Posts

Tennessee Flier Claims Jewish Congressman “Hates Jesus”

Steve Cohen was elected to Congress in 2006 to represent the Memphis, TN district Harold Ford had abandoned in his unsuccessful bid for promotion to the Senate. Cohen is the first Jewish member of Tennessee's congressional delegation, and the first … Read More

By / February 14, 2008

Steve Cohen was elected to Congress in 2006 to represent the Memphis, TN district Harold Ford had abandoned in his unsuccessful bid for promotion to the Senate. Cohen is the first Jewish member of Tennessee's congressional delegation, and the first white Democrat to represent Memphis since the Jim Crow era.

Cohen's views are fairly conventionally left-liberal, with a tilt towards issues of particular concern to his majority African-American constituency. Thus far, his highest profile legislation is a bill requiring the US government to formally apologize for slavery and racial segregation. He made headlines for himself shortly after his election, when he tried (and failed) to become a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Though he wasn't accepted into the CBC, he earned himself a spot on Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a District" series that I won't spoil by describing in any way (just watch it).

Nonetheless, from the beginning of his 2006 campaign, some members of the Black Baptist Ministerial Association decided that a white Jew is unfit to represent Memphis, and targeted Cohen accordingly:

Inciting tension between African-Americans and Cohen was the aim of several members of the Black Baptist Ministerial Association who took Cohen to task last summer for his support of federal hate crimes legislation. The real motive behind the attack was revealed in later comments by at least one of those involved.

"He's not black," said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, "and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line."

This year, Cohen faces a primary challenge from Nikki Tinker, an African-American labor lawyer. In order to boost Tinker's chances to unseat Cohen, George Brooks, an African-American baptist minister from Murfreesboro (which is not part of Cohen's district) distributed a flier attacking Cohen. It claims that Jews in general and Cohen in particular hate Jesus, and that "Memphis Christians must unite and support ONE Black Christian" in the upcoming election.

Thus far, Tinker will not denounce the flier.

Cohen is a supporter of Barack Obama and believes Obama's successes are "showing us that Americans have gotten beyond race." In Memphis, that's unfortunately not the case.

Tagged with: