We are all aware that we live in perhaps the oldest and least diverse state in the nation, where Gov. Le-Page has on several occasions tried to encourage our younger citizens to stay put after high school and college. Yet, right here in our midst, we have a bright, resourceful, hardworking and talented pool of individuals who are asking to be our neighbors, and our governor seems to be looking for any way he can to marginalize and even demonize them.

His relentless effort to tie welfare fraud to new Mainers is a fraud in itself. One criminal collecting public assistance, who claims to be Muslim, should no more indict all Muslims to be welfare cheats than one criminal who was seen in a Congregational church indicts all Christians.

Yet after learning that a refugee “living in Freeport who was receiving benefits ended up fighting for the Islamic State,” LePage has “vowed to scrutinize” the eligibility of all immigrants for “welfare” – including programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which goes primarily (and temporarily) to a small minority of children and parents.

Following this story, and hopefully not caused by it, was the news of threatening notes left at an apartment complex where several members of Maine’s Muslim community live. As I write this, there’s been no comment from Gov. LePage condemning the writer or writers of these notes and no visit to Westbrook to meet with his constituents to assure them that he’ll do everything he can to look out for their well-being.

Are these kindnesses too much to hope for on behalf of our neighbors who have known personal pain and hardship that is unimaginable for most of us? I hope our next governor is able to stand beside the sign on the turnpike that reads “Welcome to Maine” as if she or he actually means it.

Bill Goodykoontz

Cape Elizabeth