As a Jewish person living in Portland, when I learned that University of Maine students invited Michelle Malkin to Maine, I felt scared. Malkin is well-known as a far-right firebrand. Indeed, as Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative said and the Press Herald reported, she “has used her multiple media platforms . . . to propagate anti-Muslim and anti-immigration conspiracy theories.” In a time of resurgent white nationalist violence in the United States, I was terrified that her views would inspire someone in my home city to commit terrible acts.

I am relieved that she has come and gone, but the coverage published in the Press Herald of her Sabattus Town Hall speech leaves me uneasy in a deeper way. What was missing from the coverage, by Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme, was the broader context: The young people who invited Malkin to speak had recently lost their status as an officially recognized student group because their faculty adviser, who is Jewish, resigned in protest over Malkin’s invitation.

Their now-former faculty adviser is now being targeted on social media by Nick Isgro, Maine Republican Party vice chairman and Waterville mayor. Also omitted was the fact, reported by the Mainer, that Adrienne Bennett’s Republican congressional campaign helped pay for Malkin’s appearance. Bennett was press secretary for former Gov. Paul LePage.

The Press Herald needs to do better. Malkin’s invitation was an obvious provocation by college students steeped in a violent and dangerous worldview. This was not a victory for free speech, as the article suggests – but rather a warning. White nationalism is thriving in Maine.

Lee Leviter


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