While politicians continue to drum up anti-Muslim support in the controversy over the planned Park 25 Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, the reverberations from the debate are still being felt far away from lower Manhattan.
The American Futures Foundation, a non-profit that's designed to "elect candidates who reflect our values through a variety of activities aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election", recently sponsored an attack ad against Democratic Rep. Bruce Baley of Iowa for his support of the project. To do this, they've enlisted a cast of "experts" that include the producers who've already got decades of experience in drumming up racial antipathy:
The ad ominously warns that, "for centuries, Muslims built mosques where they won military victories. Now, they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero...It's like the Japanese building at Pearl Harbor." It goes on to say that the "Muslim cleric building the mosque believes America was partly responsible for 9/11, and is raising millions overseas from secret donors." It then says, "Bruce Braley supports building a mosque at Ground Zero."
One of the organization's key media strategists is Larry McCarthy, who is president of media firm McCarthy Marcus Hennings. "In 1988, McCarthy produced the infamous, racially tinged Willie Horton television ad "in the Dukakis-Bush race that helped tank the Dukakis campaign by ginning up racial animus against African-Americans.
AFF's founder Nick Ryan confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) that McCarthy produced the ad. Ryan also told CPI that McCarthy "does a lot of ads for the fund."
Muslim advocates charged that it's this type of recklessness that led to the stabbing of a Muslim taxi driver in New York City. On Tuesday, Ahmed Sharif was viciously stabbed in the neck by a 21-year-old film student who had just returned from shooting a documentary in Afghanistan and reportedly kept a journal filled with anti-Muslim rants.
"That man's blood is on [politicians'] hands," Bhairavi Desai told Democracy Now.