State Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is a jihadist’s dream come true.

So is state Rep. Jeffrey Pierce, R-Dresden, and, for that matter, a Maine Republican Party that lacks both the good sense and decency to tell the two lawmakers to put a cork in it.

Let’s start with Lockman, a veteran rhetorical bomb-thrower dating all the way back to his infamous 1990 comment that if women are free to terminate pregnancies, then men should be free to rape women.

“At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death,” Lockman said at the time.

He apologized for that one. A quarter of a century later.

This time, in the wake of last week’s San Bernardino shootings, it’s any and all Muslims among us who find themselves in Lockman’s cross hairs. Along with what he calls a “left-wing progressive jihad” led by House Speaker Mark Eves and House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, both of whom have been understandably critical of Lockman and other Republicans for recent Facebook posts that are as juvenile as they are xenophobic.

To wit: Lockman sees nothing wrong with guys like him who have, as he put it, “lumped peace-loving moderate Muslims together with murderous Muslim terrorists.”

In fact, he says, in these troubled times, the “embrace of multiculturalism amounts to a death wish.”

And at the mere suggestion that he broaden his horizons a bit, Lockman instead retreats to his inner teenager.

“Eves cited the example of an Aroostook County legislator several years ago whose posted remarks resulted in ‘diversity training,’ ” Lockman writes. “BRING IT ON, MR. SPEAKER, BRING IT ON! You be the teacher, I be the student. Wahoo!”

Then we have Pierce, who kept it short and to the point by sharing this call to action with his Facebook friends: “How many Americans have to DIE ? Its time to deport all muslims ,. Its them or us ! They can not be trusted !”

And what says the Maine Republican Party, which in the past would at least throw some cold water on this kind of flame-throwing as we head into an election year?

Not a peep. Nada. Not one word.

What, we can only wonder, would Margaret Chase Smith think? And for those grown-up Republicans who have invoked her name so loudly and for so long, why are you now so unwilling to reclaim the party she once so proudly led?

It’s painfully clear, of course, that what’s playing out here in Maine mirrors what’s happening on the national stage. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump stuns the country with his call to keep all Muslims out, leaving his party paralyzed while emboldening his peanut gallery to redraw the lines between civil discourse and fear mongering, between honest debate and mob speak.

Yet in doing so, Trump & Co. play directly into the long-term strategy of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS: The more alienated and besieged Muslims in this country feel, the less likely they are to play a vital role in helping to ferret out the truly bad guys (and now women) who do find their way here. After all, if you’re a Muslim American who’s now afraid to venture far from home, why go out of your way to help those who spend all day professing their hatred toward you?

Think this country’s Muslim community hasn’t already helped? Think again.

According to a study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, comprising Duke University, the University of North Carolina and RTI International, members of the Muslim-American community tipped off law enforcement agencies to 54 Muslim-American terrorism suspects and perpetrators between Sept. 11, 2001, and the end of 2013. Government investigations that involved no such American-Muslim help, on the other hand, netted only 52 suspects.

Drilling down deeper, that Muslim adolescent now searching for his or her foothold in this country has a choice: Latch onto the American Dream, or log onto a jihadist website and start down the road toward home-grown radicalization.

The harder people like Trump, Lockman and Pierce beat the drum against all things Islam, the better the chance that young Muslim is going to end up typing “jihad” into the Google search box.

My guess is that Trump is well aware of all this. It’s just that his poll numbers were dipping and he had to toss another grenade into the primary cauldron to refocus the cameras on him and thus re-energize his loyal, blissfully uninformed base.

(My guess is also that if he actually wins the Republican nomination, Trump will start compulsively hugging every Muslim in sight, leaving that same base awash in bewilderment and confusion.)

But up here in Maine, I suspect that Lockman, Pierce and their ilk haven’t a clue what they’re really doing.

At a time when we should reinforce all that is good about this nation, they stomp on it.

At a time that calls for courage and clear thinking, they use the darkest of stereotypes to stoke our most irrational fears.

And at a time when we should all – Muslim Americans included – unite to stop ISIS both here and abroad, they’ve become the terrorists’ most unwitting recruiters.

Wrote Lockman on his Facebook page: “America’s homegrown progressive lunatics, who dominate the Democrat Party, think ‘Islamophobia’ is a bigger threat to America than the jihadists.”

Wrong, Larry.

Beyond the bullets and bombs, your “Islamophobia” is the jihadists’ biggest weapon.


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