A radio ad being run by a conservative political action committee accuses U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) of supporting “black genocide” due to the senator’s longstanding pro-choice politics.
The ad touts Stabenow’s long-shot GOP challenger John James, who is black, and implores voters to remove the incumbent Democratic senator during this year’s midterm elections.
According to Bridge Magazine, the ad has been running on 92.3 FM WMXD, a Detroit-area R&B station owned by the iHeartmedia conglomerate. It’s not clear if the ad has aired on other stations in Michigan.
The controversial radio spot, which explicitly calls abortion “black genocide,” poses the following question to listeners:
Debbie Stabenow and half of all black babies aborted or John James and more opportunity? Sounds like a simple choice.
At another point, a man in the ad asks, “How can Debbie Stabenow ask for our votes when she doesn’t even want our babies?” A woman responds, “Good question.”
On Friday, several high-profile pastors in the Detroit area took notice of the ad and criticized it in no uncertain terms.
Rev. Wendell Anthony, pastor of Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, specifically called on James to denounce the ad airing in his favor. In comments to Bridge Magazine, he said:
I am very surprised candidate John James would allow himself to be tagged with this kind of deceitful, disrespectful and disingenuous absurd notion. If this is what they’re bringing to get black people to support them, shame on them and see you at the polls.
Bishop Edgar Vann, pastor of second Ebenezer Church also weighed in against the ad, calling it “incendiary” and “inflammatory.”
“Politics is not a religion. It’s a science,” Vann told the magazine. “All we’re doing now is dividing people and this country.”
Terra DeFoe is the Michigan Democratic Party’s faith caucus chair. In comments to Bridge, she echoed the other faith leaders’ criticism of the pro-James ad.
“[James] needs to disassociate himself with this,” she said. “I expected better from him. Speaking as a woman, a black woman and clergy in this community, anybody who votes for someone with that type of commercial is clearly not understanding what’s going on in the inner city. Black people have seen this tactic before and we don’t like it.”
In response to the wellspring of criticism, James’ campaign manager Tori Sachs declined to address the content of the ad directly–but noted that it was the work of a third-party organization and that the candidate does not approve of the ad itself. Sachs also took the opportunity to swipe at Stabenow.
“It’s desperate and hypocritical for Debbie Stabenow and her allies to complain about the results of her failed leadership in Washington that have created an environment where ads can be run without consent or approval of a candidate (we didn’t consent or approve this ad). Our comment is simple — Stabenow told the news 20 years ago that ‘campaign finance reform is my top priority,’ after 43 years as a politician, why haven’t you fixed it already and why should we believe you this time?”
The Stabenow campaign has refused to comment on the radio spot.
This isn’t the first time the James campaign has come under fire for ad-related issues. Earlier this month, the Michigan Republican was pilloried in the state and national press after airing a TV spot featuring a swastika.
The radio ad is being run by the Stars and Stripes Forever PAC. According to OpenSecrets, the Northern Virginia Super PAC has raised $1.6 million during the current election cycle–most of which has been spent.
The Super PAC’s name, of course, is a reference to the patriotic march “Stars and Stripes Forever” by legendary American composer John Philip Sousa. But the Sousa connections don’t end there.
At the helm of the conservative advocacy group is one of Sousa’s own descendants–John Philp Sousa IV. A 2012 profile of the composer’s great-grandson by Mother Jones notes that the latest Sousa is an “immigration hardliner” whose organization has previously gone to bat for scandal-plagued former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Sousa is also a birther. In that profile, he didn’t disavow the label but asked out loud (and then answered), “I mean, can you unequivocally say that Obama was born in the United States? I can’t!”
Sousa’s website also offers some insight into the group’s goals and purpose.
“The American electorate has changed dramatically over the past 25 years,” the strategy section notes. “Due to higher birth rates and massive legal immigration, the number of black and Hispanic voters has increased dramatically….Through the use of targeted radio and television advertising to African American voters, dramatic inroads can be made into winning over those voters on a continuing basis.”
The transcript of the “black genocide” ad is reproduced in full below.
Announcer: A new study shows 61 percent of black deaths are caused by abortion. African American pastors said it’s black genocide.
Man: Black genocide, that’s pretty strong.
Woman: It’s worse than you think, more than 1,800 black babies are aborted each day, half of all the black babies in America.
Woman: And Senator Debbie Stabenow is part of the problem. She supports abortion for any reason.
Man: How can Debbie Stabenow ask for our votes when she doesn’t even want our babies?
Woman: Good question.
Man: Our children need better schools, more jobs and more opportunity, not abortion.
Woman: That’s why I’m voting John James for Senate.
Man: Isn’t John James the black Republican?
Woman: John James is working for more jobs and getting black families the choice in their kids’ schools.
Man: Debbie Stabenow and half of all black babies aborted or John James and more opportunity? Sounds like a simple choice.
Woman: The choice is simple and, this year, the decision is ours.
[image via Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher