Object lesson

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Amidst this year’s charges and countercharges of whether or not someone’s playing the race card, it’s worth being reminded, I suppose, of what open bigotry in electioneering looks like. And so we have Tennessee’s ninth congressional district in Memphis, where Nikki Tinker is challenging first termer Steve Cohen, who happens to be Jewish. And very liberal. TN 9 is the only majority black district in the country that is currently represented by a white person. In the past week Tinker has put up ads seeking to tie Cohen to the Ku Klux Klan (for opposing a plan to remove the remains of Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forest from a Memphis park) and charging him with hostility to Christianity (“While he’s in our churches, clapping his hands and tapping his feet … he’s the only senator who thought our kids shouldn’t be allowed to pray in school.”). A pamphlet circulating in the district earlier was overtly anti-Semitic. Charging a Jew with supporting the rabidly anti-Semitic Klan is pretty funny, really.
The Commercial Appeal, which has been on the case, condemned the Ku Klux ad. Politico has led the way on the Christian ad, which was taken off YouTube by the Tinker campaign after the story blew up yesterday. EMILY’s List, the liberal feminist PAC that was supporting Tinker, has dialed back its support. Tinker was far behind in a May poll, but I can find nothing more recent. The vote’s today.
Update: Obama weighs in, calling ads “incendiary.” That’s not a good thing.