I have ruminated about the despicable actions of state Sen. Michael Willette since I read about them in your paper. I am sickened, saddened and horrified that we are confronted by yet another divisive racist in state government. But I am also alarmed that as far as I know, no one has called this what it is: hate speech.

Our president, Barack Obama, has been the target of more disrespect than any other president in our history. Yet we seem to be afraid to confront the forces of division and hatred who repeatedly call attention to the president’s race. Is this because some see him as not worthy of the office because he is black? Of course it is.

When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the outset of President Obama’s first term that Obama would not have a second, and then at the outset of the second term that his only goal was to stop the president from accomplishing anything, that seems to have set the stage for the unbridled, unrestrained hate speech spewing from the mouths and pens of the likes of Sen. Willette.

Indeed, Sen. Willette said himself that he failed to “show restraint.” Does that mean it’s OK to be racist as long as one doesn’t get caught using hate speech?

There are continual calls across the country for a discussion on race and racism. We have certainly never had one here in Maine, and God knows we need it.

I call upon our sensible, thoughtful leaders – political, business, clerical and otherwise – to call out racism, to demand that it be seen as what it is and to find ways to heal this gaping, ugly wound.

Judith L. Eycleshymer