Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

NEW MAINE GOVERNOR TELLS NAACP "KISS MY BUTT"

Maine's new Tea Party-Republican Governor Paul LePage has just broken a long tradition in our state of attending the annual MLK, Jr. dinner put on by the NAACP. When the Maine NAACP expressed disappointment that he would not attend the event he blasted them via the media saying they could "kiss my butt."

According to Maine's largest newspaper:

LePage, a Republican who was sworn in last week, has an adopted son from Jamaica, Devon Raymond. He was on stage last week at the inaugural, along with LePage’s four other children.

LePage’s remarks angered the head of the state NAACP, the president of the national NAACP and the spokesman for Maine’s League of United Latin American Citizens.

“I don’t care who he’s got in his family,” Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and president of the group’s Portland branch, told The Portland Press Herald. “And he’s saying we’re playing the race card? The makeup of his family isn’t the issue and it never was the issue. For him to say we’re playing the race card shows a real lack of awareness of the very important issues we’re working to address. Our kids deserve better. Maine deserves better. His son deserves better.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the national NAACP, called LePage’s comments inflammatory.

“Gov. LePage’s decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King holiday denigrates his office,” Jealous told The Associated Press. “His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine’s history and out of touch with our nation’s deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing.”

Maine has a tiny minority population and it's political leaders, both Republican and Democrat, have made special effort over the years to attend the MLK dinner (in either Bangor or Portland) or to at least send representatives from their offices if they were not able to attend. In years past Blacks in Maine were treated very badly and political leaders have tried to make amends for that sad history.

LePage, already proving to be a divider, could easily have sent someone in his place to the dinner and the story would have died there. But instead he has chosen to inflame the issue like he did several times with other sensitive issues during his controversial campaign. In the recent campaign for governor in Maine an Independent came in second and the Democrat came in third place in the voting. Maine's previous governor was a Democrat. The Republicans have also taken over the state legislature in Augusta for the first time in many years.

During his campaign for governor LePage aggressively sought the vote of the Tea Party movement in the state and was most popular in the northern, more conservative, part of Maine. While campaigning he was caught lying by the media on several occasions but the more he did that it seemed the more his support grew with angry working class voters. This latest episode with the NAACP indicates that LePage intends to chew up and spit out any constituency in the state that gets in his way.

Already since taking office LePage has begun the process of destroying Maine's environmental watch-dog department in state government. He has pledged to make the state more "open for business."

Note: As you listened to the video did you hear the unprofessional news reporter laughing along with LePage when he said the NAACP should "kiss my butt"? This is an indication of just how serious this issue is for people of color in Maine.

2nd Note: As we are quickly learning with LePage, you have to double check everything he says. In the short video he talks about the NAACP being angry with him for not visiting the prisons and meeting "only with blacks". The truth appears to be that during the campaign the NAACP organized a candidate forum in the prison (Maine prisoners are allowed to vote) and LePage blew it off while all other candidates appeared to speak with inmates of all colors.

I just called Channel 13 (WGME) in Portland 207-228-7600 to complain about their news reporter yucking it up with LePage. They were a bit defensive but it appears they are getting alot of phone calls.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know of any type of action the Maine NAACP is planning to take to protest LePage's comments?

1/15/11, 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a follow-up from the newspaper

http://www.pressherald.com/news/lepage-says-he-will-meet-with-naacp_2011-01-16.html

1/16/11, 2:59 PM  

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