I am grateful to the Portland Press Herald for its extensive research on emerging white nationalism in Maine (“Hate groups are on the march in Maine,” July 23). And I am grateful to Sen. Joe Baldacci for the moral clarity he’s expressed in calling for a swift and unequivocal legislative response.

I was talking recently with a friend in France, describing these revelations of rising white supremacist, neo-Nazi activity in our region. He was shocked and told me that in France, this is simply not allowed. If such a group is formed there, it is dissolved by the state. The French are very clear that no space can be given to groups bent solely on harassment, assault and, ultimately, murder of their perceived enemies.

In the recent demonstration in Augusta, one NSC-131 banner proclaimed “Keep New England White.” What a pathetic joke. New England has never been white. No sooner had Europeans gotten off their boats and intruded on Indigenous people than they began importing slaves from Africa. We are a glorious, many-hued mixture, and all of humanity is indeed our garden.

To deny that common humanity and erect some notion of white supremacy is a pathological idea that only seems to infect deeply insecure, lonely and unhappy white males. Interventions are in order.

Somewhere along the way, the individuals who are attracted to such groups show evidence of a complete lack of empathy with their fellow human beings. A fatal lack of mirror neurons. Something is wrong with a person if he cannot read of the desperate need to leave one’s home, suffer terrible deprivation (hunger, fear, injury, sickness, confusion, desperation) to get to some safer place – and not feel pity and an urge to welcome, to shelter, to help in some way. A mind must be twisted in a bad way to perceive only a threat in such evidence … and, appallingly, to perceive oneself as the victim.

And it should not be acceptable anywhere in the United States to reinforce or act on such feelings of hatred. Why not? Because innocent people of color deserve protection from potentially lethal contempt. As the world has never been white, history tells us, so it has never been binary. We humans are such complex packages! Let’s continue to discover and celebrate how various we are. A young person struggling to make sense of their authentic identity does not deserve the cruelty and threat of violence leveled at them. Nor should any Jewish person have to endure exposure to Nazi ideology in the guise of “free speech.” We have already had far too many martyrs.

What we need immediately is a form of restraining order that is unambiguous and enforceable. This whole phenomenon is akin to domestic violence on a broader scale; once it is identified, it is a crime waiting to happen. I urge our representatives and senators, our attorney general and our governor to focus on our urgent need for limitation of harm, in the name of the healthy and humane society we all want and deserve.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story