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Civil rights group calls Pickens Plan ad offensive

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee on Wednesday attacked a commercial for Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens' energy independence plan for being prejudiced.

The advertisement for the Pickens Plan, which aims to end America's dependence on foreign oil and instead invest in American natural gas, begins with a voiceover of the billionaire saying "Go back to sleep America. The oil crisis is over," and flashes the words first in Arabic and then in English across the screen.

Then Pickens himself takes the screen and says, "I don't think so," and proceeds to explain that the American "economy is bleeding billions for foreign oil, importing nearly 70%, much of it from countries that don't like us" while showing images of men with guns next to burning oil fields.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Arab-American civil rights group objected the ad's lettering and images and said the characterizations of Arab people are "inaccurate, offensive, and outright discriminatory."

A spokesperson for the Pickens Plan said "the ads were reviewed as part of the approval process at major cable networks and there were no issues raised."

The ADC said that the images are intended to scare Americans into action at the expense of Arab Americans' heritage or descent, engender hate and perpetuate bigotry and ignorance, and suggested that the advertisement be pulled.

"ADC supports a policy of energy independence," said the group's president Mary Rose Oakar in a statement, "but it is unacceptable that Mr. Pickens is trying to gain support for his own program by reinforcing false stereotypes of Arab countries and their people to the detriment of all American citizens, particularly those of Arabic descent."

The group also rejected the ad's tone which suggests that the United State's depends primarily on oil from the Arab world.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration, the United States imports the most oil from Canada, then Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Still, geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, which boasts a majority of the world's oil reserves and is the only area where oil production is expected to grow, threatens to hike oil prices.

The advertisement is available to view on the Pickens Plan Web site.  To top of page

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