Xenophobia taken to new heights



We have plenty to be thankful for in Maine. Yes, some of our neighbors are hungry, cold or despairing, but many Mainers are pitching in to try to help solve those problems.

There are so many people of good will in the state that it is a shock to be reminded that hatred can be found right here too.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “So now faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” These are both teachings from the Bible – the Christian’s guide to right living. Apparently, in this part of Maine, nothing says “I love you” like calling someone an “anti-Christian bigot.”

This from state Representative Larry Lockman of Amherst, who signed a Covenant for Civil Discourse in 2014. Covenant notwithstanding, Lockman went on to call Lewiston mayoral candidate Ben Chin an “anti-American radical leftist punk.” Surely, this type of language is not going to help our state move forward.

Christianity calls on its followers to love one another, but fear and hatred seem to be winning out. In these dark days of violence, hatred and bloodletting, it is difficult to understand why anyone in this remarkably free and comparatively safe country would be resorting to the type of language used by Lockman.

It is one thing to have political differences. It is entirely another to express them in such a deeply personal, bitter and hate-filled way. As we wonder how terrorists can justify bloody attacks on innocent people out for an evening of music or a cup of coffee, so too should we ask how a state representative takes another man’s politics so personally that he unleashes a stream of verbal invective that is so far beyond the bounds of decency.

Never mind that the “anti-Christian” diatribe was aimed at someone who is a practicing Episcopalian and an occasional preacher at his church in Lewiston. Lockman has appointed himself the arbiter of all things Christian. By his decree, preaching in a Christian church doth not a Christian make. Vicious anger aimed at a fellow Mainer? Nothing un-Christian about that.

Now we have at least two presidential candidates proposing restrictions on immigration that would keep Syrians out of our country unless they are Christians.

Seriously?

At the same time that many claim we do not have the ability to distinguish between a refugee and a terrorist, we think we can determine without a doubt who is a Christian. This is not a plan that comes from deep thinking.

Rep. Lockman’s dazzling display of animosity has made our ever-confrontational governor look downright cuddly in comparison. Governor Paul LePage has threatened to call out the National Guard in response to the legislature’s failure to fund the number of agents he requested in his anti-drug initiative. He previously had suggested that he might involve the Guard in disrupting the flow of drugs into Maine. But to date that has not happened.

No one disagrees with the governor that we have a drug problem. There have been more than 100 deaths from drug overdoses in the state so far this year. The tension between the governor and some legislators is about how to balance funding between enforcement and treatment.

The governor wants to start with reducing the amount of drugs entering the state and apprehending and shutting down the dealers. House Speaker Eves is looking for more treatment opportunities and promising to get to work on the details when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Though the governor hasn’t quite said just what he would ask the Guard to do, he set Dec. 10 as the day he would call them up unless there was a special legislative session sooner. That is unlikely.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau would love to help the governor, but he is not getting far because of the governor. “I need to talk to him,” said Thibodeau, a Republican, who has been trying to schedule a meeting with the chief executive for months without success. Imagine. The governor of the state cannot find time to meet with the Senate president about what the governor has called the most critical issue facing the state.

Despite his obvious frustration, Thibodeau continues to be the voice of reason. He would like to talk with cabinet members representing Public Safety and Health and Human Services and find out what recommendations were made at the governor’s drug summit. Not gonna happen. Says Governor LePage: “They just want to meet and talk. I am done talking. I am done meeting.”

When Alice was urged to “take some more tea” in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, she replied that she couldn’t have more when she had not yet had any. Nor can you stop having meetings when you haven’t yet started. Then there was this Wonderland exchange: “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat, “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

jillgold@gwi.net

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Retired nurse and former independent Maine State Senator.

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