Who knew? The whitest state in the nation is a white-separatist magnet.

A few days ago, while Tom Kawczynski was still hard at work losing his job as Jackman town manager, one of his online fans posted this on the alt-right social media platform Gab: “As a Mainer, I know that Tom is certainly ‘from away,’ so I’m curious as to what lead him to Jackman.”

Good question. More than a few Jackman taxpayers, who just shelled out $30,000 to make Kawczynski go away and take his visions of an all-white utopia with him, undoubtedly are wondering the same thing right about now.

But the answer, truth be told, is easy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, Maine’s 94.8 percent white population puts it above all other states (Vermont is a close second) when it comes to our paucity of people of color.

That same survey tells us that the tiny, western Maine town of Jackman, with an estimated population of 690, is home to 672 white residents and 18 of Native American heritage. When it comes to diversity, according to the latest census estimates, that’s about it.

Does that make Jackman a racist town? Of course not.

As any number of diversity studies will tell you, the lack of non-whites in places like western Maine has far more to do with scarcities of economic opportunity, housing and potential for upward social mobility than with simple racial prejudice.

But at the same time, might Jackman’s snow-white demographics beckon like a modern-day Shangri-La to a wackadoodle like Kawczynski?

Obviously.

Since this scandal broke last week, much has been said and written about how town leaders dropped the ball here.

The satire news site New Maine News went so far as to post a “story” headlined “Jackman Town Government Unanimously Votes to Start Googling Future Job Applicants.”

Funny stuff. But behind the tongue-in-cheek looms a sobering challenge – not only for small municipalities like Jackman but for anyone who puts out a “help wanted” sign in rural Maine: How do you tell if a job candidate who looks and sounds good is, in reality, a man on a mission, a flat-out racist hiding behind a perfectly polished resume?

According to a news release posted on Jackman’s town website following Kawczynski’s hiring last June, the search for a town manager was conducted by the five-member board of selectmen along with six local citizens “who went to great lengths in reviewing each application.”

They chose Kawczynski from a total of 14 candidates. The fact that he had no experience in municipal management suggests that the pool, while broad, was not all that deep.

According to the release, Kawczynski told the board, “Being able to gain experience while also assisting in shaping the future of a community is just what I have been looking for.”

Goodbye Jackman, hello “New Albion,” an all-white enclave envisioned by Kawczynski. A place where, as he said in a website he created in November, “We are proud of our European heritage, live honestly without guilt, and hope to serve as a refuge and source of inspiration for those who share our beliefs.”

(Around the same time, on a social media account under his wife’s name, a Christmas greeting went out depicting Hitler beside the words “Heil! Heil! Heil!” Proclaimed another post over a picture of the frowning Fuhrer, “We’re having a White Christmas up here in Maine!”)

It’s worth noting that much of this garbage was produced months after the town hired Kawczyinski.

Still, his Gab social media account, with its 10,757 posts, dates back to October of 2016. That averages almost two dozen posts per day, every day, for almost a year and a half.

So, was the town negligent in failing to detect the Gab account?

Put another way, had you ever even heard of Gab before this brouhaha? I know I hadn’t.

Eric Conrad, director of communications and educational services for the Maine Municipal Association, said in an interview Tuesday that the organization does perform background checks, for a nominal fee, for member communities looking to hire a manager.

While Jackman officials wisely sought the association’s help when all hell broke loose last week, Conrad said the town did not request a background check prior to bringing Kawczynski aboard last spring.

Not that doing so necessarily would have helped.

“Quite honestly, would we have found something like this? I don’t know,” Conrad said. “This is just an unusual situation.”

Which brings us to Andy O’Brien, who broke this story Friday along with longtime Maine journalist Crash Barry.

O’Brien, editor of the Rockland Free Press, has taken an interest over the past few years in alt-right, neo-Nazi and white-separatist movements. In an interview Wednesday, he said he’s especially alarmed at how their coded language has seeped into the nation’s political and social-media mainstreams.

Recently, while noodling around the internet, O’Brien came across various vitriolic postings referring to the New Albion website.

That led O’Brien to Kawczynski, which in turn led him to the startling realization that the New Albion founder and the new Jackman town manager were one and the same.

Enter Barry, who found Kawczynski’s Gab account after a few hours of sleuthing, and the rest is – at least to O’Brien – painfully predictable.

“Go to Google and look up ‘Stormfront and Maine,’ ” O’Brien said, referring to one of the oldest hate sites on the internet. “You’ll find discussions over the years where they’ve looked at Maine and said, ‘Wow, 95, 96, 97 percent white … This is a great place to live for people like us.’ ”

Ours being a free country and all, there’s little anyone can do to stop these dimwits from coming. But to unknowingly install them in positions of public authority? To hand them the keys to the town hall?

“I just think a lot of select boards and city councils are not sophisticated enough maybe to think about this,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully they will now.”

It beats giving $30,000 to the new village idiot.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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