August 7, 2008 – New York – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is deeply troubled by the injection of race and religious bigotry in the primary campaign in Tennessee’s 9th congressional district that has sought to incite tensions between the Memphis African American and Jewish communities.
“Even as voters go to the polls today, we are compelled to speak out against certain rhetoric and tactics that cross the line of civility and acceptable campaign tactics,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris.
Campaign ads have juxtaposed photos of Congressman Steve Cohen’s picture with a hooded Ku Klux Klansman. Anti-Semitic flyers, reportedly written by the Rev. George Brooks of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, charging that “Steve Cohen and the Jews hate Jesus”, have been circulating in the election district.
“Incendiary attacks based on race and religion should be condemned by all,” said Harris. “Efforts to mislead and inflame voters should not be part of acceptable political discourse.”
Rep. Cohen’s opponent is attorney Nikki Tinker, in a repeat of the 2006 Democratic primary contest.
AJC has in the past called on candidates for public office to refrain from making appeals on the basis of race or religion.
AJC is a nonprofit organization that neither supports nor opposes any candidate for public office.