In an election cycle packed with nasty attacks and over-the-top rhetoric, a late contender for the prize for most disgusting political ad comes from the conservative group Secure America Now, which has been heavily promoting a video called “Welcome to the Islamic States of America” on social media:
The ad shows a future “Islamic States of America” in which there are segregated gay and straight water fountains, the Hollywood sign has been replaced with the words “Allahu Akbar,” the Statue of Liberty has been covered by a burka and the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania has been turned into the “Flight 93 Islamic Cultural Center.”
The words “The choice is yours” appear on the screen at the end of the ad as schoolchildren recite, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Islamic States of America and to our caliphate for which it stands, one nation under Allah with liberty and justice for men only.”
While the ad doesn’t mention the names of any candidates, it’s clear whom the group is backing: It has already spent more than $200,000 opposing Hillary Clinton in this election cycle and its Twitter account has retweeted several people sharing or commenting on the video with variations of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” catchphrase.
Secure America Now is cagey about its donors, but it’s run by a longtime aide to conservative megadonor Ron Lauder. Media Matters reported in 2014 that the group’s advisory board included former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Bush administration official John Bolton, but the organization no longer lists advisory board members on its website. Also in 2014, the group sponsored a multi-country junket for Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz’s presidential campaign has been the biggest beneficiary of the group’s independent expenditures in this election cycle.
In late 2014, the group was forced to pull an ad featuring footage of the beheading of journalist James Foley after Foley’s parents called it “deplorable.” An “Islamic State of Germany” ad similar to its “Islamic States of America” video has caused controversy in Germany. The Washington Post recently reported on the German version of the ad, “Although the video has been widely perceived to be pro-Trump in Germany, its producers have suggested that its main goal is to influence Senate races in several states.”