by Samuel James

Broken men

OK, so, Tom Kawczynski. You’ve probably heard about him, but in case you haven’t, know that he’s the former town manager of Jackman, Maine who, due to a wonderfully thorough investigation by writers Andy O’Brien and Crash Barry, was exposed as a Nazi last month and soon thereafter fired.

Now, look. This isn’t easy to say, but when I think about Tom Kawczynski, I’m of two minds.

One side of me feels genuine, tremendous pity for him. He is a profoundly broken man. And I don’t mean broken like Martin Riggs, the sexy loner Mel Gibson portrayed in Lethal Weapon. I mean broken like Mel Gibson. I mean that he is incapable of functioning on even the basest level of humanity. I mean he is so consistently inept that his ideas and actions define failure. For example, Kawczynski’s main cause is white civil rights. Huh? Maybe he’s tired of all those black cops pulling him over for being white. Perhaps he’s had enough of Mexicans suppressing his white right to vote. Or, more probably, it’s all that white segregation these days.

Anyway, Tom’s really active on Gab, the racist social-networking site, on which he and his wife post a ton of pro-Hitler and Nazi-related content. Just so you understand what I’m talking about, one of their memes is a black-and-white photo of an old, presumably Jewish man with a Star of David pinned to his coat, standing in front of a man in a Nazi uniform. The caption reads: “GREAT JOB/You’re getting a gold star.”

Kawczynski also wrote that he thinks he and all his racist friends would be more widely accepted if they strategically adjusted their language to sound less racist. He posted that he was going to use this strategy to clandestinely establish a white ethno-state in Jackman. After O’Brien and Barry brought those posts (and many others like them) to light, Kawczynski went back onto Gab, which is a public forum, to ask how to delete old posts. They can’t be deleted.

Back in 1945, the people of Earth definitively decided that Nazis were bad. Can you imagine having such a need for attention, yet so little to offer, that you’d loudly promote ideas that the entire planet’s population has denounced as wrong for over seven decades? It’s unimaginably pathetic, but it doesn’t stop there.

Even if you could somehow remove all the racism from what he’s saying, you’d still have a man who uses a public forum to spread his “secret” plans. Then, after he’s been discovered, he returns to that same public forum to ask how he can cover up his now totally exposed “secret” plan. This scenario is so mindless it couldn’t work as a gag in a fart comedy.

But I meant what I said. I do have tremendous pity for any man so inane. What makes this situation truly tragic is that the world around him encourages him to continue in this way. He sees no incentive to better himself or to free himself from the fear that clearly haunts his every waking moment. He is a 37-year-old man trapped in a world of terror, flailing at phantoms, and is too cowardly to make sense of any of it.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yes, everything in America — social structures, media, history, government, etc. — is telling white people to be racists, but most white people in America have mentally and emotionally developed far enough to keep from becoming straight-up Nazis. It’s a pretty low bar, I know.

And yes, the Tom Kawczynskis of the world are problems, but they are also symptoms. The big problem here is that this country’s citizens design, assemble and support systems that promote profoundly broken white men — cough (governor), cough (president) — into positions of power and allow their wrongheaded, hateful ideas to become laws of the land.

Like I said, I’m of two minds about Kawczynski. One side feels a whole world of sorrow for that poor fool. But then the other side thinks about all that’s happened and concludes, “Good. Fuck that Nazi piece of shit.”


Samuel James is an internationally renowned bluesman and storyteller, as well as a locally known filmmaker. He can be reached at racismsportland@gmail.com.