Parents of James Foley to Republicans: Stop Politicizing Our Son's Death

Parents of James Foley to Republicans: Stop Politicizing Our Son's Death
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

James Foley's parents have had enough.

Images of their son, a freelance photographer who was executed by the Islamic State in August in a widely circulated video, are being used in numerous political ads to attack Democratic candidates on national security issues.

John and Diane Foley spoke out after one commercial in their home state of New Hampshire used footage of their son taken from the IS video to call Sen. Jeanne Shaheen weak on foreign policy.

Take a look:

Source: YouTube

"I think it's deplorable and I think there should be an apology," John Foley told New England Cable News. Diane added, "It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes."

The ads in question come from Secure America Now, a conservative political action committee airing similar commercials in congressional races across the country. A spokesman for the group told NECN that there was no need for an apology, saying, "The image has appeared around the world millions of times. ...We meant no harm, we just took an image that is in public domain and used it."

A few individual candidates have used images from IS videos in their ad campaigns as well. Republican Wendy Rogers of Arizona, running for a U.S. House seat, used an image of Foley kneeling next to a masked IS militant with the words "Terrorist threats are growing" superimposed. Allen Weh, a Senate candidate from New Mexico, ran a similar ad.

The reasoning: In an election cycle that seemed like it would be completely focused on domestic issues like health care and the economy, the threat of IS (and, apparently, Ebola) as well as the subsequent U.S. military response have made foreign policy a much bigger issue.

In the minds of some candidates and committees, it seems, the best way to drive home the threat posed by this group is to visually remind voters of an American who was killed. But as Foley's parents protest, it's a cheap tactic with little regard for the effect such an ad can have on those who know any of IS's victims.

Secure America Now says they "meant no harm." But that's up to Foley's parents to decide.

h/t Vox

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Matt Connolly

Matt has written for Mother Jones, the Washington Examiner and Chicago Public Radio among many others. He's a resident of Washington, D.C., but much like Bruce Springsteen and pork roll he is a product of New Jersey.

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