Coverage of Maine's loudmouth governor spouting racist epithets has traveled far and wide. Even the BBC had picked up the story of my governor's remarks earlier this week.
In case you have been living under a rock this week, here is what he said -- on camera:
These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys – they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.The governor is in his second term and will be term limited out of office at the end of it. His most recent remarks are offensive on so many levels that it's hard to know where to begin in responding. Early on, just after he became governor, he said that the NAACP could "kiss my butt" when a reporter asked why he had not responded to an invitation to an event his predecessors usually attended.
Listing all the offensive things this man has said while in office would take a long time. I'm more interested in why he feels it is politically expedient to say such things or, more to the point, why those who put him in office in the first place find it expedient for him to play the role of a dumb bigot.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch Brothers are behind the scenes of his rise from mayor of a small, aging mill town to governor. Changing the sign at our border with New Hampshire to read "Maine -- Open For Business" early on
was a telling act signalling that corporate interests would be well-served by this administration. Access to mining rights, water rights and trampling on the ancestral fishing rights of the Penobscot peoples have all been vigorously pursued in his pro-corporate agenda. Dredging harbors and rivers to ship fossil fuels and nuclear equipped warships out, and bringing toxic construction debris for profitable landfills in are also among his administration's pet projects.
What does this have to do with flagrant racism? Very little. The flamboyant racism is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex (paraphrasing Frank Zappa here).
In both elections where Mainers found they would be governed by a man that most did not choose, the vote was split by a third party self-made millionaire named Eliot Cutler. Cutler's resume signals the presence of Chinese capital hungry for the resource colony that is the Maine seen through corporate eyes. (The rest of us see a tourist mecca once known as "Vacationland" whose trout and salmon are now unfit for human consumption.) Cutler dumped tons of money into online ad campaigning and peeled off enough liberal voters from the Democratic candidate to deliver two consecutive victories to the Tea Party.
When I compare our governor with the demagogue with bad hair whom the corporate press have anointed the front runner for the Republican Party nomination for president, I see similarities. Both are nakedly opportunistic politicians with track records of boorish, bullying behavior. Based on comparing their words with their actions, their convictions appear shallow.
They are race-baiting because it serves their interests to pander to disaffected white working class and low income voters with no prospects for economic progress. In other words, people in need of scapegoats on whom to blame their condition.
Hate language is not a new development, but its increasing momentum frightens this history major. Viewed along with the 21st century U.S. version of the Beer Hall Putsch, where angry white men with guns defy the federal government in Oregon and get away with it, it's downright terrifying.
Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison. It is said that time for reflection led him to the conclusion that working within the system to take over Germany would be a more effective than armed rebellion.