Since the previous issue of The Bollard hit the streets, there has been a ton of very public racism in our state. Let’s get into it!
If you’re looking for racism in Maine, Paul LePage is a great place to start. In fact, if you search Google for images of “Maine racism,” a photo of LePage is the very first result. Really. That’s how racist he is — he’s so racist that algorithms know. He’s literally the face of Maine racism. To put that in perspective, the first photos from Google image searches for “New Hampshire racism” and “Vermont racism” are photos of protests against racism. So LePage’s prominence in that search result is really an incredible accomplishment if you think about it.
Anyway, the point is, if you’re looking for someone to cover all your racist bases, our former governor is your guy. For one thing, he looks the part. That’s not a knock on his appearance so much as his facial expression. His resting racist face conveys a combination of outrage and confusion. It’s the look of a man who can’t admit his inability to understand or accept the world around him. Honestly, that’s the most tragic of all lives to live. I can’t imagine the feelings of deep inadequacy and horrifying emptiness that belie that expression. There are times when I feel a very real sorrow for him, but then he’ll go and say some more racist-ass shit.
Like last month, when he defended the Electoral College by saying that if it were removed, “white people will not have anything to say.” This fool really thinks that if the Electoral College goes away, the white voice — whatever that is — will go away, too. According to the most recent census, Maine is 94.7 percent white and 1.6 percent black, so you can add paranoid and delusional to the list of adjectives describing this guy.
Speaking of delusions, “In this political climate where the media does not discriminate between facts and rumors, it is hard to be a public figure.”
Those were Shane Bouchard’s words a few weeks back, when he stepped down as Mayor of Lewiston. Some of his racist text messages had come out, one of which literally reads, “All my jokes are quite racist lol,” before a joke that I will not share here, but which I will say was, in fact, quite racist.
I’m not exactly sure what “rumors” he was referring to, but Bouchard later commented, “A couple of racist-ish, not racist comments but just distasteful jokes, more than anything are just, again, stupid messaging between friends. You never know how that’s going to get spun on you.”
Poor fella got spun on. It must be just awful to say something admittedly racist only to then have people agree with you! It reminds me of something Jean Paul Sartre said of anti-Semites:
“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert.”
Speaking of “intimidate and disconcert,” on St. Patrick’s Day signs were found on the Bates College campus, in Lewiston, that read, “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE,” a racist slogan used by neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups, as well as — try not to be too surprised — Fox News. Anyway, since they were found just a couple days after the horrifying racist massacre in New Zealand, the police were called. An investigation is underway, but as of this writing little else has been reported.
Then there’s the Maine Republican Party’s official Twitter account. They tweeted out a bunch of “immigrants bring disease,” 19th century-style racist bullshit a couple weeks ago. Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro took the heat for the tweet while other Maine GOP leaders distanced themselves from him. Which is kinda weird, because they never did that when LePage was in office. Huh. I guess Isgro’s gonna have to run for governor if he wants the party to take his racism seriously.
So, yes, all that bullshit happened, but let’s end on a couple of high notes. First, a bill passed the Maine House that would change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. And second, Skowhegan dropped its “Indian” mascot. While not exactly moving forward, it feels good to be less backward.
Samuel James is an internationally renowned bluesman and storyteller, as well as a locally known filmmaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.