The town of Jackman is looking to move on after selectmen fired the town manager, Tom Kawczynski, for his white supremacist views. Let me be clear: Kawczynski’s support of human rights for some groups and not for others is deplorable. I applaud Jackman for firing Kawczynski because they claim his views do not reflect the values of Jackman.

But there is the rub. If Kawczynski should be fired because he doesn’t support equality of human rights and does not reflect Jackman’s values, then President Donald Trump should be fired because his views on human rights do not reflect American values either. Or do they?

Sen. Susan Collins said while visiting the northern Maine town, “I want everyone to know what a warm and welcoming community (Jackman) is, a community that welcomes everyone regardless of their race or their religion or any other factor.”

But those last three words make all the difference, and beg the question: By what standard do we know what value a community or country places on human rights?

The Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions shows Jackman voted against the human rights of same-sex couples to get married in 2012 by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent (330-172) and voted for Trump, whose deplorable racial views were well known before the election in 2016, by a margin of 76 percent to 24 percent (376 votes for Trump against 121 for Hillary Clinton).

Nationally, Trump won the election by taking 57 percent of the Electoral College votes while Clinton won 51 percent of the popular vote. The voting records of Jackman and America bring into question the values both communities profess and the values both communities reveal through their respective votes.


Collins supported Jackman firing Kawczynski because he didn’t support human rights equally for every group, but then voted to confirm former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Trump’s anti-LGBTQ nominee for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. This position requires one to support religious freedom for the world’s various belief systems and insure that individual human rights are not violated. At his confirmation hearings Brownback refused to answer if there were any circumstances where religious freedom would not justify “criminalizing, imprisoning, or executing somebody based on their LGBT status.” Still, Brownback was confirmed after Vice President Mike Pence broke the Senate’s tie vote. Brownback, a well-known religiously divisive nominee, is now America’s spokesperson for religious tolerance and human rights. So much for America supporting human rights.

Alan Caron, an independent candidate for Maine governor, commented that the harm done by people who do not support human rights such as Kawczynski and “many like-minded political leaders in Maine and Washington can hardly be calculated, but they are real and lasting.” The lack of support for human rights in Washington has emboldened people who do not support human rights, such as Kawczynski and state Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, to come out of the closet and show their un-American values.

Lockman opposes creating immigrant welcoming centers because they represent the “left’s war on whites.” Like Kawczynski, Lockman makes no apologies for the values he holds. Does this mean Lockman should be fired because his views don’t reflect Maine values?

I don’t know the answer to the fundamental questions I have raised, but I can assure you that if we, as a people, do not align our professed values with our voting behavior, the country will return, if it hasn’t already, to the McCarthy era, when one powerful politician was allowed to wreak havoc on anyone who opposed his values.

In the early 1950s Sen. Joseph McCarthy was allowed to go on an unchecked witch hunt for anyone he thought might be a Communist or a leftist. During his reign of terror McCarthy destroyed the lives of hundreds of individuals. It seems no one had what it took to end the damage McCarthy was doing to the country until Joseph Welch, the lawyer defending the U.S. Army against McCarthy’s frivolous accusations, confronted him with; “Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … At long last, have you no sense of decency, sir?”

How long do we have to wait for someone to ask Washington politicians if they have enough decency to stop the carnage? How long do we have to wait for Americans to elect politicians who reflect their real values? Unfortunately the answer to the second question, based on election results, might be that Americans have already voted their true values. That, my friend, is a sad commentary.

Tom Waddell is president of the Maine chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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