It wasn’t that long ago that the only “squad” anyone talked about was Taylor Swift’s high-powered gaggle of gal pals. “Squad goals” became a catchphrase; it meant, Swift explained, being with women who “motivate you, thrill you, challenge you, and inspire you.”
So when four Democratic congresswomen-elect — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar — emerged from a freshman orientation meeting in November 2018 and posed for a snapshot that landed on Instagram, it needed only a one-word caption: “Squad,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. The photo went viral and got tons of love.
Alas, the new squad’s goals were nothing like Swift’s. The four lawmakers quickly became both source and target of considerable ill will. From them came anti-Semitic sneers about Jewish “Benjamins” (Omar) and dual loyalties (Tlaib) … an accusation that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “disrespectful” to “women of color” (Ocasio-Cortez) … a berating of racial minorities who don’t toe the progressive line (Pressley). Directed at them were equally scornful insults. President Trump, seething at “progressive Democrat congresswomen,” urged them to “go back” to their “crime-infested” native countries. “These are people that hate our country,” he said.
The Squad doesn’t hate America. But like Trump, it makes America more angry and acrimonious. We should have stuck with Taylor’s squad.
— Jeff Jacoby