Maine for Mainers.

That phrase seems innocuous enough – if you don’t think about it too much.

If you do happen to give it serious consideration (or do a little research), you’ll discover that “Maine for Mainers” has become a racist dog whistle. What it really means is we don’t want any of those stinkin’ asylum-seekers here. But putting it so bluntly is likely to make anyone with even a modicum of decency leery of associating with you. So instead, the M4M crowd disguises its real message by claiming that before we spend tax dollars helping immigrants, we have to take care of our own.

A word of advice for these amoeba brains: Before launching into an ill-considered rant about how liberals are ignoring native Mainers (actual meaning: white people) on waiting lists for social services, it might be helpful for your credibility if you made sure that what you’re saying reflects your real viewpoint. Because otherwise, y’know, you look even dumber than you probably are.

Although, maybe not.

To be fair, the M4Mers’ approach to welfare could be interpreted as technically not racist, because they oppose giving government money to any poor people, regardless of ethnicity.

Take, for instance, Republican state Rep. Beth O’Connor of Berwick. Based on statements she made on the floor of the House in June opposing state aid for asylum-seekers, you might conclude she was an advocate for increased welfare spending to serve needy Mainers.

“Once again, the individuals who have been waiting for services will fall to the back of the bus,” O’Connor said. “Any existing resources that are available at any time should be used on those individuals who are currently here and have been waiting.”

During her time in the Legislature, O’Connor consistently voted against expanding Medicaid and virtually every other form of increased spending on welfare.

GOP state Rep. Josanne Dolloff of Rumford is another legislator with a solid history of opposing spending for social services. When it came to helping the most recent wave of immigrants, Dolloff told her colleagues, “I feel like if we do this, we are turning our backs on our own people.”

Predictably, there’s Maine’s most overt racist to say what these more decorous legislators only dare hint at. Republican state Rep. Larry Lockman of Bradley spewed his usual venom by proclaiming that helping immigrants was really “achieving some progressive notion of what the proper racial balance ought to be.”

The GOP does have a point about the growing number of people on waiting lists. The backlog of adults with disabilities who are awaiting state services has grown from just over 100 in 2008 to more than 1,500 in 2018. During the bulk of that decade, Republicans were in charge of all or most of state government. They addressed this problem by doing squat.

I guess they take solace in knowing they weren’t doubly disrespecting those folks by giving aid to refugees.

But let’s get back to Maine for Mainers. Besides being a racist catchphrase, that’s also the name of a group run by Tom Kawczynski, the former town manager of Jackman, who was fired in 2018 for supporting racial separation and the establishment of an all-white enclave in Maine. It’s easy to label Kawczynski and his ilk as racists, because they are. And their position on helping immigrants is identical to that of Republican legislators.

So, what does that make the GOP?

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