In Missouri’s 1st district race, the longtime Democratic incumbent has apparently sent out a mailer darkening his primary opponent’s skin and attacking her for supporting Palestinian rights.
William Lacy Clay is running for his 11th term in congress. In 2018, he successfully thwarted a primary challenge from Cori Bush, a nurse and community activist. Now Bush is running against Clay in a rematch, with the backing of progressive groups like Justice Democrats and politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders. “With the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the entire nation, it would be fitting for one of the main leaders of the Ferguson movement to be elected to Congress,” Justice Democrats executive director Alex Rojas recently told Politico, “There’s a new generation of leaders shaped by this movement who want to bring the urgency on the streets into elected office.”
The pro-Clay mailer features a picture of Bush standing next to prominent Muslim activist (and frequent right-wing target) Linda Sarsour. While the image of Sarsour is in color, Bush’s portion of the photograph has been converted to black & white thus making the African-American candidate look darker.
The mailer attacks Bush for her connection to Sarsour, her defense of the BDS movement, and her support for conditioning military aid to Israel.
“In our current geopolitical economy, money talks far louder than speech alone,” reads Bush’s foreign policy platform, “This is why nonviolent actions like the BDS movement are so important – and why the effort to mischaracterize and demonize the BDS movement by its opponents is so urgent.”
“It is an outrage that at this moment in our nation’s history when we have a President who openly divides us by race, we in St. Louis are represented by a Black man who seeks to denigrate me for being a Black woman. Lacy Clay has some explaining to do. He denigrates me in the most cynical way by altering my photo in his campaign mailer, causing my skin to look darker than it did in the original photo,” said Bush in a statement.
Her campaign also put out a statement that addressed the BDS smears:
Cori Bush has always been sympathetic to the BDS movement, and she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people, just as they have stood in solidarity with Black Americans fighting for their own lives. Cori Bush is running because she learned from the example of John Lewis that “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what [he] calls good trouble, necessary trouble.
The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee put out a statement of support for Bush in response to the mailer. “Cori Bush has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian rights and harsh critic of Israel. She spoke at our rally on July 3 to oppose Israel’s move to annex the West Bank and she shares our principles of anti-imperialism abroad and anti-racism at home,” it reads.
In 2019, Clay voted with the vast majority of his fellow Democrats to endorse a House resolution condemning BDS. “This bipartisan legislation is an important victory against the BDS movement, which seeks to inflict and encourage economic harm on the State of Israel and its people,” he said at the time, “My vote stands for the principle that no matter how divided our politics, the protection and support of our ally Israel is a bipartisan trust and should remain as such.”