The demagogue with the bad hair visited Maine this week and denounced the Somali immigrants who fled war in their country to make a home here. He claimed they are the source of crime (which the Lewiston police chief has denied) and implied that immigrants from any war-torn country are likely to be terrorists. Since Maine has been a host state to political refugees for decades now without any attacks by terrorists in our midst, that is another false claim intended to stir up fear.

He didn’t mention that Somalis are not white, but that’s the real reason he feels safe in targeting them with his xenophobic, indeed racist, accusations.

Racism is rampant in Maine and it’s nothing to be proud of. In fact, racism is something to be feared as a destabilizing force in any society.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been teaching a high school course on the Holocaust and other genocides for years now, but the parallels between the rhetoric that Nazis employed against Jews and people with disabilities and today’s hate language are glaring. The role of the media in promoting fear and elevating demagogues is also similar.

It’s time for history to be taken seriously. Let’s stop demonizing people who don’t look like us or worship like us, and take a hard look at what really makes societies safe and secure: respect and love for our neighbors. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Lisa Savage


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