Is This Ad Campaign Racist?

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, says so.

In a letter to the FBI requesting they pull the campaign from Seattle buses, McDermott sounds off on what he says is “offensive to Muslims and ethnic minorities” and “encourages racial and religious profiling.”

The ad shows sixteen faces of wanted terrorists, all of whom appear to be from predominantly Muslim regions. McDermott calls foul, writing that the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list includes people of other races and “associations with other religions and causes.”

“But their faces are missing from this campaign,” he writes.

“The...ad will likely only serve to exacerbate the disturbing trend against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim Americans.”

The ad is the work of the Puget Sound Joint Terrorism Task Force, and are part of the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program.

As downtown news blog Fifth Avenue Seattle reported on June 4, the program is offering $25 million in rewards for information leading to the terror suspects' arrests. (A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the ad campaign itself cost $25 million.)

We are trying to reach someone with the FBI to get comment on their purported dastardly-ness, but the news release announcing the program put it like this:

“Members of Seattle’s community have time and time again shown themselves to be concerned about protecting their families, their neighbors, and their freedom. Many despicable plots from illicit drug trafficking to violent acts of terrorism have come to the FBI’s attention because vigilant Seattleites came forward with a tip.”

 
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