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James Foley's parents to Republicans: stop exploiting our son's murder for votes

American journalist James Foley in Syria
American journalist James Foley in Syria
Nicole Tung via

Two months after ISIS murdered American journalist James Foley, an act they recorded in the hopes of broadcasting to the world, a small but growing number of Republican political campaigns are doing that work for them. This practice has grown to the point that Foley's parents went on TV themselves this week to demand that it stop.

The final straw came when a GOP-aligned political campaign ran an ad in New Hampshire, the Foleys' home state. The ad targeted Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and opened with footage from the ISIS-made video of Foley's murder, just before he was killed. The ad, in implicit support of Republican challenger Scott Brown, accused Shaheen of weakness against "radical Islamists."

James Foley's father, John, appeared this week on a local New Hampshire new station to call the ad "deplorable" and ask for an apology. His mother, Diane, said, "It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes."

Diane Foley added, in what would seem like a reasonable request that has nonetheless gone ignored, "I would just like for them to have the sensitivity and compassion to withdraw that image from their campaign ad."

A spokesman for the political action committee that ran the ads, Secure America Now, refused to apologize or pull the ad, saying, "The image has appeared around the world millions of times." He also pointed out that other US campaigns have used images of Foley's murder in their ads — which, while correct, only seems to highlight the pain that political campaign are putting the Foleys through in pursuit of political points.

Footage from the video of James Foley's murder have also been included in ads for New Mexico Senatorial candidate Allen Weh and Arizona Congressional candidate Wendy Rogers, both Republicans. The campaigns have defended their decision to propagate ISIS-made propaganda in support of their political campaigns.

A growing number of Republican candidates, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, are building their campaigns around national security, particularly the threat from ISIS. To be fair to Republicans, the vast majority running this year have not attempted to exploit Foley's murder for political points. Let us hope, for the sake of the Foleys, that the backlash against the campaigns that have will chasten the rest.

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