinois or American politics. We denounce hateful speech of any kind and implore the president to stop fanning the flames of racism with his own divisive speech,” the Illinois Democrat Party said in a statement.
Willard’s statement in the Facebook post read, in part: “The narrative of the meme addressed the issue of political campaigns buying products not made in the USA. Namely the MAGA hats. The meme insinuated that KKK hoods are more likely to be made in America than MAGA hats.”
“The post did not stay up long as it was deemed to miss the mark of clearly communicating the intended message. One of our moderators took it down soon after it posted. I thank you for a wise decision,” the message continued. “My intended message is: It would help working Americans greatly if the enormous sums of money being spent on campaign paraphernalia were manufactured in the USA.”
Willard should probably have watched the Business Insider video report on the factory just outside Los Angeles, California where Trump’s signature hats are made by about 100 workers, many of them Latino Americans.
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