Less than a month before the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a new attack ad condemning the “ground zero mosque” aired in New York. Republican Bob Turner, who is running in the special election for Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat, lambasts his opponent, Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin, for supporting the Park51/Cordoba House project, which was the talk of last summer’s gubernatorial campaign.
In the video, which has been removed from Youtube, Turner tries to resurrect last summer’s debate. Here’s the voiceover (via the NY Daily News):
“It’s been ten short years. Everyone remembers. Some, though, want to commemorate the tragedy by building a mosque on Ground Zero. President Obama thinks that’s a good idea. And so does Congressional candidate David Weprin. [Weprin video: "I support the right of the mosque to build."] Bob Turner says no. He knows Obama and Weprin are wrong. September 13th, send a message. Bob Turner for Congress.”
Several hours later, the Weprin campaign responded, saying, “As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it’s shameful that Bob Turner is trying to use the tragedy for his own political gain. I knew people who lost their lives that day and Bob Turner dishonors their memory by politicizing the attacks on New York.”
The puzzling part of the ad is that although Weprin leads by a narrow margin, it seems as though the controversy had officially been labeled a non-issue. The mosque won’t be built on Ground Zero, and the developers admit that the project is far from completion. Why would Turner think that starting to beat a dead horse would improve his chances at winning Weiner’s seat, when atheists’ protests over plans to put up a cross at the Ground Zero memorial seem to be sparking more discussion these days?
Writing for Salon, Justin Elliott speculates that the ad might be a bid to win over Jewish voters, who comprise 29% of the Brooklyn/Queens-based 9th district. According to Elliott, one of Turner’s spokesmen “portrayed Weprin’s support for the right to build the mosque as part and parcel of a ‘worldview’ that is…insufficiently supportive of Israel.”
Whether this ploy will work is another question. In the lead-up to the 9/11 anniversary, though, you can bet that anti-Muslim rhetoric will, once again, rear its ugly head. In all likelihood, this is just the beginning.
Photo from david shankbone via flickr.