This week in our column, we discussed whether the Governor would be able to avoid being a distraction from now to Election Day. We both speculated that he would be a little more reserved in an attempt to protect his party’s control of the Legislature. Little did we realize that within 24 hours of publishing our piece, the Governor would make a comment as inappropriate, painful, and ethnically insensitive as when he compared the Internal Revenue Service to the police force of the Nazis. For those who lost loved ones to the racist hand of the SS, the Governor’s comment simply trivializes their pain.
In all the Governor’s past controversial statements, he has never used language with ethnic and racial undertones. He has called protesters “idiots,” told the NAACP to “kiss my butt,” told Obama to “go to hell,” and said state employees were “corrupt.” However one feels about these exchanges, none of the language was ethnically tinged or racially charged. This is the first time that he has crossed that line.
Indeed, we both believe that because of his Franco heritage, and the discrimination we expect he faced as a French speaking youth, that racism was far from his soul. We still believe that to be the case. We sincerely think he did not intend for his language to be so overtly insensitive. But the intent of one’s words does not always match the effect. To that end, we hope he will think about his statement, find a new phrase, and apologize. We will forgive the Governor quickly if he does, as we all make mistakes.
Should he chose to let his words stand, as Maine’s ambassador to the world, it will show that he doesn’t comprehend how the power of his voice rekindles heartbreak for far too many affected even today by the word “Gestapo.” A sad day for Maine.
Phil and Ethan