For a country with a lot of racism, we don’t seem to have very many racists.

This occurred to me while watching the swift collapse of self-avowed not-a-racist Tom Kawczinski, whose hobby was building a white ethno state in northern New England when he wasn’t too busy running the town office in Jackman.

The “New Albion” project became Kawczinski’s full-time gig Tuesday, after the selectmen found out about his advocacy for racial separation (like what they used to call “apartheid” in South Africa) and his theories on banning Islam because the religion is “not compatible with Western culture,” (except for the part of Western culture that celebrates religious freedom).

We know all this because of some pretty nifty digging by writers Andy O’Brien and Crash Barry and because the doofus-former town manager wrote quite freely about his “ideas” on the white supremacist version of Facebook, a site called “Gab.” He also conducted numerous interviews with the “lamestream, mainstream” media, which stabbed him in the back by quoting him accurately.

Kawczinski made two claims in his own defense: He was simply exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. And he’s not a racist.

The First Amendment claim is a common mistake. Yes, he has a right to say hateful, racist things. And we have a right to be appalled and the selectmen have a right to fire him. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote about a cop who lost his job for political activity, “He may have a constitutional right to speak his mind, but he has no constitutional right to be a policeman.”

The second point is harder to understand. Not a racist? How could that be?

Someone who wrote, “I oppose diversity as a concept,” and “… our folk are white people of European ancestry and ideas, emphasizing the value of work, communing with nature, and a society based upon order” is not a racist?

Is there really much difference between someone who calls for a “95 percent solution” for the racial makeup of his new society and one who wants “the final solution”? What do you call a guy who is raising money on an online crowd-sourcing site called “Hatereon”?

If he’s not a racist, who is?

Maybe nobody. Remember when Gov. Paul LePage flew into a rage when he (mistakenly) thought state Rep. Drew Gattine had called him a racist?

LePage raged in a now famous phone message, snarling: “I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (really bad expletive) …”

But the governor’s hurt feelings didn’t prevent him the very next day from repeating his observation that Maine was being overrun by black criminals. “Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers,” the non-racist governor told reporters. “Why don’t you look into that?”

Then there is the president of the United States of America, who assures us that he is the “least racist person you have ever met.”

This is, of course, the man who kicked off his campaign by claiming that immigrants from Mexico are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists” and reportedly said he wanted more immigrants from Norway and fewer from “shithole countries” in Africa.

Apparently, you are only a racist if you say you are. And since these people choose to define racism as conscious hatred of the members of a different group, they can absolve themselves. It’s OK to discriminate against people based on their religion, the color of their skin, or the country they come from as long as you don’t personally feel hatred in your heart.

But if you define racism as a “system of oppression” (which is what the sociologists do) you don’t need any active animus. As long as the system consistently benefits some groups and harms others, it’s racist.

Maybe it would be better to think of “racism” as something that we do and not something that we are. Instead of calling each other names, we could point out and correct the built-in biases in our system.

After accepting a $30,000 payment to go away and stop ruining a nice town’s reputation, Kawczinski made a statement:

“I hate no race and I love all people, but I do love white people,” he said. “And I firmly believe that as a people we should have the same rights as people of any other group.”

The idea that white people are an oppressed majority is the common thread that runs though a lot of talk from politicians who are slicker than fringe characters like the “steward of New Albion.”

It would be nice to think that Jackman’s swift ejection of this knucklehead is the end of the story, but there are still a lot of “non-racists” out there who are playing the same game.

Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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