As we move toward the annual deification of Martin Luther King in the United States, I don’t feel like posting yet another ritual attack on his destructive legacy. I’ve read enough of those over the years.
Instead, I would like to draw your attention to some interesting developments going on in New England.
Paul LePage, the new Republican Governor of Maine, has been making some waves up there since taking office.
His first official act as Governor of Maine was to issue a new executive order that requires state agencies to check the immigration status of clients.
This rescinds an executive order issued by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci in 2004 which prohibited state employees from checking the immigration status of people who apply for public services.
LePage beat the drum on the campaign trail that Maine had become a “sanctuary state” for illegal aliens. He announced his intention to “take care of Mainers first.”
It seems he is a man of his word.
Hispanic groups are furious. The Maine Civil Liberties Union had denounced the executive order as “the first step in an anti-freedom agenda.”
Paul LePage is already off to a good start making all the right enemies. It gets even better.
Amazingly, Gov. LePage is standing up to the NAACP too.
He has repeatedly declined to attend their events. Most recently, he has refused to attend the annual MLK birthday celebrations in Bangor and Portland.
After being accused of slighting the NAACP, LePage bluntly told a reporter to “tell them to kiss my butt.” He elaborated: “They are a special interest — end of story. And I’m not going to be held hostage by any special interests.”
LePage appears to be calling out the NAACP on its explicitly racial agenda:
“They invited me to go to the state prison to meet black prisoners,” LePage told reporters during the Friday interview. “I told them I would go, I’d be more than happy to go but I would meet all prisoners. And that wasn’t acceptable to them, so tough luck.”
His spokesman has clarified his position:
“He told me today that if they want to meet and talk about things that are important to everyone, he is willing to have that conversation.”
In other words, Gov. LePage will talk to the NAACP, but only if they frame their concerns in such a manner than concerns all citizens. He is effectively telling them to cease to be racial or get lost.
The catch in this “too good to be true” story is that Paul LePage has an adopted black son who he has artfully played as his trump card to claim immunity from the charge of “racism.”
Frankly, this comes as a disappointment.
I wouldn’t dwell on this though. It is not like Andrew Cuomo in New York, Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, or Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island is any better. Connecticut is represented by Richard Blumenthal and Joe Lieberman in the Senate.
It could be a lot worse.
Even with a black son, Paul LePage is better than John Kerry or Bernie Sanders any day of the week. Moving the goal posts is an evolutionary process that works through small intermediary steps.
The important lesson here is that we are making progress on the immigration front in Maine and have set a positive example there by refusing to recognize the NAACP as a legitimate organization. This is a foundation we can build upon in the future.
It is nice to finally see some pullback from the irreproachable sainthood of Martin Luther King in the public sphere. If we could only get the other 49 governors to stand up to the NAACP in a similar way, we might start getting somewhere.